2018 Annual Season Database Released December 12th!
2018: Red Sox Nation Does Hollywood
by Steve Ehresman
In 1916 Bill Carrigan’s Boston Red Sox defeated Wilbert Robinson’s Brooklyn Robins in the World Series, giving Boston the franchise’s second consecutive and fourth overall World Championship. In 2018, the Red Sox (108-54) overpowered the Robins’ twenty-first century descendants, the Los Angeles Dodgers (92-71), to win the 114th edition of Baseball’s Fall Classic. For Dave Robert’s Dodgers, 2018 was their second season as the World Series runner-up. For rookie manager Alex Cora’s Red Sox, 2018 has been called the greatest season in franchise history.
Although 1916 differed dramatically from 2018, one thing is certain: baseball never fails to deliver as the National Pastime, even in this era of three true outcomes: a walk, a strikeout, or a homerun. Yes, the thirty teams in Major League Baseball combined for 40, 993 hits, while compiling 41,177 strikeouts. Nevertheless, the 2018 season also featured exciting performances by the Oakland Athletics (97-65) and the Atlanta Braves (90-72), helping Bob Melvin and Brian Snitker to claim the Manager of the Year Award in their respective leagues. Craig Counsel’s upset-minded Milwaukee Brewers edged the Chicago Cubs to win the National League Central and to challenge the Los Angeles Dodgers for a berth in the World Series. The New York Yankees put together a superb season for first-year manager Aaron Boone (100-62). And, the Tampa Bay Rays, under innovative manager Kevin Cash, made history with many of their games started by pitchers normally used in relief and referred to as openers.
In short, the 2018 season will be remembered as a season characterized by the changing of the guard, both in terms of underdog franchises on the rise and in terms of innovations in how the game is played.
First and foremost, the 2018 season featured superb rookies. Bursting onto the national stage was a cast of newcomers, the likes of which the National Pastime has not produced in decades. Leading this auspicious group were Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, Ronald Acuna Junior of the Atlanta Braves, and Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals.
Although Ohtani’s career has been interrupted by Tommy John surgery, he delivered power (.285 AVG, 925 OPS, and 22 HR in 367 PA) and pitching (3.31 ERA, 11 K per nine IP, and 1.16 WHIP). Ohtani joined Babe Ruth (1919) as the only players in major league history to sock 15 home runs and pitch 50 innings in the same season. Moreover, Ohtani became the only player in major league history to record 15 home runs and 50 pitching strikeouts in a single season. Not surprisingly, he was the easy choice for American League Rookie of the Year.
Twenty-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna Junior was a major driving-force behind Atlanta’s break-out 2018 season. Starting the season in Triple A, Acuna arrived in the majors on April 25 and proceeded to slug 26 home runs, drive in 64 runs, swipe 16 bases, and bat .293 with .917 OPS. Acuna Junior’s great season was summarized in a nutshell by his smacking eight lead-off homers and his going yard in five straight games from August 11-14. As a result, he claimed the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Runner-up in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting, Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals, debuted in the majors on May 20, when he was 19 years old. All he did was hit .292 with 22 home runs, 70 RBI, and .923 OPS, putting him just two long balls shy of Tony Conigliaro’s major league record for home runs by a teenager.
It could be argued that the 2018 season was a highlight reel featuring a new generation of stars, who are expected to carry baseball far into the future. Nevertheless, major league veterans had a great deal to say about the present, putting teams on their backs and challenging conventional measures of success.
In balloting for the National League Cy Young Award, the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom posted surreal statistics (32 GS, 217 IP, 269 K, 1.70 ERA, and 0.91 WHIP). Nevertheless, his selection may have caused fans not named Brian Kenny to grumble because of deGrom’s under-whelming 10-9 record, primarily the result of poor offensive performances when he pitched.
Emerging into the spotlight, Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays, the American League Cy Young Award winner, compiled a stunning 21-5 record, 1.89 ERA, and 0.97 WHIP in 31 GS, while striking out 221 batters. Despite these impressive numbers, traditionalists might grouse about Snell’s innings total, as Tampa Bay’s young star pitched only 180.2 innings.
Together, deGrom and Snell forced baseball to redefine pitching excellence. In contrast, the MVP voting was much easier to assimilate, as the 2018 winners would have passed muster in any decade.
Putting together a Hall of Fame-worthy season, Christian Yelich willed the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League Central title, slugging 36 home runs, driving in 110 runs, stealing 22 bases, and batting .326 with an OBP of .402, a SLG of .598, and an OPS of 1.000. Yelich distanced himself from the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez (34 HR, 111 RBI, .290 with an OBP of .326, a SLG of .554, and an OPS of .881) to walk away with the National League MVP.
In the American league, the World Champion Boston Red Sox had a line-up of ferocious hitters, none more ferocious than the American league MVP, Mookie Betts. Although Betts had already enjoyed fine seasons in Boston, his 2018 campaign goes down in the books as one of the best seasons by a Carmine outfielder this side of The Splendid Splinter and Yaz. Displaying all-around excellence, Betts legged-out 47 2B, socked 32 HR, chalked-up 80 RBI, and stole 30 bases, en route to a .346 AVG, .438 OBP, .640 SLG, and 1.078 OPS. To solidify his credentials, Betts took home a Gold Glove for his work in right field. The American League runner-up in MVP voting was the Los Angeles Angels’ perennial all-star, Mike Trout (39 HR, 79 RBI, .312 AVG, .460 OBP, .628 SLG, and 1.088 OPS).
The 2018 Major League Baseball season featured superb performances by many of the diamond’s greatest stars. On the mound, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals (18-7, 220.2 IP, 300 K, 2.53 ERA, and 0.911 WHIP) and Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros (16-9, 214 IP, 290 K, 2.52 ERA, and 0.902 WHIP) continued their trek toward Cooperstown. Coming in from the bullpen, Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers (81.1 IP, 36 H, 143 K, 2.43 ERA, and 0.811 WHIP) and Edwin Diaz of the Seattle Mariners (73.1 IP, 41 H, 124 K, 1.96 ERA, and 0.791 WHIP) were lights-out.
Bolstering the offense in 2018, Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics (48 HR) and Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies (38 HR) paced their respective leagues in long balls. Whit Mayfield of the Kansas City Royals quietly put together an All-Star season, as he paced the American League in hits (192) and stolen bases (45). Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves led the National League in hits (191), while Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals swiped a league-leading 43 bases.
Mookie Betts’ teammate in Boston, J.D. Martinez (43 HR, 130 RBI,.330 AVG, .432 OBP, .629 SLG, and 1.031 OPS), accumulated a whopping 358 total bases. However brightly Mookie Betts’s star shone in The Hub in 2018, it did not shine alone.
The 2018 season was fraught with hotly contested pennant races, jaw-dropping performances, and innovative, even controversial, strategies and methods of evaluation. Where Major League Baseball will go in 2019 and beyond is uncertain. Nevertheless, as new stars appear and Hall of Famers continue to provide thrills, the answer seems to be that baseball will go where it always has gone: confidently into the future, serving as a measuring stick for how America dreams. Baseball fans would do well to heed a wise man’s advice to feel nostalgic about the future.
The 2018 Annual Season Database contains everything you need to play games using teams and players from the 2018 season -- a full set of ratings and statistics for every player who appeared in the big leagues this year, plus team rosters, manager profiles, ballpark ratings and league schedules. Statistics include official batting, pitching and fielding totals with left/right splits for all batters and pitchers.
Also included is a complete set of real-life player transactions -- trades, disabled list moves, promotions, demotions, suspensions, and more -- plus the actual starting lineups for every regular season game played.