Sorry it’s a little late publishing tonight, it’s been a busy week for me at the regular office and the home office,but I have it for you now,my 2019 MLB Season Preview. Sure,the season has technically already begun,but it officially begins for me when all 30 teams play on the same day a week from now. Here are my predictions for each team including playoff projections and a World Series pick. Here we go…
The Red Sox won it all last year-their fourth title since 2004 and did it well. Can it happen again? If it does,they’ll need to catch fire with their lineup of MVP Mookie Betts,J.D. Martinez,Mitch Moreland,Xander Bogearts,and Jackie Bradley Jr. leading the way. The rotation looks as it will be as stellar as last season with Chris Sale and David Price headlining it along with Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi. The big question is how well the bullpen will do with Ryan Brasier as closer and other relievers like Heath Hembree and Tyler Thornburg and how well they’ll perform. Also,does Dustin Pedroia have anything left in the tank? That’s something I’m actually worried about. All that aside,this team is going to be very good and between them and New York it should be a fun race for the division crown yet again.
New York 99-63
Last season the Yankees were a 100-game winner and were not even the best team in their division. That’s how crazy good they and their division truly are. They do,however, have aspirations of getting their 28th championship and that journey starts this season. This team has a powerful lineup of Aaron Judge,Giancarlo Stanton,Gary Sanchez,and Brett Gardner. Troy Tulowitzki was brought over to fill in for Didi Gregorius,who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. D.J. LeMahieu is also on the roster and is on the team’s bench as of press time. James Paxton joins the pitching rotation along with Luis Severino,Masahiro Tanaka,and CC Sabathia,who is expected to retire at season’s end. The bullpen has stellar arms in Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman continues to be one of the league’s best closers. It’s going to be a great race yet again between New York and Boston and a reminder of how fun the division is to watch.
Tampa Bay 93-69
The Rays had a surprise 90-win season last year by finding odd and innovative ways to win. Can those same ways propel them to a playoff berth? They very well might with players like Tommy Pham and Avisail Garcia. Mike Zunino came over from Seattle,but has a hot and cold bat and Austin Meadows is hoping to have a bouneback year to show what he can really do. My biggest question is if their “opener” strategy will continue to be successful. Tampa Bay does have three set starters in Cy Young winner Blake Snell,Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow ,but they’ll need equal success when their openers try and get the job done. They’ll also have to win a lot at home,which they did do last year. I think they’re going to be a neat team to watch and can definitely make a playoff run this season for sure.
The Blue Jays are embracing a youth movement. Gone are the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin and coming soon are players like Vladimir Guerrero,Jr. In the meantime,you’ll have players like Kevin Pillar and Justin Smoak leading the way along with guys on short-term deals in Toronto like Freddy Galvis in the infield,Bud Norris in the bullpen and Clayton Richard,Matt Shoemaker and Clay Buchholz in the starting rotation. One has to wonder how much longer Marcus Stroman stays in a Blue Jays uniform. If he performs well,teams may come calling for him at the trade deadline. If Vlad Jr. comes up and plays strong,you may see the Jays do better than expected. Until then,I expect a subpar season.
Last season the O’s were as bad as bad gets as they only victorious 47 times in 2018, now with a new field manager and a new general manager,fans are hoping better days are ahead in the Charm City. One player who is hoping to have a bounceback season is Chris Davis,who hit only 16 home runs and batted .168 for the season. Jonathan Villar should be a fun player to watch this season while Dylan Bundy,Andrew Cashner,and Alex Cobb headline a subpar pitching rotation. Aside from signing Alcides Escobar and Eric Young to minor-league deals,the offseason for Baltimore was very quiet and honestly,it’s going to be another painful year for Orioles fans as the rebuild is in the beginning phases.
Last season the Indians ran away with the division and are the favorites to win it again for a fourth straight year. They didn’t have much of an offseason save for bringing back Carlos Santana for a second stint in Cleveland and trading for Jake Bauers,who they’re hoping will live up to his potential. They join a lineup with Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis,Leonys Martin,and Hanley Ramirez,who is hoping to help them as a designated hitter. The Indians pitching staff is as great as ever with Corey Kluber,Trevor Bauer,Carlos Carrasco,Mike Clevinger,and Shane Bieber. Brad Hand will be the closer. I think this team will be good once again as the division is weak,but it’s a stretch to say they’ll win very much in the postseason,unless of course they make a stellar deadline move.
The Twins have players who are full of potential,the problem is they’ve had it for years now and fans are waiting for that to shine through in success on the field. Will this be the year for Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton to deliver on their potential? They’re going to need to if Minnesota has any chance of getting a playoff berth as they did in 2017. They did add 38-year-old Nelson Cruz in the offseason to be their new DH. If he hits anywhere in the are of 35-41 home runs,the team will be thrilled. Also coming aboard are C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Martin Perez and Blake Parker,all of whom can make contributions in a division that didn’t do too much to improve themselves in the offseason. I think if all goes right for the Twins,they could sneak in as a Wild Card,but that’s going to take a little luck coming their way for that to happen.
The White Sox have nowhere to go but up after losing 100 games in 2018 and are hoping to fare better in 2019. While they missed out on Manny Machado and Bryce Harper,they do have talented players like infielders Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso,the latter coming over in the offseason along with outfielder Jon Jay. Yoan Moncada hopes to produce better than he did last season,but is showing a lot of promise as the everyday second baseman on Chicago’s south side. Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana are newcomers to the White Sox rotation with Alex Colome coming over to be the team’s new closer. While the moves they made aren’t going to make them instantly better,I do think they’ll fare a little better than last season. They definitely won’t lose 100 again.
Kansas City 65-97
Last season the Royals only won 58 games and finished last in the division,a far cry from where they were four years ago when they were World Series Champions. This year they’re hoping to not finish last again. Sure,they have pieces left over from the last title run like Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon,but have added a couple of names you’ve heard of such as speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton,infielder Chris Owings,and pitchers Drew Storen and Homer Bailey. They join youngsters such as Adalberto Mondesi,Ryan O’Hearn,and Jake Junis. Danny Duffy leads the Kansas City rotation. I think it’s going to take a few more seasons for this team to be a contender again. I think their farm system has to season a bit more and they do have to get younger before they’re any better. It can happen,but it’ll be a while.
Last season was far from good in the Motor City for the Tigers,winning only 64 games. While they do get Miguel Cabrera back,he is in the twilight years of his career and not the MVP player we’ve come to know over the years. He does,however,hope to have a bounceback season. The offseason saw Detroit bring former All-Star pitchers Matt Moore and Tyson Ross into the rotation as well as Josh Harrison and those moves make the roster better,but the team may not play much better this season. I see them finishing with less wins than last season,especially in a lackluster AL Central.
Last season the Astros were once again champions of the division,but failed in their quest to repeat as World Series champs. Can they make it two out of three seasons? They’re sure hoping so. I can’t count a lineup that has George Springer,Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman,Michael Brantley,Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick out of anything. The rotation of Gerrit Cole,Justin Verlander,Wade Miley,and Colin McHugh are also top-notch but will miss Lance McCullers Jr. this year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. The bullpen is decent as well with reliever Brad Peacock as their long relief guy and Roberto Osuna closing out the games. There’s no question that Houston wins this division,but by how many games? That’s the real question!
Los Angeles 86-76
Does new money man Mike Trout have enough help around him to get back to the postseason? Last season was a disappointing one as the Angels won only 80 games. They made some interesting moves by acquiring Justin Bour and Jonathan Lucroy as free agents,the former having a lot of power to bring to the lineup. Shohei Ohtani is limited to being the DH as he recovers from Tommy John surgery,but not right away. On the pitching side,Matt Harvey comes over and the team is hoping that he brings enough to be their ace going forward. Trevor Cahill and Tyler Skaggs are also there,but I think if Los Angeles added a Dallas Keuchel-type pitcher,they might be more set and more of a playoff contender. Cody Allen should be a solid closer for this bullpen as well. If they’re in the race for a WIld Card spot and can make some great summer roster moves,I expect the Angels to challenge for the playoffs. We’ll see!
Make no mistake about it,this Oakland squad is going to hit a lot of home runs this season-a lot. However,are they able to show that 2018 wasn’t a fluke? The bats of Khris Davis,Matt Chapman,Stephen Piscotty,Matt Olson,and Marcus Semien are going to have to if they want to get anywhere near their 98 win mark of a year ago. What may be the weak point for the A’s is their starting pitching,with Mike Fiers being their top pitcher along with Brett Anderson. Blake Treinen looks to continue to his dominance as the closer. I think in order for this club to repeat what they did they will have to hit the living piss out of the ball-a lot. They’re also going to need to keep their rotation as it is healthy and if they’re hanging around a Wild Card spot just like the Angels, they’ll need to acquire a starting pitcher at the deadline. Otherwise,it’s going to look like they’ll be missing sean Manaea even more than they do now.
The M’s have the longest playoff drought in all of baseball and we thought it would be over by now,but alas the streak lives and it looks like this team has shipped talent out and brought in different talent in return. Gone are Robinson Cano ,James Paxton,Nelson Cruz, Edwin Díaz, Jean Segura and Mike Zunino. In are Jay Bruce,Edwin Encarnacion,Domingo Santana,Hunter Strickland and Mallex Smith,just to name a few. One interesting player to watch will be Yusei Kikuchi who came over from Japan and is now in the big leagues. I think he’s going to be fun to watch atop that Seattle rotation that includes Mike Leake and Felix Hernandez,who will not be the Opening Day starter for the first time since 2008. I don’t think this team will be that bad,but they won’t be that good,either. Another ho-hum year in the Emerald City.
The Rangers are hoping to make their last season at Globe Life Park a memorable one,but will it be a year where the playoffs happen? Probably not. They do have a great veteran lineup with Elvis Andrus,Rougned Odor,Shin-Soo Choo,and Asdrubal Cabrera and an adequate starting rotation with Drew Smyly,Shelby Miller,Edinson Volquez and Lance Lynn,who was acquired in the offseason. Joey Gallo looks to continue to mash for Texas as he hit 40 home runs in 2018. Also,can Hunter Pence crack the Opening Day roster at age 36? We’ll have to see! Overall,with a mix of veterans and youngsters like Nomar Mazara and better teams ahead of them in the division,it looks like another trying season in the Metroplex.
The Braves had a surprising 2018 season where they won the division and returned to the playoffs. They’re hoping to repeat that feat and Josh Donaldson comes over to anchor third base in the Atlanta infield with Freddie Freeman,Dansby Swanson,and Brian McCann,who is back for his second turn with the Braves. The outfield looks strong with Ronald Acuna,Jr.,Ender Inciarte,and Nick Markakis,who re-signed in the offseason. The pitching,to me,is a little subpar save for Sean Newcomb and Mike Foltynewicz and maybe even Julio Teheran. I think they have enough talent to win the division again,but wins in the playoffs may be hard to come by with the inadequate pitching they have at the moment.
The Phillies are your Bryce Harper sweepstakes winners. He joins a team that has been up and coming for a couple of years now and were missing a big piece of the puzzle to not just compete in the playoffs,but also for a championship. Enter Harper,who is contractually there for 13 seasons. He isn’t their lone acquisition, they also got J.T. Realmuto from Miami,Jean Segura from Seattle and signed Andrew McCutchen. They join a lineup with up and comers like Rhys Hoskins,Maikel Franco,and Odubel Herrera. The pitching rotation is headed by Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta and David Robertson is closing out games for Philadelphia. One thing the Phils need to do to make things go right is ot strikeout as much as they were third in all of baseball in that department. This team is much better on paper and I think they’ll be in the playoff conversation,but get just short of it this year.
New York 82-80
Last season the Mets were victorious only 77 times. This season they’re hoping to fare much better,even without the services of Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier to start the year.Robinson Cano does come over from the Mariners to help bolster the infield. Michael Conforto hopes to duplicate the success he had in 2017 and 2018 and I see no reason why he won’t. The pitching staff is as stellar as it’s ever been with Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard leading the way. Jeurys Familia returns to New York as the set-up man for Edwin Diaz. Ultimately,if the Mets can survive life without Cespedes and Frazier as they recover from injury,they’ve got a good shot at the postseason,but with three better teams ahead of them in the division,that’s going to be tough.
Life without Bryce Harper begins now in D.C. as the Nationals start a new chapter of their own. Taking his place is Adam Eaton,who you’ve heard of,I’m sure,but is nowhere close to being as good. They still have a dynamic lineup with Anthony Rendon,Ryan Zimmerman,Juan Soto (who was Rookie of the Year runner-up),Brian Dozier,and Victor Robles. Their strongest point to me is their pitching with Stephen Strasburg,Max Scherzer,Anibal Sanchez,Jeremy Hellickson,and newly acquired Patrick Corbin. If they’re to regain their form and get back to the postseason,they’re going to need some better luck on their side and also come up on the positive side on a lot of one-run games as they were 18-24 in them last season. It’s going to be tough,but if other teams in the division don’t get it going immediately,this Washington team could take advantage and be better than I have them here.
The Marlins have a new look going forward and got rid of that home run statue thingy in center field,but the rebuild is ongoing in South Florida. Trading their best player away for the second year in a row,the team will look to their young core to find the next best players to help lead the team out of eternal futility,as well as a couple veterans in the mix like Curtis Granderson,who was added in the offseason along with Neil Walker,who joins Starlin Castro in the Miami infield. Sergio Romo joins the Marlins bullpen to give it more of a punch. Make no mistake about it,this is a farm system in progress and we’re more than likely to see the Marlins have the same record as last season than we are to see them as a playoff team anytime soon.
Last season the Brewers were a game away from reaching their first World Series since 1982. Can they get further? League MVP Christian Yelich and company are hoping so. He’s part of a superb outfield with Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun. Yasmany Grandal comes over from Los Angeles to be the new man behind the dish and Mike Moustakas re-signed and moves to second base. Travis Shaw moves to third. The rotation looks pretty good with Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson at the top of it. Josh Hader will be the set-up man and it remains to be seen if Craig Kimbrel will join the team or if Corey Knebel is the closer. Whatever the case is,I think that Milwaukee is going to be a very good team yet again and that they could be one team that wins it all.
St. Louis 94-68
Last season the Cardinals had a bad first half of the season and finished with a strong second half,just short of the Wild Card. This year,they’re hoping their second half surge carries over to 2019. They traded for Paul Goldschmidt to give their lineup a spark. If they want to push for a postseason berth,they’ll need things to go right like having Matt Carpenter continue his good luck vibes, a healthy Marcell Ozuna,and a bounce back year from Dexter Fowler. This St. Louis rotation is,to put it best,very interesting. Miles Mikolas was money last season and Jack Flaherty showed a great amount of promise. They’ll head the rotation that still has longtime veterans Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha. I think if this team can stay healthy and play well together,they’re going to be much better than people are giving them credit for. I think they’re a playoff team for sure.
Last season the Cubs won 95 games but couldn’t step out of their own way in the playoffs losing to Colorado in the Wild Card game. Can they continue their postseason streak despite a lackluster offseason? I think it’s very possible with a superb lineup with Kris Bryant,Anthony Rizzo,Ben Zobrist,Kyle Schwarber,Jason Heyward,and Willson Contreras. The pitching rotation is still a top-notch one with Jon Lester as the ace of it along with Yu Darvish,Cole Hamels,and Kyle Hendricks. The bullpen is a little ho-hum save for Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery. Brandon Morrow is injured at press time. Overall,I think that Chicago is talented enough to make a trip back to the playoffs,but the bar is set high for them as they’re banking on it being World Series or bust.
Last season the Reds finished in last place in this division,but this may be a year where things change drastically. This year’s team is expected to score a lot of runs with the acquisitions of new outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. They join a lineup which features Scooter Jennette and Joey Votto. Votto seems to be on the decline and his days in Cincinnati may be over. The Reds’ pitching rotation may be the key on whether or not they can break through as a playoff team in this dicision with Sonny Gray,Tanner Roark,and Alex Wood. With the amount of offense this team has,they should win a lot of games,but will their pitching be enough to get them to a playoff berth? That remains to be seen!
Last season the Pirates finished with a winning record with 82 wins. I think they overachieved in the process. Sure,they have very good players like Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte,but they didn’t do enough in free agency to suggest that they’re getting any better. They do have a decent lineup with Francisco Cervelli and Josh Bell and a nice pitching rotation with Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer headlining it. Outside of that, I don’t see much happening for Pittsburgh this season. I think a lot of teams in their own division are ahead of them and if they’re going to win more than 80 games again like the previous year,it’ll be by overachieving.
Yes,you see it correctly,I have a team not named the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the NL West. The Rockies have shown the last couple of seasons how good they are and can be,and this Rockies lineup is quite stacked with perennial MVP candidate Nolan Arenado,Trevor Story,Ian Desmond,and Charlie Blackmon. Daniel Murphy came over to help solidify the infield. David Dahl showed in late September what he can do long-term for this club. For a team based in Colorado they sure have a decent pitching staff with German Marquez,Kyle Freeland and Jon Gray at the top of the rotation. Their biggest concern is their bullpen in my opinion with Wade Davis being the biggest standout as the closer. I like this team a lot and think they have a great chance to be the division winner this year. They’re consistently getting better and that monster lineup of theirs is one to fear.
Los Angeles 90-72
The Dodgers are hoping a third straight trip to the World Series will be the charm. Can they make it? I think the task is harder for them this time around. They did sign some outstanding players such as A.J. Pollock who joins a great lineup with Justin Turner,Corey Seager,Cody Bellinger,Max Muncy,and Joc Pederson. The pitching staff looks like it will be good,though they will be missing Clayton Kershaw to start the season. Stepping up will be Kenta Maeda,Hyun-kin Ryu,Rich Hill,and Ross Stripling. Kenley Jansen continues to be one of the league’s top closers. While this Los Angeles is a good one,I do think they’ll slip a little bit based on their pitching staff being shaky without Kershaw and these guys may have trouble staying healthy all season long.
San Diego 82-80
Manny Machado has found a new home,but in the same division,and it’s with the Padres. He joins Eric Hosmer and the newly acquired Ian Kinsler in the San Diego infield with Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe anchoring the outfield. Only time will tell when Fernando Tatis,Jr. joins Machado and Hosmer in the infield at shortstop. I think with Machado coming over this team now has power in the lineup that we haven’t seen in a while here. Their Achilles heel,however,is their pitching rotation,which is a who’s who of starters even I haven’t heard of. If things can go in the Padres’ favor,they may surprise even me and be a playoff team this year,but with not-so-strong starting pitching,that may not happen.
Life without Paul Goldschmidt begins now in Arizona. Jake Lamb is their new first baseman. While it might be time for the Diamondbacks to rebuild,they still have some well-known faces on the team,particularly in the rotation,led by Zack Greinke. Robbie Ray is also a guy who get a lot of strikeouts in the starting rotation. Archie Bradley is still there to close out games. The team also re-signed Eduardo Escobar and added Greg Holland to the bullpen and Wilmer Flores at second base. I think it’s going to take a little time to replace the likes of Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock,but this team does still have some talent,just not enough to win right now.
San Francisco 62-100
Last season the Giants failed to get back to the playoffs and finished with only 73 wins. This season looks like it’s going to be a tougher climb,especially with a collection of guys who finished next to last in home runs last season in a league that’s experiencing a power surge. They had hoped Bryce Harper would come west to solve that,but he passed on that idea. Sure,there’s hope that guys like Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford can return to form,but that’s asking a lot of two guys who are 32 this season. Madison Bumgarner hopes to get back to where he was in 2016 after two injury riddled seasons and Dereck Rodriguez hopes to have a bigger impact in the rotation. In the outfield,it’s anyone’s guess who is going to start on Opening Day,but my money is on Gerardo Parra in right,Steven Duggar in center,and Mac Williamson in left. Overall,it’s going to be a season where a lot of turnover comes about and a lot of patience will be needed to see success return to San Francisco. Hang in there,fans!
Wild Card Game
AL- New York over Tampa Bay
NL-St. Louis over Chicago
AL- Boston over New York,Houston over Cleveland
NL-Milwaukee over St. Louis, Atlanta over Colorado
AL- Houston over Boston
NL-Milwaukee over Atlanta
Houston over Milwaukee
Enjoy the season!