Sunday, March 17, 2019

2019 Major League Baseball Predictions

The 2019 Major League Baseball season gets underway this week when the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners square off with a 2 game series in Japan. They will play at 2:35am  PST on Wednesday, March 20th and Thursday, March 21st. After their series in Japan, they will return to North America and play some more exhibition games. The season will then get underway again for them and everyone else on March 28th. 
It has been another strange offseason for Major League Baseball that still has many free agents that can be impact players still without a team. Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez, are just some of the players without a team at the time of this blog being posted. 
Given the information that I do have though, here are my predictions for the 2019 season...
(* denotes Wild Card team)

Matt Chapman
American League West 
Houston Astros (96-66)
Oakland Athletics (90-72)*
Texas Rangers (81-81)
Los Angeles Angels (78-84)
Seattle Mariners (69-93)

The Houston Astros should find themselves as the first place team in the AL West again with most of their roster from 2018 returning. They are led by a strong starting rotation that includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. They've added Michael Brantley to their outfield which should only help them improve. The Oakland Athletics surprised a lot of people in 2018 when they went 97-65 before losing in the AL Wild Card game to the New York Yankees. As was the case last season, the Athletics question mark is their starting pitching. Last year, they acquired Mike Fiers in a trade and he re-signed with the team during the offseason. Going into 2019, their starting rotation is still plagued by some injuries, but we may see phenom prospect, Jesus Luzardo make his debut. Matt Chapman should continue to impress at the hot corner and continue to get even better. The Texan Rangers have quietly improved themselves during the offseason with some smaller acquisitions. Asdrubal Cabrera and Jesse Chavez are a couple of the new faces to join the Rangers. It'll be weird to see Texas without future Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre, at third base as he retired following the 2018 season. The Los Angeles Angels are hopeful that Tommy John surgery won't prevent 2018 Rookie of The Year, Shohei Ohtani, from being a DH, since he won't be able to pitch. The Angels are hoping their gambles on former All-Star pitchers, Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey, will give them enough pitching strength to carry the team. The Seattle Mariners appear to be in a rebuild mode for 2019. Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion are new additions but could find themselves traded by midseason if the team is not performing well.

Carlos Santana
American League Central
Cleveland Indians (93-69)
Minnesota Twins (87-75)
Detroit Tigers (80-82)
Chicago White Sox (79-83)
Kansas City Royals (71-91)

The Cleveland Indians have one of the better starting pitching staffs in the Majors with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer leading the way. Shortstop Francisco Lindor will keep getting better as a hitter. Cleveland welcomes back Carlos Santana, after he spent 2018 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Another Carlos, Carlos Gonzalez, just signed a minor-league deal with the Indians yesterday. He could also make an impact on their roster. The Indians may want to add some bullpen depth though. The Minnesota Twins go into 2019 without Joe Mauer on the team for the first time since 2003, as the Twins star retired after 2018. Jose Berrios will look to improve on his All-Star season as the ace of the Twins pitching staff. Nelson Cruz signed as a free agent to serve as Minnesota's DH and provide some power.  Miguel Cabrera was limited to 38 games for the Detroit Tigers last season due to injuries. Cabrera enters the season with 465 career home runs and Tigers fans hope he can provide more than the 3 he did last season. Battling the Detroit Tigers for third place will be the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were said to be in on Manny Machado over the offseason but were unable to lure his to the South Side. They did, however, sign his brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso. That's not the same. Speedster Billy Hamilton joins the Kansas City Royals in 2019 as he looks to regain his spark from when he first arrived in the Major Leagues. The Royals received bad news when they found out their catcher, Salvador Perez, would be out for the season due to Tommy John surgery. The Royals knew that would be a big hit to the team so they signed gold glove catcher, Martin Maldonado. to a one-year deal. While that is a good signing, it probably won't be enough.

CC Sabathia
American League East
Boston Red Sox (97-65)
New York Yankees (94-68)*
Toronto Blue Jays (80-82)
Tampa Bay Rays (78-84)
Baltimore Orioles (61-101)

Boston Red Sox's number one question coming into 2019 is whether or not they will have one pitcher be their closer or whether they'll have multiple pitchers take on the role based on the scenario. Craig Kimbrel was their closer in their Championship 2018 season, but as stated previously, he remains unsigned. Dustin Pedroia missed all but 3 games in 2018 and claims he is good to go for 2019 even though he has only played in 4 games so far in Spring Training. CC Sabathia announced he will retire after the 2019 season with the New York Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton had a decent first season for the Yankees but probably not as big as Yankees fans were hoping. He will try to make the Bronx fans even happier in 2019.  Troy Tulowitzki was let go by Toronto even though he was still under contract and New York picked him up for a cheap price. Tulowitzki, coming off an injury plagued season, is now a Comeback Player of The Year candidate. The Toronto Blue Jays probably won't make much of a playoff push but should improve on last season's record. Marcus Stroman is the team's number one starter, but could be traded by the July 31st trade deadline if the team is struggling. The Blue Jays are also entering the season without a veteran catcher on the roster which may be concerning for the pitchers. Tampa Bay had a nice 2018 as Manager Kevin Cash implemented the "opener" strategy. The strategy was hit or miss, but the Rays will miss Sergio Romo, who played a big role on the team. Cy Young Award Winner, Blake Snell, hopes to continue his success in 2019, otherwise it could be a long season for Tampa Bay. The good news for the Baltimore Orioles is they won't lose as many games as they did in 2018. The bad news is they will still lose a lot. Chris Davis will still suck.

Ian Kinsler
National League West
Colorado Rockies (91-71)
Los Angeles Dodgers (86-76)
Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77)
San Diego Padres (79-83)
San Francisco Giants (76-86)

The National League West should be a fairly tight division in 2019. There isn't one team that really blows away any of the competition. The Colorado Rockies should have enough to finish in first place though. Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story lead a powerful lineup that should produce a lot of runs. The Los Angeles Dodgers might be the first-place favorite here if the health status of Clayton Kershaw wasn't in doubt. Walker Buehler seems to be the real deal though so it isn't all bad news for the Dodgers' rotation. Will Max Muncy be able to produce the way he did in 2018 or was he just a one-year wonder? The Arizona Diamondbacks play at a hitter-friendly ballpark but will likely give up more home runs than they hit. They will need to rely on small ball to produce runs on the board. One guy who is good at hitting is Zack Greinke, who is also their star pitcher. The San Diego Padres shelled out 300 million dollars to sign Manny Machado to a 10-year deal. While it will improve the ballclub, even Machado knows not to expect much in his first season with the team. Machado said that the Padres should be able to make a push for the Wild Card which proves he has no expectations of winning the division. It might be different though if he hustled? San Diego also acquired Ian Kinsler who provides veteran leadership. San Diego should be a force to be reckoned with in another season or two as they have a lot of good up and coming prospects. The San Francisco Giants didn't do much in terms of changes to their roster. San Francisco's success will be determined by how healthy the pitchers remain. Will Johnny Cueto even be a factor? He is currently on the 60-Day Injured List. They did acquire starter Drew Pomeranz, so that should help ease the pain a little bit. How much longer will they let Buster Posey play catcher with the younger Aramis Garcia knocking on the door?

National League Central
Andrew Miller
Milwaukee Brewers (98-64)
St. Louis Cardinals (93-69)*
Cincinnati Reds (83-79)
Chicago Cubs (81-81)
Pittsburgh Pirates (74-88)

The Milwaukee Brewers won the Central last season by one game. In 2019, it should be a little easier to win. It certainly won't be a cakewalk though. If it was a cakewalk, Jesus Aguilar would probably eat it all. Christian Yelich looks to lead the Brew Crew further into the playoffs in 2019. They return with one of the nastier bullpens in the game, highlighted by Josh Hader. Adam Wainright is no longer the number one starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Miles Mikolas now holds that claim after winning 18 games in 2018. Will he win 19 in 2019? That would be weird.  The Cardinals surprised many people when they traded for first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, during the offseason. Many people feel that the Cardinals didn't give up much to get him either. The Cardinals will look to Andrew Miller to be one of the leaders in the bullpen. The Cincinnati Reds should be in the playoff race most of the season. They welcome a lot of new additions in 2019 including Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Sonny Gray. Gray currently projects as their number one starter though and he hasn't pitched like one for a while. The Chicago Cubs will be the best fourth place team in the majors. The Cubs have a lot of talent so this is just a hunch on my part. They will be one of the surprise teams in an opposite direction. Jon Lester will get the call again to start for the Cubs on opening day. Utility man, Ben Zobrist, is in the final year of a four year contract and it wouldn't surprise me if this season with the Cubs is the last season of his career. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a young pitching staff that will look to surprise people in 2019. The starters are led by Jameson Taillon, who won 14 games last season. Their outfield has some exciting players with Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco. 2019 might see the firing on Manager Clint Hurdle.

National League East
Rhys Hoskins
Atlanta Braves (92-70)
New York Mets (87-75)*
Washington Nationals (84-78)
Philadelphia Phillies (81-81)
Miami Marlins (66-96)

The Atlanta Braves had a great 2018 season and should only get better in 2019. They added former MVP, Josh Donaldson, on a one-year, 23 million dollar deal. They are hoping that deal pays off for them in the end. They have two of the more exciting younger players in Ronald Acuna, Jr., and Ozzie Albies. The Braves also brought back a familiar face in Brian McCann. Some Braves fans are crossing their fingers that they end up bringing back another familiar face in Craig Kimbrel too. The New York Mets may have had the most exciting offseason of any team. New players to the 2019 squad include Jed Lowrie, Robinson Cano, and Edwin Diaz. There is no doubt the Mets have a great starting pitching staff when healthy. The Mets might sneak up on some people. The Washington Nationals may not have Bryce Harper anymore (who signed for the rest of his life with the Philadelphia Phillies) but they should still fare better than Harper's new team. Max Scherzer shows no signs of slowing down and continues to pile up the strikeouts. Anthony Rendon might be the most underrated third baseman in all of baseball. The guy that should benefit the most on the Philadelphia Phillies from acquiring Harper is Rhys Hoskins (or is that Magneto in the photo?) The Phillies also signed Andrew McCutchen for some outfield help. The best thing about the Miami Marlins in 2019 is their new jerseys! Unfortunately, they still have the worst manager currently in baseball in Don Mattingly. Drew Steckenrider, who had 5 saves in 10 opportunities in 2018, is currently slated to be the team's closer. Yikes. 

Wild Card Games
Oakland Athletics defeat New York Yankees
St. Louis Cardinals defeat New York Mets

Divison Series
Boston Red Sox defeat Oakland Athletics (3-2)
Cleveland Indians defeat Houston Astros (3-1)
Atlanta Braves defeat Colorado Rockies (3-2)
Milwaukee Brewers defeat St. Louis Cardinals (3-0)

Championship Series
Cleveland Indians defeat Boston Red Sox (4-2)
Milwaukee Brewers defeat Atlanta Braves (4-3)

World Series
Cleveland Indians defeat Milwaukee Brewers (4-1)

Season Awards
AL MVP -  Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
NL MVP - Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
AL CY YOUNG - Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
NL CY YOUNG -  Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -  Victor Robles, Washington Nationals
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Troy Tulowitzki, New York Yankees
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR -  Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR - Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers