2019 MLB Season Predictions

AL East –

  1. New York Yankees (102-60)

    Yes I do have the Yankees winning the division and posting a second consecutive 100+ win campaign in 2019. No it isn’t just stemming from insane bias or the fact that I kinda have a gambling problem and put my life’s savings on the Bombers to win it all this year. The Yankees have some how managed to improve on an already stacked roster during the off-season. Add on to that, their slew of young stars, poised to take a leap to the next level of their games; and the boys from the Bronx are destined for a big year. Truth be told the only real hindrance I see is an early slump stemming from an injury-laden roster for the first few weeks, and historically bad early season numbers from Giancarlo Stanton. I have Aaron Judge returning to 2017 form (possibly even better) to the tune of an MVP nod at seasons end, which will be bolstered by the Bombers having the best record in baseball.

  2. Boston Red Sox (98-64)

    Believe it or not I don’t hate the Red Sox. Well I mean the franchise as a whole disgusts me, and their recent run of success since the turn of the millennium has sickened me to my core…but I don’t hate them. Being a fan of the game of baseball (more so than a fan of the Yankees) I can appreciate the fact that the 2018 Boston Red Sox were one of the single greatest teams in history. As something of a baseball purist, I consider Mookie Betts to be one of my favorite players for his contact over power identity, although his bat speed does still generate a fair amount of pop at the plate. If the Bo-Sox returned an identical roster to a season ago, then undoubtedly they’d usurp the Yanks as champs of the AL East in 2019. But the absence of a bullpen after not re-signing Craig Kimbrel or Joe Kelly will prove to be their downfall when Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello pitch a phenomenal 6 innings…and the rag tag relievers in the ‘pen blow it late. Still though, they’ll take the first Wild Card spot easily…and Betts will be in the MVP discussion yet again.

  3. Tampa Bay Rays (88-74)

    What a year it was for the Rays in 2018. Despite repeated efforts to mail it in, they somehow amassed a 90 win campaign. Even worse…they had a 90 win campaign in a year when the magic number for the second Wild Card spot was an astounding 97 games. And to add insult to injury, the Cleveland Indians won the AL Central (baseball’s least competitive division) with an identical record. Now we hit 2019, and for the first time in a long time, it appears from the outset that the Rays are willing to spend the necessary dough to contend with the big dogs in the AL East. Despite a valiant effort, unfortunately I have them walking away from 2019 with nothing to show for it yet again. They heart-breakingly miss the playoffs by a game.

  4. Toronto Blue Jays (71-91)

    If you’re a fan of baseball from north of the border,then the 2019 season is really about looking ahead to all of the seasons after this one. The Blue Jays walk into the year boasting one of the most impressive, all-potential, squads in recent memory. We’ve heard the hype surrounding Vlad Guerrero Jr., and the club has been adamant that he will join the big league roster as soon as he is healthy. Truth be told in the short term though, I’m more excited by the likes of Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen, both of whom I predict will outpace Vlad in their rookie campaigns. Think of them as something like the Miguel Andujar to his Gleyber Torres. His future might be brighter with more eyes fixated on him…but they have MLB-ready games and an earlier crack at playing at the big league level.

  5. Baltimore Orioles (46-116)

    Last year, the Baltimore Orioles lost 117 games…that’s historically bad. Many people project them as doing even worse, but truthfully I don’t know that that’s actually possible. The O’s boast a roster of fringe talents, guys who haven’t quite hit their ceilings yet but despite low expectations still could surprise some folks. Something of an unpopular opinion here, but I think the Orioles have a number of guys who could break through in 2019 to the tune of a legit All-Star nod, and prove themselves to be franchise cornerstones in a rebuilding effort that’s slated to take a nice long while to get under way. If nothing else, they’ll be an interesting watch because Chris Davis is their everyday guy at First Base…and he very well could set a big league record for strikeouts in a season.

 

AL Central

  1. Cleveland Indians (91-71)

    I’ve gone on the record as saying numerous times that the AL Central will yet again to be the weakest in baseball. So appropriately, the Indians are likely the weakest lock to win a division in baseball history. After a pair of leg injuries, they’ll be without the electrifying Francisco Lindor for at least the first month and a half of the season. Despite quieting talks as Spring Training rolled around, many experts still believe that the Tribe is a lock to trade either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer by the trade deadline this summer. Either one could yield a fair return prospect wise, to help the Indians rebuild an abysmal farm system, in a year where they’re essentially guaranteed a postseason trip anyways. The biggest eyesore on the team continues to be their painfully bad outfield, which features 3 starters who actually might not have made the big league roster on any other playoff contender in baseball…let alone a starting gig. They’re going to win the division, but it won’t be pretty.

  2. Minnesota Twins (89-73)

    This is something of a slippery slope for me. I think the Twins have the potential to overtake the Indians in the Division in 2019, but sooooooo many things have to go their way. For starters, they’ll need all of their flashy new offensive acquisitions (Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, & Marwin Gonzalez) will have to hit the ground running to put the pressure on Cleveland to keep pace without Lindor leading their charge. Additionally they’ll need the superstar campaign out of 24 year-old ace, Jose Berrios, that the baseball world believes he’s capable of. And lastly…this team is going to need to find a 5th (and potentially 4th) starter. I mean seriously look at their depth chart right now, the team literally only has 4 people capable of starting ballgames for them consistently. And one of them is the never-healthy Michael Pineda. The Twins’ front office with have to focus all of its efforts this spring on finding another top of the rotation arm, or at least a pair of mid-rotation guys to add some much needed depth. Ultimately they’re destined to give the Indians a sizable scare, before settling in to duke it out with the A’s and Rays for the final playoff berth.

  3. Chicago White Sox (75-87)

    This is a team I’ve been irrationally high on for what seems like too long. I bought high on the Yoan Moncada hype train when the Chi-Sox acquired him in the Chris Sale package in 2017. I’ve been in awe of Tim Anderson’s glovework at short, anxiously waiting for him to turn the corner at the plate as well. I’m in love with the top of the rotation potential that Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Michael Kopeh have shown flashes of. This winter I genuinely believed that Manny Machado would be the final piece to the puzzle for a White Sox team that desperately needed a middle of the lineup bat. It didn’t happen, and I got a little down for that franchise…until I watched Eloy Jimenez swing a baseball bat this spring. My goodness does that kid pack a punch…unfortunately for the Sox it won’t be enough to chase down the Indians or Twins this year. But it bodes quite well for their future that their young guys put on something of a show this year.

  4. Detroit Tigers (66-96)

    If you’re a fan of Detroit Tigers baseball…I’m so sorry. The franchise has never been much to write home about, and the slogan of the 2019 campaign will essentially be “at least we weren’t the worst”. Within the division, the Royals have far less talent. Within the American League, the Orioles and Rangers will be horrendous. And when you broaden the spectrum to encompass the full slate of teams in the bigs, there’s always the very very very very bad Miami Marlins. So here’s to you Detroit, you’re bad, but you’re not the worst.

  5. Kansas City Royals (59-103)

    What a fall from grace it has been for the 2015 World Series champions. But such is the life of a small market franchise. You build up the farm system, it bears fruit, you contend, they leave for bigger cities, and repeat. Right now the Royals are locked into rebuilding mode, in the hopes that they are able to secure a few more young talents who could become cornerstones on the next contending roster. In the meantime though, we have Raul Mondesi Jr., Whitt Merrifield, and about half a season of Salvador Perez to enjoy in KC…you know, until they trade him to a bigger market too.

 

 

AL West

  1. Houston Astros (101-61)

    Far and away, the Houston Astros have been one of the most consistently good (if not great) teams in baseball for the last 5 seasons. They’ve build up an immaculate core of players, bursting at the seams with game ready talent, and even more untapped potential bubbling beneath the surface. 2017 was the year of the little guy, with the 5’6 Jose Altuve outlasting the 6’8 Aaron Judge on the MVP race. 2018 saw a breakout campaign for the Alex Bregman, and most baseball minds expect to extend even further this year. In 2019 we could see either of them make a run at the MVP award, and then there’s their infield-mate, Carlos Correa, who can still be just as incredible if he can stay healthy this year. The sky is certainly the limit for this squad, and a World Series appearance could be on the way…

  2. Oakland A’s (87-75)

    Let me start this out by saying that I have long been a fan of the Oakland Athletics. I was big on this team as a kid, and I briefly tried to hit left-handed for a stretch (to no success) in order to mimic the batting stance of Eric Chavez in the early 2000s. The point I’m trying to make is that nobody was happier to see the Athletics win 97 games last year, briefly taking over the division lead out West, and settling in for a heck of a game against the Yankees in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. And in 2019 nobody will be more upset about them missing the mark (by just a couple of games) than I will be. This team is largely the same as it was a year ago, with a couple of small but very crucial differences. As much as I like Franklin Barreto as their plucky young second baseman, he will not produce a league leading statistic in the hit column like Jed Lowrie did a year ago. There’s no more surprise factor surrounding Matt Chapman, Kris Davis, Matt Olson, or Marcus Semien as talents. And the “opener” strategy isn’t a viable substitute for an actual starting rotation over the course of 162 games. Best case scenario they make me look stupid en route to another 90+ win campaign and the playoffs. Worst case scenario…I’m right. But for A’s fans there’s a guiding light here, people who read my columns often can tell you that I’m pretty much never right.

  3. Los Angeles Angels (84-78)

    I desperately want this team to be good. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up passionately disliking the team for their ability to steal away key free agents from the Yankees, and dismantling the A’s within the division constantly…but I really want the best for this current iteration of the team. In a move that literally no-one on earth would have advised him to make, Mike Trout signed on the dotted line to extend his tenure with the Halos through the end of his career. That means he completely rid himself of the opportunity to move elsewhere if the team was unable to build a contender around him. News flash: they haven’t been able to do it yet. The Angels look a tick better than they did a year ago (once Ohtani returns in an offense-only capacity this summer), but overall this roster isn’t exactly built to hold many surprises. Which means if they don’t show a massive wave of organizational improvement in 2019, the future looks bleak for fans rooting for the best player since Griffey, to get a World Series opportunity.

  4. Seattle Mariners (70-92)

    Come November, and the bitter end of the baseball season, the Ichiro Suzuki send off in Japan will still hold up as the stand-alone greatest moment of 2019. It was touching, beautiful, and justified for a man I whole-heartedly believe will become the second unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the year 2024 when he is first deemed eligible. With the M’s prodigal son sailing off in to the sunset now though, that means Seattle is in for 160 games where the sole focus will be their ability to rebuild. This is a team who knows they’re headed for the cellar, the question is how quickly can they rebound. That’s the story line here as we march towards the trade deadline, where the Mariners will be poised to move damn near anyone they can in exchange for future assets.

  5. Texas Rangers (63-99)

    My standings predictions have the Texas Rangers sitting behind the Mariners, but when you aren’t really contending wins and losses don’t exactly way all that heavily. In reality the Rangers are light-years ahead of the M’s in their rebuilding efforts. Slowly but surely, the inklings of a franchise-core are beginning to show. Guys like Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Joey Gallo, and Willie Calhoun embody the future of a Rangers ball club poised to begin turning the corner in the coming years. Add to it the fact that the Rangers’ new era will include a new home in the vibrantly built-up Dallas-entertainment district with Cowboys’ stadium, and you start to realize that this team is going to be alright.

 

NL East

  1. Washington Nationals (95-67)

    Unpopular opinion: the Washington Nationals are a better team without Bryce Harper on their roster. Granted that’s not really why they’re better, I do believe it plays a bigger role than one might think. Without Harper, the Nats now boast a contact & defense oriented starting lineup, to backup the best starting rotation in Major League Baseball. I don’t care what anyone says about the Mets, Red Sox, Astros, or anyone else truthfully…the Nationals legitimately have 3 aces that they can role out to start a game, and it wouldn’t shock me by any means to see an all-Washington list of finalists for the NL Cy Young Award. This team is built as the contrarian to modern baseball’s philosophy on big bats and bullpens. As a baseball purist, these are the guys you adamantly need to be pulling for. Top to bottom they’re a group of hard workers, with gobs of talent. Throw in Juan Soto and Victor Robles oozing superstar potential with every at-bat, and these guys are going to be better off post-Bryce than I think a lot of people care to admit.

  2. Philadelphia Phillies (89-73)

    Now what if I told you that in 2019, a 13-year $330 million Phillies signing would be the least important move that the team made from an on-the-field perspective. That’s right, before the 2015 NL MVP even signed on the dotted line, the Philadelphia Phillies had already crafted themselves a very nice roster. Building on their early success from a year ago, the Philly added Jean Segura, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto, and Andrew McCutchen. Those other acquisitions collectively moved the needle in the right direction far more than Bryce Harper (or Manny Machado) could have ever done. Sure Harper will draw in fans, generate revenue, and if he returns to MVP form he could get them over the proverbial hump in the NL East. But this is a team that with or without a superstar was ready to compete in 2019.

  3. Atlanta Braves (86-76)

    It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for Atlanta that a year after their early arrival to the playoff picture, they’ll be missing the postseason, even if it’s just by a matter of a game or two. They’re hindered by the fact that they didn’t really do all that much to actually improve their roster. Sure a healthy Josh Donaldson is a massive improvement to their infield, but outside of that this team did little else while the rest of the division (minus the Marlins) took major strides to overtake the NL East. The name of the game in sports is constant improvement and reinvention, but it appears that at least for this year, the season will be lost by the Braves because of their misguided-comfort and complacency.

  4. New York Mets (86-76)

    This is going to sting for a Mets organization and it’s fan-base who have for once have a lot going for them. Despite a resoundingly bad approval rating from fans and rival front offices alike, the early days of the Brodie Van Wagen era in Queens have been a relative success. His win-now approach to the GM role was initially met with criticism, but on paper this year’s New York squad looks about as good as it has since its appearance in the 2015 World Series. Of course, a lot of weight will be hinged on player-health, a well-documented sore spot for the Metropolitans. But if they stay healthy this team could at least take a shot at the Wild Card, if not make a run for divisional supremacy. The only real downside for the Amazins’ right now is the uncertainty of Noah Syndergaard’s long term future with the franchise. Long a target of trade rumors, many believe his fate has been sealed with the Mets opting to re-sign reigning Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom to a long term deal. So the question becomes, do they keep him through a playoff push, or try to get a nice return if they don’t love their chances by mid-season. Conventional wisdom says the latter…but conventional wisdom also says you shouldn’t hire your star players’ agent as your new General Manager…

  5. Miami Marlins (49-113)

    I don’t know what I’m supposed to say here…trust the process? The fish are due for some very lean years, but then again aren’t they always? There’s a progressively brighter future as Jeter & Co. have navigated the trade market better each time they look to move a star, now yielding legitimate top prospects in the Yelich and Realmuto moves. I guess the biggest issue now is that they’re sort of out of stars to try and move. But hey there’s a Yankees’ Core Four reunion happening at every meeting in the Front Office, so that’s something I guess…

 

NL Central

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (90-72)

    This is the biggest example of a record in 2019, not quite reflecting the caliber of the team bearing it. The Milwaukee Brewers, for my money, are the best team in the National League heading into the new campaign. Top to bottom this team is pretty loaded, but they’re playing in what is unquestionably baseball’s toughest division. They going to get put through the ringer and just like everyone else in the NL Central, they’re going to be bludgeoned to the tune of a near-.500 divisional record hindering them from a ballooning 100+ win season. The biggest difference here though, is that this Brewers team can and will emerge from the war across the Midwest as back to back divisional champs. Most curious for me is whether or not Christian Yelich can double on his MVP (almost Triple-Crown) year, or if it’ll be Lorenzo Cain’s turn to shine the brightest in Miller Park.

  2. Chicago Cubs (88-74)

    By the measurements of most baseball writers and GMs, this is an absurdly high ranking for a Chicago Cubs team that has no bullpen, and so many questions about their depth. The 2016 World Series Champions have just about hollowed out their minor league system in their pursuit of a contender. They had their time in the sun, but now they’re stuck facing the underbelly of those decisions. Having promoted the last crop of high-upside talents to the bigs last season, the Cubs have rendered themselves relatively incapable of adding to their roster in 2019 should they need to. They have nobody left who can pop up to the Majors in the middle of the season and light a spark for the club, nor the necessary talent pool to trade for a ready-made star that can help them out. This ranking for the Cubbies is highly predicated on an unrealistic scenario in which everyone stays healthy and lives up to their potential, but who am I to be a pessimist at such an early juncture.

  3. St. Louis Cardinals (86-76)

    The Red Birds did very little this offseason truthfully, but it’s the impact of what they accomplished that will lead to them being right in the thick of things in the NL Central. They landed Paul Goldschmidt, arguably the best first baseman in baseball for the past few years, and if he lives up to the hype in St. Louis he might finally be bringing home that MVP hardware, as well as earning the Cardinals a playoff berth. Ultimately though their success will have to be based on the collective play of a ton of youth that encompasses their roster. They have a lot of youngsters who have shown flashes of brilliance earlier, but have yet to prove they can consistently play at an elite level. Among the most underrated signings of the offseason for me was Andrew Miller, a man who when healthy is as lights out as there is in baseball, and is now poised to be paired with one of the hardest throwing relievers in the game, Jordan Hicks.

  4. Cincinnati Reds (83-79)

    Who would’ve thought that in this age of sports, where you’re told to either strive for the top or bottom, the Cincinnati Reds would make a move that on the surface appears to direct them for the middle of the road. But if you take a deeper look, this team is bursting with young talent who have breakout potential. Add to that mix the ever-controversial lightning rod known as Yasiel Puig, and this is a fringe pretender turned legit contender very fast. Also can we take a quick moment to highlight a Hall of Fame talent who has never received his due credit despite years of elite production, Joey Votto. He has been baseball’s premier first baseman post-Pujols’ move to LA, and he is still somehow getting better every single day. All told, it makes absolutely no sense, but if you’re looking for some exciting baseball this summer, tune your MLB Extra Innings subscription to the Reds as often as possible.

  5. Pittsburgh Pirates (83-79)

    Somehow, post-McCutchen & Cole trades, the Pittsburgh Pirates found themselves in legitimate playoff contention right up through September. What the team lacked in star power, they more than made up for with incredible depth and versatility. So many of their youngsters came to play early and often, and with the return of Jung Ho Kang to the heart of their order this season, this team is poised to do damage. They’ll be part of this NL Central warfare, and will play a huge role in sullying the records of otherwise phenomenal teams in this division. Unfortunately someone has to finish last in this division, and the Pirates in 2019 just aren’t up to snuff with the rest of the dogs in this fight.

 

NL West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (93-69)

    A lot of people were very disappointed in the Dodgers’ pretty lax offseason. They shed some salary in a move that sent a pair of dynamic outfield bats to Cincy, and many thought that signaled a push for Bryce Harper. Although they did make a competitive offer, their late-to-the-dance approach, coupled with a misunderstanding of his desire for years over money, led to a pretty empty free agent haul. That being said this team is still a very formidable one indeed. They return their young shortstop Cory Seager who missed all of 2018, and once their ace Clayton Kershaw returns in mid-May, they’ll be at full health for the first time in years. Add to it, the flexibility that not signing Harper affords them at the trade deadline…and we’re probably going to see a wealth of Dodgers trade rumors circumnavigating our ESPN alerts every day come July. They’re the most complete team in the West, and even if they don’t play that way, they’ll do whatever they can to right the ship early.

  2. Colorado Rockies (86-76)

    The Rockies were my original pick to take the NL West crown this year because they really did manage to improve their roster over the offseason. Daniel Murphy is a great pickup for them, and re-upping Nolan Arenado proves to me that the Rockies are in it for the long haul. That being said, long an issue in Coors Field has been the ability of Rockies pitchers to navigate consecutive dominant seasons. So with all of the outstanding pitching we saw from an understated young rotation a year ago, I hate to be the guy who says we should expect some regression. Additionally, this team is hurting from the loss of DJ Lemahieu on the right side of their infield. While the Murphy pickup is great, he can only man one of the spots on the right, so pairing him with another contact-based hitter over there would have been perfect for the Colorado lineup. There’s a chance someone steps up and takes over either 1st or 2nd with consistency, but Ryan McMahon’s struggles early in his career leave me wondering whether or not anyone else in the Rockies system is up to the task of playing good baseball on a contender.

  3. San Diego Padres (81-81)

    I think a lot of people are overestimating the 2019 impact of the Manny Machado signing in San Diego. He’s a phenomenal ballplayer don’t get me wrong, but he also isn’t going to single-handedly drag a perennial cellar-dweller to the promised land, baseball doesn’t work like that. What I do love though is the collection of MLB-ready youth that San Diego boasts this year. Add in to that, their shocking willingness to promote early and often despite service time implications, and this is a team that could make some serious noise. Best case scenario I have the Padres sitting as a fringe-playoff contender, capable of shaking some things up over the summer. Worst case scenario, this just isn’t the year for them, but they get themselves set up to be a threat in 2020 with some much needed big league experience for all of their high-potential prospects. The Padres are going to be good, it’s no longer a matter of if…just when…

  4. San Francisco Giants (77-85)

    The San Francisco Giants are a team desperately in need of blowing the roster up and starting again. They seem to be clinging a little too aggressively to glory days of their even-year dynasty, and they’re showing an unwillingness to throw in the towel even now that yet another NL West foe is poised to pass them up in the standings. If you’re a fan of the Giants you basically have to root for a very bad start to the year, and then a mass fire-sale of talent around the trade deadline to reel in whatever prospects you can muster for the huge payday players like Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. The Giants aren’t going to tend in 2019, and truth be told, this 4-game below .500 record was probably a gross-overestimation of this team’s ability. This is going to be a bad baseball team for the foreseeable future, so San Francisco fans should be ready for some very lean years. But hey, at least you’ve got the Warriors to look forward to!

  5. Arizona Diamondbacks (68-94)

    The Arizona Diamondbacks fall from contention comes a little too soon in the hearts of most fans. The D-Backs only peaked with a 2017 visit to the NLDS, where they got eliminated by the division rival Dodgers in a three game sweep. After that, the franchise seemed to fold instantly in large part due to their gross overpaying of aging stars like Zack Grienke. They started to sell off their prized assets in the past few months, now fixating themselves on getting the best bang for their buck with a youth movement. Expect that theme to continue throughout the 2019 campaign as they look to unload even more as we near baseball’s new stand-alone trade deadline at the end of July. The D-Backs won’t be contenders this year…unless you consider nearing the top of the draft order contending…but then again most of my readers are Knicks fans so…

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