2019 MLB Preview
It’s that time of year again, where fly balls and fungoes abound and a tiny cohort of unsigned stars hang out in Florida waiting to get $20 million above market. That’s right, the MLB season has begun, and baseball fans such as myself couldn't be happier. Now although some games have passed, every team is still statistically in the Postseason hunt, so let’s take a look at the 2019 season for each MLB squad and either affirm that ambition or crush some dreams. Cue random order:
Let’s start off with an easy one here: they suck.
They’re returning nearly an identical copy of the team that surprised everyone on its way to 90 wins and a division title in 2018, plus a few additions (such as Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann) and some young pitchers that have had another year to mature. A lot of people are banking on a big regression for the Braves, but with a young roster that has even more experience than last year it’s hard to see that coming. However, playing in the NL East got a whole lot more interesting over the offseason, so they’ll definitely have their work cut out for them if they want to return to the Postseason.
Their Postseason run left something to be desired, and so did their run in free agency: after losing Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, Evan Gattis and Martin Maldonado, they only picked up Michael Brantley, Wade Miley and Robinson Chirinos. Nevertheless, their young position players (cough cough Alex Bregman) continue to both excel and negotiate long-term deals, and with hopefully full seasons from their dynamic middle infield duo of Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, the ‘Stros are looking like World Series contenders again in 2019.
St. Louis Cardinals
Talk about the hot pick to go off in 2019. We all know they traded for Paul Goldschmidt then promptly extended him (as well as the forgotten Andrew Miller), but I’m skeptical of this Cardinals team. They are very similar to last year’s squad which performed horribly by St. Louis standards (88 wins) and they are still behind both the Cubs and Brewers in terms of overall team talent. They’ll stay above .500, but a Postseason berth just doesn't appear to be in the “Cards”.
Tampa Bay Rays
Talk about another hot pick to go off in 2019. The Rays rode their opener strategy to a surprisingly good team ERA and 90 wins in 2018, and people are finally starting to notice that the rest of their team is not half bad. They have just about the same team as from the end of last season, but with almost every position player being a youngster a lot of their success this season will fall upon whether or not these guys can step up and fill their potential. Maybe they’d fare better in the National League, but with the A’s and Yankees still major threats Tampa Bay will probably be heading to the Keys come October.
Los Angeles Dodgers
I’d love to reassure everyone and say that the Dodgers aren't going to grab another NL pennant this year, but they seem to find a way every season. Oh and it doesn't hurt that they’re still pretty talented. However, we all know Yasiel Puig is a 10-win player, and with other key guys waving goodbye to Hollywood (Alex Wood, Manny Machado) the Dodgers will have to find other ways to win this season (like hitting eight home runs?). Still, I don’t see them slipping from atop their NL West throne.
Kansas City Royals
“WHOA they might steal a million bases this year bro!” Sure, that’s cool and all, but does anyone really expect KC to win this year? I mean c'mon, there are Double-A teams with better pitching staffs than these guys. Especially with Salvador Perez missing probably the whole year, this is going to be another rough ride in Kansas City.
They finally got Jung-Ho Kang back from Korea, a guy I’ve always loved, and their pitching staff remains one of the better ones out there (assuming some guys maintain their 2018 form) but they simply don’t have the overall talent to compete in the NL Central.
The general consensus is that the A’s can't sustain their torrid run through the MLB from last year, but I don't really see why not. Not only did they keep their whole roster, they even added a few guys (Joakim Soria, Marco Estrada, Kendrys Morales, Jurickson Profar, Chris Herrmann). The only knock on them is their starting pitching, but with such an amazing bullpen you have to wonder how much that matters...expect to see them back in the Postseason.
They lost Bryce Harper and got … better? Their pitching staff is darn near elite, and they fill out nicely at every position. Obviously they’ll need their youngsters to step up if they want to find success, but they are oozing with talent. However, we’ve seen countless Nationals teams with huge amounts of talent miss out or fall short of expectations...maybe it was Harper?
91 wins only? Really? Last year they played in the worst division by far and they still could only manage one more win than the Rays (who have to play Boston and New York). I've giving up rooting for these guys because they never capitalize (see: weak division, 22-game winning streak, multiple MVP-caliber guys). Let’s go Twins!
Best team in the NL last year? Check. Best team in the NL this year? Should be checked come October. They’ve got a great overall team, and the only suspect part (starting pitching) could turn into a strength barring injury. They’ve proven they can outlast the Cubs, and they should remain one of the elite NL squads.
Boston Red Sox
There have been minor changes, but in the end this team is easily a World Series favorite coming off their victory in 2018.
The new uniforms are … different. They’re also just about the only exciting thing to watch for when it comes to 2019 Miami baseball. Poor Starlin Castro … where’s Sixto Sanchez?
Another team I have rooted for over the course of many years, the Twins have a legit shot at the AL Central title this season. If Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano can live up to their potential FOR ONCE then the rest of the team is certainly good enough to make it into the Postseason. They could have a scary good offense this year…
Right when I was about to hype up the Reds, Scooter Gennett goes down for three months to start the season. Yasiel Puig alone should keep them around .500 … while the Reds are definitely stockpiling some intriguing talent at all positions they are still a few years from seriously challenging anyone atop their division.
Toronto Blue Jays
Talk about a random team stuck in limbo. The only reason anyone’s gonna hear about the Blue Jays this season is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but even he can't thrust them into contention. At least they have some fun young guys to watch...maybe Aaron Sanchez can challenge for the Cy Young?
Safe to say Philly aint messing around. They made some serious offseason acquisitions, bringing in names such as Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, and David Robertson. They were in the East lead last year but faltered late, so hopefully the talent influx can get them over the hump and they can capitalize on a division that has no clear winner right now (besides possibly the Phillies). Oh and I don't know if you heard but they got some guy named Bryce Harper? Only hit .249 last year must not be that good…
We’ve been over this before: they made a ton of trades, and none of them seem to have a net positive gain at any position. They have the ability to score some runs, but it’s clear Seattle is rebuilding. Losing Kyle Seager for the start of the season certainly doesn't help…
San Francisco Giants
They have the money and the location, but they weren't able to pull in any big name free agents this offseason, leaving the Giants far from contention or even relevancy at this point. The only interesting thing about their season will be when Madison Bumgarner gets traded…
New York Yankees
Is it possible that their pitching got even scarier from last year? They kept J.A. Happ and Zach Britton, and added James Paxton and Adam Ottavino. They also got some guys to come in and plug all around the diamond on both sides of the ball (cough D.J. Lemahieu), but even so they’ve sustained a large amount of injuries already. Nevertheless, they should secure a Wild Card again this year.
If you only read the headlines about the Cubs last season, you would think they struggled throughout the whole year and missed the Postseason. In reality, they won 95 games (just one behind the division-winning Brewers) and were able to grab the first Wild Card spot (which they did lose). After really down years for superstars like Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, and Jason Heyward (though the last one has grown to be expected by now), the Cubs should see smoother sailing with some bounceback seasons. Oh yeah and their pitching staff is friggin’ good.
Now that Beltre is gone, there isn't as much to cheer about in Arlington. Their team is kind of a mashup of young talent and washed-up vets, which leaves them far from contention. Their rotation is the epitome of has-been, but if those guys can somehow rediscover their previous form then the staff could be really solid this year. They do have some pieces that are going to be real nice for them in the coming years (Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Ronald Guzman, Jose Leclerc) but this year’s going to be another losing one.
People are counting on a regression for the Rockies this year, and they might be onto something. As much as I’d love to see them challenge the Dodgers again and possibly even snatch the NL West title, they just don’t seem to stack up talent-wise. Losing D.J. Lemahieu was a big blow, and their infield quickly went from one of the best young groups in the Majors to having Daniel Murphy playing first base. Sure, the $80 million bullpen will be better this year because, I mean, they can’t possibly be worse, but I sincerely doubt their starters can pull off the same magic at Coors Field. A Postseason berth is going to require a fair amount of luck…
Chicago White Sox
Well, at least Eloy Jimenez made the roster … maybe Yoan Moncada can finally live up to his former-Number One prospect billing? The White Sox will be fun to watch because the horde of young prospects they have, but winning is not going to be a part of their season.
New York Mets
They certainly garnered a lot of hype in the offseason, and I must say the Mets put together a pretty talented roster. If they can stay healthy, they could seriously make a push for the Postseason … ha ha ha we all know they’re doomed. When have the Mets ever stayed healthy?
Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout is here to stay!... and so are the losing seasons. Sure, they tried to gussy up the team with some window dressing, but anyone can see right past that to an organization that continues to fail to give Trout the squad he deserves. With the A’s and Astros still controlling the top of the division, the Angels should find themselves with another mediocre season. At least they’re used to it…
San Diego Padres
Let’s get one thing straight: the Padres ARE NOT contenders. However, I will say they are going to be really good in a few years, this team is oozing with young talent. Might they have found some starting pitching? Either way, I wouldn't expect them to be at .500.
Miggy is back! Praise God hallelujah! This team has a lot of interesting young pieces, and I’m super high on utility man Niko Goodrum (mostly because of his name), but they’re still way too raw to be competing right now, even in a crappy division.
They have clearly entered rebuilding mode, and it shows … their pitching staff is still really good, but with a lack of both talent and experience with their position players the D’Backs shouldn't see too much success in 2019. They might be fighting the Padres for third...