April is almost here, and when the month begins, so will the MLB season. Just like in my last 7 years writing this blog, I have put together predictions for the season. We only got 60 MLB games last year, but for this year we’ll have a full 162 game season. I just went on my cousin Michael Philipkosky’s podcast, the Master Plan, to discuss all 30 teams, with one episode for the AL and one episode for the NL. Monday, I posted the AL podcast alongside my predictions. You can check out the NL podcast here, and I have my full NL predictions below.
Atlanta Braves (100-62, #2 seed)
New York Mets (91-71, #5 seed)
Philadelphia Phillies (89-73)
Washington Nationals (82-80)
Miami Marlins (78-84)
This might be the best division in baseball. The Braves and Mets will be competing for the division title most likely. Atlanta has a great duo of star hitters in first baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. Their rotation is also starting to come together between younger pitchers like Ian Anderson and veterans like Charlie Morton (signed this offseason). The Mets were purchased by Steve Cohen this offseason, and he told Mets fans that the Mets would leave mediocrity behind them and act like the big market team they are. Cohen hired a new GM, and the team made a ton of moves, highlighted by a trade for shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. You also can’t forget that they have Jacob deGrom who’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball.
That doesn’t mean the other teams won’t be competitive. It will be difficult to secure a playoff spot in the NL, but the rest of these teams will at least fail trying. Philadelphia has their flaws, but between outfielder Bryce Harper, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, and a nice top two starting pitchers in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, they have a lot of talent. This should be a somewhat competitive team, but the bullpen among other minor problems could hold them back, similar to how the Celtics have struggled this season in the NBA. The Nationals experienced a World Series hangover last year, and I think they’ll see some improvement in 2021 even though that will be tough in this division. They brought in first baseman Josh Bell alongside outfielder Juan Soto and an amazing rotation. Washington has as much star power as most teams in baseball, but they lack the depth to make a run in this NL East.
The Marlins were the joke of the division back in 2019, but they saw many young pitchers break out and lead them to a 2020 playoff spot. The outfield has really come along as well with Adam Duvall joining Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson. I think the Marlins have definitely made progress in their rebuild, more so than the Tigers and Orioles who saw surprising starts to the season last year. However, it will be hard for Miami to make the playoffs again now that they are back down to 10 teams (you never know though).
Even though the Mets and Braves are frontrunners, I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of these teams in the playoffs.
Cincinnati Reds (88-74, #3 seed)
St. Louis Cardinals (87-75)
Chicago Cubs (80-82)
Milwaukee Brewers (65-97)
Pittsburgh Pirates (53-109)
I doubt more than one team makes the playoffs out of this division. Compared to the depth of the NL East and the star power of the NL West, the NL Central is not in a good spot. I think the Reds and Cardinals will be competing for that spot. The Reds lost starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, but the lineup is still strong and the rotation is still serviceable despite depth problems behind Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo. The Cardinals were already decent last year. Now they brought in star third baseman and MVP candidate Nolan Arenado. That could put them in a position to contend, but I still don’t see them dominating this division.
The Cubs were looking like they were in for a long rebuild after cutting contracts early in the offseason. However, after lots of rumors they decided to hold on to third baseman Kris Bryant and add some rotation depth. If they were trying to rebuild, they halted that effort. If they’re trying to contend, I don’t see them achieving that goal. The Cubs haven’t really chosen what direction to go in, and I expect that they will decide by the time the Trade Deadline rolls around. If not, they’ll be stuck in the middle for now.
The Brewers may have 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich in their lineup, but this rotation is not anywhere close to the other teams in this division. They’ll need to add pitching before they think about contending again.
They’ll still be better than Pittsburgh, a rebuilding team in their own realm. They already traded first baseman Josh Bell and I bet outfielder Gregory Polanco will be gone by midseason. That will leave an inexperienced roster with no sign of improvement anytime soon. They’ll need some prospects to develop before they contend again. That development will start by letting the MLB ready prospects like third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes start.
Los Angeles Dodgers (107-55, #1 seed)
San Diego Padres (94-68, #4 seed)
Arizona Diamondbacks (81-81)
San Francisco Giants (77-85)
Colorado Rockies (65-97)
The Dodgers are another team that will be in their own realm: a realm of dominance. This lineup is highlighted by outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger but has a lot of talent and depth around those two including Corey Seager and Justin Turner. The lineup isn’t even the best part here. The Dodgers have David Price, Dustin May, and Julio Urias competing for their final two rotation spots! That’s because they have Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, and Walker Buehler as their top three. No team in baseball has a rotation that can compete with that. The Dodgers are the closest thing I’ve seen in a while to a lock for the best record in baseball. The question is whether the Dodgers will choke in the playoffs like they did in 2017, 2018, and 2019 before winning it all in 2020.
Everyone’s been debating whether the Dodgers or Padres will win this division. I don’t understand how you can have that debate. The Padres are a really good baseball team. In some other divisions they’d come out on top. In this division they seem to be a lock for a Wild Card spot. The Padres rotation went from inconsistent at best to one of the better rotations in baseball. This offseason they brought in Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove to bolster the pitching staff. The lineup was already strong, headlined by third baseman Manny Machado and the young Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop. However, you can’t put them on the same level as the Dodgers.
Behind those two teams, this division isn’t anything spectacular. The Diamondbacks might be the definition of average. They don’t have many standout players, but they have a serviceable lineup and a serviceable rotation. This is a high floor, low ceiling team. They will most likely be close to, if not exactly .500. They should beat up on the Giants and Rockies but cannot come anywhere close to competing with the Dodgers and Padres.
The Giants have improved between developing young talent and bringing in a couple of veterans. This isn’t their year though. Maybe next year they’ll see more improvement and cook up some even year magic. The Rockies have actually regressed since last year. They dealt away Arenado and shortstop Trevor Story and outfielder Charlie Blackmon could be gone soon too. The core of the lineup is beginning to disband and though the rotation saw some success last year, it’s nothing spectacular.
That’s all for my MLB predictions this year. Stay tuned for more baseball coverage soon, including my MLB playoff bracket which I’ll be posting at some point on Twitter.
I understand, this a little late, as Opening Day was Thursday, and the Red Sox didn’t look so great Thursday even though they are a part of this Top 6. But I figured I’d finish this series since there’s only one article left.
Welcome to the final article of my 2019 MLB preseason power rankings. This season, you could argue the Super Seven that was discussed a few years back still exists, except with different teams. The Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, and Yankees have remained elite, and despite declines by the Nationals, Indians, and Dodgers (probably) , new powerhouses in this league have arised. The Braves should be regular contenders now, the Cardinals could make a run with 1B Paul Goldschmidt here for the long run, and the Phillies should be competitive with Bryce Harper. But Philadelphia isn’t quite on the level of these other teams. So unless the Dodgers do stay elite after all, I think the Super Seven will become a Super Six. I will be discussing those six today and pointing out the Achilles Heel of each team. Click the links below for other articles in the series (I will add them as I post them):
The Cardinals haven’t made the playoffs in a few years, sure. But the veterans they kept around from their last playoff run, like Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina, are still reliable contributors. They have also boosted the team with younger talent, including SP Jack Flaherty, OFs Harrison Bader and UT Jose Martinez, and SS Paul DeJong. After adding star in Goldy, the Cardinals have the tools they need for contention. But how far can they go in such a tough division? They will have to get past their division rivals that are also contending, the Cubs and Brewers.
The Achilles Heel
The Cards’ rotation looks alright and its young core will keep the rotation elite for a long time. But right now they lack an ace. I don’t believe they can be a World Series contender without one. Whether they need a trade to find an ace or someone steps up as time passes, this could hold them back from serious contention and should be priority #1 for GM Steve Keim. Maybe Martinez could be a good trade piece now that 1B Paul Goldschmidt is on board.
Projected Finish: 93-69, 2nd in NL Central
5. Boston Red Sox
The Case for the Red Sox
The defending World Series champions had a relatively quiet off-season. They did retain most of the team from 2018 that won 108 games. But the bullpen has been their biggest issue, even with Craig Kimbrel. Without Craig Kimbrel, there is even more pressure on the rotation to succeed. This is especially true regarding Chris Sale and David Price. After Sale’s extension, both will be expected to to shine every start in order to be worth the money. Each start costs about $1 million dollars. Regardless of this pressure, the Red Sox should at least secure a Wild Card spot if they can’t beat out the Yankees in the AL East. They are still one of several powerhouses in the league.
The Achilles Heel
With Craig Kimbrel on the way out, the closer role is up for grabs. But if you look at the active pitchers on the roster, it’s hard to imagine any of them as a consistent closer. If the Red Sox wanted to repeat, they would’ve invested more in this bullpen rather than focusing so much on the rotation. They need to add a closer unless Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, or someone else steps up soon.
Projected Finish: 93-69, 2nd in AL East
4. Atlanta Braves
The Case for the Braves
The Braves’ rebuild began to pay off last season as their younger players broke through. This off-season seemed quiet, but they filled a gaping hole at third by adding Josh Donaldson. They also brought back OF Nick Markakis, and they have reportedly been targeting a reunion with CL Craig Kimbrel. This small series of moves could make a big difference in Atlanta. These moves, alongside development of OF Ronald Acuna Jr. and 2B Ozzie Albies among other should transform the Braves from solely a division contender into a World Series contender. The Braves are my World Series winner this year. I expect 1B Freddie Freeman, Albies, Donaldson, and others to combine to make for one of the best lineups in the league.
The Achilles Heel
Health is definitely a concern, especially considering the fact that Atlanta will start the 2019 season with two starting pitchers on the IL. Donaldson is also injury prone, and if he goes down, Johan Camargo is the next best option at third base. I don’t trust Camargo as a starter. If the team stays healthy in the long run, they could be serious contenders. Otherwise, they could be in a bit of trouble.
Projected Finish: 93-69, 1st in NL East
3. Chicago Cubs
The Case for the Cubs
The Cubs may have been quiet this off-season, but a healthy Yu Darvish will boost the rotation, the bullpen has plenty of depth despite questions at closer, and the lineup is looking pretty solid. Their decision to move Javier Baez to shortstop full time and put Ben Zobrist at second is very smart, as SS Addison Russell was inconsistent and had some character issues. The Cubs have dominated in the National League ever since their World Series winning year in 2016, but with a health a concern and the division getting tougher, will the Cubs be able to keep up the good work?
The Achilles Heel
The Cubs were unable to do much this off-season, and they could have used another outfielder. LF Kyle Schwarber and RF Jason Heyward are viable starters, but they are very streaky and inconsistent. Albert Almora Jr. is the best option in center field. Chicago should have added another center fielder to start over Almora some days and fill in for Heyward and Schwarber during slumps.
Projected Finish: 94-68, 1st in NL Central
2. New York Yankees
The Case for the Yankees
After pairing new slugger Aaron Judge with Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees underperformed in 2018. Yes, they made the playoffs and won 100 games. But they were overshadowed and eliminated by their bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox. This year, the Red Sox will be without their star closer, while the Yankees fixed up a problematic rotation and built one of the most stacked bullpens in history. This will allow the Yankees to propel past the Red Sox and win the AL East. But in Boston and New York, it’s all about championships, and the Yankees aren’t will have to work for a World Series victory, even with the stacked roster.
The Achilles Heel
The Yanks have some nice pieces in their infield. But if Troy Tulowitzki and Greg Bird fail to stay healthy, they are left with D.J. LeMahieu as their best infielder. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar have not reached their prime yet, and Luke Voit must still prove that 2018 was not a fluke. So I’m a bit concerned in terms of infield depth for the Yankees.
Projected Finish: 94-68, 1st in AL East
1. Houston Astros
The Case for the Astros
The Astros are two years removed from their World Series victory, a result of a 5-year rebuild that made the Astros one of the MLB’s worst for a good 2-3 year span. Now, the Astros are still one of the league’s elite teams, but they lost some of their starting rotation depth this off-season, forcing two starter-turned-relievers back into the rotation. They did bring in OF Michael Brantley and UT Aledmys Diaz, filling the hole UT Marwin Gonzalez left. Though Houston took a slight step back this off-season, I still have them as my AL West winners and the team with the best regular season record. Considering the young core they have put together in the last several years, they should be elite for a long, long, time now.
The Achilles Heel
Evan Gattis is no longer on the team, which means Tyler White must be trusted as Houston’s regular DH. This could be a prove-it situation for White, but if White struggles, what then? They could bring Gattis back, or they could just put Diaz back there. They could even call up Kyle Tucker to play DH. This one’s an easy fix, just something to keep an eye on.
Projected Finish: 96-66, 1st in AL West
That’s all for this year’s preseason MLB power rankings. Come back at the end of April for my first 2019 set of monthly power rankings.
The time has finally come. If you are reading this, the NFL season is over, both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have signed, and Spring Training has begun. After a long off-season, baseball is finally back, and it is time for my MLB 2019 Predictions. I will be predicting each team’s win-loss record, sharing my projected playoff bracket, and sharing some award predictions. My projected World Series winner is a team that began rebuilding a couple years after the Astros and Cubs rebuilds and has now followed in their footsteps to contention. Keep reading to find out who that team is and how they will achieve a World Series victory.
Part I: Projected Records
New York Yankees (94-68) (2nd Seed in AL Playoffs)
Boston Red Sox (93-69) (4th Seed in AL Playoffs)
Toronto Blue Jays (80-82)
Tampa Bay Rays (75-87)
Baltimore Orioles (67-95)
2018 was Boston’s year. They built up the roster preparing for a World Series, and now the damage is done. Expect a mild World Series hangover due to the departure of closer Craig Kimbrel and the loss of momentum. If Kimbrel returns, they may be more equipped to repeat. But right now, as much as I hate to admit it, the Yankees have the most talent in the division. Their rotation depth issues are finally fixed, the bullpen could go down in record books, and the lineup is still flooded with big hitters, including the superstar duo of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. Expect New York to win the division this time around, but the Red Sox should still easily score a Wild Card spot.
Toronto should be moving quickly in their rebuild thanks to a talented group of prospects including the leagues #1 prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Now, they are an extra starting pitcher away from becoming a sub .500 team close to contention. Remember, they are just a couple years removed from the start of a rebuild. But this group of prospects will give them a respectable major league roster by the end of the season. With Toronto on the rise, the Rays will take a step back. The Rays never really replaced 1B C.J. Cron, OF Carlos Gomez, or reliever Sergio Romo. If they want to keep using an opener, they’ll need to beef up the bullpen. Otherwise, expect significant regression in 2019. They were right on the verge of contention in 2018. Had they beefed up the roster a little more, they might have had playoff chances this year. But instead, they’ll sit towards the bottom of the AL East. However, the Orioles will remain in the AL East basement after a 47 win season. The Orioles finally began a full rebuild in 2018, but this may be a long, painful rebuild considering their 2018 final record.
Cleveland Indians (89-73) (3rd Seed in AL Playoffs)
Chicago White Sox (82-80)
Minnesota Twins (80-82)
Kansas City Royals (68-94)
Detroit Tigers (66-96)
Despite an underwhelming off-season, the Indians should be able to stay atop the AL Central. In most other divisions, the Indians would have to fight for a Wild Card spot, but in the AL Central, they should have an easier route to the playoffs, as none of the other teams in their division are ready for contention. Despite coming up short in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, the White Sox made several improvements this off-season that can assist their young core in the next step towards contention. If they add a starter or two and another infielder, they could be chasing the Indians for the division by 2020. The Twins won’t see a significant improvement this year, but hopefully the return of SP Michael Pineda and better years from Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton will help them move up the standings slightly.
That leaves the Royals and Tigers, two rebuilding teams, in the basement of the AL Central. With Billy Hamilton on board and some of their younger players ready to start, the Royals may see slight improvement. But it will take a couple years for the Tigers to do the same.
Houston Astros (96-66) (1st Seed in AL Playoffs)
Los Angeles Angels (86-76) (5th Seed in AL Playoffs)
Oakland Athletics (80-82)
Texas Rangers (73-89)
Seattle Mariners (70-92)
Though the lineup will be better with the addition of LF Michael Brantley, the Astros’ rotation took a significant hit thanks to the free agent departures of Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton and an injury to Lance McCullers Jr. If the rotation does well without Morton and Keuchel, the Astros could win another World Series. No matter what, I think they’ll win the division, but if the rotation struggles I wouldn’t expect a deep playoff run.
The Angels will also sneak into the playoffs in an extremely top-heavy American League. In my eyes, the American League will have three 90+ win teams: the Astros, Yankees, and Red Sox. That leaves the door open for slightly above average teams like the Angels to make the playoffs. Led by Mike Trout and the rest of the big-hitting lineup, they’ll snag a Wild Card spot.
The Athletics will take a step back this year after a playoff appearance in 2018. The rotation will be without Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton for a good portion of the season. Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada cannot lead this rotation alone. Plus, the only Jed Lowrie replacement the A’s were able to find was former Rangers utility man Jurickson Profar. The losses of Jonathan Lucroy and Matt Joyce will also make an impact on the team.
That leaves the Rangers and Mariners. The Rangers won’t improve much quite yet despite an experienced rotation and a core led by outfielders Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. They’ll need to undergo a full rebuild before significant improvement can occur. The Mariners are starting that process, though they still boast a respectable MLB roster. They could’ve probably contended this year if it weren’t for the start of a rebuild. But instead, they gave up some of their most talented players in exchange for minimal top prospects. The less talented roster will put the team into a situation similar to that of their division rivals, the Rangers. Despite a respectable roster with experience, the team won’t be talented enough to produce above average seasons.
Atlanta Braves (93-69) (2nd Seed in NL Playoffs)
Philadelphia Phillies (92-70) (5th Seed in NL Playoffs)
Washington Nationals (84-78)
New York Mets (83-79)
Miami Marlins (61-101)
This will undoubtedly be the most competitive division in baseball. I see a young, but emerging Braves team repeating as the division winner, led by a big year from Freddie Freeman, significant contribution from new 3B Josh Donaldson, and a bounce back for SP Julio Teheran. In 2018, the Phillies were a star or two away from greatness. This off-season, they added C J.T. Realmuto, OF Andrew McCutchen, SS Jean Segura, and most of all, OF Bryce Harper. Led by Harper, the lineup will be loaded with talent, leading to a big year.
The Nats and Mets will also contend. The Nats made up for Harper’s departure by boosting the rotation with SPs Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez. To add to it, they signed 2B Brian Dozier. Even without Harper, they should still be in good hands with Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and others. After adding 2B Robinson Cano among other stars, the Mets should also stay in contention, at least for this year.
The only team that’ll be out of this hectic NL East race is the Miami Marlins. The Marlins sold their entire outfield plus Dee Gordon and J.T. Realmuto in trades within the last two off-seasons. Without Realmuto, they will remain one of the worst teams in the league.
Chicago Cubs (94-68) (1st Seed in NL Playoffs)
St. Louis Cardinals (93-69) (4th Seed in NL Playoffs)
Milwaukee Brewers (86-76)
Cincinnati Reds (80-82)
Pittsburgh Pirates (69-93)
I know people are concerned about the Cubs due to uncertainty about Yu Darvish’s health. But regardless of Darvish’s health, I think the Cubs have one of the best rotations in the league. Add in an underappreciated bullpen and a respectable lineup, and the roster begins to look underrated. I do have confidence that Darvish will be alright though.
The Cardinals should be Chicago’s biggest concern, as I expect the Cards to be knocking on Chicago’s door in the NL Central. With Paul Goldschmidt on board, they will combine their young, exciting pitching staff with a star-studded lineup and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Meanwhile, despite adding C Yasmani Grandal, I expect the Brewers to take a step back. I don’t trust 1B Jesus Aguilar or Jhoulys Chacin to repeat their strong 2018 seasons. With the rotation depleted and the lineup looking a little less overpowered, Milwaukee will fall behind as the NL Central competition gets more intense.
Meanwhile, the Reds will begin to take steps toward contention, led by new OF star Yasiel Puig and long time Reds 1B Joey Votto. They added a lot of experience to the rotation as well, so that should help. That leaves the Pirates in the division’s basement as they begin a rebuild. Their rotation should look pretty good this year, and when Gregory Polanco gets healthy, the outfield will thrive as well. However, I don’t fully trust Trevor Williams yet, and in such a tough division, I can’t see this rebuilding team finish very well.
Colorado Rockies (89-73) (3rd Seed in NL Playoffs)
Los Angeles Dodgers (85-77)
San Francisco Giants (84-78)
San Diego Padres (71-91)
Arizona Diamondbacks (68-94)
I think this might be the year when the Dodgers are finally dethroned. Despite a strong rotation led by Clayton Kershaw and the young Walker Buehler, the bullpen lacks depth beyond Kenley Jansen. In addition, they traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp for next to nothing. It does open up space in the outfield but the team will take a step back as a result. The infield already lacked depth with Brian Dozier leaving. Failing to sign Bryce Harper after the Puig/Kemp trade just made the depth problems worse.
This will allow the Rockies to win the division. Their rotation isn’t amazing, but they’ll be able to manage thanks to hitter friendly Coors Field and a strong bullpen to back the rotation up. It’s the star-studded lineup that will lead them to a division victory. The Giants are also closer to contention than you might think. They quietly boosted the rotation this off-season. This will add to their strong bullpen and allow them to achieve a winning record despite a subpar lineup and questionable outfield situation.
Even though they signed Manny Machado, the Padres won’t contend unless they significantly upgrade the rotation. Plus, they should have better luck contending once Fernando Tatis Jr. is in San Diego for a full season. They will finish ahead of the D-Backs, who will take a significant step back without Goldschmidt. That leaves SP Zack Greinke as the best player left, and there were trade rumors surrounding Greinke as well.
Part II: Playoff Bracket
When the Cubs won the World Series back in 2016, they set a precedent in the MLB. Their 5-year rebuild led to a World Series victory, and this has become a formula for World Series titles. The Astros, who were already following this formula, won the next year in 2017. Now, I think the Braves will be the next to do this. Their rebuild didn’t feel as long, because prospects like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. developed quickly. But there are still more top prospects on the way, and thanks to this first wave of young talent, the Braves will be able to contend before their rebuild is finished. I think they may even be World Series ready.
The Bryce Harper-led Phillies, Atlanta’s division rival, will challenge them for the National League. Led by their HR-hitting duo of Stanton and Judge and upgraded rotation, the Yankees will come close as well. But I think the Braves are capable of outperforming these teams.
The Cubs and Astros should still be competitive in these playoffs and stay competitive down the stretch. But I think they will have their playoff runs cut short by a Red Sox team looking to repeat and a Phillies team looking for validation that Bryce Harper was worth the money.
Part III: Awards
Below are my projected finalists for the AL and NL MVPs, Cy Youngs, and Rookies of the Year.
1. Jose Ramirez CLE – Ramirez has emerged as one of the league’s premier power hitters. Expect him to come through at the plate on a more consistent basis and contend for the AL MVP award.
2. J.D. Martinez BOS – At the age of 31, I cannot see Martinez quite repeating what he did in 2018. But he will put up another consistent, 40-homer year despite just falling short of the MVP after playing over half of his games at DH.
3. Jose Altuve HOU – Altuve will return to MVP form after a 2018 that was subpar for his standards. His season will be highlighted by a hint of power mixed in with his speed and ability to get on base frequently.
HM: Giancarlo Stanton NYY
1. Nolan Arenado COL – His 8-year extension will be motivation to live up to expectations in Colorado. Expect an dominant offensive year to go along with his elite defensive skills.
2. Freddie Freeman ATL – Freeman will help lead a young Braves team to the first World Series of what could make for the MLB’s next dynasty. After emerging as the top first baseman in the league last year, he will contend for the MVP as his offensive stats continue to increase.
3. Christian Yelich MIL – After winning NL MVP in 2018, Yelich will run with the momentum and top off the prime of his career with another dominant season.
HM: Starling Marte PIT
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR – This top prospect has the genetics and he’s been all out dominant in the minors. Expect him to make it up to Toronto early, earn the starting job at third and do the same in the majors, contending for Rookie of the Year.
2. Kyle Tucker HOU – Tucker may not have a starting job – yet. But he showed flashes of potential in 2018 and could get some time in the outfield or at DH in 2019.
3. Eloy Jiménez CWS – Another top prospect who needs just a few weeks in AAA before a major league call up. After that, expect him to earn a time share in the outfield and eventually (after a strong start) a starting job.
HM: Forrest Whitley HOU
1. Peter Alonso NYM – If Alonso has a strong Spring Training, look for him to compete for the first base job as Todd Frazier, Jed Lowrie, Amed Rosario, and Robinson Cano split time between second, shortstop, and third. Cano could try playing first, but having Alonso there from Opening Day could be beneficial. I see him breaking out in his rookie year and winning NL Rookie of the Year.
2. Fernando Tatis Jr. SD – Tatis Jr. isn’t MLB ready yet, but I think he’ll make an immediate impact if they bring him up when the time is right. I could see a Hosmer-Kinsler-Tatis-Machado infield working out well. Luis Urias will have to wait until 2020 for another starting job.
3. Mitch Keller PIT – The Pirates’ first four starters have their jobs locked down. But if Keller gets off to a strong start in the minors, look for him to challenge Jordan Lyles for the #5 slot in the rotation and contend for NL Rookie of the Year.
HM: Victor Robles WSH
AL Cy Young
1. Corey Kluber CLE – Kluber heads into 2019 with something to prove. He needs to convince the Indians that he’s worth the money to keep around. The Indians don’t have much money to spend, so Kluber will need to put up a Cy Young-caliber year in order to do this.
2. Chris Sale BOS – If Sale can get healthy and stay healthy, he’ll be the best pitcher in this league. But he always ends up collapsing at the end of the year, so I have slightly more confidence in Kluber. However, maybe Alex Cora can figure out a way to allow him to stay healthy all year. If Cora can figure this out, Sale’s definitely worth re-signing.
3. Tyler Skaggs LAA – A healthy Skaggs showed potential last season, especially early on. With no clear ace atop the Angels rotation for 2019 and Shohei Ohtani restricted to just hitting, expect Skaggs to step it up and emerge as LA’s new ace, something they have longed for since Garrett Richards began to decline after LA’s 2014 playoff appearance.
HM: Justin Verlander HOU
NL Cy Young
1. Max Scherzer WSH – Expect Scherzer to emerge as the top pitcher in the league this year when Jacob deGrom takes a slight step back in his age 30 season. Scherzer has not let his age define him, and if anything, he has only gotten better with age. I don’t see a decline happening anytime soon for Mad Max, and he has another Cy Young year or two still ahead of him.
2. Clayton Kershaw LAD – Kershaw has dealt with lingering injuries, but when he’s on the mound and healthy, he has looked like the same Kershaw we’re used to seeing. Despite injuries, he has posted an ERA under 3.00 in each of the last 10 seasons. As usual, I expect Kershaw to contend for the Cy Young, especially if he remains healthy.
3. Julio Teheran ATL – Teheran hasn’t looked like the ace we thought he would be since 2014. But he is still just 28, and as long as it happens in the next year or two, I could definitely see him return to ace form and lead a young Braves rotation.
HM: Stephen Strasburg WSH
That’s all for this year’s MLB predictions. Stay tuned for more Red Sox and baseball coverage soon.
Though Manny Machado has just signed a 10 year, $300 million contract with the Padres, Bryce Harper and many other top MLB free agents are still on the market with Cactus League and Grapefruit League action starting up. With Harper rumors really starting to heat up, I will be listing my Top 5 of the remaining MLB free agents and predicting their contracts. Feel free to comment with your thoughts. I’ll start with the obvious #1:
1. Bryce Harper, OF
2018 Team: Washington Nationals
If you’ve been following any kind of MLB off-season news, you’ve probably heard plenty about Harper, so I’ll keep this brief. The Nationals could still be in it to re-sign the 26-year old Harper after a strong start to his career in Washington. But the Phillies appear to be the current front runners. The latest rumors suggest that the Phillies are in Vegas with Harper and may have a deal done by Monday. But earlier this week, we heard the same thing about Friday, and it didn’t end up happening. Will Harper end up in Philly, or will a mystery team swoop in before the Phillies finalize things?
My Prediction: San Francisco Giants, 10 years, $330 million
I’ve heard things suggesting that the Giants aren’t up to offer a $300 million contract to Harper. But now that they are reportedly willing to offer a long-term deal, they could change their mind considering the mutual interest between Harper and San Fran. If the Giants came close to Philly’s offer, maybe Harper would sign there out of impatience. Plus, the Phillies are division rivals of the Nats, and the west coast is closer to Harper’s hometown.
2. Craig Kimbrel, CL
2018 Team: Boston Red Sox
Kimbrel’s agent made it clear that although Kimbrel has been stubborn about his contract, he will pitch in 2019. But with the late inning relief market already settling down, where does Kimbrel fit? Sure, he could re-sign with Atlanta. But you cannot discount Arodys Vizcaino as a closing option for the Braves.
My Prediction: Boston Red Sox, 4 years, $64 million
Kimbrel will eventually have to settle for a smaller contract, and if there’s any team who could still use relief help, it’s Boston. The Red Sox have been adamant about finding a closer internally. Who knows, Jenrry Mejia or Tyler Thornburg could bounce back. Matt Barnes could step it up. But I think the Red Sox will end up bringing back Kimbrel as a safety net once his price goes down. Barnes, Mejia, Thornburg, and others can set up Kimbrel.
3. Dallas Keuchel, SP
2018 Team: Houston Astros
Keuchel, like Harper, is a Scott Boras client, and Boras clients have tended to sign late into the off-season, so it’s not a huge surprise that Keuchel is still on the market. But unlike the relief market, there is still a handful of teams that could use starting pitching help. The Phillies, Braves, and Padres have been linked to Keuchel, but the Padres just signed Machado, and the Phillies aren’t going to turn attention to Keuchel unless they lose out on Harper. The Braves would be smarter to sign a lower-tier starter considering their surplus of SP prospects on the verge of a major league career. I see the Padres finding a cheaper option and a surprise team signing Kimbrel.
My Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays, 4 years, $68 million
The Blue Jays may have a decent rotation going with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Matt Shoemaker, Clayton Richard, and Ryan Borucki. But they lack a true ace, and could use depth in case Borucki turns out to be a bust or Shoemaker and Richard are inconsistent or get hurt. Keuchel could help Toronto kill two birds with one stone. Why sign a top line starter with so many prospects about to crack the majors? Well, Toronto’s rebuild is a unique situation. With this legendary group of prospects, Toronto’s a pitcher or two away from contending during a rebuild.
4. Adam Jones, OF
2018 Team: Baltimore Orioles
When people think about all the quality players still on the FA market, they think Harper, Kimbrel, and Keuchel. But what about Adam Jones, who slashed .281/.313/.419 with 15 dingers despite a down year? Back in 2017, he put up a .787 OPS with 26 home runs. Though he is getting up there in age, I think he still has potential to succeed for the next few years to come. But where? He will likely end up with a team that needs OF help but cannot afford Harper. Maybe a small market team that hasn’t spent much this off-season could be a fit.
My Prediction: Cleveland Indians, 3 years, $48 million
The Indians spent a lot in 2016 and 2017, but after cheaping up by trading away Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion, they may have room for the outfield centerpiece they need. Jones would allow Bradley Zimmer, Leonys Martin, Tyler Naquin, Greg Allen, and Jordan Luplow to split time among the remaining two outfield spots. I don’t see any of them as full time starters, so this is a good depth signing. Maybe trading away one of their lower-end outfielders after could be a smart move. That way, the Indians will have less crowding and more talent.
5. Gio Gonzalez, SP
2018 Teams: Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers
Gonzalez is a cheaper SP option that teams who cannot afford Keuchel may go after. Gonzalez had a strong year in 2018, making the case for a decent sized contract. But he hasn’t received much interest from teams besides the Brewers, who traded for him at the deadline. Who will end up signing him?
My Prediction: San Diego Padres, 3 years, $39 million
The Padres aren’t going to want to invest in Keuchel after signing Machado. So I think it’s more likely that they save a few bucks and add Gonzalez. You could make an argument that the entire Padres rotation is wide open. There is no pitcher on their current roster that I see as a surefire starter. But Gonzalez will provide the Padres with the rotation stability they need, with the help of another low-tier free agent starter or two.
That’s all for today. Stay tuned for MLB predictions once Harper finally makes his decision.
Welcome to the final article of my initial 2018-19 MLB free agency coverage. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado may be the Top 2 free agents of the off-season, but how much money are they really worth? Keep reading to find out my take. If you haven’t seen them yet, you can also check out my previous MLB free agency articles at the links below. In February, I may also have some updated predictions on where the final remaining free agents will sign, so stay tuned.
It’s been a crazy off-season so far. The Mariners have completely refreshed their roster, and the Dodgers dealt away Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp in one trade. Winter Meetings were not only full of trades, but also free agent signings. Many of the top free agents, including Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Brantley, Josh Donaldson, Wilson Ramos, Yasmani Grandal, and Andrew McCutchen have been signed.
But the top two free agents of the off-season, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, remain unsigned. Harper and Machado are regarded as a couple of the league’s best offensive players, and among free agent batters, Harper and Machado were the Top 2 in oWAR. Both Harper and Machado are capable of making a mediocre team a contender, or making a team that’s already a borderline playoff contender a relevant World Series contender.
Machado met with three teams in December: the White Sox, Yankees, and Phillies. He is likely going to sign with one of those three teams, but he has not made his decision yet, though he has reportedly narrowed it down to the White Sox and Phillies. Originally, I had predicted that Machado would go to the Phillies. But after their acquistion of Jean Segura, I see the White Sox as the best fit. There could be mystery teams in on Machado though, according to several newer reports.
Harper has not met with any teams yet, but the Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, and Phillies among others have shown interest. After trading away two of their outfielders and more to the Reds for next to nothing, it would not be smart for the Dodgers to pass on Harper. But I think there’s a chance he’ll sign with the White Sox or Phillies as well.
Although they have some different suitors, one thing Harper and Machado have in common is their demand for a big contract. Harper turned down a 10 year, $300 million contract offered by the Nationals back in September. Machado could also reportedly sign for $250-300 million or more. But are Harper and Machado, let alone any free agent batter worth that much money?
I did some research on some free agents throughout the last 12 years. I looked at free agent batters and pitchers who were Top 50 in oWAR or pWAR the season before they hit the open market who ended up signing for at least $12 million/year and at least $45 million total. I researched their stats the following year. Did their WAR improve or decline? I looked at other stats too, like OPS for batters, and ERA for pitchers. The goal is to gauge how much Harper and Machado are really worth based on how big an impact they could realistically make right off the bat. Keep reading to see my research and some interesting “Baseball Bits” that I found through my research.
Of the 23 free agent batters since 2006 who were Top 50 in oWAR and signed for at least $12 million/year and $45 million total:
Only 2, or 8.7% (Lorenzo Cain and Nelson Cruz) saw an increase in oWAR AND OPS throughout their contract, and only 1 of the 2 saw an increase in oWAR of 1.0 or more (Cruz, 4.2 → 6.0)
Only 4, or 17.4%, saw an increase in oWAR OR OPS throughout their contract:
Justin Upton, 2016-2017
Victor Martinez, 2010-2011
19 of the 23 (82.6%) saw a decrease in both oWAR AND OPS, and 14 of those 19 (60.9% of all the free agents, 73.7% of the 19), saw an decrease by 2.0 or more in WAR or 0.2 or more in OPS
Only 7 of the 23, or 30.4% were under 30 as a free agent Of those 7, 6 saw a decrease in OPS AND oWAR
Only Justin Upton saw an increase in OPS, while none of the 7 saw an increase in WAR
Harper and Machado both had an oWAR between 4.0 and 5.0 in 2018. 12 of these 23 free agents also had an oWAR between 4.0 and 5.0. Of the 12:
2 saw an increase in both oWAR and OPS
1 saw an increase in OPS
9 saw a decrease in both
Harper and Machado both apparently want over $250 million. Only 1 free agent hitter since 2006 (Alex Rodriguez, 10 years, $275 million) received that much, and he saw a significant decrease in both oWAR and OPS the next year. Robinson Cano (10 years, $240 million) made almost that much and saw a mild to moderate decrease.
Of the 17 free agent pitchers since 2006 who were Top 50 in pWAR and signed for at least $12 million/year and $45 million total:
Only 1 (Max Scherzer) saw an improvement in pWAR AND ERA the next year
Only 2, or 11.8%, saw an improvement in pWAR OR ERA the next year:
Jon Lester, 2014-2015
15 of the 17 (88.2%) saw a decline in pWAR AND ERA. 12 of them (80% of the 15, 70.6% of of all the free agents) saw a decrease in ERA or pWAR by 2.0+
Only 5 of the 17 were under 30 at the end of their first year of the new contract (Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Johnny Cueto). Only 2 of the 5 (Scherzer and Lester) saw an increase in pWAR or ERA
None of these free agent pitchers were paid anything close to $250 million. The largest of their contracts went to:
David Price, 2015-2016 (7 years, $217 million)
Max Scherzer, 2014-2015 (7 years, $210 million)
Zack Greinke, 2015-2016 (6 years, $206.5 million)
Of these 3, only Scherzer saw an improvement in pWAR OR ERA
Very few of the free agents since 2006 saw their WAR, OPS, or ERA improve on their new contract. You have to take into consideration that Harper and Machado are younger than any of these free agents. However, 3 of the 4 free agent batters who saw an increase in WAR or OPS were actually 30 or older. This may be due to the fact that it’s easier to judge an older free agent. But both Harper and Machado entered the league as teenagers and have proven themselves throughout the years. Finding the right young free agent is hard, as it’s not everyday that two proven 26-year old sluggers hit the open market in one off-season. I also saw different results among free agent pitchers, as both pitchers who saw either their ERA or WAR improve on their new contract were under 30. Plus, both of the free agent batters who saw their stats improve had an oWAR between 4.0 and 5.0 the year before signing, just like Harper and Machado did in 2018. However, it’s not like the teams in the market for Harper and Machado necessarily expect better stats throughout their new contract, especially if they’re looking to sign 8-12 year deals. Some might not even expect improvement from 2018 to 2019. But you should expect your $300 million dollar free agent to improve the next year.
The real question is, should anyone (even the Dodgers) pay Harper or Machado $300 million? Similar contracts that have been signed in the last 10-12 years have not ended up working out so well. Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees in 2008 (the most among the free agents I researched). He was a star player for the Yankees early on in the contract, but his stats saw a decline in Year 1 of the contract, and by 2015, his stats had declined significantly. Maybe the steroids had something to do with it (2014 was the year he missed for steroids), but he was no longer the same A-Rod when he returned from his suspension, and he ended up retiring the year before his contract expired.
The only other free agent batter who even came close to receiving that kind of contract was 2B Robinson Cano, who signed for 10 years, $240 million with the Mariners in 2014. Things have worked out in the first half of his contract, but he didn’t quite play at the level he did with the Yankees. Who knows, maybe he will improve after being traded to the Mets and returning to New York City, but so far, he has begun to slowly decline during his new contract. He’s still a key piece in the lineup, but he made even more of an impact with the Yanks.
Harper and Machado are a unique situation, but it would be silly to give them $300 million only for them to decline significantly. I can’t see any team giving Harper or Machado much more than A-Rod without regretting it later. They are younger and Harper nearly won the Triple Crown in 2015, so maybe they’re worth a little more, but not $300 million. I don’t think Machado is worth more than A-Rod, and his attitude has turned some teams off. I think he goes to the White Sox, but it would be ridiculous to give him much more than $25 million/year. A 10 year, $260 million deal could work. As for Harper, he may be worth a little more due to his MVP season, and the Dodgers should be willing to bid a little more after their trade with Cincinnati. But he’s still not worth $300 million or more. 9 years, $288 million would be more reasonable. The Dodgers may end up giving him over $300 million, but I don’t think it’s worth it.
That’s all for this edition of Baseball Bits. Stay tuned for more MLB coverage soon, including my MLB 2019 Season Predictions (which will come after the NFL season ends and Harper and Machado finally sign).
Welcome to Part 3 of my 2nd annual MLB free agency predictions. Last off-season, things took a long time to get going due to a relatively dull free agent market. This year, that is not the case. We might have the best MLB free agent class in the history of my blog, and it’s bound to get going any minute now. That’s why I’m releasing my predictions in November and December this year rather than January. I wanted to get these out before the Winter Meetings, where a lot of big moves could occur.
Today, I will be sharing my predictions for free agent outfielders, including Bryce Harper, Michael Brantley, and A.J. Pollock, as well as some trade ideas. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.
Below is my tentative schedule for my 2018-19 MLB free agency coverage.
Week of November 26 or December 3: MLB 2018-19 Free Agency Predictions: Outfielders & Trade Ideas
Week of December 3 or 10: Baseball Bits #11: Big Free Agent Contracts
Note: These predictions were made before Seattle’s trades on December 3 and Pedro Alvarez’s deal on December 5.
The Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers and Nationals have been as Harper’s top suitors. But if you saw MLB.com’s free agent matrix for Harper, you’d see that the Indians have money to spend and desperately need an outfielder. Harper would be a good investment for them. Brantley, the former Cleveland Indian, will head to Houston to provide an upgrade over the combo of Derek Fisher, Tony Kemp, Marwin Gonzalez, and co.
Jerry Dipoto is not rebuilding in the same way Miami did. They will still sign cheaper free agents, and outfield is a major need. Look for them to add one or two. Adam Jones is a good fit, and Hunter Pence will also give Seattle a boost, as he has not fully declined yet in his upper 30’s. The A’s don’t have much money to spend, but if they’re looking to contend, Andrew McCutchen would be a worthwhile investment who fits well in Oakland. If the Cubs miss out on Harper, A.J. Pollock could be a good fit. Albert Almora Jr. is not a viable CF option in my book, and they could use some outfield insurance even with Ben Zobrist helping out there. Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward have not met expectations either.
If the Rays want to make a playoff push, they have to be aggressive this off-season. Markakis is an affordable, but elite outfield upgrade option for the Rays. After getting rid of C.J. Cron, they will need to add another bat to the lineup. Meanwhile, Jon Jay could be a good fit in St. Louis. He can share time with the young Harrison Bader in center.
The Rockies are unlikely to bring back both Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez. The rise of Ryan McMahon may push Ian Desmond into the Rockies outfield. They will re-sign Parra for OF insurance though. CarGo could fit as a platoon outfielder in Atlanta. I could see a pretty even time share in the Braves outfield if they add CarGo. If the Phillies miss out on Harper, they will also still need an outfielder. Carlos Gomez would be a good fit. If Rhys Hoskins still gets time in the outfield, they will not want to commit to a top line outfielder like Harper.
Granderson could be afforded by a smaller market team with a need for an outfielder. Look for the O’s to add him on a one-year deal while Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins develop.
Cruz will return to Seattle, who could still use 1B/DH help. The Tigers could use another bat to replace Victor Martinez, and preferably another veteran to anchor the rebuild. Gattis is a perfect fit. The Royals are also in the market for another bat, and Matt Joyce is an affordable option. I have Holliday returning to the Yankees on a 1-year deal to provide insurance for the outfield. Alvarez will head to Minnesota to help out Tyler Austin at first base/DH.
Cleveland Indians trade SP Trevor Bauer to the Houston Astros in exchange for RP Brad Peacock, OF Kyle Tucker, C prospect Garrett Stubbs
Everyone says that Corey Kluber is going to be traded. But I think trading SP Trevor Bauer is a safer option. In return, they get Brad Peacock, who could be utilized as a starter or a reliever as well as some outfield insurance in Kyle Tucker. C prospect Garrett Stubbs will provide depth at catcher after the Yan Gomes trade.
Los Angeles Dodgers trade SP Rich Hill to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for RP Corey Knebel
The Dodgers have been in the market for top-line starters including Kluber, but I find this fact ridiculous. They have an abundance of starters! Clayton Kershaw is still here, Walker Buehler is a star on the rise, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill are solid mid-tier starters who are returning, and that leaves Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, and Ross Stripling competing for the #5 spot. After bringing Ryu back, they have the flexibility to trade one of their starters, as I see Wood as a completely capable starter, and Stripling and Maeda should get the chance for a rotation spot.
Hill is a good trade nugget, and the Brewers could use some better pitching, so they’d be willing to give up one of their many late-inning relievers for Hill. Knebel will help set up for Kenley Jansen alongside Tony Cingrani and provide depth in a weaker bullpen.
Toronto Blue Jays trade C Luke Maile to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for LHP prospect Lewis Thorpe, RHP prospect Jhoan Duran
This is a smaller trade, but worth it for both sides. Jays C Danny Jansen is MLB ready and can split time with C Russell Martin. That puts C Luke Maile in an awkward position. If they trade him to Minnesota, who needs a backup catcher, they could get some valuable pitching prospects to boost a weak rotation down the road.
That’s all for my MLB free agency predictions. But my Baseball Bits on overly expensive free agents is up next. Stay tuned.
It is that time of year again.Although I had to delay this article due to the excruciatingly quiet start to the off-season, my MLB Predictions are here.Read below to find out my thoughts on who will win the World Series and how they’ll get there.I will also be predicting who wins the major MLB awards.Let’s get started with my projected regular season standings.
Note: These Predictions are based on potential, but do account for the lack of real FA signings
New York Yankees 96-66 (#1 seed AL)
Boston Red Sox 92-70 (#4 seed AL)
Toronto Blue Jays 76-86
Baltimore Orioles 73-89
Tampa Bay Rays 70-92
The Bronx Bombers are back.With Giancarlo Stanton on board, the Yankees have last year’s top two home run hitters in their lineup.They could have a historic home run duo going.Stanton and Judge will be surrounded by other big hitters, young players full of potential, and a respectable rotation.
But the Red Sox will challenge them after signing the #3 HR hitter of 2017 in J.D. Martinez.After a long game of chicken, they finally agreed to terms on a deal on February 19th.The Sox also brought back super utility Eduardo Nunez, who will start at second until Dustin Pedroia returns in mid-April.Martinez, Nunez and the Killer B’s will lead the Sox to be elite contenders and compete with the Yankees. In addition, ace Chris Sale leads a strong Red Sox rotation, one thing Boston has on the Yankees.Sale, Pomeranz, and Porcello have led Boston’s rotation to outpitch the Yanks. I will have an extended spring preview for the Sox coming soon, where I will try and answer some of the team’s biggest questions headed into 2018.
The rest of the division is in rebuild mode, and the Red Sox and Yankees will feed on them, while the two of them compete against each other.The Blue Jays have revamped their roster with lower tier free agents and younger players who will lead the new era of the team.Meanwhile, the Orioles have rotation turnover issues after they lost multiple starters to free agency.They signed two starters, but they still have rotation problems, and their lineup is still good, but it’s no longer All-Star material.Meanwhile, the Rays have completely remodeled their roster after trading away Evan Longoria, Jake Odorizzi, and Corey Dickerson.They will be led by young talent on their new look roster. Although the other teams in this division look intriguing, Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams that I would consider playoff contenders in the AL East.
Cleveland Indians 92-70 (#3 seed AL)
Minnesota Twins 87-75
Kansas City Royals 73-89
Detroit Tigers 69-93
Chicago White Sox 66-96
The Indians are still the clear favorite. They may have lost key pieces in Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce, but they made up for it by signing 1B Yonder Alonso, 1B/DH Mike Napoli, OF Melvin Upton Jr. and OF Rajai Davis. Young outfielder Bradley Zimmer is also in the running for a starting outfield job.
That doesn’t mean the Twins won’t contend though. They upgraded a roster that was already strong this off-season, by signing Logan Morrison and relievers Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed as well as acquiring Jake Odorizzi from Tampa Bay. They also signed Michael Pineda, who may return from Tommy John surgery later this year. The Twins are setting themselves up to return to the playoffs, but they’ll have competition in the wild card race, with the Red Sox and Angels also contending.
The rest of this division will fail to contend. The Royals lost their core players in Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Lorenzo Cain and that has led them to rebuild. The Tigers are heading into a rebuild of their own after their older team struggled in early 2017. However, their roster appears to be falling into place, for the most part. They could use another infielder in the mix. After trading away J.D. Martinez last year and trading Ian Kinsler in the off-season, the Tigers are headed in the right direction, focusing on their future. The White Sox will rely on their young talent after rebuilding in 2017. They are hoping that their top prospects, Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez, can make an impact at the major league level as well as prospects that cracked the majors last year. The Indians are the clear favorites here, but the Twins could also contend, and do not be surprised if one of the three rebuilding squads in the division begins contending quicker than expected.
Houston Astros 95-67 (#2 seed AL)
Los Angeles Angels 88-74 (#5 seed AL)
Seattle Mariners 83-79
Texas Rangers 74-88
Oakland Athletics 68-94
The Astros are still the clear favorites here. They’ve only gotten better since last year’s World Series win, so if they have any hangover, it will only affect them early on, and won’t hit them that hard, similar to what happened to the Cubs last season. A full season of Justin Verlander and the acquisition of Gerrit Cole will make their rotation unstoppable, and their lineup is still just as good, as prospects will fill in for what they lost in Carlos Beltran, who retired.
The Angels will also compete though. They arguably have one of the best lineups in the league after adding Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart as well as resigning Justin Upton. Although the rotation is not dominant, the new two-way Japanese star in Shohei Ohtani will help them improve, and hopefully, the injury bug will not hit them as hard this year. The Mariners will also have a decent year, but they are relying on Dee Gordon to make a smooth transition to the outfield, and the rest of their outfield doesn’t look great.
In addition, it will be hard to contend with inexperienced players occupying several starting jobs. The Rangers aren’t going to be terrible either, but some of their best players like Adrian Beltre are getting old, and not all of their younger players will be able to succeed at the major league level this year. I like their intriguing off-season, but unless they break out with what they have, it might be time for the Rangers to consider a rebuild. The Athletics are hoping that they can start moving in an upward direction after their own rebuild, but I think their young players need another season or two to develop before the A’s get ready for contention again. This year will focus on the development of their young guns like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and Andrew Triggs among others. In the end, look for the Astros to repeat here and the Angels to make a run at a wild-card spot.
Washington Nationals 97-65 (#1 seed NL)
New York Mets 86-76
Atlanta Braves 78-84
Philadelphia Phillies 71-91
Miami Marlins 64-98
After the Nationals cruised into the NLDS in a weak NL East in 2017, I do expect Washington to repeat. But other teams in the division will start to make strides toward contention. At one point, I thought this might be the year that the Marlins pounce to the top of the division, but instead, they decided to rebuild early, dealing away all three of their starting outfielders (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna) plus 2B Dee Gordon. Now they might very well be the MLB’s worst team on paper.
But the Mets, Braves, and Phillies are moving in an upward direction. If they can stay healthy, the Mets added several key pieces that could lead them back to contention. I think they are close to playoff material, but not quite there yet. The Braves look ready to break out at any moment, but I don’t know if their breakthrough will come in 2018. But I definitely think they will improve this season. The Phillies may not be ready for contention yet, but this young team is setting themselves up for success. If they continue to boost their young roster with veterans over the next couple years, we may see them return to the playoffs.
Despite the rest of the division’s effort to contend, the Nats are still the #1 team here, and they are a World Series contender. In his contract year, Bryce Harper will lead a powerful Nationals lineup, and their rotation might just need one more strong starter such as Jake Arrieta to lead the Nats deeper into the playoffs. With many of their stars hitting the open market soon, it will be World Series or bust in 2018 for Washington.
Chicago Cubs 92-70 (#3 seed NL)
St. Louis Cardinals 90-72 (#4 seed NL)
Milwaukee Brewers 87-75
Cincinnati Reds 79-83
Pittsburgh Pirates 67-95
If I had to name one division that improved the most this off-season, I would say the NL Central without hesitation. Despite losing SP John Lackey to free agency, the Cubs continued to improve this off-season with the signing of pitchers Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, and Drew Smyly (may return late in 2018). They are a significant World Series contender. But the division will not be easy to win as the Cardinals and Brewers have also improved.
St. Louis signed Miles Mikolas in his return to the MLB but may need to add another starter for rotational depth. They may even try and snag closer Greg Holland or 3B Mike Moustakas before Opening Day. They also acquired OF Marcell Ozuna from Miami. They will contend this year, and so will the Brewers, who despite the desperate need for a #1 starter, will be significantly better in 2018 after signing Lorenzo Cain and acquiring Christian Yelich to improve their outfield and make it dominant. They may want to resign Neil Walker before Opening Day if they really care about winning now. Unless they sign a pitcher or a middle infielder, I don’t see them as a lock for the playoffs, but they will contend.
The Reds could also contend soon, but it will take another year or so for the lineup to become playoff material and the young rotation to improve. Meanwhile, the Pirates have begun rebuilding after trading away OF Andrew McCutchen and SP Gerrit Cole. They will not contend this year due to their rebuilding intentions as well as a serious depth problem and lack of a leader in their starting rotation. Although Cincy and Pittsburgh won’t be in the playoff race, this strong division will be competitive as its top three teams battle for playoff berths.
Los Angeles Dodgers 95-67 (#2 seed NL)
Colorado Rockies 88-74 (#5 seed NL)
Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
San Francisco Giants 85-77
San Diego Padres 69-93
Although the NL Central improved the most this off-season, the NL West is still the MLB’s strongest division. This year, I think that four teams in this division will finish with a winning record, and two will make the playoffs. The Dodgers will stay on top here. They have managed to keep most of the players that helped them succeed in 2017, although their rotation doesn’t have the same kind of depth that it used to. They didn’t need 7-8 viable starters on the roster though. No team in this division has gained significantly on the Dodgers, but other teams in the division have improved.
This could be the year for the Rockies. Their lineup will dominate, and their young rotation should continue to improve. The rotation is also aided by a strong bullpen that will be led by new closer Wade Davis. The D-Backs have added outfield depth after J.D. Martinez’s departure for Boston, and they will continue to contend in 2018, although I don’t think they will quite make it this time around, as the Cardinals and Brewers have gotten better and could grab a wild card.
The Giants have also improved after acquiring Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, but after a 64-98 season, I find it hard to believe that even year luck alone will lead them back to the playoffs. They still have rotation depth problems behind their top three starters and aside from Cutch, Longo, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence, this lineup isn’t overly intriguing. Even the Padres will improve. Some of their top prospects have cracked the majors, and they have brought back Chase Headley and Tyson Ross in addition to acquiring Freddy Galvis. Their biggest move of the off-season was signing 1B Eric Hosmer. He will be a veteran mentor for this young team and allows Wil Myers to assist the young outfield. The Dodgers are the clear favorites here, but this division is hard to predict beyond that.
Now for my playoff predictions.
As you all know, I am an avid Boston sports fan. But as an unbiased reporter, I don’t think the Red Sox have the edge on the Yankees this year. The Bronx Bombers just have too powerful of a lineup, and despite the fact that Boston has one of the best rotations in the MLB and signed a home run hitter of their own in J.D. Martinez, it’s just not enough to compete with the “Evil Empire” in New York. The Sox will win over the Angels in the Wild Card round though. The Angels may have a powerful lineup, but they are nothing like the Yankees, and rotation problems will hold them back. I have the Yankees advancing to the World Series, but only to be defeated by the motivated Washington Nationals. Like I said, it’s World Series or bust in Washington, and I think this year’s Nats are legitimate contenders.
In the AL, the Astros will come close to a World Series return, but even their dominant rotation will struggle against the Yankees lineup. The Astros will top a well rounded Indians team. The Indians look good this year but will have a hard time competing with this strong Astros team. Jose Altuve (who I could see having another MVP caliber year), George Springer, and Justin Verlander among others will lead Houston to the ALCS.
In the NL, the Dodgers will also come close to a World Series return after beating the Cubs somewhat easily in the NLDS. But they will struggle against a strong Nats rotation, and even Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could have a hard time against Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and the improved Nats lineup. The Cardinals will also fall to the Nats. Their younger rotation will struggle on the big stage, and their lineup isn’t fierce enough this year to stop the strong Nats rotation, despite the powerful pieces they have in Dexter Fowler, Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Carpenter among others.
The Cards do have the edge in the Wild Card round though, as their lineup will overwhelm young Rockies ace Jon Gray. In the end, the Nats will dominate this side of the bracket and go on to win the World Series. The window is closing for the Nats to win a title with Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and company. But 2018 is their final shot at a World Series win in this era, and they will be driven by this fact.
To much to take in? My video summary of this post will be on YouTube soon. I will post the link on my blog when it is up.
Below I have listed my Top 3 picks for each major MLB award.
Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU – After winning this award last year, I could see Altuve repeating his 2017 dominance. He is one of my favorite non-Red Sox players and he has emerged as a star and leader on the Astros.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, NYY – On his new team, not only will Stanton pair up with Aaron Judge to create one of the best HR duos of all time, but also put up a strong average and hit not only for power but also for consistency
Mike Trout, OF, LAA – Trout is always a candidate for this award, and although injuries held him back a bit in 2017, he will remain an elite contender for this award in 2018
Honorable Mention: Justin Upton, OF, LAA
Bryce Harper, OF, WSH – Another one of my non-Red Sox favorites. In a contract year, Harper will go from elite player to future Hall Of Famer in an all-around dominant season
Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL – With the Rockies back in playoff contention, Arenado will play at MVP level in 2018, leading the strong Rockies lineup to continued success
Joey Votto, 1B, CIN – I think Votto will also emerge as an MVP caliber player this year as he continues to put up great numbers despite the fact that he is older than many other all-star level players.
Honorable Mention: Eric Hosmer, 1B, SD
AL Cy Young
Chris Sale, BOS – I think Sale will repeat the success he had early in 2017 with the Red Sox, and he is my pick to win the Cy Young.
Justin Verlander, HOU – Verlander will emerge as a leader in the strong Astros rotation in another deep playoff run for the Astros. He will be Sale’s #1 competitor for the Cy Young in 2018.
Carlos Carrasco, CLE – I could see Carrasco returning to his dominant 2015 form this year and creating a dynamic duo in the rotation alongside Corey Kluber.
Honorable Mention: Corey Kluber, CLE
NL Cy Young
Stephen Strasburg, WSH – Strasburg already returned to the ace level last year with an ERA around 2.50, and I think he could keep it up in 2018 and make a significant run at a Cy Young award.
Yu Darvish, CHC – Chicago is a great fit for Darvish, and I could see him thriving in Chicago and running at a Cy Young.
Clayton Kershaw, LAD – Kershaw is always a candidate for this award much like Trout is for the MVP. He will continue to succeed in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Max Scherzer, WSH*
* For those of you who read my latest free agency article, you would know I think Alex Cobb is going to the Brewers. If he signs in Milwaukee, he could be a significant candidate to battle for a Cy Young award.
AL Rookie of the Year
Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, LAA – Who else would I put at the top of this list? This two-way phenom is practically a lock to make the Angels roster despite the fact that he is a rookie non-roster invitee.
Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU – I think Tucker could have a significant role at the major league level in 2018. He will compete for a starting outfield job when he comes up. He is the brother of former Astros outfielder Preston Tucker.
Hunter Dozier, 3B, KC – I think Dozier can make an impact at the major league level, even with Lucas Duda in line to start at first. I see Dozier as Kansas City’s starting third baseman as long as he is successful early in the season, and I see potential in him.
Honorable Mention: Christian Arroyo, 3B, TB
NL Rookie of the Year
Jesse Winker, OF, CIN – I think Winker will breakout this year as he establishes himself as a starter at the major league level. He will compete for the Rookie of the Year award.
Ronald Acuna, OF, ATL – Once Acuna cracks the majors, he has the chance to become a starter in left field, and once that happens, I see the potential for him to be great.
Ryan McMahon, 1B, COL – With Ian Desmond headed back to the outfield and Mark Reynolds in the open market, there’s an open spot for McMahon at first base. If they resign Reynolds, they could work out some sort of platoon, but either way, I think McMahon has the potential for success in the majors this year.
Honorable Mentions: Alex Reyes, SP, STL and Victor Robles, OF, WSH
That’s all for my MLB 2018 Predictions. Stay tuned for more baseball articles including my spring power rankings, my Red Sox 2018 season preview, and my 2nd annual preseason Baseball Bits article.
The Super Bowl is in the books, and spring training is around the corner. It’s time to take a look at what’s in store for this baseball season. As Bryce Harper stated in 2016, he wants baseball to be fun again. Well, 2017 will bring that, and I’ll tell you how. There will be competition, players will have better seasons, and the MLB will just be a little bit more interesting. Who will win it all? Keep reading to find out.
Boston Red Sox 92-70
Toronto Blue Jays 88-74
New York Yankees 87-75
Baltimore Orioles 80-82
Tampa Bay Rays 69-93
The Red Sox did lose David Ortiz, but they got Chris Sale in the off-season, and after this off season, the rotation looks better, the bullpen is alright, and their lineup is still good. The Blue Jays are still going to be good, but after the loss of Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders, they won’t be a playoff team. Despite signing Kendrys Morales, this team doesn’t include a true superstar. The Yankees went young and are looking better, but it will take time for them to return to the playoffs. The Orioles rotation is falling apart again, and the Matt Wieters-less lineup isn’t enough. Meanwhile, the Rays won’t get much better. Despite a good rotation, they need big hitters to compete in the East.
Cleveland Indians 92-70
Detroit Tigers 89-73
Kansas City Royals 81-81
Chicago White Sox 78-84
Minnesota Twins 63-99
The Indians signed Edwin Encarnacion and will definitely stay on top because of that. But what else did they do this off season? Not much, that will hurt them in the playoffs. The Tigers and Royals didn’t do much either, but one or both of them could have a bounce back seasons. It won’t be enough to Top Cleveland though. The White Sox are depending on young talent, which isn’t a safe bet, and the Twins are still in the middle of a treacherous rebuild.
Texas Rangers 94-68
Houston Astros 91-71
Seattle Mariners 86-76
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 76-86
Oakland Athletics 65-97
I don’t know why people are saying the Rangers are going to miss the playoffs. Their lineup is almost as good as last year. Despite losing Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond, Josh Hamilton is working his way back and Jurickson Profar may contribute more in 2017. The rotation is just as good if not better. The Astros could also be a significant contender, with a better lineup and bullpen. The Mariners and Angels also made some good moves and they both have gotten better overall. However, neither team is quite fit to contend yet. Meanwhile, the Athletics are in a rebuild and will not contend either.
Washington Nationals 93-69
New York Mets 90-72
Miami Marlins 87-75
Atlanta Braves 67-95
Philadelphia Phillies 65-97
The Nationals haven’t really done much this off-season, but they really haven’t lost much, and with a little fine-tuning, they could be as good as they have been. The Mets should also be playoff material as they’ve put together a good lineup and still have one of the best rotations in the league. The Marlins have also improved. They have a good young lineup and the rotation has a lot of depth. Although Jose Fernandez passed away, they added Jeff Locke and Edinson Volquez to maintain strength in their rotation. Meanwhile, the Braves have a nice balance of old and young, but it will take a couple of years for them to rebuild. Same with the Phillies. Neither team will compete this year, but they are making smart moves for their future.
Chicago Cubs 96-66
St. Louis Cardinals 93-69
Pittsburgh Pirates 85-77
Cincinnati Reds 74-88
Milwaukee Brewers 72-90
The Cubs made some nice finishing touches in the off-season, and despite losing Jason Hammel, their lineup’s still good, and they will still be a World Series contender. The Cardinals should compete though. Their lineup lacks a true star, but young talent should help them improve, along with new outfielder Dexter Fowler. Their rotation is also looking a lot better for 2017 with Lance Lynn returning. The Pirates lack a good rotation although their lineup is still good. But without good pitching they will not be a playoff team. The Reds are going to be alright but need to trade away the older guys and rebuild if they want any chance at a pennant in the near future, and the Brewers are already rebuilding. For them, it will take a couple of years to be able to contend again.
Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72
San Francisco Giants 88-74
Colorado Rockies 85-77
Arizona Diamondbacks 79-83
San Diego Padres 63-99
The NL West will be a tight division with no clear leader. The Dodgers are the favorites, but they have flaws, in the bullpen and in the lineup. For the Giants, it’s an odd year. The rotation looks good, but the lineup could struggle. That gives the Rockies the chance to sneak into contention. They have a powerful lineup and they play in a place where you need that. Their rotation needs some work, but with a veteran mentor, the young rotation will look a lot better and the Rockies could contend. They are one team that will help make baseball fun again, along with other teams like the Marlins, Astros, Mariners, Angels and Yankees to name a few. Their unique experimental style is making the game interesting. Signing a guy like Jason Hammel, Jered Weaver or Doug Fister may help. The D-Backs are a young team that I expect to improve in 2017. In a few years, they could contend. Meanwhile, the Padres are just, the Padres. They’ve hit rock bottom in a horrific rebuild and may have one of their worst seasons ever. Signing veterans short term back then didn’t work out, and it’s causing bigger problems now.
2017 MLB Playoffs
In the NL, the Cardinals will be a lot better. They will challenge the Cubs for the throne. Once the Cubs win that series though, they’ll have an easy path to the World Series, as the Nats, Mets and Dodgers are nowhere near as good as the NL Central rivals. In the World Series, I think the Cubs will be the favorite, but the best team doesn’t always win the World Series, and the Cubs won’t repeat. Instead, the Astros will surprise the Cubs, and their young talent will be enough to beat the Cubs. The Cubs are a good young team, but the Astros have more young talent, and that will help them win the World Series.
By the way, I actually have the Dodgers winning the world series, but I wanted to show my Red Sox fandom on my Animoto account.
Alright, let’s dig in.
Boston Red Sox 92-70
Toronto Blue Jays 89-73
New York Yankees 85-77
Tampa Bay Rays 83-79
Baltimore Orioles 74-88
I have the Red Sox bouncing back from an ugly season and going from worst to first once again. The Red Sox were even bolder than they were last off season, acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, despite giving up former #3 and #7 prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra. Then they signed AL Cy Young runner up David Price to a seven year, 217 million dollar deal. They also signed Chris Young to a two year deal and traded Wade Miley for relievers Roenis Elias and Carson Smith. They now have a strong rotation front and a top closer, along with the powerful lineup the 2015 Red Sox provided.
Meanwhile I think the Blue Jays will stay strong even without their 2015 ace and closer (David Price & LaTroy Hawkins). They still have a strong lineup and some amazing prospects, and they acquired some new starters like J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez, plus closer/set-up man Drew Storen. I think they still have some playoff relevance.
The Yankees meanwhile have done majority of their moves via trade. They acquired Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan, plus star closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincy. Having Chapman in New York will heat up the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as the Sox acquired Kimbrel. The Yanks should be competitive in the division.
The Rays upgraded their pretty empty offense with Logan Morrison and Brad Miller. Centerfielder Desmond Jennings also will return from injury this season. Alex Cobb will also return. I think the Rays are still a little washed up in their lineup, but they have good defense and pitching.
Meanwhile I don’t think the Orioles’ acquistions are efficient. Mark Trumbo is not a full time starter, Hyun-Soo Kim might not be as good in America, and they still have a serious hole in the rotation. They already had a pretty bad team last year, they just made it a lot worse. The Orioles are by far the worst team in this division. Besides maybe the Rays, every other team in this division will still be in the playoff race at the beginning of September.
Detroit Tigers 93-69
Chicago White Sox 89-73
Kansas City Royals 89-73
Minnesota Twins 73-89
Cleveland Indians 68-94
This division’s teams have made many impact transactions but not every team that made an impact in free agency can do well, especially all in the same division.
The Tigers have really improved their pitching game and outfield to match the rest of their good teams. They signed Justin Upton, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann and have acquired Cameron Maybin and Justin Wilson via trade. They only gave up Ian Krol to trade and Alfredo Simon and Rajai Davis to free agency. Even after a bad season, I think that the top prospects and star players will combine to make a bad team in 2015 a great, powerful team that will make an impact in 2016.
Meanwhile the White Sox have also been very active in the hot stove. They’ve revamped their infield by trading for both Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. Lawrie was a third baseman like Frazier but will play at second to make room for Todd Frazier. They still have a hole at shortstop though.
The Royals are still good, but are once again lacking a rotation. They also have a hole in the outfield unless Jarrod Dyson can step it up. So, they’ll compete, but they aren’t necessarily make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, I don’t think the Twins’ youth plus Byung-Ho Park is enough to bring a good season in the Twin Cities. The Indians haven’t done enough by getting Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis. So there are teams in the Central that aren’t competitive as well.
Texas Rangers 90-72
Seattle Mariners 87-75
Houston Astros 79-83
Oakland Athletics 78-84
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 71-91
I have the Texas Rangers at the top of this division. Look at their rotation. Personally, I think that both Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are serious Cy Young candidates. The two ace-like pitchers are joined by wing man Derek Holland. They also have a powerful lineup with some guys like Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder who have a ton of potential.
The Mariners also made a lot of impact trades. Despite giving up Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Roenis Elias and Carson Smith, they traded for Wade Miley, Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Aro, Nathan Karns, Adam Lind, Leonys Martin and Luis Sardinas. They also signed closer Steve Cishek, outfielder Norichika Aoki and resigned King Felix’s trusty wing-man, Hisashi Iwakuma. So this is a pretty revamped team.
The Astros are also still a somewhat powerful, young team. Guys like Carlos Correa really stepped it up last year, and they signed some strong veterans like Doug Fister. Some veterans, like Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez, are also playing their first full season in Houston and others like Brad Peacock are returning from injury this year. The Astros have a lot of potential but aren’t quite as good as the Mariners and Rangers.
There are teams worse than that though. The Athletics made some minor moves as usual, and they’ve recovered from some injuries to players, so they will be better, just not enough to make an impact. Jarrod Parker returns from Tommy John surgery, and hopefully the former star Coco Crisp can bounce back.
The Los Angeles Angels also will get C.J. Wilson back, but this team is in need of some serious luck. Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava must create an efficient platoon in left, the rotation is full of people who are either feast or famine or fresh off a breakout, and they still have serious problems at second.
So the AL West is competitive, but there is a wide division between the good teams, decent teams and bad teams.
Washington Nationals 93-69
New York Mets 87-75
Miami Marlins 77-85
Philadelphia Phillies 75-87
Atlanta Braves 66-96
The Nationals continue to improve their team. They got solid second baseman Daniel Murphy. They also got Ben Revere for their second unneeded closer Drew Storen. The Jays did need him. They already had a good team, now they have a great and healthy one built off Bryce Harper and star pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.
The Mets also resigned Yoenis Cespedes and signed Asdrubal Cabrera for the first time. They additionally traded for Neil Walker. They have a strong rotation but still lack power in their lineup. They should be good, but not necessarily a playoff contender as there are much better wild card candidates in the NL.
The Marlins also have improved their pitching to match the lineup they revamped in 2015. But some of the guys like shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, utility Derek Dietrich and first baseman Justin Bour are still developing. At least they have Martin Prado and Don Kelly in the infield, and a pretty powerful, but somewhat old outfield.
The Phillies have gotten better as well. They’ve really improved their rotation, including the acquisition of veterans Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Brett Oberholtzer and Vincent Velasquez. Bobby LaFramboise, Jerad Eickhoff, Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez will lead the bullpen. They also have acquired Peter Bourjos to join Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche in the outfield. They have a stronger, more developed lineup and rotation, but still aren’t above .500 material.
Meanwhile, the Braves are much worse. They have some serious holes in the infield, despite acquiring Erick Aybar. Their pitching is worse, even more devastated despite signing minor league players Kyle Kendrick, Alexi Ogando and David Holmberg.
Chicago Cubs 96-66
St. Louis Cardinals 91-71
Pittsburgh Pirates 88-74
Cincinnati Reds 79-83
Milwaukee Brewers 65-97
The Cubs already had a good team last year with Kris Bryant and some other dominant young stars making it to the majors. This off season, the really stacked up. They already had Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, they inked John Lackey to a deal too. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward also got deals in Chicago. This team now looks to be one of the most powerful MLB teams while still having a starting lineup that’s almost 50% MLB rookies or sophomores.
The Cardinals still have power in the division, but were fed on just like the 2014-15 Tigers were fed on by the Nationals. What I mean is that without any trades, one team is taking a lot of the Cardinals’ top 2015 free agents, that team is their division rival the Cubs. Their rotation is shorthanded without Lance Lynn and there outfield will miss Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Even Matt Holliday will hit free agency next season. However they have picked up Jedd Gyorko and Seung-Hwan Oh, and got some good insurance in Brandon Moss and Jonathan Broxton at the 2015 trade deadline. They also could still sign a big bat like Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson or Ian Desmond.
The Pirates are clearly at loss after losing Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but with A.J. Burnett retiring, they stacked up on some pitchers. They acquired Jon Niese, A.J. Schugel and Kyle Lobstein, and signed Ryan Vogelsong. yet they still have thriving prospect Tyler Glasnow. Man, their pitching staff is stacked. They additionally signed slugger John Jaso. But in the end, compared to the Cards and Cubs, they aren’t too good.
The Reds even have some potential. I see potential in this rotation. Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen is who I think will make up the rotation. They could also sign a veteran like Tim Lincecum and let Finnegan or Lorenzen rest after Bailey’s return from Tommy John surgery. If not, Keyvius Sampson or John Lamb will have to start until then, unless Robert Stephenson is in the Opening Day rotation. This team also has some serious holes, and needs some better hitting from Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. They desperately need a third baseman and an outfielder, and may have a ton of last minute signings if they don’t want to suck. Hey, maybe Scott Schebler takes the outfield, Jose Peraza platoons at third with Ivan DeJesus efficiently, and Homer Bailey comes back early and shines. Or they snag the older guys like Juan Uribe last minute.
The Brewers don’t look any better. Right now, Matt Garza and Wilin Peralta are their best pitchers, Will Smith is their closer, and they need some serious help in certain other positions. What are they going to do? Suck is what.
Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68
San Diego Padres 91-71
Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
San Francisco Giants 84-78
Colorado Rockies 67-95
This division may surprise you a lot. The Giants put so much money into this off season, and they only go 84-78. The Padres have the season they were expecting a year ago. The D-Backs and Giants both miss the playoffs and are short of a 90-win season after acquiring or signing a combined four top 50 pitchers in the MLB, two apiece. The Dodgers still rule the division after all that drama. Finally, despite a strong rebuild, the Rockies still suck.
The Dodgers however also acquired some good pitchers in Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy will also return this season. They have a secure lineup with very few holes and a strong rotation.
But what happened to the even year luck in San Francisco? Pablo Sandoval brought it to Boston. Oh well, Giants, all that hard work and my Red Sox still get all the glory, with little to pay up at all.
The D-Backs are also looking better but do you honestly think they can win a division title with the lineup they have? Not happening.
MLB 2016 Postseason
Okay, okay, I might be getting a little carried away with the Padres doing so well, because the Cubs wouldn’t lose to them likely. Well here’s something I’ll throw at you, even though I have the Dodgers winning the World Series, I nearly considered the Nats to beat them in the NLDS. Bryce Harper is primed for a bigger breakout than even last year’s. I know I always overrate the Nats, and again, I could be wrong with the Nats even making the playoffs. The Mets could take their spot or San Diego’s. You may have actually noticed that I had the Sox over LA in the Animoto video, I was just showing my Red Sox fandom. But lets be honest here, the Dodgers rotation is by far better than the Red Sox’s. They also have a slight edge with their outfield.
Alright, now the AL. Again, I may be exaggerating with the White Sox, I did say the Tigers are ready to bounce back. Now I don’t have them winning a single playoff game. That’s up for debate. But especially if Chicago signs Ian Desmond, think about it. Jose Abreu, Brett Lawrie, Ian Desmond and Todd Frazier all in one infield. Not bad. I see potential for both sides. Again, Red Sox-Rangers could also be debatable, I just believe the Sox have a slight edge in the match-up and will simply win 3-2 in the ALDS. Besides that, I think I agree with my original instinct. What do you think?
Now its time to make my predictions for some MLB Awards in 2016.
Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays
This is just going to make Bautista way more valuable. Well, what’s my case? Bautista was injured for a good amount of 2015, and played through some of it. He had unsatisfactory results for much of the season. But 2016 is the year for Jose Bautista to bounce back. He didn’t have terrible results last year, but he definitely has room for improvement. When he gets heated up, he reaches MVP level.
Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Carlos Beltran, Xander Bogaerts
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
I almost considered Joey Votto for MVP, but I just think that his team won’t support his relevance well enough. But Harper, he’s ready to dominate. Harper is fresh off a breakout season, and the 23-year old superstar is ready for another one. I also have him winning a very special award, which I’ll surprise you with at the end.
Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jason Heyward
AL Cy Young Award
David Price, Red Sox
Price has a seven year deal with the Red Sox, so he’s pressured to do amazing. Besides, there aren’t many other good choices. Cole Hamels, maybe Dallas Keuchel. Guys like that don’t match up to Price at his best, which he wasn’t last year. I don’t think Detroit was the right fit for Price. Boston or Toronto, that’s another story. Price is ready to dominate this year.
Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Chris Archer, Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young Award
James Shields, Padres
You might say Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw will win the NL Cy Young, but where’s the love for James Shields? Especially if the Padres have their long-awaited breakout year, Shields will be a legitimate competitor for the Cy Young. He put up stellar stats for the Royals, he just hasn’t really fit in to the Padres’ system, but I think he’s found a spot as their ace. He is ready to go back to all star form after only a subpar 2015.
Zack Greinke, Kenta Maeda, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw
AL Rookie Of The Year
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
I’m not as big of a believer in Buxton as most people, but look at the other options in the AL. Byung-Ho Park is typically someone who would be too old to typically be a ro0kie. But Buxton really is a prospect, he’s a typical rookie, he plays like a young rookie. He’s actually one of the best at it in the AL, and I admire that. Plus, I have some serious issues underrating Buxton.
Byung-Ho Park, Sean Nolin, Blake Snell, Gary Sanchez, Dylan Bundy
NL Rookie Of The Year
Corey Seager, SS/3B, Dodgers
Unlike Buxton, I see off the charts potential for this guy. He’s the younger brother of a star third baseman in the league, and he proved himself byputting up great numbers while playing in the majors for the end of last season. There has been so much hype for this kid and I believe it. If there was one Rookie Of The Year for all of the MLB, it would be Seager all the way.
Steven Matz, Tyler Glasnow, Trayce Thompson, Jose Peraza
AL Comeback Player Of The Year
Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
Darvish has spent nearly two full seasons on the DL. Two years before even that, he was a great new MLB pitcher fresh out of Japan’s best bunch. Darvish put up outstanding stats in 2012 and 2013. I know he’ll never be able to do that again, he’s too old and crippled, but can he at least return to All Star form? I am a firm believer in Darvish and I’d like to see him try.
Justin Verlander, Pablo Sandoval, Jarrod Parker, Desmond Jennings
NL Comeback Player Of The Year
Matt Kemp, OF, Padres
Kemp was a superstar with the Dodgers. He’s old, but if he can do the same in San Diego, that would greatly benefit them. Right now, he’s just a washed up outfielder forced to start. But as the season progresses, I think he has potential to put up some all star stats.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Jon Niese, Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon
Triple Crown Award (NL)
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
This is the big surprise we’ve been waiting for. Surprise, surprise, we have a Triple Crown winner! Guess who it is? Red hot, young Bryce Harper, already claiming the NL MVP. Harper is fresh of a long-awaited breakout and is ready to become an all time great in the MLB. A Triple Crown would really help his relevance, and I think he’s good enough to snag it at only age 23.
So that’s all for my MLB 2016 Preview. Comment with your thoughts.