Breaking down the teams

Barry Laminack's 2019 Major League Baseball team-by-team preview

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images




WELCOME TO 2019!

MLB/Facebook

The 2019 baseball Season is upon us!

OK, it's been upon us. The OFFICIAL opening day of the 2019 season was actually last week (March 20) when the M's and A's played a two game series in Japan; but for the rest of baseball March 28 is the REAL opening day - and if you love baseball as much as I do, this might as well be a national holiday (if I didn't have a radio show to do I'd call in sick and stay home and watch baseball all day, but alas…).

Baseball is in a great place right now, with a mix of dynamic once in a generation talents, players on the verge of super stardom, and what seems like a ton of young talent ready to become tomorrow's superstars (Full disclosure, I was going to give a few examples of each, but I have no desire to have my inbox flooded with cry baby emails/tweets about not including a name that somebody thinks I should have included).

2018 was a really fun baseball season, and 2019 looks to be even better. I'd say there are more good/competitive teams than any time I can remember in the recent past. By my estimation, we could have as few as 8 teams NOT hit 80 wins (most years that number is about 13).

So what follows is my personal preview of the 2019 MLB season.

For each team I'll provide you with their current manager (you're welcome Stephen A. Smith), their 2018 vital statistics, their key offseason additions and losses, then my preview of the team.

At the end of this post I'll give you my predictions for the 2019 season so you all can tell me how wrong and dumb I am.

Enjoy.

AMERICAN LEAGUE PREVIEW

MLB/Facebook

The AL is top heavy, so while 4 of the best 6 teams in baseball reside in the AL, there isn't nearly as much parity as there is in the NL. The AL Central and West are the two worst divisions in baseball, but the Astros and Yankees are the two best teams in baseball.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Baltimore Orioles/Facebook

MANAGER: Brandon Hyde (R)

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 47-115
  • Division Finish: 5th
  • Run Differential: -270 (622 RS - 892 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SP Nate Karns

Key Losses:

  • CF Adam Jones
  • 3B Tim Beckham
  • C Caleb Joseph

PREVIEW

Yikes. The worst team in baseball actually got worse in the off season. If you're an Orioles fan, you should probably just go watch Ravens highlights, because this year is going to be ugly.

The new front office is the best part of this team. I won't be surprised if they lose 100 games this year.

Settle in O's fan, it's going to be a looooong rebuild.

BOSTON RED SOX

Boston Red Sox/Facebook

MANAGER: Alex Cora

2018 VITALS

  • Records: 108-54
  • Division Finish: 1st
  • Run Differential: +229 (876 RS - 647 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • None

Key Losses:

  • RP Joe Kelly
  • 2B Ian Kinsler
  • SP Drew Pomeranz
  • RP Craig Kimbrel (tbd)

PREVIEW

Alex Cora became just the fifth rookie manager in MLB history to win a World Series in his first year. In last year's preview I suggested he wouldn't manage like a rookie, and he didn't. Along with a high baseball IQ, Cora was also the beneficiary of FOUR of the top 25 hitters in WAR in the AL (Betts 10.9, Martinez 6.4, Benintendi 3.9, and Bogaerts 3.8), the resurgence of David Price and Rick Porcello, and one of the best closers in baseball in Craig Kimbrel.

Speaking of that, at the time of this writing (March 25) the above mentioned Kimbrel has yet to sign with a club. It doesn't look like he'll be back in Boston (rumor has it he'll be a Brewer). Couple his departure with the loss of Joe Kelly and the fact that the Red Sox have done nothing thus far to replace either of them and the bullpen could very well be a glaring weakness for the Red Sox in 2019.

The other big question for the defending champs will be the health of Chris Sale's shoulder. If he's healthy (and remains so for most of the year) and the Red Sox can shore up the back end of their bullpen, they'll be in the mix for another division title.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Chicago White Sox/Facebook

MANAGER: Rick Renteria

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 62-100
  • Division Finish: 4th
  • Run Differential: -192 (656 RS - 848 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • RP Kelvin Herrera
  • SP Ervin Santana (minors)
  • RF Jon Jay
  • C James McCann
  • RP Alex Colome (trade)
  • SP Ivan Nova (trade)
  • 1B Yonder Alonso (trade)

Key Losses:

  • RF Avisail Garcia
  • SP James Shields (tbd)
  • C Omar Narvaez (trade)

PREVIEW

I didn't expect a lot out of the White Sox in 2018 - I did expect more than they delivered - but give their front office credit for making a serious run at Manny Machado even though they are probably a year or 2 aways from being ready for big time free agents

They are solid up the middle with the young and talented duo of Yoan Moncada (2b) and Tim Anderson (ss), but they still needed help in just about every area on the club. They were one of the 10 worst hitting clubs in 2018, one of the 5 worst starting rotations in 2018, and one of the 10 worst bull pen's in the majors last year.

When you compare who they added vs who they lost, the White Sox got better in the off season, even with the disappointment of not landing Machado. It won't be enough to get them a playoff spot, but they shouldn't lose 100 games again.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Cleveland Indians/Facebook

MANAGER: Terry Francona

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 91-71
  • Division Finish: 1st
  • Run Differential: +170 (818 RS - 648 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • RF Carlos Gonzalez (minor)
  • RP Tyler Clippard (minor)
  • LF Matt Joyce (minor)
  • DH Carlos Santana (trade)
  • 1B Jake Bauers (trade)

Key Losses:

  • LF Michael Brantley
  • RP Andrew Miller
  • 3B Josh Donaldson
  • RP Cody Allen
  • DH Edwin Encarnacion (trade)
  • RF Lonnie Chisenhall
  • LF Brandon Guyer
  • LF Melky Cabrera
  • 2B Adam Rosales
  • RP Alex Wilson
  • CF Rajai Davis
  • C Yan Gomes (trade)
  • 1B Yonder Alonso (trade)
  • 3B Yandy Diaz (trade)

PREVIEW

It was a busy offseason for the Indians, but busy doesn't always mean successful. When you look at some of the names they traded away or lost in free agency and compare that list to who they added, it's safe to say they didn't improve much headed into the 2019 season.

The Indians bullpen was always a point of strength, but last year it took a step back after losing Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith, and now with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen gone, it appears to have gotten even worse.

That said, they still have a killer rotation and two of the best sluggers in baseball in Ramirez and Lindor, plus they have the luxury of playing in a pretty weak division. They will win their division again (thanks in large part to it being the worst in baseball), but will find it hard to compete with the more well rounded teams in the AL like the Yankees and Astros.

DETROIT TIGERS

Detroit Tigers/Facebook

MANAGER: Ron Gardenhire

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 64-98
  • Division Finish: 3rd
  • Run Differential: -166 (630 RS - 796 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SP Tyson Ross
  • SS Jordy Mercer
  • SP Matt Moore
  • 2B Josh Harrison

Key Losses:

  • DH Victor Martinez
  • SS Jose Iglesias
  • C James McCann
  • SP Francisco Liriano
  • C Josh Thole

PREVIEW

The Tigers find themselves smack dab in the middle of a rebuild, and because of that there just aren't a lot of bright spots on this team headed into 2019. Victor Martinez has called it a career, and even if Miguel Cabrera can stay healthy, this will still be one of the worst teams in baseball…for now. They have some young guys coming up, but this team is still at least three years away from winning more than they lose.

On the bright side, at least the Royals suck more so they won't finish last in the division.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Houston Astros/Facebook

MANAGER: A.J. Hinch

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 103-59
  • Division Finish: 1st
  • Run Differential: +263 (797 RS - 534 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • LF Michael Brantley
  • C Robinson Chirinos
  • SP Wade Miley
  • IF Aledmys Diaz (trade)

Key Losses:

  • SP Dallas Keuchel (tbd)
  • DH Evan Gattis (tbd)
  • SP Charlie Morton
  • LF Marwin Gonzalez
  • C Martin Maldonado
  • C Brian McCann
  • RP Tony Sipp
  • C Chris Herrmann
  • 3B J.D. Davis (trade)

PREVIEW

It's amazing how spoiled fans can get in just a few years, but that's exactly what has happened to Astros fans (and let's face it, after suffering through multiple 100 loss seasons, they've earned it). Anything short of another trip the ALCS will be considered a disappointing year for one of the best and most well rounded teams in baseball.

This team has a stacked lineup, and one of the top bullpens in baseball, but if there is any place where they took a step back it's in the starting rotation. Losing Morton and (probably) Keuchel, along with Lance McCullers being put on the shelf for all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery, means this team went from the best rotation in baseball to a top five-ish rotation. Still good, but not 534 runs allowed good.

Last year you could make the argument that every spot in their five-man rotation was filled by either an ace or a strong 2. That's not the case this year, but it's still a damn good rotation.

I do think the West will prove to be the second worst division in baseball (though it won't seem that way because there isn't any 100 loss teams in the division, mostly .500ish teams) thus a team like the Astros will feast on the division, and that's probably why they are the Vegas favorite to win the most games in baseball in 2019 (97 last I checked).

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Kansas City Royals/Facebook

MANAGER: Ned Yost

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 58-104
  • Division Finish: 5th
  • Run Differential: -195 (638 RS - 833 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • CF Billy Hamilton
  • 2B Chris Owings
  • RP Jake Diekman
  • C Martin Maldonado
  • RP Brad Boxberger
  • SP Homer Bailey (minor)
  • 1B Lucas Duda (minor)

Key Losses:

  • RP Brandon Maurer
  • SP Nate Karns
  • SS Alcides Escobar
  • RP Jason Hammel

PREVIEW

The Royals are one of (if not the) worst teams in baseball, and they really didn't do a whole lot to get better. If you believe what their front office is telling you, then they think they can win with speed, speed, and more speed.

This ain't 2015 KC, and as far as rebuilds go, so far...so bad.

They'll do their best to lose 100 games.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

Los Angeles Angels/Facebook

MANAGER: Brad Asmus

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 80-82
  • Division Finish: 4th
  • Run Differential: -1 (721 RS - 722 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SP Matt Harvey
  • SP Trevor Cahill
  • RP Cody Allen
  • C Jonathan Lucroy
  • 1B Justin Bour
  • RP Daniel Hudson (minor)
  • RP Dan Jennings (minor)
  • RP Luis Garcia (trade)

Key Losses:

  • SP Garrett Richards
  • SP Matt Shoemaker
  • RP Blake Parker
  • CF Ben Revere
  • RP Jose Alvarez (trade)

PREVIEW

The good news is, Mike Trout will be an Angel for the rest of his career. The bad news is, they have won exactly zero world series since he's been there.

Hear me out.

Unlike in other sports, having the best player in your sport on your team doesn't automatically translate into success. The Angels HAVE to build around Trout, and this offseason was a good start. Adding Harvey, Cahill, and Allen at least showed that they want to move in the right direction.

Getting healthy is really important for this team as well. Geoff Blum told me that Pujols is looking healthy and if that's true, and Ohtani can STAY healthy once he returns (around May), this team could surprise some folks.

Bottom line, they've got work to do, but this should be a team that wins a few more than they lose and finish above 500 for the first time since 2015.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Minnesota Twins/Facebook

MANAGER: Rocco Baldelli (R)

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 78-84
  • Division Finish: 2nd
  • Run Differential: -37 (738 RS - 775 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • LF Marwin Gonzalez
  • DH Nelson Cruz
  • 2B Jonathan Schoop
  • SP Martin Perez
  • RP Blake Parker
  • 2B Adam Rosales (minor)
  • 2B Ronald Torreyes (minor)

Key Losses:

  • SP Ervin Santana
  • 2B Logan Forsythe
  • DH Robbie Grossman
  • 1B Lucas Duda
  • 1B Chris Carter (tbd)

PREVIEW

The Twins took a step back in 2018 after surprising the baseball world in 2017 by earning a wild card berth, but I do like most of the moves they made in the off season.

Full seasons from Buxton and Sano could complement nicely the additions of Gonzalez, Cruz, and Schoop. They got a little better at the plate but didn't do much to bolster their rotation or pen, both areas that needed to be improved.

I think they Twins will make a bit of noise most of the season, but don't have the arms to get back to the playoffs.

NEW YORK YANKEES

New York Yankees/Facebook

MANAGER: Aaron Boone

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 100-62
  • Division Finish: 2nd
  • Run Differential: +182 (851 RS, 669 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • RP Adam Ottavino
  • 2B D.J. LeMahieu
  • SP Gio Gonzalez (minor)
  • SS Troy Tulowitzki
  • SP James Paxton (trade)

Key Losses:

  • RF Andrew McCutchen
  • SP Lance Lynn
  • RP David Robertson
  • 2B Neil Walker
  • SP Sonny Gray (trade)

PREVIEW

There's pretty much nothing the Yankees aren't good at. They will probably lead the AL in home runs and runs scored, they have the best bullpen in baseball, and their rotation matches up with anyone in baseball.

They are the best team in baseball...on paper.

The big concern for the Yankees will be health. None of what I just said will be true if they can't stay healthy, and so far this spring, that's not looking good. Staff ace Luis Severino will be out until at least May with rotator cuff inflammation, and the list of players starting the year on the DL is pretty long (Sabathia, Betances, Montgomery, Gregarious, Hicks, and Ellsbury), and don't forget Aaron Judge only played in 112 games last year.

I have them winning the division, and they are going to be a really tough out come the postseason.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Oakland Athletics/Facebook

MANAGER: Bob Melvin

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 97-65
  • Division Finish: 2nd
  • Run Differential: +139 (813 RS - 674 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • RP Joakim Soria
  • SP Marco Estrada
  • DH Robbie Grossman
  • RP Jerry Blevins (minor)
  • C Nick Hundley (minor)
  • C Chris Herrmann
  • SS Cliff Pennington (minor)
  • SS Jurickson Profar (trade)

Key Losses:

  • RP Jeurys Familia
  • 2B Jed Lowrie
  • SP Trevor Cahill
  • C Jonathan Lucroy
  • RP Shawn Kelley
  • RP Cory Gearrin
  • LF Matt Joyce
  • SP Kendall Graveman
  • SP Edwin Jackson (tbd)

PREVIEW

Listen, before I start saying less than flattering things about the A's, I want to say what a great season they had. Oakland was no doubt the surprise team in baseball.

OK, let's get down to facts about 2019 now.

The A's don't have a starter with more than 13 wins in a season (Estrada won 13 in 2015) or a career ERA below 4.00 (Fiers has the best career ERA at 4.08 era), nor do they have a starter in their rotation that has a winning record.

What I'm saying is, this rotation is bad and it's going to cost them a lot of games.

Their bully is solid. Real solid. Maybe a top 5 bullpen baseball, so if ever there was a case to be made for a team to employ the "opener" this might be it.

2018 was fun and magical, but the Red Sox, Rays, and Twins are better teams and two of the three will ensure that the A's don't return to the postseason in 2019.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Seattle Mariners/Facebook

MANAGER: Scott Servais

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 89-73
  • Division Finish: 3rd
  • Run Differential: -34 (677 RS - 711 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • 3B Tim Beckham
  • RP Cory Gearrin
  • RP Hunter Strickland
  • C Jose Lobaton (minor)
  • RP Zac Rosscup
  • LF Mallex Smith (trade)
  • C Omar Narvaez (trade)
  • RF Jay Bruce (trade)
  • RP Anthony Swarzak (trade)
  • SS J.P. Crawford (trade)
  • DH Edwin Encarnacion (trade)
  • RF Domingo Santana (trade)

Key Losses:

  • DH Nelson Cruz
  • SP James Paxton (trade)
  • RP Adam Warren
  • RP David Phelps
  • RP Zach Duke
  • RP Alex Colome (trade)
  • 2B Robinson Cano (trade)
  • RP Edwin Diaz (trade)
  • RF Cameron Maybin
  • RP Marc Rzepczynski
  • 2B Gordon Beckham
  • SS Andrew Romine
  • LF Denard Span (tbd)
  • SP Hisashi Iwakuma (tbd)
  • C Mike Zunino (trade)
  • SS Jean Segura (trade)
  • RP Juan Nicasio (trade)
  • RP James Pazos (trade)
  • LF Ben Gamel (trade)

PREVIEW

It's almost like GM Jerry Dipoto is getting paid per transaction, because WOW the Mariners were busy this offseason. To say they overhauled the roster is an understatement.

It's also a bad sign if you're a Mariners fan hoping for a playoff run when your GM says "We're just looking for progress in young players" and is already talking about 2020, even before 2019 camp opens.

With as many transactions as they made, and as many pieces as they shuffled, it's hard to decipher if they are really going to be better or worse in 2019. I lean worse...for now. We'll have to wait a couple of years to grade all of the 2018/2019 moves they made.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Tampa Bay Rays/Facebook

MANAGER: Kevin Cash

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 90-72
  • Division Finish: 3rd
  • Run Differential: +70 (716 RS - 646 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SP Charlie Morton
  • RF Avisail Garcia
  • C Mike Zunino (trade)
  • 3B Yandy Diaz (trade)

Key Losses:

  • RP Sergio Romo
  • RP Vidal Nuno
  • C Jesus Sucre
  • C Adam Moore
  • RF Carlos Gomez
  • LF Mallex Smith (trade)
  • 1B Jake Bauers (trade)

PREVIEW

Look, I'll be the first to admit I slept on the Rays. BOY did I sleep on the Rays.

"Only one team (Toronto) scored less runs in the AL. They'll "overtake" the Jays for last place this year as they head in the wrong direction in the standings." - Me in my 2018 MLB preview.

The Rays are a good baseball team that nobody seems to talk about. Morton was their big offseason splash, but paired with 2018 Cy Young winner award winner Blake Snell, the duo provides a nice 1-2 punch before they start playing "opener" ball (look it up).

The Rays are young and talented, and if they're in the mix by mid July, and I think they will be, I suspect they might spend a few extra dollars to add some help; and since I didn't put any "respec" on their name last year, go ahead and put me down as predicting they'll be a wild card team.

TEXAS RANGERS

Texas Rangers/Facebook

MANAGER: Chris Woodward

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 67-95
  • Division Finish: 5th
  • Run Differential: -111 (737 RS - 848 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SP Lance Lynn
  • RP Jesse Chavez
  • 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  • RP Shawn Kelley
  • 2B Logan Forsythe (minor)
  • SP Shelby Miller
  • CF Ben Revere (minor)
  • RP Zack McAllister
  • C Adam Moore (minor)
  • RP Drew Smyly (trade)

Key Losses:

  • SP Doug Fister (tbd)
  • SS Jurickson Profar (trade)
  • SP Yovani Gallardo (tbd)
  • C Robinson Chirinos
  • SP Martin Perez
  • SP Matt Moore
  • RP Tony Barnette
  • SS Cliff Pennington

PREVIEW

Last year the Rangers had all kinds of problems. Sure they can put up runs, thanks in large part to their stadium, but their pitching was bad. The Rangers had the second worse starter era in the majors. To make matters worse, they committed the third most errors in the bigs.

Not a good formula for winning.

Adding Lance Lynn was a good start to bolstering the rotation, and adding Zach McAllister and Shawn Kelley helps make a soso bullpen better, but those three along with the other pedestrian moves they made this off season is probably not enough to make them relevant.

They'll battle Seattle for last place in the division.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Toronto Blue Jay/Facebook

MANAGER: Charlie Montoyo

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 73-89
  • Division Finish: 4th
  • Run Differential: -123 (622 RS - 892 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SS Freddy Galvis
  • SP Matt Shoemaker
  • SP Clay Buchholz
  • RP Bud Norris (minor)
  • RP David Phelps
  • RP John Axford (minor)
  • 2B Eric Sogard (minor)

Key Losses:

  • SP Marco Estrada
  • 3B Yangervis Solarte
  • RP Tyler Clippard
  • SS Troy Tulowitzki
  • SP Taylor Guerrieri
  • RP Jake Petricka
  • IF Aledmys Diaz (trade)
  • C Russell Martin (trade)

PREVIEW

For a team that's getting younger and better, I really liked their off season moves. Every player they added made them better, and they have who many feel is the number one prospect in baseball in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ready to break out (and don't forget they also have 2 other "sons of former players" who could make an impact in Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio...yes THAT Biggio).

Toronto will be sellers at the deadline, as they still need to get rid of some "old guys", but I think this team might surprise a few folks. If I had to describe them in one word, I'd say "scrappy".

NATIONAL LEAGUE PREVIEW

MLB/Facebook

There is a lot of parity in the NL this year, and that should make for 3 exciting races in each of the divisions. The NL Central, while it doesn't have one of the six best teams in baseball, has five really good teams. It should end up being the best division in baseball. In fact, the NL is so good this year it's possible that only the Marlins and Giants will be among the 10 worst teams in baseball, the other eight could all come from the AL.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Arizona Diamondbacks/Facebook

MANAGER: Torey Lovullo

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 82-80
  • Division Finish: 3rd
  • Run Differential: +49 (693 RS - 644 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • 2B Wilmer FLores
  • RP Greg Holland
  • CF Adam Jones
  • SP Luke Weaver (trade)
  • C Carson Kelly (trade)
  • IF Andy Young (trade)

Key Losses:

  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt (trade)
  • SP Patrick Corbin
  • CF A.J. Pollock
  • 2B Daniel Descalso
  • RF Jon Jay
  • SP CLay Buchholz
  • 2B Chris Owings
  • RP Jake Diekman
  • RP Brad Boxberger
  • SP Shelby Miller

PREVIEW

The DBacks felt so close. It was just two years ago that they won 93 games, earned a wild card birth where they beat division rival Colorado for the right to get swept by other division rival the Dodgers.

That 2017 team looked like it had it all, a top 10 offense, and a top five rotation and bullpen.

But then 2018 happened, and everything went in the wrong direction. They went from eighth in the league in runs scored in 2017, to 19th in 2018. They can still pitch but the fifth best rotation is baseball fell to the bottom of the top 10, and the bullpen regressed as well. It all added up to two games above .500 and missing the playoffs.

So instead of bringing in more veteran players that can help, they ship of one of the best players in baseball in Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis for what many believe were three players (Weaver, Kelly, Young) that while good, were far below what Goldy should have brought back.

I can't really figure out the 2019 Diamondbacks. They can still pitch, and they'll probably be in the top of the league in runs scored, but I just don't think they have enough to hang with the Rockies or the Dodgers, and they better be looking over their shoulder because here comes the Padres.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Atlanta Braves/Facebook

MANAGER: Brian Snitker

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 90-72
  • Division Finish: 1st
  • Run Differential: +102 (759 RS - 657 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • 3B Josh Donaldson
  • C Brian McCann
  • LF Matt Joyce (trade)

Key Losses:

  • SP Anibal Sanchez
  • C Kurt Suzuki
  • RP Brad Brach
  • 3B Ryan Flaherty

PREVIEW

Well I didn't see that coming. I wrote last year that Atlanta was a team on the come, and that I thought they were still "a few years away from the playoffs, but not as far as you might think." Well, I guess they were even closer than I thought.

The upstart Braves shocked the baseball world, won 90 games and ran away with a bad division. Acuna was what we thought he was (a freaking STUD), Freeman was MVP caliber, and the list of good young players goes on and on.

I don't like the Josh Donaldson signing but if he's healthy he could bolster their lineup.

I like what's going on in Atlanta, and I think they'll be a fun and exciting team to watch, but I don't know if they have enough pitching to compete with the Nationals or the Mets, or for that matter the firepower to hang with the Phillies.

CHICAGO CUBS

Chicago Cubs/Facebook

MANAGER: Joe Maddon

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 95-68
  • Division Finish: 2nd
  • Run Differential: +116 (761 RS - 645 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • 2B Daniel Descalso
  • RP Brad Brach
  • RP Xavier Cedeno (minor)
  • RP Tony Barnette
  • SP Kendall Graveman

Key Losses:

  • 1B Daniel Murphy
  • RP Justin Wilson
  • RP Jesse Chavez
  • RP Drew Smyly (trade)

PREVIEW

The Cubs have been good for a while now, but a ho hum offseason means they really didn't do much to get better. Brach helps improve the bullpen, but other than "veteran presence" I'm not sure what else Descalso brings to the table.

Theo Epstein has hinted that 2019 could be a win or else season. I don't think that to be true, but he has to say something to motivate them right?

The lovable losers will be in a dog fight with the Brewers all season long, but because I think the NL East is loaded, and the Brewers are just a bit better, I think the Cubs miss the playoffs this year.

BUT…

Between us gals, it won't surprise me if any of the big three in the division (Cards, Cubs, or Brewers) make the playoffs.

CINCINNATI REDS

Cincinnati Reds/Facebook

MANAGER: David Bell (R)

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 67-95
  • Division Finish: 5th
  • Run Differential: -123 (696 RS - 819 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SS Jose Iglesias (minor)
  • SP Sonny Gray (trade)
  • RP Zach duke
  • SP Tanner Roark (trade)
  • LF Matt Kemp (trade)
  • RF Yasiel Puig (trade)
  • SP Alex Wood (trade)
  • C Kyle Farmer (trade)

Key Losses:

  • SP Matt Harvey
  • CF Billy Hamilton
  • SP Homer Bailey (trade)

PREVIEW

GM Nick Krall got to work this off season, and it showed. Most of the additions to the roster came via Trade, but it's clear the Reds are ready to make a push, and If you're Joey Votto you have to be thinking "IT'S ABOUT TIME!"

They have retooled the rotations by adding Gray and Roark, and put some weapons around Vatto in Kemp and Puig.

They'll be better than last year, but on paper they look to be 1 or 2 more moves away from contending for the division.

COLORADO ROCKIES

Colorado Rockies/Facebook

MANAGER: Bud Black

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 91-72
  • Division Finish: 2nd
  • Run Differential: +35 (780 RS - 745 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • 1B Daniel Murphy
  • 3B Mark Reynolds

Key Losses:

  • RP Adam Ottavino
  • 2B D.J. LeMahieu
  • RF Carlos Gonzalez
  • RF Gerardo Parra
  • C Drew Butera

PREVIEW

The Rockies are solid, and have been for a few years now (if you need proof, they went to the playoffs for two years in a row now, something they've never accomplished in team history before). Bud Black has done a fantastic job as a manager, and it really shows with the pitching staff. This group of arms, and the success they have at Coors field, is thanks in large part to Black and his coaching staff.

In the off season they added a solid stick in Daniel Murphy to compliment the outstanding trio of Arenado, Blackmon, and Story, but LeMahieu leaving hurts, and the loss of Ottavino is going to hurt an already suspect bullpen.

They need a full, healthy season from Dahl, and they need better outings from Shaw and Bettis out of the pen.

As is the case in just about every season for the Rockies, if they can get good pitching to compliment their hitting, they'll give teams fits.

Now look, my formulas and whatnot tell me the Rockies won't win the division, but I'm not a believer in the Dodgers this year. That said, I have to trust my numbers so I think whoever doesn't win the NL West will barely miss out on the wild card to the Mets, and my data says that's the Rockies...but put me down for saying I think the Rockies could win the West outright and the Dodgers could miss the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Los Angeles Dodgers/Facebook

MANAGER: Dave Roberts

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 92-71
  • Division Finish: 1st
  • Run Differential: +194 (804 RS - 610 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • CF A.J. Pollock
  • RP Joe Kelly
  • C Josh Thole
  • SP Homer Bailey (trade)
  • C Russell Martin (trade)

Key Losses:

  • 3B Manny Machado
  • LF Matt Kemp (trade)
  • RF Yasiel Puig (trade)
  • SP Alex Wood (trade)
  • C Kyle Farmer (trade)
  • C Yasmani Grandal
  • 2B Brian Dozier
  • RP John Axford
  • RP Josh Fields
  • RP Zach McAllister

PREVIEW

The more I study this team, the more I think the Dodgers took a step back this offseason. They lost a lot of talent. A.J. Pollock is a solid replacement in the outfield that lost both Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, but it's not enough to replace their combined 44 HR and 148 RBIs.

From the "well duh" department, Kershaw's health is going to be of utmost importance to this squad.

The Rockies got better, and I think the Dodgers got worse. Not like bad, but I don't think they are as good as they were last year. I know the sexy pick is to have them back in the World Series, and my numbers and formulas tell me to make them the division winner so I will, but I'll go on record and say the Rockies could very well win this division and the Dodger could miss the playoffs all together.

There, I said it.

MIAMI MARLINS

Miami Marlins/Facebook

MANAGER: Don Mattingly

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 63-98
  • Division Finish: 5th
  • Run Differential: -220 (589 RS - 809 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • RP Sergio Romo
  • 2B Neil Walker
  • LF Curtis Granderson
  • C Bryan Holaday
  • C Jorge Alfaro (trade)

Key Losses:

  • C J.T. Realmuto (trade)
  • 2B Derek Dietrich

PREVIEW

Rebuilding...and not doing a good job of it.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Milwaukee Brewers/Facebook

MANAGER: Craig Counsell

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 96-67
  • Division Finish: 1st
  • Run Differential: +95 (754 RS - 659 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • C Yasmani Grandal
  • 3B Mike Moustakas
  • RP Josh Fields
  • LF Ben Gamel (trade)

Key Losses:

  • RP Joakim Soria
  • 2B Jonathan Schoop
  • SP Wade Miley
  • RF Domingo Santana (trade)
  • SP Gio Gonzalez
  • SP Jordan Lyles
  • LF Curtis Granderson
  • RP Dan Jennings
  • RF Keon Broxton (trade)

PREVIEW

I have mixed feelings about the Brewers offseason.

I like the Grandal and Moustakas signings, their rotation got worse, and somehow their bullpen got better.

Their core four of: 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain (6.9 WAR, 2nd in the NL only to Yellich who had a 7.6), power hitting second baseman Travis, Shaw, and the fast rising slugger Jesus Aguilar means the Brew Crew should still but up gaudy numbers at the plate, but the Loss of Wade Miley took a bad rotation and made it worse.

Their Bullpen might be the best in all of baseball, especially if they add former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel (rumor is he'll either be a Brewer or a Brave).

All that said they have a solid squad, and I think the central is theirs to lose.

NEW YORK METS

New York Mets/Facebook

MANAGER: Mickey Callaway

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 77-85
  • Division Finish: 4th
  • Run Differential: -31 (676 RS - 707 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • RP Jeurys Familia
  • 2B Jed Lowrie
  • C Wilson Ramos
  • RP Justin Wilson
  • SS Adeiny Hechavarria
  • RP Hector Santiago
  • RF Carlos Gomez (minor)
  • CF Rajai Davis (minor)
  • 2B Robinson Cano (trade)
  • RP Edwin Diaz (trade)
  • RF Keon Broxton (trade)
  • 3B J.D. Davis (trade)

Key Losses:

  • 2B Wilmer FLores
  • C Devin Mesoraco
  • RP Jerry Blevins
  • C Jose Lobaton
  • RF Jay Bruce (trade)
  • RP Anthony Swarzak (trade)

PREVIEW

The Mets got what they needed this offseason: hitting and bullpen help.

I love the trade they pulled off with the Mariners that addressed both of those by adding Cano and Diaz. In fact, I actually like prety much all of the signings they made. They're deeper than they were last year, and thus better.

The NL East is LOADED, and you could make a case for any team in the division not named the Marlins winning the division. I don't think the Mets will win the division, but I do think they'll grab the 2nd wild card spot.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Philadelphia Phillies/Facebook

MANAGER: Gabe Kapler

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 80-82
  • Division Finish: 3rd
  • Run Differential: -51 (677 RS - 728 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • CF Bryce Harper
  • C J.T. Realmuto (trade)
  • RF Andrew McCutchen
  • RP David Robertson
  • C Drew Butera (minor)
  • SS Jean Segura (trade)
  • RP Juan Nicasio (trade)
  • RP James Pazos (trade)
  • RP Jose Alvarez (trade)

Key Losses:

  • C Wilson Ramos
  • 2B Asdrubal Cabrera
  • 1B Justin Bour
  • C Jorge Alfaro (trade)
  • SS J.P. Crawford (trade)
  • DH Carlos Santana (trade)
  • RP Luis Garcia (trade)

PREVIEW

Stop me if you heard this before, but the Phillies got better in the offseason.

It's hard to argue that they won't be better after adding stud hitters like Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, but this young Phillies squad got deeper too.

There's no doubt they'll score runs, and a middle of the road bullpen got a lot deeper when they added David Robertson, Alvarez and Nicasio.

They hit the ground running last year, but faded late. I think they'll be a lot of fun to watch, and will be a wild card team at the very least, and could be as good as winning the division.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Pittsburgh Pirates/Facebook

MANAGER: Clint Hurdle

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 82-79
  • Division Finish: 4th
  • Run Differential: -1 (692 RS - 693 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • RF Lonnie Chisenhall
  • SP Jordan Lyles
  • SP Francisco Liriano (minor)
  • RP Brandon Maurer (minor)
  • LF Melky Cabrera (minor)

Key Losses:

  • SS Jordy Mercer
  • 2B Josh Harrison
  • SP Ivan Nova (trade)

PREVIEW

The Pirates are a few years away, but I really like the direction they are headed. They have a really good pitching staff, but failed to add a big bat this offseason.

My number crunching says that on paper, the Pirates are the third best team in the division, but my gut tells me they're headed for a fourth place finish.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

San Diego Padres/Facebook

MANAGER: Andy Green

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 66-96
  • Division Finish: 5th
  • Run Differential: -150 (617 RS - 767 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • 3B Manny Machado
  • SP Garrett Richards
  • 2B Ian Kinsler
  • RP Adam Warren

Key Losses:

  • SS Freddy Galvis

PREVIEW

Don't look now, but Fernando Tatis Jr has made the 25 man opening roster. Him and Machado will be a dynamic duo on the left side of the Padres' infield for many years to come.

I think the Padres got markedly better in the offseason, and that's following a 2018 campaign when they did better than I thought they would.

I'm not saying they are ready yet, but when you invest what they did in Machado, you assume winning is the No. 1 priority. I don't know if the team has enough to overtake the Dodgers or Rockies, but they'll be in the hunt all year.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

San Francisco Giants/Facebook

MANAGER: Bruce Bochy

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 73-89
  • Division Finish: 4th
  • Run Differential: -96 (603 RS - 699 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SP Drew Pomeranz
  • 3B Yangervis Solarte (minor)
  • RF Gerardo Parra (minor)
  • C Stephen Vogt

Key Losses:

  • RF Hunter Pence
  • RP Hunter Strickland
  • C Nick Hundley
  • LF Gorkys Hernandez
  • 2B Kelby Tomlinson
  • LF Matt Joyce (trade)

PREVIEW

The giants were very busy last offseason, and all that activity resulted in a win increase of just nine games, but...After 24 years as a manager in the Majors,Bruce Bochy announced that 2019 will be his last year, and while they Giants got younger compared to their team age at this time last year, I'm not sure they got much better. Plus they're in a tough division, so expect about the same as last year in Bochy's farewell tour.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

St. Louis Cardinals/Facebook

MANAGER: Mike Shildt

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 88-74
  • Division Finish: 3rd
  • Run Differential: +68 (759 RS - 691 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt (trade)
  • RP Andrew Miller
  • C Matt Wieters (minor)

Key Losses:

  • SP Tyson Ross
  • 1B Matt Adams
  • RP Bud Norris
  • SP Luke Weaver (trade)
  • C Carson Kelly (trade)
  • IF Andy Young (trade)

PREVIEW

I'm really not sure about this Cardinals team. They pretty much stole Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks, and Andrew Miller makes a bullpen that had the 11th worst era in the majors better.

They could use a bounceback year from Marcell Ozuna, whose numbers dipped after coming over from the Marlins, and if they get it that along with GoldSchmidt, Carpenter this lineup could give other teams nightmares.

Their rotation is middle of the road at best, and while improved the bullpen could still use some help.

This is one of the teams this year that my numbers/formulas say one thing but eyes tell me another, except unlike most of the others I think the Cardinals might be better than my numbers tell me. They play in one of the toughest and most balanced divisions in baseball, and I don't think they are better than the Brewers or Cubs, but despite my spreadsheet telling me they'll end fourth in the division, it won't surprise me if they finish as high as second.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Washington Nationals/Facebook

MANAGER: Dave Martinez

2018 VITALS

  • Record: 82-80
  • Division Finish: 2nd
  • Run Differential: +89 (771 RS - 682 RA)

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Additions:

  • SP Patrick Corbin
  • SP Anibal Sanchez
  • C Kurt Suzuki
  • 2B Brian Dozier
  • 1B Matt Adams
  • SP Jeremy Hellickson
  • RP Vidal Nuno (minor)
  • RP Tony Sipp
  • RP Logan Ondrusek (minor)
  • C Yan Gomes (trade)

Key Losses:

  • CF Bryce Harper
  • RP Kelvin Herrera
  • RP Greg Holland
  • C Matt Wieters
  • 3B Mark Reynolds
  • RP Joaquin Benoit (tbd)
  • SP Tanner Roark (trade)

PREVIEW

Nats left fielder Juan Soto (.292/.406/.517) is a stud and it could be a matter of just months until he has Nats fans saying, "Bryce who?"

Along with Soto, they have my pick for rookie of the year

In fact, here's a fun fact about last years Nationals team: Bryce Harper had the fourth highest WAR (1.3) on the team, behind Anthony Rendon (4.2) Trey Turner (4.1) and Soto (3.0).

Don't get me wrong, replacing Harper's 34 home runs and 100 RBI isn't easy, but they Nats have the bats.

OK, that was unintentional.

More than the bats though, the Washington Nationals have a NASTY rotation. The addition of Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez makes the Nationals rotation one of the best in baseball.

They have one of the best rotations in baseball, and finally seem to have resolved the bullpen issues that have plagued them the past couple of seasons.

Despite losing Harper the team is built to win now and after a disappointing 2018 I foresee a bounceback year and have them rated as the best team in the National League.

2019 MLB PREDICTIONS

MLB/Facebook

And now we come to my predictions!

I'll be real honest with you...at this point, I'm pretty sick of looking at this computer screen, so let's just cut the BS and get to it! Below is my predictions based on several factors. I created a formula that I used based on various stats to come up with a rating for each team.

THE LOWER NUMBER, THE BETTER THAN TEAM IS.

My division winners are:

AL: Yankees, Indians, Astros

NL: Nationals, Brewers, Dodgers

My Wild Card winners are:

AL: Red Sox, Rays

NL: Phillies, Mets

WORLD SERIES: YANKEES def. NATIONALS

AL EAST

Yankees - 2.00

Red Sox (WC 1) - 8.33

Rays (WC 2) - 13.67

Blue Jays - 19.33

Orioles - 28.00

AL CENTRAL

Indians - 7.33

Twins - 13.33

White Sox - 22.67

Tigers - 27.00

Royals - 28.00

AL WEST

Astros - 4.33

Athletics - 15.67

Angels - 17.00

Rangers - 18.33

Mariners - 24.83

NL EAST

Nationals - 7.00

Phillies (WC 1) - 11.33

Mets (WC 2) - 11.67

Braves - 16.00

Marlins - 26.67

NL CENTRAL

Brewers - 11.83

Cubs - 13.00

Pirates - 13.33

Cardinals - 15.67

Reds - 17.67

NL WEST

Dodgers - 7.50

Rockies - 11.67

Padres - 15.33

D'backs - 15.83

Giants - 20.67

2019 AWARD PREDICTIONS

MLB/Facebook

Here are my award Predictions for 2019.

ROY

AL:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays)

NL:

Victor Robles (Nationals)

Cy Young

AL:

Trevor Bauer (Cleveland)

NL:

Max Scherzer (Nationals)

MVP

AL:

Aaron Judge (Yankees)

NL:

Bryce Harper (Phillies)

THANKS!

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the season.


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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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