The biggest news out of this week has been: “How the Coronavirus has stopped the world of sports as we know it” as the league has decided to shut down Spring Training as well as Opening Day being suspended at the minimum of two weeks. It’s unprecedented how long we will be without the game of baseball – but know this – this is a bigger issue in our world than America’s Pastime. What baseball does in regards to the schedule remains to be seen. It’s likely with the scare of COVID-19 that baseball could be shut down for the first month of the season – if not more.
NOTE: All of these predictions are based off of a 162 schedule.
The crew over at Pro Sports Extra used their creative insight to put together a full MLB Preview featuring all 30 teams for the next year – players who will lead their respective clubs, what to expect from the organization, and what is to come for the near future, as well as some personal predictions for what each club will do. That being said, find your team, enjoy our preview, and leave your comments below for your predictions with your favorite ball club.
2019 Braves: 97-65, first in the NL East
Key Additions: Marcell Ozuna, Cole Hamels, Will Smith, Travis d’Arnaud, Felix Hernandez
Key Subtractions: Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli, Jerry Blevins, Anthony Swarzak, Billy Hamilton, Matt Joyce, Julio Teheran
This was a bit tricky for me to predict because of the question mark regarding the loss of Josh Donaldson. If Johan Camargo returns to 2018 form (.272/.343/.457, 19 HR), and Marcell Ozuna hits his season averages (26 HR, 94 RBI), then they’ve certainly replaced Donaldson in a strong way. Travis d’Arnaud if his Tampa breakout is legit is a major upgrade from McCann, too. Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna are both top 5 players under the age of 25 in baseball, with Freddie Freeman being a perennial MVP candidate, so the lineup will score a lot of runs. The bullpen was the achilles heel for the Braves in 2019, until the deadline when they acquired All-Star closers Mark Melancon and Shane Greene, as well as Chris Martin. They still have AJ Minter and Luke Jackson with closing experience on the roster, but signed the best reliever on the market (Smith) this offseason. The reason the Braves didn’t make a run was the game 5 start from Mike Foltynewicz, so they added 2 veteran starters, although you’re really hoping for a King Felix bounceback who is a far cry from the perfect game hurling Cy Young award winner in his Mariners heyday. Another year from young aces Max Fried and Mike Soroka will be more than welcome. My prediction: 96-66, 1st in the NL East –@TheJameus
2019 Diamondbacks: 85-77, second in NL West
Key Additions: Madison Bumgarner, Kole Calhoun, Starling Marte
Key Subtractions: Adam Jones, Wilmer Flores, Alex Avila, Matt Andriese.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off a very interesting 2019 season. The offseason saw star players, AJ Pollock, Patrick Corbin depart via free agency and franchise icon, Paul Goldschmidt was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals. Despite all that, the team was in contention for a majority of the season, and was in the thick of the wild card race even after trading away ace Zach Greinke to the Astros. The 2019 season saw the organization’s youth step up and provide optimism for their future. That optimism prompted general manager, Mike Hazen to supplant his current club with talented veterans, as he brought in stars, Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte,as well as Kole Calhoun, Junior Guerra, Stephen Vogt, and Hector Rendon. Those offseason upgrades join an already talented core that includes breakout star, Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Eduardo Escobar, Christian Walker, Archie Bradley, Robbie Ray, and Nick Ahmed. The 2020 Dbacks are solid on both sides of the ball, and will look to contend this season after missing the postseason the last two years. While it would be wrong to expect them to unseat the Dodgers as NL West champs, these Dbacks should contend for at least one of the two NL wild card spots. My Prediction: 92-70, Wild Card Finish –@adam_tenenbaum
2019 Orioles: 54-108, fifth in AL East.
Key Additions: Wade LeBlanc, Cole Sulser
Key Subtractions: Mark Trumbo, Jonathan Villar
It’s another rebuilding year for the Birds as their top draft pick (catcher Adley Rustchman) from 2019 is still maybe a year or so away. I had fully expected Baltimore at last season’s trade deadline to get at least something for Jonathan Villar, but they didn’t. But, with who is still there with the team, there’s some pieces that could help yield a return that will help get the O’s back to competing in the future. And it starts with Trey Mancini. A .291/35 HR/97 RBI campaign in 2019, it could be considered that those numbers are ballooned based on the fact that there’s a whole lot of nothing on offense, but Mancini can be relied upon to deliver in times of need. Note that Mancini has recently undergone a procedure to remove a malignant tumor that was found during a colonoscopy – his status once the season kicks off is unknown. Renato Nunez possesses a little bit of that power as well, as he had a career high 31 homers last season. Second baseman Hanser Alberto will still get some at bats – and look to build upon a promising 2019 as well. Fan favorite Anthony Santander will be back in right field and will continue to try and show consistency at the plate. On the mound, gone is long-time Baltimore Oriole Dylan Bundy. John Means (12-11, 3.60 ERA in 27 starts) was the lone All-Star who represented the Orioles in Cleveland last year, and had respectable numbers pitching in the always tough AL East. Can Opening Day starter Alex Cobb bounce back to his form from a couple seasons ago back when he was in Tampa Bay? Injuries have plagued his career, and he’s due for a bounceback 2020 – keep that on the radar. Between the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and the up and coming Blue Jays, you should probably expect another 100-loss season in Baltimore. My Prediction: 61-101, 5th in the AL East. –@WGLarson
Boston Red Sox:
2019 Red Sox: 84-78, third in AL East
Key Additions: Alex Verdugo, Kevin Pillar, Chaim Bloom, Luxury Tax space.
Key Subtractions: Mookie Betts, David Price, Alex Cora, Dave Dombrowski.
It’s never a dull moment in this city, or in Fenway Park. Suck, win championship, suck, clean house, repeat, seems to be the trend for the 20th century Boston Red Sox. After winning a World Series in 2018, the 2019 Boston Red Sox couldn’t get out of their own way with inconsistent hitting, starting pitching, and as rocky a bullpen as we’ve seen that all fell apart after the All-Star break last season. Limping to the finish line with a shut down Chris Sale and a total of 84 wins was not what anyone expected last season. Unfortunately, I think we’re in for a similar story in 2020. First thing’s first, Alex Cora was fired for his alleged involvement in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. The Red Sox slapped an interim tag on Bench Coach Ron Roenicke as Manager for 2020. The more that news that comes out, and the more news that doesn’t come out about the Red Sox 2018 investigation (nothing is coming out because they can’t find anything, but that’s a blog for another day) I wouldn’t be shocked if Cora makes his way back into baseball in the next year. The loss of Mookie Betts is nothing short of colossal. The team decided to dump Mookie and David Price in order to get under the luxury tax. There’s still tons of talent on this team, but some come with huge question marks. You should expect to see Devers & J.D. Martinez to continue their dominance. There’s guys like Michael Chavis and arms like Eduardo Rodriguez that will excite you. But there’s question marks all over the lineup. Andrew Benintendi needs to step into form. He’s been in the majors since 2016 and took a step back last season. Jackie Bradley is still very streaky. Will Brandon Workman and Eduardo Rodriguez be able to put together seasons like they did last year again? WIll Nathan Eovaldi be able to stay healthy and return to some form of the guy we saw during the 2018 playoffs? WIll Chris Sale need Tommy John surgery in a few weeks? WIll Dustin Pedroia actually have a chance to return (no) or will he wilt away on the Injured List all season again?
My prediction: 81-81, as it will be another long season. Much like last year, the talent on this team will keep them in the hunt long enough to keep you interested. Maybe long enough to keep you optimistic. But in the end, I think we’re staring down the barrel of another frustrating year filled with Sale’s injury talk, Jackie Bradley peaks and deep, deep valleys, and subpar starting pitching that will cost them too many games to be any hope of contending for a playoff spot. I guess we can look forward to a few nauseating months of sports talk radio discussing the optics of resigning Mookie for 2021 before he signs a $700 million deal in Cincinnati or something. –@T_Ry25_
2019 Cubs: 84-78, third in the NL Central
Key Additions: Dan Winkler, Casey Sadler, Steven Souza, Jr, Jeremy Jeffress, Hernan Perez, Jason Kipnis
Key Subtractions: Nicholas Castellanos, Cole Hamels, Steve Cishek, Jonathan Lucroy, Pedro Strop, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Kintzler
Gone is Manager Joe Maddon who led the Cubs to the promise land after 108 years between World Series pennants. In is David Ross – who was the oldest player to ever hit a home run in the World Series in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and ready to lead one last stand for the North Side. It was an intriguing hire by Theo Epstein and the Cubs front office, but the Cubs are willing to go back to unconventional methods of having success with their core one last time. The Cubs didn’t make any major splashes at all in free agency, but no matter what, with names like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Scharber, the Cubs possess quite the batting order and should use that to their advantage as they try to get back to the top in the NL Central. Jason Heyward has to play to the value of his massive contract (in the middle of his 8-year, $184M contract) – which he hasn’t and probably never will. The aging starting rotation features Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, and Tyler Chatwood – which is still a dependable group to rely on. The biggest concern of the Cubbies is their bullpen – where expectations were extremely high for Craig Kimbrel after signing in June. But he was extremely ineffective and cost the Cubs big games down the stretch. The Cubs have to hope that some new acquisitions perform well out of the gate (Dan Winkler, Jeremy Jeffress, Ryan Tepera, Casey Sadler.) From a rival’s perspective, I’m intrigued by what Nico Hoerner could do if given an opportunity over a whole season. When Hoerner was called up to help the middle of the infield late in the season from AA, the kid flat out made the transition look like a piece of cake – as he hit .282 with 3 HR in 20 games. But, I’ll be honest – I think the bullpen will break the hearts of the Cubs in 2020 once again – and that in itself will start to be the beginning of the end for the great Cubs core from the 2016 World Series. This is the same Cubs team – minus Nicholas Castellanos and Cole Hamels. My prediction: 82-80, fourth in the NL Central behind a refreshed Reds (87), patched work Brewers (85), and always competitive Cardinals (84) squad. See the wins in parentheses. [email protected]
Chicago White Sox:
2019 White Sox: 72-89, third in AL Central
Key Additions: Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Yasmani Grandal, Nomar Mazara, Steve Cishek, Gio Gonzalez
Key Subtractions: Yolmer Sanchez, Welington Castillo, Jon Jay
This rebuild is Ovah! No more washed up veterans past their prime. It’s been made clear Rick Hahn’s master plan will be set in motion for 2020. If you’ve been living under a rock, Chicago has added Dallas Keuchel, Steve Cishek, Gio González, Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnación, and Nomar Mazara, bringing the off season spending total to $196M. Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón are expected to come back from Tommy John surgery and with much anticipation Luis Robert will make his major league debut. Now that the grace period is over, it’s time for prospects acquired through trades to come to fruition. All of this looks great on paper but we all know baseball is a marathon and come September we will know if the player evaluations were correct. The Sox are going to expect Giolito and Keuchel to be the aces of this ball club with Kopech, Lòpez, Gonzàlez and Rodòn filling in the gaps. Most projections have the White Sox with a winning record and a logical second or third place finish in the Central. In the next two to three seasons the Sox should be a powerhouse contender in all of baseball. Following a similar timeline of recent rebuild World Series winners, at best the Sox make a wild card spot in 2020. –@SultanOfClout
2019 Reds: 75-87, fourth in NL Central
Key Additions: Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Pedro Strop, Wade Miley, Shogo Akiyama
Key Subtractions: Alex Wood
When you have an offseason as exciting as the Cincinnati Reds, expectations are pretty high that you’re going to make some noise and finally try to win the division after years of sitting close to or near the cellar. The new faces around the clubhouse: Mike Moustakas, Nicholas Castellanos, and Shogo Akiyama for starters. The offense generally gets a definitive boost alone from those names – for which the Reds already had an already potent lineup. Their starting rotation? Luis Castillo (15-8, 3.40 ERA in 32 starts), their ace, at the front of the pack. Following a down year in 2019, Trevor Bauer (11-13, 4.48 ERA in 34 starts), acquired from Cleveland during last year’s trade deadline will look to bounce back. Sonny Gray (11-8, 2.87 ERA & 205 SO in 31 starts), returns now in year three after much improved numbers, and newly signed Wade Miley (Houston), is paired up with his old pitching coach Derek Johnson, whom worked wonders for him in Milwaukee. The bullpen is anchored by Amir Garrett, Pedro Strop, Michael Lorenzen, and Raisel Iglesias, a respectful bunch. It’s exciting on paper in thinking that the NL Central Crown COULD run through Great American Ballpark – after all, the Reds were the big spenders in the division. But, it all has to come together at the right time for them. Personal opinion, they have the deepest bench in the division by plugging in bats like Derek Dietrich, Phillip Ervin, Aristides Aquino (maybe he starts?), Jesse Winker, and Freddy Galvis. My Prediction: It’s going to be really annoying how good Cincinnati COULD be. I peg them for 87 wins in the division and winning the NL Central. Postseason chances? Likely swept in the NLDS by the Dodgers. [email protected]
2019 Indians: 93-69, second in AL Central
Key Additions: Sandy Leon, Cesar Hernandez, Domingo Santana, DeLino DeShields Jr.
Key Subtractions: Corey Kluber, Yasiel Puig, Jason Kipnis
The Indians are pushing to make something happen in the 2020 season. This could be the last hoorah with shortstop, Fransisco Lindor, and the team has been building up around him for what could be his last shot at the title in Cleveland. The team took time in the offseason to address the fact that Jason Kipnis has done nothing the last couple seasons but play bad baseball and eat about $55 million in cap space. He’s since been replaced by César Hernández, who is a career .277 hitter, and could make a Vizquel/Alomar type duo on defense with Lindor. They’ve also addressed their outfield depth and bullpen problems this offseason. In the Corey Kluber trade to Texas, the Indians received speedy outfielder, Delino DeShields, and hard throwing relief pitcher, Emmanuel Clase. They also added Domingo Santana as well, most likely to take the place of Yasiel Puig, who has yet to be signed to any team this offseason. One of the most exciting pieces of this Indians team this season is power hitting outfielder (will most likely be DH all season), Franmil Reyes. Acquired at the trade deadline last season, Reyes got off to a slow start in his new home, so the team had only seen glimpses of what he can do offensively. They are expecting to see big things from him this season. The starting pitching rotation is one of the only things that still seems up in the air. Right now, Mike Clevinger and 2019 all-star game MVP, Shane Bieber are the two top pitchers, followed by Carlos Carrasco in the third spot. The last two spots are still wide open for pitchers, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, and Adam Plutko to compete for (although it will most likely be Civale and Plutko). If he can stay healthy, look for the Indians to call up pitching prospect Triston McKenzie as the season goes on. He has a rocket for an arm, and when healthy is practically unhittable. I’m not expecting too much out of the bullpen this season. One new pitcher in Clase won’t fix an entire bullpen full of guys who’ve stunk the past two seasons. The big question in Cleveland this summer, is can the team compete with the Minnesota Twins after their big season last year and big free agent signings? I for one, truly believe that they can, and I think any ball club with this much talent led by Terry Francona can do a lot more than that. I believe the Indians will finish the season with a 100-62 record and win the AL Central. [email protected]
2019 Rockies: 71-97, fourth in NL West
Key Additions: None.
Key Subtractions: Yonder Alonso
It certainly was an eventful off-season for Colorado, but at the same time, it was one of the most uneventful off-seasons. The biggest story of the off-season is the drama surrounding franchise player Nolan Arenado. There were trade talks for weeks and it seemed for sure that Arenado was going to be on the move, as he publicly expressed his frustration with the team failing to deliver on their promise to field a competitive team around him following the eight year, $260-million contract extension he signed in the Spring of 2019. The Rockies took a major step back last year, falling to a 71-91 record, and there is not any reason to believe that they will see any significant improvement for 2020. It would not be surprising to see Arenado use his opt-out clause after the 2021 season. The Rockies ranked near the bottom in every offensive category last season, including ranking last at catcher, second base and left field. The pitching staff is also an area of concern, as ace Jon Gray, who got off to a very hot start last year but suffered a stress fracture in his left foot that cut his season short, will look to rebound and be as dominant as he showed he can be last year but without much pitching depth to back him up. The Coors Field effect will always be there, but the Rockies have to show that they can not only hit at home, but can be productive on the road. Expect Colorado to finish near the bottom of the NL West once again. – Zach Correll @ZachyBC94
2019 Tigers: 47-114, fifth in AL Central
Key Additions: CJ Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Austin Romine, Cameron Maybin, Ivan Nova
Key Subtractions: None.
The Tigers are terrible and everybody knows it. With the rebuild in full swing since 2017, the Tigers have lost 310 games in a three year stretch. But if there is one manager I trust out there who can make something out of very little to nothing: It’s Ron Gardenhire. Do I predict that the Tigers go on a crazy streak during the season and finish above .500? No, but with talks of the farm system starting to produce and hearing that we will see some starting pitchers (Matt Manning, Casey Mize) in 2020 has to give the fans hope. The Tigers will finish 4th or 5th in the Central this year because if I’m being honest, I’m not sure who is worse, Kansas City or Detroit. But with the signing of Jonathon Schoop (2B) and C.J Cron (1B), that means Miguel Cabrera will be DH 90% of the time, hoping to keep him healthy and get back to .300/30 HR/100 RBI. Michael Fulmer will be coming back, and if he’s fully healthy, he will be a starter teams do not want to face. Christian Stewart and Jacoby Jones are both looking for their breakout seasons at the plate. The third outfield spot isn’t set in stone, with a race between Cameron Maybin and Victor Reyes. The speedster and utility guy, Nico Goodrum, looks to be the everyday shortstop and looks to build on his 2019 (.248/12 HR /45 RBI in 112 games) stat line. Jeimer Candelario will have another chance to be the Tigers everyday third basemen after being sent down to AAA halfway through the 2019 season to try to reestablish his game. My prediction: 68-94, 5th in the AL Central.- @dylanbishop02
2019 Astros*: 107-55, first in AL West
Key Additions: None.
Key Subtractions: Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Robinson Chirinos, Will Harris
The biggest black eye on the game of baseball comes courtesy of Jim Crane and the Houston Astros. All season long, you can expect to hear the boo birds and see a lot of HBPs taken by any member of the Astros starting lineup at the plate. It’s to the point where most of baseball is expecting to see action from the league in regards to what the Astros will do in visiting ballparks – adding for extra security, as well as warnings before games that will eject and eventually suspend any opposing player that endangers any members of the Astros organization. What the Astros did is extremely inexcusable – but aside from the “Sign Stealing Scandal” – the team should still be solid yet again, even with Gerrit Cole departing for the Bronx. Zach Greinke (18-5, 2.87 ERA in 33 starts) & Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA in 34 starts) will lead the rotation yet again and show no signs of aging this late into their careers. Personally, I’ve been big on Lance McCullers (10-6, 3.86 ERA in 22 starts back in 2018) even before Tommy John Surgery – while it’s believed he’ll still be starting games, the Astros intend to ease him into a starting role and he may not be 100% back until June. They still have a powerful lineup 1-9 in their batting order – if not one of the most electric lineups in baseball. I’d expect this year’s Astros team to be carried by their offense – obviously going with the tactic that their need to score more runs than they give up. Again, I’d expect them to be a playoff team come September – but the rest of the division is getting better, and suitors who expect to compete within their division and even in their respective league will be coming hard for them. I don’t think they possess the pitching they did a year ago, which would easily make them a threat for another World Series, but maybe that gets addressed at the trade deadline once again. My prediction: A lot of beanballs and pissed off fans of baseball, a 93-69 record & a AL West Divisional Crown, but an exit in the ALDS. –@WGLarson
Kansas City Royals
2019 Royals: 59-103, fourth in AL Central
Key Additions: Maikel Franco
Key Subtractions: Brad Boxberger
It’s hard to get excited if you’re a Kansas City Royal fan – considering that long-time manager Ned Yost has retired. Back in the saddle as skipper is Mike Matheny, who last managed the St. Louis Cardinals and will be called upon again to bring the Royals back to relevancy. Outfielder Alex Gordon elected to test free agency before crawling back to help provide veteran leadership in the clubhouse once again. Get a hit, Whit! It’s a surprise that Whit Merrifield is still in a Royals uniform after speculation that he would be moved this winter was just about a given – quietly, he led the AL with hits each of the last couple of seasons. A new addition to the team is Maikel Franco, who signed a one-year deal with Kansas City after batting .234/.297/.409 with 17 HR & 46 RBI – notably receiving 19 intentional walks, which were 2nd-most in the NL last season as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Who could forget the year that outfielder Jorge Soler had back in 2019 – where he led the AL in home runs (48) and was second in RBIs (117.) He’ll need to cut down the strikeout totals, which would help him with a long-term deal with the club down the line. Infielder Hunter Dozier is a name that Royals fans could get behind – the former Royals first round pick back in 2013 had a bounceback season in 2019 and could soar to new heights should he stay healthy. Brad Keller (7-14, 4.19 ERA in 28 starts) is back to help lead a very inexperienced and inconsistent starting rotation – the 24 year old will now be in his third year of starting with Kansas City. Outside of Keller – expect the Royals to rely on Danny Duffy (7-6, 4.34 ERA in 23 starts), Mike Montgomery (2-7, 4.64 ERA in 13 starts strictly for Kansas City after the trade from Chicago), Jacob Junis, and others to fill in spots in the rotation. It’s going to be a long year in Kansas City, but buckle up and enjoy the ride – there should be tons of experience and future roles to be earned. My prediction: Too much variance in talent within the division, a 71-91 record, good enough for 4th in the AL Central. [email protected]
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2019 Angels: 72-90, fourth in AL West
Key Additions: Anthony Rendon, Jason Castro, Julio Teheran, Matt Andriese, Dylan Bundy
Key Subtractions: Kole Calhoun
The 2019 season saw the Los Angeles Angels miss the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons. It was the first season since 1999, that saw a manager not named Mike Scioscia in the Halos dugout, as the Angels appointed ex-Tigers skipper, Brad Ausmus as their new manager. The Angels went 72-90, and faced a myriad of injuries to their roster, and even dealt with the tragic death of pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, who passed away on July 1st. Flashforward to this offseason, the team made a multitude of moves in hopes of getting back to the postseason. The first move started on October 16, when they brought back Joe Maddon, and hired him as manager. Maddon had previously spent 31 years in the Angels organization, before spending the last 14 seasons as Rays and Cubs manager respectively. On the player side, Angels’ general manager, Billy Eppler put together a solid offseason. He acquired Dylan Bundy from the Orioles, and added longtime Atlanta Brave, Julio Teheran in free agency to help give the Angels rotation some much needed durability. Offensively, the Halos added a star at the hot corner, when they signed Anthony Rendon to a seven year, 245 million dollar deal to provide protection in the middle of the order for Mike Trout. Other notable moves include trading for swingman Matt Andriese from the Dbacks, and signing backstop, Jason Castro to be the everyday catcher. The Angels lineup figures to be potent top to bottom possessing talented bats like Trout, Rendon, Ohtani, Upton, Pujols, LaStella and eventually the rise of top prospect, Jo Adell. The pitching side is where the Angels must improve if they want to contend in 2020. The rotation figures to consist of veterans, Andrew Heaney, Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, while the remaining two spots are less clear. Two way star, Shohei Ohtani is expected to join the rotation in May, as the club will limit his innings coming off Tommy John surgery. The bullpen could be a strength for the club as it features young and talented arms, Keynan Middelton and Ty Buttrey, reliable veteran, Cam Bedrosian, and closer, Hansel Robles, coming off a stellar season. All in all, the Angels feature a talented roster with upside with the hopes of contending, and getting Mike Trout to just his second postseason of his career. If the pitching holds up in 2020, that hope could come true as the Halos can snag one of the two wild cards in the American League. My prediction: 87-75, AL Wild Card. –@adam_tenenbaum
Los Angeles Dodgers
2019 Dodgers: 106-56, first in NL West
Key Additions: David Price, Mookie Betts, Blake Treinen, Alex Wood, Brusdar Graterol
Key Subtractions: Kenta Maeda, Alex Verdugo, Rich Hill, David Freese
As much as I hate to say it and sound like a broken record, I feel like this could actually be the year the Dodgers win the World Series. Seeking revenge for an early loss in the NLDS to the Nats last year and the whole Astros sign stealing fiasco, it appears that Dodgers have made some offseason moves to make them the clear front runner at winning the pennant. The Dodgers are excited to have Corey Seager back at full health seeing as he missed all of last season due to injury. Adding Mookie Betts was crucial as it gives the Dodgers some serious firepower later in the lineup to cleanup for Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. Hopefully David Price forgets last year ever happened and can return to some portion of his former self. Price will be a nice additional starting pitcher to add to the already impressive Dodger bullpen. The only big question mark I could see being of concern for this team is the ace, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw appeared to be the beast we anticipated last season, but folded during the playoffs once again. If the Dodgers want to be a serious contender, Kershaw has to be able to deliver late in the season. Dave Roberts has a stacked team on his hands this season, hopefully he doesn’t choke. Overall, I anticipate another impressive regular season for LA. I could objectively say that this team has the potential to win well over 100 games and play in the World Series. However, The Dodgers do have an uncanny ability to break my heart in the playoffs so I won’t get crazy. My prediction: I predict the Dodgers will at least win 105 games again and win the West. I wouldn’t be surprised if they played for the NLCS. [email protected]
2019 Marlins: 57-105, fifth in NL East.
Key Additions: Brad Boxberger, Jonathan Villar, Matt Joyce, Jesus Aguilar, Brandon Kintzler, Corey Dickerson
Key Subtractions: Curtis Granderson, Starlin Castro, Martin Prado, JT Riddle, Austin Dean
The young Miami Marlins are getting better before our eyes and we may not be realizing it. The Christian Yelich trade with Milwaukee may start to pay dividends for the Fish. While headliner Lewis Brinson still hasn’t found his swing at the major league level, the Marlins have brought up Isan Diaz and given him some playing time in the infield, experience will prove to be valuable for him. The outfield depth for Miami is one to watch between Corey Dickerson, Garrett Cooper, Harold Ramirez, and even Matt Kemp. Young arms in the starting rotation will still experience growing pains, but lots of promise is there between Caleb Smith (10-11, 4.52 ERA in 28 starts), Sandy Alcantara (6-14, 3.88 ERA in 32 starts including 2 complete games), and Jordan Yamamoto (4-5, 4.46 ERA in 15 starts). Versatile Jonathan Villar comes to South Beach from Baltimore, and it’s been shown that he has success with struggling teams. He’ll be a great veteran presence in the clubhouse, along with newcomer Jesus Aguilar. Brian Anderson brings a little pop in his bat once again – as well as catcher Jorge Alfaro. Prospect watch: 2020 should be another big year for MLB debuts in top prospects SP Sixto Sanchez (from Philadelphia), SS Jazz Chisholm (from Arizona), and OF Monte Harrison (from Milwaukee). The future is bright for the Fish – it’s all about gaining experience this season and looking to the future. My prediction: The measuring stick for this season should be a 75-87 record overall – good enough for 5th place in the NL East. –@WGLarson
2019 Brewers: 89-73, second in the NL Central, NL Wild Card
Key Additions: Eric Sogard, Avisail Garcia, Brock Holt, Justin Smoak, Logan Morrison, Eric Lauer, Luis Urias
Key Subtractions: Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, Trent Grisham, Eric Thames, Zach Davies, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Lyles
General Manager David Stearns went for more of a depth-approach rather than breaking the bank when it came to replacing the offensive production of Mike Moustakas & Yasmani Grandal, with new acquisitions such as Justin Smoak, Omar Narvaez, Asvail Garcia, and Brock Holt, just to name a few. Those aren’t flashy names, but when it comes to the Brewers mentality of getting back to the postseason in 2020, they are willing to get creative, notably with news that the team operated at a financial loss in 2019. Maybe the most optimism in camp is the starting pitching, where the Brewers this season also have depth in the event that inconsistencies or injuries may plague the rotation. Behind Brandon Woodruff – arguably the ace of the staff (11-3, 3.62 ERA in 22 starts) – comes Adrian Houser (6-7, 3.72 ERA with 18 starts) along with newly signed Josh Lindblom, who has had success over in the KBO (20-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 30 starts last season) and Eric Lauer (who will begin the year on the IL with a shoulder issue, but was 8-10 with a 4.45 ERA with the Padres) should add some needed depth. Whomever that fifth starter becomes remains to be seen – keep in mind, manager Craig Counsell tends to pull his starters often and early and turn it over to his bullpen, which, the Brewers possess one of the best in the league. How management handles the load of Josh Hader and once-healthy, Corey Knebel, will be a headline to watch. With a new extension in hand, Christian Yelich should be healthy to begin the season, and is always a threat to consider at the top of their batting order. Defensively, the Brew Crew will be near the top again as long as Lorenzo Cain is healthy. An area of concern for the Brewers? Their farm system, which most media outlets rank as one of the worst in baseball. But, that’s what happens as a result to trades (Yelich), strong regular season campaigns year to year, and graduation of particular prospects (Keston Hiura, Brandon Woodruff, Hader). Regardless of the fact, Milwaukee should be competitive in the NL Central – but they will need to outperform their expectations set by critics once again to have a legitimate chance of playing October baseball. My prediction: Milwaukee surpasses PECOTA’s expectations but declines from last year’s win total to finish 85-77, good enough for second in the NL Central behind the Cincinnati Reds – coming close to the second Wild Card for a second year in a row. –@WGLarson
2019 Twins: 101-61, first in AL Central
Key additions: Josh Donaldson, Jhoulys Chacin, Kenta Maeda, Matt Wisler, Alex Avila
Key subtractions: Brusdar Graterol, CJ Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Jason Castro, Martin Perez
In the first year without hometown kid Joe Mauer since 2003 and a new manager in Rocco Baldelli, the Minnesota Twins surprised many in 2019. Coming off an historic season that ended in a disappointing postseason, the current American League Central champs, first win since 2010, look to continue their new success and get further into the postseason. Everything was going right in the regular season until some late season injuries and suspensions started popping up. Byron Buxton was out for the season in August with a shoulder injury and Michael Pineda was suspended in September after testing positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that is outlawed under Major League Baseball’s Drug and Prevention Program. With their star center fielder and their third best pitcher out for the season, there were some holes needed to be filled. Earlier in the year rookie Randy Dobnak was an uber driver and then in game 2 of the ALDS he was starting against the Yankees. That game was a living hell for the rookie when DiDi Gregorious blew the game wide open in the third with a grand slam to put New York up 7-0. With the addition of third baseman Josh Donaldson and making improvements towards their rotation, trading for Kenta Maeda and signing a few bullpen arms, Minnesota has a better chance of ending their 16 game postseason losing streak. Two questions that are surrounding this Twins team is how will their pitching backup their hitting and will Byron Buxton stay healthy the entire season, if not longer than he has before. Coming off of their breakout years, Max Kepler (36 HRs .252 BA) and Mitch Garver (31 HRs .273 BA) look to prove last year wasn’t a fluke for them. Rookie second baseman Luis Arraez blew away a lot of people last year posting a .334 BA in only 92 games. Now with Jonathan Schoop going to Detroit, Arraez will be Minnesota’s every day second baseman and will have the chance to shine more. Arraez finished sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. My prediction: 94-68, 1st in AL Central. ALCS Finish. –@Dylan_Steffen16
New York Mets
2019 Mets: 86-76, third in the AL East
Key Additions: Michael Wacha, Dellin Betances
Key Subtractions: Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares
The New York Mets could not overcome a 40-50 record at the All-Star Break last year. They were able to catch fire the second half of the season going on a 46-26 run to end the year, but their 86-76 record was not enough to capture a Wild Card, finishing three games behind Milwaukee. Offensively, the Mets are bringing back most of their lineup from last season. Led by NL Rookie of the Year, first baseman Pete Alonso and his 53 home runs, the Mets look they will feature many tough outs. Seven of the eight projected starters finished last season with an OPS+ above 100, the eighth being eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano. The Mets also possess one of the game’s most lethal starting rotations. They are led by back-to-back NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. The other four starters are no slouches either, with Noah “Thor” Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and the newly acquired Rick Porcello rounding out the rotation. Luis Rojas will manage the team, but he was not the man the Mets originally intended. After firing Mickey Callaway, former Met Carlos Beltran was brought in to manage the squad. Before a single pitch was thrown, Beltran was fired due to his involvement with the Houston Astros sign-stealing-operation. The Mets have plenty of talent, but do they have enough to overtake the Braves, Nationals, and maybe even Phillies? That remains to be seen. The NL East should shape up to be one of the most intense races this summer as the top four teams in the division are loaded with talent. My prediction: 88-74, 3rd in the AL East -Nik D’Annunzio @RndmPlayerDaily
New York Yankees
2019 Yankees: 103-59, first in AL East
Key Additions: Gerrit Cole
Key Subtractions: CC Sabathia, Edwin Encarnacion, Cameron Maybin, DiDi Gregorious, Austin Romine, Dellin Betances
Coming off a historical 2019 injury riddled season, and seeing 30 players go on the DL (disabled list) 39 times equaling 2,129 games lost to injury, and somehow managing to win 103 games is nothing short of mind-blowing. But the 2020 Bronx Bombers look to turn the page for a healthier season and a World Series push, losing Dominic Germán (81 game suspension) and Luis Severino (Tommy John Surgery) for the entire year will not help, but signing former Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole definitely will improve their chances. The Yankees will hopefully have a healthy Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the better part of the year. The lineup will continue to feature scary and powerful hitters. Gio Urshela, coming off a fantastic 2019 campaign (.314/21 HR /74 RBI) will be the everyday third baseman and look for an even better 2020. Gleyber Torres will pair with D.J LeMahieu to make up the middle of the infield. Gary Sanchez, very powerful and quick behind the plate, just keeps getting better and better both behind the dish and hitting. There’s still questions about what the Yankees plan to do with Miguel Andüjar; it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them move him at the deadline for another pitcher. The ceiling for the Yankees is a World Series Pennant. My prediction: 104-58 and winning the World Series for the first time since 2009. [email protected]
2019 Athletics: 97-65, second in AL West, AL Wild Card
Key Additions: Austin Allen
Key Subtractions: Blake Treinen, Jurickson Profar
Ahhh, the Oakland A’s. The only show left in town after the departures of both the Golden State Warriors and the newly-minted Las Vegas Raiders. With the A’s being the only team in Oakland, that puts more pressure on them to be the “bride” not the “bridesmaid” like they have been since 1989. Last season, the A’s were a wildcard hopeful that got run over by the Tampa Bay Rays, the team that was so soft, that they changed their name from Devil Rays to Rays because apparently “Devil” is a bad word (I do not like the devil but I ain’t afraid of no devil). The team mostly known for “Moneyball” has high expectations and they are not acting upon that. Last year, the team had a .249 batting average, led by Ramón Laureano at .288. This season, I expect Ramón to progress and Matt Chapman to make a GIANT leap in productivity. Considering the fact that the team refuses to pay basically anyone, they actually aren’t horrid with the 21st highest payroll in the MLB. My prediction: Personally, I expect a 90-ish win season and a Wild Card shot but outside of that, I don’t really see the team making the jump that they need to. The A’s are going to be the A’s and I’ll probably be cheering for them one week and cussing out Bobby Melvin the next week, just like I did my whole childhood. My prediction for the year for the A’s season is 95-67 and probably getting 2nd in the AL west basically a repeat of last year but they optimist in me says they make the wild card and win then get eliminated the next round. Cheers to start of a new baseball season full of high expectations and broken playoff hopes; aka growing up a Oakland Sports Fan. –@TrashmanRonnie
2018 Philles: 81-81, third in NL East
Key Additions: Zack Wheeler, Logan Forsythe, DiDi Gregorious, Josh Harrison, Neil Walker
Key Subtractions: Maikel Franco, Corey Dickerson
The Philadelphia Phillies missed out on the playoffs last year, finishing with a record of 81-81. That’s the definition of a mediocre season, folks. In their division, the toughest of the National League, they finished fourth, behind everyone but the lowly Marlins. As is easy to ascertain, not everything clicked for the Phils that “should have,” considering the major moves they made in the 2018 offseason. The fan base IS optimistic about their chances this year, however, and it’s fairly easy to see why. Bryce Harper, the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year and 2015 National League Most Valuable Player (both while with the Washington Nationals), had a year to adjust to the growing pains associated with uprooting one’s family for an in-division move to his former arch rival. The Phillies went above and beyond to ensure that Harper’s life was supremely comfortable, so he could simply focus on being the best bat and glove money could buy – paying him a whopping $330M over 13 seasons. Essentially, this means that Harper is where he is going to be for the rest of his career. The same courteousness likely won’t be extended by the Phillies home crowds this year, but for $330 million, Harper should be a leading MVP candidate every single season. As luck would have it, though, Harper is not being expected to carry the team himself this year. After two late season, playoff-hope-dashing collapses in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the Phillies parted ways with young manager, Gabe Kapler, and hired former Yankees skipper, Joe Girardi, in his stead. Girardi – the 2006 National League Coach of the Year with the Florida Marlins and the frontman of the 2009 World Series Champion Yankees – is no stranger to managing in major markets with a great deal of pressure on his shoulders. Although, the Yankees went their first decade without a World Series Championship (2010-2019) and Girardi was at the helm for the first eight of those ten seasons (he did coach them to six playoff berths, though), the Philadelphia fan base is generally very optimistic about what Girardi brings to the table. Their starting pitching looks pretty strong after going out and getting Zack Wheeler (5 years, $118 million), who will sit atop the rotation along with Aaron Nola, with Jake Arrieta following as a very strong third-man-up. At the bottom of the rotation is where the Phils start emanating question marks. According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, either the fourth or fifth spot will be scooped up by Zack Eflin, leaving Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez to battle it out for the last spot in the rotation. Regardless of who fills which spots, the bottom of the rotation has to put in a more trustworthy effort this year if the Phillies are going to go anywhere. The bullpen situation is even less concrete. Closing duties belong to Hector Neris, that much is for sure. Seranthony Dominguez is on his way back to health following surgery this offseason – if he’s healthy and gains his confidence back, he could provide a huge piece currently missing from the Phillies puzzle. Realmuto is expected to sign a relatively hefty contract extension before the start of the season. Andrew McCutchen, a multiple season all-star, is a very important guy for the Phillies in his role as a veteran lead off man and he recently tweaked his knee, which will keep him sidelined for an unknown period of time. Philadelphia fans are also hopeful that big Rhys Hoskins can get back to his first half form from the 2019 season, leaving his abysmal second half as a brief footnote to be swept under the rug. Didi Gregarious turned down multi-year offers in order to bet on himself this year, inking a one year deal for $14 million in December. The Phillies still have yet to name who’s going to be playing second and third base, knowing only that the two roles will be filled by Jean Segura and Scott Kingery – Kingery’s best, most natural position is at second base, but Segura has never played third before. Needless to say, the Phillies have quite a few uncertainties heading into their 2020 bid for a World Series Championship, but Vegas has the Phillies’ over-under win total at 86.5 – a record that would have seen the Phillies on the outside-looking-in on last year’s National League postseason. My prediction: 91-71, good for 2nd in the NL East –@ErikPWrestlin
2019 Pirates: 69-93, fifth in NL Central
Key Additions: JT Riddle
Key Subtractions: Ivan Nova, Starling Marte, Melky Cabrera
When the Pittsburgh Pirates slashed payroll, they indeed slashed payroll. Notably, starting CF Starling Marte is now off to Arizona – where the Buccos also sent the Diamondbacks $1.5 million to offset Marte’s $11.5 million salary for this season. The richest Pirate now lies in starting pitcher Chris Archer at $9 million – where Archer has completely fallen off the cliff since the colossal trade that took place around the 2018 Trade Deadline. Pittsburgh is also marred by the Felipe Vazquez sexual assault situation – where it is expected that he will not be on the roster and will forfeit his salary for the year as players on the restricted list forfeit their salary for that year. All in all, most of the gaping holes up and down the roster will be filled with players close to making the league minimum, thus predicting the Opening Day payroll to sit around $50 million dollars. Keep in mind – former Pirate starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (now with the Yankees) expects to make close to $36 million a year! So, what’s to be excited about if you’re a Pirate fan? New leadership and hopefully a promise of a better tomorrow. Gone is long-time manager Clint Hurdle, General Manager Neal Huntington, and Team President Frank Coonelly, replaced with former Minnesota Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, Travis Williams, and Ben Cherington, respectively. If you’re a Pirates fan, you look at the roster and start to look for pieces of young guys who the team can start to build around. Joe Musgrove, Kevin Newman, and Bryan Reynolds aren’t bad places to start. Musgrove (11-12, 4.44 ERA in 31 starts) came to Pittsburgh in the Gerrit Cole trade, and shows signs of potential as he works on consistency. Kevin Newman (.308/12 HR/64 RBI) doesn’t hold a ton of power, but can deliver big hits. Bryan Reynolds (.314/16 HR/68 RBI) is a tough out everywhere he goes. He’ll have to develop more plate discipline to take the next step for the Bucs. Pittsburgh will miss Jameson Tallion in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow for the second time, but starter Chad Kuhl should be back after missing last season after missing all of last season recovering. Young Mitch Keller (1-5, 7.13 ERA in 11 starts) will likely help lead the staff with Musgrove. My prediction: Pittsburgh should be in the cellar in the NL Central – as this season will be full of growing pains at PNC Park as young prospects look for defining roles with the organization. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 71-91 season. [email protected]
San Diego Padres
2019 Padres: 70-92, fifth in NL West
Key Additions: Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham, Emilio Pagan, Zach Davies, Drew Pomeranz, Jake Cronenworth
Key Subtractions: Hunter Renfroe, Ian Kinsler, Luis Urias, Eric Lauer, Manuel Margot, Logan Allen
When you see the names around the Padres clubhouse, you can’t help but be excited for what is to come for this young bunch. Jayce Tingler is the new manager for the Friars after coming over as the Major League Player Development Field Coordinator and Assistant Manager for the Texas Rangers. Manny Machado begins the second year of his massive 10-year, $300 million contract, where he’ll look to bounce back from a disappointing first year in San Diego. Fernando Tatis, Jr. is a star in the making at shortstop, where in his rookie campaign, he hit .317 with 22 HRs. The Padres possess one of the future stars behind the plate in Francisco Meija. The strength of the Padres will be their bullpen – with names such as Craig Stammen, Emilio Pagan, recently-signed Drew Pomeranz, and closer Kirby Yates. The starting rotation will be led by Chris Paddack (9-7, 3.33 ERA in 26 starts), followed by Dinelson Lamet (3-5, 4.07 ERA in 15 starts following Tommy John Surgery), Joey Lucchesi (10-10, 4.18 ERA in 30 starts), and Zach Davies (10-7, 3.55 ERA in 30 starts with Milwaukee). The key for the Padres this season will be how their new acquisitions will perform in the always tough NL West – there’s nobody likely catching the Los Angeles Dodgers within the division – but the interesting race will likely be for second place. If all goes as planned – you could see the Padres competing at the end of September for a Wild Card. If not, you could see that already the second ranked farm system continue to get even more highly advertised prospects through trades near the Trade Deadline. My prediction: Realistically? I’d mark the Padres close to finishing near .500 at the end of the year at 81-81, good enough for third behind the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. [email protected]
San Francisco Giants
2019 Giants: 77-85, third in NL West.
Key Additions: Yolmer Sanchez, Hunter Pence, Alex Dickerson, Wilmer Flores
Key Subtractions: Will Smith, Yangervis Solare, Madison Bumgarner
The San Francisco Giants had two big departures this offseason in the form of longtime, World Series winning manager Bruce Bochy and ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was hired to take Bochy’s place while the Giants brought in Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly to round out the rotation and attempt to offset the loss of Bumgarner. The Giants return many familiar position players to their lineup; Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Hunter Pence (Second stint with the Giants, acquired from Texas), and Pablo Sandoval (injured, expected to return May-June). These are all veteran players who are on the wrong side of 30. Of this group, only Longoria was able to post a WAR above 1.5 last season. This does not bode well for the Giants this season to say the least. They do, however, boast a top ten farm system (#10 to be exact) according to MLB.com. The prospects are led by catcher Joey Bart, who looks to be the heir apparent to Posey, and infielder Marco Luciano. I don’t expect this team to approach the 77-85 record they posted last year. I honestly see a last place finish in the AL West for this squad. Their only hope is that their pitching staff can stay healthy and over-perform, otherwise this looks like a team that will finish at least 10 games below .500. My prediction: 69-93, 5th in NL West –Nik D’Annunzio @RndmPlayerDaily
2019 Mariners: 68-94, fifth in AL West.
Key Additions: Patrick Wisdom
Key Subtractions: Wade LeBlanc, Felix Hernandez, Omar Narvaez, Domingo Santana
It is that time of the year that baseball fans are excited for baseball season. Fans are gearing up to watch their team go out on the field and be competitive for 162 games. Maybe with the exception of Mariners fans. General Manager Jerry Dipoto has officially taken the route of a full rebuilding season for 2020. The Mariners are going into 2020 without long-time franchise players Felix Hernandez, who is trying to revive his career in Atlanta, and Ichiro Suzuki, who officially retired last season at the ripe age of 45. As seems to be the case every year, Seattle once again is looking very different than their 2019 squad. The roster fluctuates so much every season as Dipoto loves cooking up trades by sending away veteran players for high ceiling prospects. The future’s looking bright for the Mariners, however, it appears 2020 will be another season at the bottom of the American League West Division. – Zach Correll @ZachyBC94
St. Louis Cardinals
2019 Cardinals: 91-71, first in NL Central.
Key Additions: Austin Dean, Brad Miller
Key Subtractions: Marcell Ozuna, Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena, Michael Wacha
After a three-year hiatus from postseason play, the Cardinals finally captured the NL Central crown in 2019. They come into the 2020 season hoping to repeat as division champions by building on what got them there last year, pitching and defense. The Cardinal pitching staff is among the best in baseball and one would be hard pressed to find a better defensive team in all of baseball than St. Louis. The two biggest questions surrounding the Redbirds in 2020 are will the offense be more consistent? And when (not if) will Dylan Carlson make the leap to the big club and make a major impact? The Cardinals are choosing to rely on their big time veteran hitters – Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler and Paul Goldschmidt – to have bounce back years that more accurately reflect what their career numbers say they are capable of, as well as hoping that the young guns – Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman, Kolten Wong – can build on strong 2019 performances and help round out what was a stagnant offense for most of last season. Subsequently, the Redbirds are counting on their pitching staff to match the stellar outings of last season. Emerging ace and Opening Day starting pitcher, Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA, 231 K in 196.1 IP), is on a mission to outperform his historic second half performance, which garnered him a 4th place finish in the NL Cy Young Voting. Newcomer Kwang-Hyun Kim and Carlos Martinez are also hoping to make an impact in the rotation this season. My prediction: If all goes well for St. Louis, expect to see them back playing October baseball in 2020. – Zach Correll @ZachyBC94
Tampa Bay Rays
2019 record: 96-66, second in AL East, AL Wild Card
Key Additions: Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena, Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot
Key Subtractions: Tommy Pham, Emilio Pagan, Eric Sogard, Avisail Garcia, Travis d’Arnaud
The Tampa Bay Rays will once again rely on the strength of the pitching, seeing as they have one of the best 1-5 rotations headlined by Charlie Morton (5 WAR, 3.05 ERA, 16-6 finishing third in 2019 Cy Young voting) and Blake Snell (2018 Cy Young award winner), complemented by lanky flamethrower Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78 ERA), crafty Yonny Chirinos (9-5, 3.85 ERA) and young lefthander Ryan Yarbrough. Their bullpen, while losing their closer, has plenty of guys who can step into the role and excel, such as Nick Anderson (averaged 15.2 Ks per 9 in 2019), Diego Castillo (3.41 ERA and regularly tops 100 on the gun) and Jose Alvarado looking to bounce back from a great 2018 season. The Rays had the best bullpen in baseball in 2019, so the strength certainly is in their arms, despite pitching in the loaded AL East.
That isn’t to say, however, that their lineup is bad by any means. With young talents such as Willy Adames, Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe, the latter two All-Stars in 2019, they should easily score runs. Since guys like Joey Wendle are more contact oriented, the Rays sacrificed an aging Tommy Pham to shed payroll and add power in Hunter Renfroe. Hunter Renfroe in his career over 162 games averages 42 home runs, by far more than any Rays player, and is going from the most pitcher friendly park to a very hitter friendly division. A healthy year can easily translate to 50, and thus the warning tracks become hits and his average boosts. With the addition of Renfroe and retaining Austin Meadows, the corner outfielders compliment the defensive dynamo in center that is Kevin Kiermaier. My prediction: 98-64, 2nd in AL East and wins AL Wild Card. [email protected]
2019 Rangers: 78-84, third in AL West.
Key Additions: Todd Frazier, Robinson Chirinos, Corey Kluber, Kyle Gibson
Key Subtractions: Nomar Mazara, Hunter Pence, Logan Forsythe, Patrick Wisdom
The Rangers will be an interesting team to follow this season. After finishing 3rd in the AL West last year with a 78-84 record they made a few notable splashy moves this offseason, including acquiring two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, third baseman Todd Frazier, and catcher Robinson Chirinos. The hope is that Kluber can join Lance Lynn and Mike Minor in giving the starting rotation some much needed depth. Last season the Rangers were a bit too reliant on their bullpen and it cost them more runs than they would have liked to give up, as the team’s pitchers combined for an ERA of 5.06 on the year. Minor and Lynn were both worth 7.6 WAR apiece, according to Baseball Reference. The Rangers also hope that slugger Joey Gallo can play for a full season after missing much of the second half due to injuries. Gallo was by far putting together the best season of his young career. In 70 games Gallo hit 22 home runs, with an OBP of .389 with an overall OPS of .986. His OPS would have been the fourth best in the American League had he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Texas will look to Gallo and the new additions to improve a lineup that produced a below average OPS+ of 88 on the season. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers can improve and get over .500 on the year. They will face stiff competition in the AL West with Houston, Oakland, and even the LA Angels looking to compete for a playoff spot. I expect the Rangers to fight into August but come up short on their quest for a wild card spot and finish fourth in their division. My prediction: 76-86, 4th in AL West -Nik D’Annunzio @RndmPlayerDaily
Toronto Blue Jays
2019 Blue Jays: 67-95, fourth in AL East
Key Additions: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Brandon Drury, Travis Shaw
Key Subtractions: Justin Smoak
This will be the final year of the Blue Jays not contending for me. I think it will be awhile for them to catch up to the Rays and Yankees, but they’re definitely going to be better than the Red Sox and Orioles long term with the farm system. The young talent is pouring in at the big league level, highlighted by phenom Bo Bichette (22 year old shortstop who hit .311 with 11 HR in 46 games in 2019, .930 OPS), the son of former Rockies player Dante Bichette. That’s not the only Major League offspring on the Jays, as two other young phenoms Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are the children of MLB Hall of Famers. The lineup, however, is inexperienced with a lot of holes. They signed a much needed ace long-term, but Ryu’s injury history is concerning as he’s up there in age. Other than that, they don’t really have much pitching to contend in the East. My prediction: 75-87, 4th in AL East.-Jameus Mooney
2019 Nationals: 93-69, second in NL East, NL Wild Card World Series Champions
Key Additions: Starlin Castro, Eric Thames, Will Harris
Key Subtractions: Anthony Rendon, Brian Dozier, Fernando Rodney, Matt Adams, Gerardo Parra
With a World Series championship now under their belt, the Nationals are now out to prove that they can retain their recent (surprising) success. Along with returning much of the starting lineup from last year’s championship, they went on to bolster their lineup by signing Eric Thames (LF) from Milwaukee (2019 regular season stats: .247 BA, 25 HRs, 67 runs, 61 RBIs), Starlin Castro (infielder) from Miami (.270 BA, 22 HRs, 68 runs, 68 RBIs), and trading for relief pitcher Ryne Harper, who was originally from Minnesota (4-2, 3.81 ERA). Add in extensions to starting pitcher and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32 ERA) and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (.257 BA, 6 HRs, 20 runs, 27 RBIs), they should be set and ready to go. Overall, this team should be on track for a repeat. The main key for the Nationals to successfully return to the playoffs is seemingly to win most games over their divisional opponents. The key hitters returning into the projected lineup are Zimmerman, outfielder Juan Soto, shortstop Trea Turner, and utility infielder Howie Kendrick. However, the run to get back to the playoffs is not going to be easy; especially with the improvements from their rival teams in the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Let’s hope that manager Dave Martinez can rally the team and sustain their success; otherwise, this team will be known as a fluke champion. My prediction: 97-65, first place in NL East, finishing their season in NLCS. [email protected]_906
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