MLB 2019 Season Preview

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MLB 2019 Season Preview

By Aaron Hook, Staff Writer

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It is that time of year once again. The weather is slowly getting warmer and opening day is around the corner. Rosters have changed, with some teams making some minor additions, some adding big-time pieces that could propel them to a championship, and some teams either remaining stagnant this winter or even getting worse. Let’s take a look at how each team is looking coming into the season.

 

AL EAST

 

BALTIMORE ORIOLES 

The Baltimore Orioles do not have a lot of expectations coming into this season. Their roster is completely decimated, and a complete shell of what it used to be when they were contenders a few years back. They went 47-115 last season, an awful record that ranks amongst the worst in recent history. To make matters worse, they traded star Shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, and he’ll be playing for the San Diego Padres this season. They look like they are going to be horrific once again. Their best position player is Trey Mancini, who has proved himself to be a reliable and consistent hitter over his first two seasons in the MLB. In his rookie season, he hit 24 home runs, drove in 78 runs, and batted .293, finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. While Mancini is by no means a bad player, he is not the guy you want as your best player coming into a new season. The O´s also let longtime center fielder Adam Jones walk in free agency, and as of March 7th, he still remains unsigned. Jones is a guy that always gives you solid production at the plate and exceptional defense in Center. The only other name on the roster to pay attention to, in terms of position players is Chris Davis. For a stretch of years, Chris Davis was one of the most prolific power hitters in the league, crushing 197 homers over a span of 5 seasons. Last season, however, he had one of the worst hitting seasons in MLB history, literally. In 128 games, he batted just .168, with an OPS of a measly .539, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 49 runs. Davis had a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) rating of -2.8, meaning that he lost his team 2.8 games. The pitching staff isn´t looking great either. Dylan Bundy is the clear best pitcher on this staff but isn’t someone who would be referred to as an “ace”. He had a solid 2 years back after not playing in the majors for 3 entire seasons, going 23-15 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Last season, he struggled mightily, with a Major League Leading 16 losses, a 5.45 ERA, and a 1.41 WHIP. Some guys to keep an eye on for the O’s this year are Designated Hitter Mark Trumbo, who always brings a bunch of power to the lineup, and 2nd baseman Jonathan Villar, who was acquired last season in a trade where Baltimore shipped off 2nd baseman Jonathan Schoop. Villar is a speed demon on the base paths who is also a solid contact hitter. While the Orioles do look like they’ll be a bottom feeder this year, they are looking ahead towards the future, and fans will have to deal with multiple dismal seasons in the future in order for them to once again become a contender.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C- Chance Sisco (63 G, .181 BA, 2 HR, 16 RBI)

1B- Chris Davis (128 G, .168 BA, 16 HR, 49 RBI)

2B-Jonathan Villar (141 G, .260 BA, 14 HR, 46 RBI)

3B-Renato Núñez (73 G, .258 BA, 8 HR, 22 RBI)

SS-Richie Martin (Played in Minor Leagues)

LF-Trey Mancini (156 G, .242 BA, 24 HR, 58 RBI)

CF-Cedric Mullins (45 G, .235 BA, 4 HR, 11 RBI)

RF-Joey Rickard (79 G, .244 BA, 8 HR, 23 RBI)

DH-Mark Trumbo (90 G, .261 BA, 17 HR, 44 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1. Dylan Bundy (31 GS, 8-16, 5.45 ERA, 1.410 WHIP)

2.Andrew Cashner (28 GS, 4-15, 5.29 ERA, 1.582 WHIP)

3.Alex Cobb (28 GS, 5-15, 4.90 ERA, 1.411 WHIP)

4.Nate Karns (8 GS, 2-2, 4.17 ERA, 1.191 WHIP)

5.Yefry Ramirez (12 GS, 1-8, 5.92 ERA, 1.531 WHIP)

 

BOSTON RED SOX

The Red Sox put together a historically dominant campaign last season, winning 108 games in the regular season, knocking off their rival New York Yankees in the divisional round, finishing off the defending champion Houston Astros in the ALCS, and beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games to win their 9th world series championship. But, despite keeping key pieces J.D Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi, the Sox actually look a bit worse than they did coming into last season. For one, the Sox have yet, like every other team, to sign star closer Craig Kimbrel. This raises a lot of questions about Boston’s bullpen, as Kimbrel was really the only bright spot of the group last year. The only other guy who looked half decent was Joe Kelly, and he will be taking his talents to the bright lights of LA, as he signed a 3 year, $25 million deal in December of this past year. So, if Kimbrel isn’t in a Red Sox uniform next season, who will be the closer? This is really the only question mark about this team. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are two of, if not the best two hitters in all of baseball. Betts won AL MVP last season, batting .346, smacking 32 homers and driving in 80 runs. Martinez should’ve won the award in many fans eyes, however, as he had an incredible season as well. He hit .330, crushed 43 homers, and drove in a league-leading 130 runs. Benintendi and Bogaerts are All-Star Caliber players in their own right, Jackie Bradley Jr. is a defensive stud, and they still have guys who haven’t reached their full potential, such as Rafael Devers and Brock Holt. But where Boston is extremely difficult to beat, in any circumstance is their starting rotation. Headlined by the best pitcher in baseball (just an opinion, don’t kill me for that) in Chris Sale, David Price, who would be an ace on almost every other team, 2016 AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, backed by playoff hero Nathan Eovaldi and young lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, this staff is stacked 1-5, and the offense facing them will never have an easy night. So, if Boston can figure out the closer situation, Mookie and JD repeat their success from last year even in the slightest, a few guys have break out years, and the rotation remains dominant, this team could very well be back-to-back champs come October.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Sandy Leon (89 G, .177 BA, 5 HR, 22 RBI)

1B-Steve Pearce (76 G, .284 BA, 11 HR, 42 RBI)

2B-Dustin Pedroia (3 G, .091 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

3B-Rafael Devers (121 G, .240 BA, 21 HR, 66 RBI)

SS-Xander Bogaerts (136 G, .288 BA, 23 HR, 103 RBI)

LF-Andrew Benintendi (148 G, .290 BA, 16 HR, 87 RBI)

CF-Jackie Bradley, Jr. (144 G, .234 BA, 13 HR, 59 RBI)

RF-Mookie Betts (136 G, .346 BA, 32 HR, 80 RBI)

DH-J.D. Martinez (150 G, .330 BA, 43 HR, 130 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Chris Sale (27 GS, 12-4, 2.11 ERA, .0861 WHIP)

2.David Price (30 GS, 16-7, 3.58 ERA, 1.142 WHIP)

3.Rick Porcello (33 GS, 17-7, 4.28 ERA, 1.176 WHIP)

4.Nathan Eovaldi (21 GS, 6-7, 3.81 ERA, 1.126 WHIP)

5.Eduardo Rodriguez (23 GS, 13-5, 3.82 ERA, 1.265 WHIP)

 

NEW YORK YANKEES 

The Bronx Bombers come into this season with extremely high expectations. The evolution of this team has been so fun to watch. Two years ago, with a roster mixed with promising youngsters and established vets, the Yankees were one game away from a trip to the World Series, falling to the eventual World Champion Houston Astros in a tough 7 game series. Last year, with Aaron Judge coming off a historic rookie season, and an all-around amazing performance in general, Gary Sanchez proving himself to be the best offensive catcher in the league, Luis Severino looking like a young stud to lead the rotation for years, the best bullpen in baseball, and a new, young, exciting manager in Aaron Boone, the Yankees had realistic expectations of a World Championship. Oh, and they also added the NL MVP from the season prior, Giancarlo Stanton, to boost their lineup and make it insanely dangerous. The Yanks had a little bit of a rough season, however. Despite amazing contributions of rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, as well as a break out year from center fielder Aaron Hicks, the Yankees had a ton of injuries that at some points in the season hurt them mightily. Gary Sanchez missed 73 games, and when he was on the field, he wasn’t much of a contributor. He had the worst season of his career, batting a career-low .186, hitting 18 homers and driving in 53 runs. The offensive production was actually not bad, considering he only played half of a season essentially. But Sanchez looked very uncomfortable at the plate at times and was even worse behind the dish on defense. He led the league in passed balls, and many questioned his effort and hustle. That being said, if Sanchez can figure it out this year, this offense can be the most dangerous in the league, even more dangerous than the one that broke the single-season home run record last season. The Yankees were seen as major suitors for the top two free agents, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. They did not end up signing either, but did add solid infielders D.J. LeMeheiu, who won the NL and Major League Batting Title in 2016 with the Colorado Rockies. LeMeheiu will likely see a good number of starts this season, but with Didi Gregorious expected to return in June, Gleyber Torres will slide back into the 2nd base position, and LeMeheiu will likely be sent back to the bench. The other former Rockies infielder that the Yankees signed was Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo was considered one of the league’s best shortstops for a number of years before he started to decline in the middle of his tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays. Tulowitzki has been impressive this spring and will begin the season as the starting shortstop. The Yanks pitching is also strong this season, coming back with the top 2 starters Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka, as well as adding elite lefty James Paxton via trade. He and Tanaka will be competing for the Opening Day starter job as Luis Severino suffered an elbow ligament injury in Spring Training. The bullpen got stronger as well, as they added Adam Ottavino to a group of All-Stars in their bullpen. This Yankees team is loaded, and they have their sights set on the World Series trophy when the weather grows chilly in late October.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Gary Sanchez (89 G, .186 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI)

1B-Luke Voit (47 G, .322 BA, 15 HR, 36 RBI)

2B-Gleyber Torres (123 G, .271 BA, 24 HR, 77 RBI)

3B-Miguel Andujar (149 G, .297 BA, 27 HR, 92 RBI)

SS-Troy Tulowitzki (66 G, .249 BA, 7 HR, 26 RBI)

LF-Brett Gardner (140 G, .236 BA, 12 HR, 45 RBI)

CF-Aaron Hicks (137 G, .248 BA, 27 HR, 79 RBI)

RF-Aaron Judge (112 G, .278 BA, 27 HR, 67 RBI)

DH-Giancarlo Stanton (158 G, .266 BA, 38 HR, 100 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1.Masahiro Tanaka (27 GS, 12-6, 3.75 ERA, 1.128 WHIP)

2.James Paxton (28 GS, 11-6, 3.76 ERA, 1.098 WHIP)

3.J.A. Happ (31 GS, 17-6, 3.65 ERA, 1.131 WHIP)

4.Jonathan Loaisiga (4 GS, 2-0, 5.11 ERA, 1.541 WHIP)

5.Domingo German (14 GS, 2-6, 5.57 ERA, 1.331 WHIP)

 

TAMPA BAY RAYS

If it weren’t for the Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves surprising playoff berths last season, the Tampa Bay Rays would’ve been the undisputed most surprising team in baseball. They didn’t have expectations to make the playoffs or anything and were projected to finish around third in the division, below the powerhouses of the Red Sox and Yankees. They ended the season fulfilling both of these projections, finishing third in the AL East without a playoff birth. But, if they weren’t in the AL East with two of the best teams in baseball, they would have made the playoffs. The Rays won 90 games this past season, a mark that many playoff teams usually hit. The circumstances just were not kind to the Rays, as the two Wild Card teams, the Yankees and A’s, won 100 and 97 games respectively. Tampa has a very solid roster that could very well reach the 90 win plateau this upcoming season, and even go beyond that and flirt with 100 wins. The cards would have to play out in their favor pretty well for this to happen, however. Blake Snell had an absolutely terrific season in 2018, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA. He won the AL Cy Young award, and he is just 26 years old. Snell will once again be the ace of this staff this upcoming season, and that will likely be the case for many years to come. The rotation features some solid pieces to compliment Snell, such as Charlie Morton, who signed with them back in December of 2018, and Tyler Glasnow, the former Pirates top prospect who was acquired in the Chris Archer trade last season. Just to touch on that trade, Archer was the Rays ace for 6 seasons from 2012-2018, and he always put up solid performances on the mound. But Archer never truly became an elite pitcher, and at the 2018 trade deadline, the Rays shipped him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for two very good prospects, OF Austin Meadows and SP Tyler Glasnow. The Rays have now added two young guys they can look to develop while playing in a win now mode. The Rays roster consists of a group of guys who had unexpected really good seasons in 2018. Some examples of this are Matt Duffy, the starting Third baseman who last season batted .294, the second highest average of his career. Duffy actually led the AL in batting for a time, climbing into the low .320’s for a time. Joey Wendle is another guy who had a breakout year for the Rays last year. Wendle, who was considered a rookie last season after breaking the minimum number of Plate Appearances to be considered one for the first time in 3 years, came into last season as a very unknown player who, to everyone outside of Rays fans, was someone who didn’t even exist until that season. Wendle proved himself though, batting .300 and driving in 61 runs. Mike Zunino and Tommy Pham provide some power in the lineup, Kevin Kiermaier is one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball, and Willy Adames is a solid starting shortstop who does everything well. The Rays will be interesting to watch this season, as they are trying something that most MLB teams have shied away from, the new trend of the opener. This means the Rays will let a reliever pitch the first inning, and then either play the bullpen game from there or bring in a usual starter. The Rays won’t do this every game, but they will use it quite often. The Rays are overall an interesting team and it will be exciting to see if they can replicate their success from their surprise 90 win campaign in 2018.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Mike Zunino (113 G, .201 BA, 20 HR, 44 RBI)

1B-Yandy Diaz (39 G, .312 BA, 1 HR, 15 RBI)

2B-Joey Wendle (139 G, .300 BA, 7 HR, 61 RBI)

3B-Matt Duffy (132 G, .294 BA, 4 HR, 44 RBI)

SS-Willy Adames (85 G, .278 BA, 10 HR, 34 RBI)

LF-Tommy Pham (137 G, .275 BA, 21 HR, 63 RBI)

CF-Kevin Kiermaier (88 G, .217 BA, 7 HR, 29 RBI)

RF-Austin Meadows (59 G, .287 BA, 6 HR, 17 RBI)

DH- Ji-Man Choi (61 G, .263 BA, 10 HR, 32 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Blake Snell (31 GS, 21-5, 1.89 ERA, 0.974 WHIP)

2.Charlie Morton (30 GS, 15-3, 3.13 ERA, 1.162 WHIP)

3.Tyler Glasnow (11 GS, 2-7, 4.27 ERA, 1.272 WHIP)

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

 

The Toronto Blue Jays were a powerhouse of the American League not so long ago. They were AL East winners or at the least, a Wild Card team from 2014-2016. They had a dynamic power-hitting trio of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson, all 3 of whom have moved on to other clubs. The Blue Jays were a bottom dweller last season, winning just 73 games. They have a new solid hitting core of Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Freddy Galvis, and Randal Grichuk. Kevin Pillar has proved himself to be a great defender in Center field as well as a solid hitter at the plate. The Jays’ rotation consists of ace Marcus Stroman, and his ‘sidekick’ Aaron Sanchez. They are by far the two best pitchers on the roster in terms of starters. The rest of the Jays rotation isn’t stellar, to put it lightly. Matt Shoemaker, Clayton Richard, and Sean Reid-Foley round out the rotation, and none of those guys are really reliable to win you big games or even win you 10 games. Their bullpen actually has a couple of solid guys in it like Joe Biagini and former All-Star closer Ken Giles. The Jays have a few guys projected to start on Opening Day that could be sleepers, such as Teoscar Hernandez and Brandon Drury. Hernandez was extremely productive in 2018, and Drury is a very good hitter at the plate when he is healthy. Possibly the most exciting thing about the Blue Jays this year is the hype surrounding their #1 prospect, the #1 prospect in baseball, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. He is the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, and this kid is the real deal. He brings a combination of power, contact hitting, speed, and plate discipline at an elite level, and is also a very good fielder. There is a good reason why he is the #1 prospect in all of the MLB. He is expected to be called up in early April, and he is sure going to be a sight to see for an otherwise boring team (no offense). The Blue Jays most likely won’t crack 80 wins in 2019, but Vlad Guerrero Jr. is destined to lead them there, and beyond in the future.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Luke Maile (68 G, .248 BA, 3 HR, 27 RBI)

1B-Justin Smoak (147 G, .242 BA, 25 HR, 77 RBI)

2B-Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (65 G, .281 BA, 11 HR, 35 RBI)

3B-Brandon Drury (26 G, .169 BA, 1 HR, 10 RBI)

SS-Freddy Galvis (162 G, .248 BA, 13 HR, 67 RBI)

LF-Teoscar Hernandez (134 G, .239 BA, 22 HR, 57 RBI)

CF-Kevin Pillar (142 G, .252 BA, 15 HR, 59 RBI)

RF-Randal Grichuk (124 G, .245 BA, 25 HR, 61 RBI)

DH-Kendrys Morales (130 G, .249 BA, 21 HR, 57 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Marcus Stroman (19 GS, 4-9, 5.54 ERA, 1.476 WHIP)

2.Aaron Sanchez (20 GS, 4-6, 4.89 ERA, 1.562 WHIP)

3.Matt Shoemaker (7 GS, 2-2, 4.94 ERA, 1.258 WHIP)

4.Clayton Richard (27 GS, 7-11, 5.33 ERA, 1.380 WHIP)

5.Sean Reid-Foley (7 GS, 2-4, 5.13 ERA, 1.560 WHIP)

 

AL CENTRAL

 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

The White Sox seem to be stuck in between two different narratives coming into the 2019 season. One narrative is that they were, for the first time in a while, relevant during the offseason. The Chi Sox were major players in the free agency decisions of both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, two of the best players in baseball. The Sox actually got pretty deep into talks with Machado, and at one point they were actually considered the favorites to land him and bring in a true superstar to boost their roster. Instead, they ended up low balling him with a contract offer and the talks soon fell through. As for Harper, their name always floated around in the conversation of potential destinations but things never got serious between the two parties. So, the White Sox ended up with neither Machado nor Harper, and will not have a superstar on their roster to start the 2019 season. This does not mean, however,  they have a bad team by any stretch. Jose Abreu, the starting first baseman, has proven himself to be one of the best hitters in baseball. He is the only player ever to record at least 25 home runs and 100 RBI’s in his first 4 seasons in the Majors. While his numbers did dip a little bit last season, Abreu was still an All-Star and is really someone who flies under the radar as a star hitter. Another solid hitter the Sox have is Yonder Alonso, the brother-in-law of Manny Machado (part of the Sox’s sales pitch). Alonso is someone who is reliable and steady at the plate, providing power, contact, and discipline. These two guys are the Sox’s top hitters, but they also have a group of guys who are very solid at the plate in their own right. Daniel Palka shocked everyone last season when he came out of nowhere as a rookie. He batted .240, hit 27 homers and drove in 67 RBI’s in just 124 games. Wellington Castillo is a solid offensive catcher who provides some pop. Adam Engel is an excellent defender in Centerfield, and he showed off his athleticism last year when he robbed home runs on back to back nights against the Yankees. The interesting thing for this team is the third baseman, Yoan Moncada. Moncada was the #1 prospect in baseball a few years back, and he was a part of the Red Sox organization. They traded him for then White Sox ace Chris Sale. Moncada had a disappointing first full season last year. He batted just .235 and led the league in strikeouts. Moncada is only 23, and still has a lot of potential. He is the White Sox third baseman for the foreseeable future unless he really does not play well, and they are going to have to hope he does the opposite if they want to compete down the road. The pitching staff is very interesting. A group of guys who are solid, but nothing special. Carlos Rodon is the leader of the staff and probably has the best stuff of all five. Lucas Giolito is a failed Nationals prospect who has not been impressive at all in his short major league career. Ivan Nova is a guy who has had a solid career, including a 16-4 campaign in 2012. All in all, this rotation is interesting because one of these guys are bound to have break out years. The guy I would point to is Giolito. If the White Sox are competitive, he may be the guy who wins 15 games and pitches well enough to win you crucial games down the stretch. the bullpen is also a strong group, consisting of veterans such as Alex Colome, Nate Jones, and Kelvin Herrera.  Some interesting prospects to watch for on this team are the #3 prospect in baseball, OF Eloy Jimenez, and RHP prospect Michael Kopech. Both are expected to join the Major League club in early April. The White Sox are a team that could be a surprise and make some noise in the weak AL Central in 2019.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Wellington Castillo (49 G, .259 BA, 6 HR, 15 RBI)

1B-Jose Abreu (128 G, .265 BA, 22 HR, 78 RBI)

2B-Yolmer Sanchez (155 G, .242 BA, 8 HR, 55 RBI)

3B-Yoan Moncada (149 G, .235 BA, 17 HR, 61 RBI)

SS-Tim Anderson (153 G, .240 BA, 20 HR, 64 RBI)

LF-Daniel Palka (124 G, .240 BA, 27 HR, 67 RBI)

CF-Adam Engel (143 G, .235 BA, 6 HR, 29 RBI)

RF-Jon Jay (143 G, .268 BA, 3 HR, 40 RBI)

DH-Yonder Alonso (145 G, .250 BA, 23 HR, 83 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Carlos Rodon (20 GS, 6-8, 4.18 ERA, 1.260 WHIP)

2.Reynaldo Lopez (32 GS, 7-10, 3.91 ERA, 1.272 WHIP)

3.Ivan Nova (29 GS, 9-9, 4.19 ERA, 1.280 WHIP)

4.Lucas Giolito (32 GS, 10-13, 6.13 ERA, 1.477 WHIP)

5.Dylan Covey (21 GS, 5-14, 5.18 ERA, 1.488 WHIP)

 

CLEVELAND INDIANS

 

The Indians embodied what Cleveland sports is all about in 2016 when they blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series, falling to the Chicago Cubs. The Indians still have one of the best teams in baseball, but it seems like with the young Yankees poised for a title run and the Red Sox being so dominant, along with the Astros, who knocked Cleveland out of the playoffs last year, also being insanely good, their championship window is closing. Now, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are two of the best hitters in baseball. Jason Kipnis is also somebody that provides big-time production at the plate when healthy. Jake Bauers and Leyones Martin are two solid hitters as well, and Carlos Santana has been reliable his entire career. The pitching staff is just as strong. Corey Kluber is a legitimate superstar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer are very good too, and Mike Clevinger came on last season and showed that he, too, was a really good pitcher. The bullpen is headlined by closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber. Other guys like Dan Otero, Oliver Perez, and Tyler Olson are also solid guys out of the pen. The big issue with this team is health. Michael Brantley was productive when he was on the field but that was rare, and now he is on Houston. They lost Edwin Encarnacion as well, in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. The Indians are always a scary team in the regular season but never really seem to be a threat in the playoffs, besides in 2016. The Indians are lucky that they play in an extremely weak division, though. They get to play the Royals, Tigers and Twins a bunch of times and those are usually easy wins, which boost thier record quite a bit. This 2019 team has managed to keep the key core of guys together for the most part but this really may be their last chance to win a championship.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Roberto Perez (62 G, .168 BA, 2 HR, 19 RBI)

1B-Jake Bauers (96 G, .201 BA, 11 HR, 48 RBI)

2B-Jason Kipnis (147 G, .23o BA, 18 HR, 75 RBI)

3B-Jose Ramirez (157 G, .270 BA, 39 HR, 105 RBI)

SS-Francisco Lindor (158 G, .277 BA, 38 HR, 92 RBI)

LF-Jordan Luplow (37 G, .185 BA, 3 HR, 7 RBI)

CF-Leonys Martin (84 G, .255 BA, 11 HR, 33 RBI)

RF-Tyler Naquin (61 G, .264 BA, 3 HR, 23 RBI)

DH-Carlos Santana (161 G, .229 BA, 24 HR, 86 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Corey Kluber (33 GS, 20-7, 2.89 ERA, 0.991 WHIP)

2.Carlos Carrasco (30 GS, 17-10, 3.38 ERA, 1.125 WHIP)

3.Trevor Bauer (27 GS, 12-6, 2.21 ERA, 1.089 WHIP)

4.Mike Clevinger (32 GS, 13-8, 3.08 ERA, 1.155 WHIP)

5.Shane Bieber (19 GS, 11-5, 4.55 ERA, 1.334 WHIP)

 

DETROIT TIGERS

 

The Tigers, like the Blue Jays, used to reign over the rest of the majority of the American League. They reached the World Series in 2012, won the division in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, and were all in all one of the most frightening teams in the AL. Miguel Cabrera blossomed into the best hitter and player in baseball during this stretch, Prince Fielder was hitting homers left and right, Justin Verlander was legitimately the best pitcher in the league, and guys such as Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Alex Avila broke out. Now, the Tigers are long past their glory days and look like one of the more disappointing teams in the league. They still have Miguel Cabrera, but he is getting older and isn’t as productive as he used to be. Nicholas Castellanos is a guy who tore it up last year and was one of the lone bright spots for this team and will likely lead them in a lot of statistical categories this year as well. Other guys who could have really good years are Niko Goodrum, who had a breakout season last year and was a big surprise, and 25-year-old outfielder Christin Stewart. Stewart and Goodrum are both guys who can hit for power as well as for average. Everyone else on this team really does not have a lot of expectations. The roster they have put together really just, to be straight forward, not that good. They lack any real star power and the roster just is not ready to compete. The pitching staff is headed by Jordan Zimmerman, a guy who you’d be comfortable with as your 3rd or 4th starter, but probably not your ace. He is solid though, and look for him to be one of the only bright spots on this pitching staff. Matt Boyd, Matt Moore, and Tyson Ross are the 1-4 starters. Moore and Ross are decent and Boyd has not been very impressive. The bullpen features Blaine Hardy, Joe Jiminez, and closer Shane Greene. The Tigers are most likely looking to just try and develop their younger players while seeing what they can get out of the other guys production wise, and will most likely be sellers at the deadline. This team just is not ready to compete for a playoff spot yet.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Grayson Greiner (30 G, .219 BA, 0 HR, 12 RBI)

1B-Niko Goodrum (131 G, .245 BA, 16 HR, 53 RBI)

2B-Josh Harrison (97 G, .250 BA, 8 HR, 37 RBI)

3B-Jeimer Candelario (144 G, .224 BA, 19 HR, 54 RBI)

SS-Jordy Mercer (117 G, .251 BA, 6 HR, 39 RBI)

LF-Christin Stewart (17 G, .267 BA, 2 HR, 10 RBI)

CF-JaCoby Jones (129 G, .207 BA, 11 HR, 34 RBI)

RF-Nicholas Castellanos (157 G, .298 BA, 23 HR, 89 RBI)

DH-Miguel Cabrera (38 G, .299 BA, 3 HR, 22 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Jordan Zimmermann (25 GS, 7-8, 4.52 ERA, 1.264 WHIP)

2.Matt Boyd (31 GS, 9-13, 4.39 ERA, 1.157 WHIP)

3.Matt Moore (12 GS, 3-8, 6.79 ERA, 1.657 WHIP)

4.Tyson Ross (23 GS, 8-9, 4.15 ERA, 1.296 WHIP)

5.Daniel Norris (8 GS, 0-5, 5.68 ERA, 1.466 WHIP)

 

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

The Royals are another team who are struggling to make any noise in the weak AL Central. The 2015 World Series champions have no exiled almost all of their championship roster and are in a dismal state. Winners of just 58 games last season, the Royals shouldn’t hit the 70 win mark again this season, and if they do, it will probably be 70-73 wins at best. Their star catcher Salvador Perez is starting the season on the DL, out with Ulnar collision ligament surgery. He will be out for a large portion of the season, only making things worse for KC. Whit Merrifield has developed into a really nice player, someone who can hit for a high average but also hits a lot of extra base hits, and is able to get you an extra base sometimes with his blazing speed. Center Fielder Brett Phillips is a guy that could develop into a star one day- he already has one of the best arms in the league and has a bunch of tools at the plate that, if he develops right, could translate into star potential. Alex Gordon’s offense has left him for the past few years now. Gordon was a key component of the Royals 2015 Championship team, but in recent years he’s been hitting around .230 and seems like he is falling off a cliff. The pitching staff for the Royals doesn’t look much better than the position players. Danny Duffy as your ace is almost laughable, and he’s most recently been in the news for getting arrested for DUI at a Burger King. Brad Keller actually had a pretty good rookie year, and he may be the lone bright spot in this rotation. Jakob Junis is alright but nothing that special. The bullpen is headlined by Willy Peralta and Brad Boxberger. This team comes into 2019 just looking for some pride, and honestly, the front office most likely has their sights set on the #1 draft pick.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Martin Maldonado (119 G, .225 BA, 9 HR, 44 RBI)

1B-Ryan O’Hearn (44 G, .262 BA, 12 HR, 30 RBI)

2B-Whit Merrifield (158 G, .304 BA, 12 HR, 60 RBI)

3B-Hunter Dozier (102 G, .229 BA, 11 HR, 34 RBI)

SS-Adalberto Mondesi (75 G, .276 BA, 14 HR, 37 RBI)

LF-Alex Gordon (141 G, .245 BA, 13 HR, 54 RBI)

CF-Billy Hamilton (153 G, .236 BA, 4 HR, 29 RBI)

RF-Jorge Bonifacio (69 G, .225 BA, 4 HR, 23 RBI)

DH- Jorge Soler (61 G, .265 BA, 9 HR, 28 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Danny Duffy (28 GS, 8-12, 4.88 ERA, 1.490 WHIP)

2.Brad Keller (20 GS, 9-6, 3.08 ERA, 1.304 WHIP)

3.Jakob Junis (30 GS, 9-12, 4.37 ERA, 1.271 WHIP)

4.Jorge Lopez (7 GS, 2-5, 5.03 ERA, 1.472 WHIP)

5.Ian Kennedy (22 GS, 3-9, 4.66 ERA, 1.379 WHIP)

 

MINNESOTA TWINS

 

The Twins playoff/championship window is something that can’t really be pinpointed. In 2017, the Twins played very well and won 85 games. They fell to the New York Yankees in the Wild Card game, but they had very high expectations coming into 2018,, with a roster now full of playoff experience and guys bound to have break out seasons. But they disappointed many and won just 78 games, a below .500 record and not good enough to make the postseason. The Twins are looking to have a bounce-back campaign and make the postseason in 2019. But, they will have to do so without their former star second baseman, Brian Dozier. Dozier was traded to the Dodgers last season and recently signed a deal with the Washington Nationals. Dozier was the leader of the Twins, he was a second baseman/shortstop who was the rare non-corner infielder who could hit for close to 40 home runs. The loss of Dozier hurts, but the Twins still have a lot of firepower in their offense. Miguel Sano now takes over the role as the best offensive player, and for good reason. Sano is a guy who can be an absolute game-changer when healthy. He is joined by Nelson Cruz, one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball over the last decade, and new second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who, like Sano, is very productive at the plate when healthy. Other guys like Max Kepler and C.J. Cron also have some pop in their bats. Byron Buxton is a former top prospect who Twins fans have waited forever to see develop into a star, but it just hasn’t happened. His defense is incredible, as well as his speed, but his production at the plate is not there. Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario are mysteries at the plate. Both guys are capable of having awesome seasons, but at the same time they could both be total flops. The pitching staff is solid, and that is what this team needs to rely on. 1-4 is really solid, with a rising star in Jose Berrios at the helm, followed by Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda, and Jake Odorizzi. The rotation needs to be on top of their game nearly all season if the Twins want to make the playoffs. The bullpen is subpar, however, with the only notable names being Blake Parker and Addison Reed. The Twins were a bit of a disappointment in 2018 but they will look to prove everyone wrong in 2019.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Jason Castro (19 G, .143 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI)

1B-C.J Cron (140 G, .253 BA, 30 HR, 74 RBI)

2B-Jonathan Schoop (131 G, .233 BA, 21 HR, 61 RBI)

3B-Miguel Sano (71 G, .199 BA, 13 HR, 41 RBI)

SS-Jorge Polanco (77 G, .288 BA, 6 HR, 42 RBI)

LF-Eddie Rosario (138 G, .288 BA, 24 HR, 77 RBI)

CF-Byron Buxton (28 G, .156 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI)

RF- Max Kepler (156 G, .224 BA, 20 HR, 58 RBI)

DH-Nelson Cruz (144 G, .256 BA, 37 HR, 97 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Jose Berrios (32 GS, 12-11, 3.84 ERA, 1.144 WHIP)

2.Kyle Gibson (32 GS, 10-13, 3.62 ERA, 1.302 WHIP)

3.Michael Pineda (17 GS, 8-4, 4.39 ERA, 1.287 WHIP) (2017)

4.Jake Odorizzi (32 GS, 7-10, 4.49 ERA, 1.345 WHIP)

5.Martin Perez (32 GS, 2-7, 6.22 ERA, 1.781 WHIP)

 

AL WEST

 

HOUSTON ASTROS

 

The Houston Astros were one of baseball’s laughing stock for a number of seasons in the early 2010s. Now, they are a regular contender for the World Series. The Astros did a lot of building through the draft, picking stars like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer. The Astros were able to piece together a championship winning roster through patience and player development. Let’s talk about that roster. The starting nine is loaded with talent. Jose Altuve won the 2017 AL MVP and has proved himself as the best pure contact hitter in baseball, hitting for a high average every season and more recently flashing impressive power numbers for a 5’6 second baseman. Carlos Correa was injured for a portion of the season last year, missing 52 games,  but has been one of the best shortstops in baseball when he is on the field. His numbers were a bit down but you can’t ignore his first 3 campaigns where he hit at least 20 home runs and batted .275 in each. Alex Bregman has come on as another rising star for the Astros. He batted .286 last season and hit a career high in home runs with 31. George Springer has been one of the best offensive center fielders in baseball the last 3 seasons. Other guys like Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, and Yuli Gurriel are all excellent hitters. As good as that offense is, the pitching staff might be even better. Headlined by future Hall-of-Famer Justin Verlander, All-Star Gerrit Cole follows, with Collin McHugh, Wade Miley, and Brad Peacock behind him. While the back end of the rotation isn’t as eye-opening as the front two, it could have been if not for the departure of Charlie Morton, who left for Tampa Bay this winter. Dallas Keuchel the former AL Cy Young winnner and ace of the staff, has not been signed by Houston or any team as the season is closing in. This rotation is nowhere near bad though, as Miley and McHugh are actually pretty solid at times. The big question mark is the 5th starter. Will Peacock hold down that spot, or will someone else emerge? Time will tell. The bullpen is still looking good, but a little depleted and is probably the weakest facet of the Astros team. Roberto Osuna and Chris Devinski are both All-Star caliber pitchers, and Hector Rondon has always been very good. This team is trying to get back to the World Series for the 2nd time in three years. They beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 7 games in 2017, ending their title as the joke of the league. They certainly have the talent to win another one, but there are still some questions about this team, including how well guys like Correa and Springer will perform, and if the rotation can hold its own. We’ll see, but even if they don’t go all the way, this Astros team is one of the most entertaining in baseball.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Robinson Chirinos (113 G, .222 BA, 18 HR, 65 RBI)

1B-Yuli Gurriel (136 G, .291 BA, 13 HR, 85 RBI)

2B-Jose Altuve (137 G, .316 BA, 13 HR, 61 RBI)

3B-Alex Bregman (157 G, .286 BA, 31 HR, 103 RBI)

SS-Carlos Correa (110 G, .239 BA, 15 HR, 65 RBI)

LF-Michael Brantley (143 G, .309 BA, 17 HR, 76 RBI)

CF-George Springer (140 G, .265 BA, 22 HR, 71 RBI)

RF-Josh Reddick (134 G, .242 BA, 17 HR, 47 RBI)

DH-Tyler White (66 G, .276 BA, 12 HR, 42 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation

1.Justin Verlander (34 GS, 16-9, 2.52 ERA, 0.902 WHIP)

2.Gerrit Cole (32 GS, 15-5, 2.88 ERA, 1.033 WHIP)

3.Collin McHugh (0 GS, 6-2, 1.99 ERA, 0.912 WHIP)

4.Wade Miley (16 GS, 5-2, 2.57 ERA, 1.215 WHIP)

5.Brad Peacock (1 GS, 3-5, 3.46 ERA, 1.169 WHIP)

 

LOS ANGELES ANGELS

 

The Angels have had the luxury of being able to brag to the rest of the league about one thing over the past 8 seasons. That thing is that they have the talents of Mike Trout, the best player in baseball and possibly on his way to becoming the greatest player of all time. Trout has only played in the postseason once in his career, however, as the Angels have been a disappointing team his whole career. Unlike in basketball, where guys like LeBron James and Russell Westbrook can carry their team to the playoffs, baseball truly takes a great team, not a great player, to make the postseason and win a championship. Trout was rewarded handsomely for his efforts though, as on March 19 he signed the biggest baseball contract ever, a 12 year, $430 million deal to stay in LA. This year though, the Angels are loaded and ready to make a playoff push. The AL West will be super competitive though, featuring the above mentioned Houston Astros, as well as the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners. Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun join Trout in the outfield, and the Angels made some more improvements to help Trout out as well. Adding Justin Bour and Jonathan Lucroy will be huge, as they are two guys who can really bolster the lineup. Cody Allen has been one of the best closers in the game the past 3 seasons, and he now joins Cam Bedrosian and Neil Ramirez in the bullpen. Zack Cozart and Andrelton Simmons return at third and short respectively. Cozart is a talented hitter who can hit for average and power. Simmons is improving offensively and is one of the best defensive infielders in baseball. The rotation is such a question mark, and it will make or break this team in the long run if they don’t add someone at the trade deadline. Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney are a solid 1-2 punch who can either be really good or really bad, former Cy Young winner Matt Harvey is looking for a bounce-back year, Trevor Cahill is usually someone you can rely on to win you big games, and Jaime Barria rounds out the rotation. If this rotation pitches really well, the Angels are a 95 win-100 win team. If they pitch poorly and cannot keep the Angels in close games, they are at best a .500 team. We know Trout will perform at the highest level, and now the Angels have finally put guys around him who are capable of doing that too, and that will lead to a playoff berth for the Angels if they can put it all together.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Jonathan Lucroy (126 G, .241 BA, 4 HR, 51 RBI)

1B-Justin Bour (141 G, .227 BA, 20 HR, 59 RBI)

2B-David Fletcher (80 G, .275 BA, 1 HR, 25 RBI)

3B-Zack Cozart (58 G, .219 BA, 5 HR, 18 RBI)

SS-Andrelton Simmons (146 G, .292 BA, 11 HR, 75 RBI)

LF-Justin Upton (145 G, .257 BA, 30 HR, 85 RBI)

CF-Mike Trout (140 G, .312 BA, 39 HR, 79 RBI)

RF-Kole Calhoun (137 G, .208 BA, 19 HR, 57 RBI)

DH-Albert Pujols (117 G, .245 BA, 19 Hr, 64 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Tyler Skaggs (24 GS, 8-10, 4.02 ERA, 1.332 WHIP)

2.Andrew Heaney (30 GS, 9-10, 4.15 ERA, 1.200 WHIP)

3.Matt Harvey (28 GS, 7-9, 4.94 ERA, 1.303 WHIP)

4.Trevor Cahill (20 GS, 7-4, 3.76 ERA, 1.191 WHIP)

5.Jaime Barria (26 GS, 10-9, 3.41 ERA, 1.268 WHIP)

 

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

 

The A’s were baseball’s biggest Cinderella story last season. A team that was seen as a fringe wild card team who started off slow turned into one of the hottest teams in baseball and won 97 games. Led by young stars Matt Chapman and Kris Davis, along with Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson, the A’s were one of the best home run hitting teams in the league, and their power propelled them to nearly 100 wins. They became the loveable underdogs of the 2018 season, and when they faced the hated Yankees in the AL Wild Card game, the entire baseball landscape (besides Yankees fans) were rooting for the A’s. Safe to say that the outcome wasn’t what everyone was hoping for, as the Yankees made quick work of the A’s and ended their season. But in 2019, the A’s are back and are ready to prove they’re no one-hit wonder. The roster still doesn’t jump out at you on paper, but these guys know how to play together and string together wins. Matt Chapman solidified his case for the best defensive third baseman in baseball last season, but he was great with the bat also. For the first time, Chapman showed flashes of power at the plate while hitting for a solid average. Chapman is only 25 and is an emerging star at the hot corner in Oakland. Khris Davis has always been a prolific home run hitter, but this season he had the best dinger campaign of his career, leading the Major Leagues with 48. Davis still didn’t hit for a high batting average, a trend for his entire career, but when you’re hitting for a decent average and near 50 home runs, who cares? Matt Olson showed flashes of defensive excellence at first, and he too had a good year at the plate. Jed Lowrie had his best year as a Major Leaguer too, hitting a career-best 23 home runs. The pitching staff was also really good last season. Sean Manaea was great last year, but after having shoulder surgery, he is expected to miss the first half of the season. That leaves Mike Fiers to take over the starting job as the ace. Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson follow behind him, guys who are decent, not great, Frankie Montas is someone with a lot of potential at only 25 years old, and Aaron Brooks rounds out the rotation. The bullpen features some quality relievers like Joakim Soria, Liam Hendricks, and Fernando Rodney. Blake Treinen was an All-Star closer last year and has shown a lot of promise that he can be the A’s closer for the future. The A’s were a shocking story that baseball fans fell in love with in 2018, but in 2019, they don’t want to be known as underdogs anymore, and they certainly have the talent to make that possible.

 

Projected Opening Day  Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Chris Herrmann (36 G, .237 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI)

1B-Matt Olson (162 G, .247 BA, 29 HR, 84 RBI)

2B-Jurickson Profar (146 G, .254 BA, 20 HR, 77 RBI)

3B-Matt Chapman (145 G, .278 BA, 24 HR, 68 RBI)

SS-Marcus Semien (159 G, .255 BA, 15 HR, 70 RBI)

LF-Robbie Grossman (129 G, .273 BA, 5 HR, 48 RBI)

CF-Ramon Laureano (48 G, .288 BA, 5 HR, 19 RBI)

RF-Stephen Piscotty (151 G, .267 BA, 27 HR, 88 RBI)

DH- Khris Davis (151 G, .247 BA, 48 HR, 123 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Mike Fiers (30 GS, 12-8, 3.56 ERA, 1.180 WHIP)

2.Marco Estrada (28 GS, 7-14, 5.64 ERA, 1.427 WHIP)

3.Brett Anderson (17 GS, 4-5, 4.48 ERA, 1.282 WHIP)

4.Frankie Montas (11 GS, 5-4, 3.88 ERA, 1.462 WHIP)

5.Aaron Brooks (0 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.125 WHIP)

 

SEATTLE MARINERS 

 

The Mariners have been stuck in the place where all sports franchises hate to be stuck in for an extended period of time: in the middle of being a playoff team/contender and being a bad team who gets good draft picks. Every year, the M’s build a good roster that on paper looks good enough to compete for a playoff spot, but they usually end up not being able to figure it out and falling apart. This year, the roster is a bit depleted and many don’t expect them to compete for a playoff spot at all. Mitch Haniger is really good and is their best player, and along with Dee Gordon and Edwin Encarnacion, are the only guys who can give you consistent production, or those are the guys who have shown they can, anyways. Tim Beckham is a solid starting shortstop who, when hot, can be a game changer at the plate. Domingo Santana is another guy who when up, can look like the team’s best hitter, but when down, can look like a guy who needs to be sat down for a few games to figure things out. The pitching staff is the most worrying thing about this team. Felix “King Felix” Hernandez is not what he used to be, and isn’t even considered the ace of the pitching staff anymore. Marco Gonzales, the 27-year-old hander, now takes over that role. He is followed in the rotation by Yusei Kikuchi, the 27-year-old lefty from Japan who was signed back in January of this year. Mike Leake and Felix Hernandez follow, and the 5th starter is up in the air. It is either veteran Wade LeBlanc or the youngster Justus Sheffield. The M’s could run a 6 man rotation, but for now, we’ll go with LeBlanc getting the job since he is a vet and has more experience. There’s only one notable guy in the bullpen, and that’s Hunter Strickland. A fireballing right-hander who is probably most known by casual fans for getting into a brawl with Bryce Harper in 2017, Strickland actually is a very good pitcher. The rest of the bullpen is pretty mediocre, though. The Mariners also lost a few key pieces, such as Shortstop Jean Segura, power-hitting outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz, and second baseman Robinson Cano. These three were the some of the M’s top hitters last season, and their absence will certainly be felt this year.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Omar Narvaez (97 G, .275 BA, 9 HR, 30 RBI)

1B-Ryon Healy (133 G, .235 BA, 24 HR, 73 RBI)

2B-Dee Gordon (141 G, .268 BA, 4 HR, 36 RBI)

3B-Dylan Moore (Played in Minors Leagues)

SS-Tim Beckham (96 G, .23o BA, 12 HR, 35 RBI)

LF-Domingo Santana (85 G, .265 BA, 5 HR, 20 RBI)

CF-Mallex Smith (141 G, .296 BA, 2 HR, 40 RBI)

RF-Mitch Haniger (157 G, .285 BA, 26 HR, 93 RBI)

DH-Edwin Encarnacion (137 G, .246 BA, 32 HR, 107 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s stats)

1.Marco Gonzales (29 GS, 13-9, 4.00 ERA, 1.224 WHIP)

2.Yusei Kikuchi (Played in Japan)

3.Mike Leake (31 GS, 10-10, 4.36 ERA, 1.298 WHIP)

4.Felix Hernandez (28 GS, 8-14, 5.55 ERA, 1.400 WHIP)

5.Wade LeBlanc (27 GS, 9-5, 3.72 ERA, 1.179 WHIP)

 

TEXAS RANGERS 

 

The Rangers were one strike away from winning their first ever World Series in 2011. Then, the Cardinals offense woke up at the worst possible time, for the Rangers anyway. David Freese happened, twice. They lost Game 7, and their second straight World Series. In 2015, Joey Bats happened. The Rangers have always been a successful regular season team, but have had some tough moments. And as of late, that regular season success has faded. The Rangers haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, and that playoff drought might continue this season, as they play in a challenging AL West, loaded with the 4 previously mentioned teams, all of which are capable of making the playoffs. The Rangers now have a solid hitting core of Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, and Asdrubal Cabrera. The rotation features Mike Minor, Edinson Volquez, Drew Smyly, Lance Lynn, and Shelby Miller. That rotation is really not something to be overly confident with, but these guys are all vets who can get by. The bullpen doesn’t feature any top end talent either, as Shawn Kelley is easily the team’s best reliever. The Rangers will be looking for some guys to step up and have good years and hang on to them during the midst of their rebuild. Some candidates for this are Drew Smyly and Nomar Mazara. The Rangers added some more hitting depth when they signed former San Francisco Giant Hunter Pence, who will play the outfield and designated hitter. Texas has fallen a long way since their two World Series births in back to back seasons, but if they take the necessary steps, they can maybe one day return to their former glory.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Jeff Mathis (69 G, .200 BA, 1 HR, 20 RBI)

1B-Ronald Guzman (123 G, .235 BA, 16 HR, 58 RBI)

2B-Rougned Odor (129 G, .253 BA, 18 HR, 63 RBI)

3B-Asdrubal Cabrera (147 G, .262 BA, 23 HR, 75 RBI)

SS-Elvis Andrus (97 G, .256 BA, 6 HR, 33 RBI)

LF-Joey Gallo (148 G, .206 BA, 40 HR, 92 RBI)

CF-Delino DeSheilds, Jr. (106 G, .216 BA, 2 HR, 22 RBI)

RF-Nomar Mazara (128 G, .258 BA, 20 HR, 77 RBI)

DH-Shin-Soo Choo (146 G, .264 BA, 21 HR, 62 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation

1.Mike Minor (28 GS, 12-8, 4.18 ERA, 1.121 WHIP)

2.Edinson Volquez (17 GS, 4-8, 4.19 ERA, 1.419 WHIP)

3.Lance Lynn (29 GS, 10-10, 4.77 ERA, 1.526 WHIP)

4.Drew Smyly (30 GS, 7-12, 4.88 ERA, 1.272 WHIP)

5.Shelby Miller (4 GS, 0-4, 10.69 ERA, 2.000 WHIP)

 

NL EAST

 

ATLANTA BRAVES

 

The Atlanta Braves were another surprise team this past season, winning 90 games and winning the NL East. The Braves are led by star offensive player and franchise cornerstone Freddie Freeman, as well as their two young, offensive-minded stars, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies. Acuna Jr. won the NL Rookie of the Year award after having a great season, smashing 26 HR, and driving in 64 runs. Albies is another young hot prospect who can get it done with the bat. Albies hit 24 homers and drove in 72 runs. Dansby Swanson is the former #1 overall prospect that Atlanta acquired from Arizona a couple of years back in the Shelby Miller trade. He has yet to show any really great flashes, but is still just 25 and has a lot of potential. The hitting core gained some more production with the acquisition of former MVP Third baseman Josh Donaldson. He joins Ender Inciarte, Brian McCann, Nick Markakis. The Braves made a big playoff push last season in main part to this high powered offense, but their pitching staff did an excellent job as well. Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb are their top two pitching prospects, Kevin Gausman is a solid starter and the back end features two reliable guys in Julio Teheran and Kyle Wright. The bullpen is locked and loaded with fireballer Aroldys Vizcaino as the closer, and it is filled out with Jonny Venters, Dan Winkler, and A.J Minter. The Braves were knocked out of the playoffs by the Dodgers last year, but that can be attributed to lack of experience and just how young the team was. Now, coming in with an even beefier lineup, a young pitching staff, and a year of postseason experience under their belt, they are ready to go out and compete for another division title in 2019.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Brian McCann (63 G, .212 BA, 7 HR, 23 RBI)

1B-Freddie Freeman (162 G, .309 BA,23 HR, 98 RBI)

2B-Ozzie Albies (158 G, .261 BA, 24 HR, 72 RBI)

3B-Josh Donaldson (52 G, .246 BA, 8 HR, 23 RBI)

SS-Dansby Swanson (136 G, .238 BA, 14 HR, 59 RBI)

LF-Ronald Acuna, Jr. (111 G, .293 BA, 26 HR, 64 RBI)

CF-Ender Inciarte (156 G, .265 BA, 10 HR, 61 RBI)

RF-Nick Markakis (162 G, .297 BA, 14 HR, 93 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation

1.Mike Foltynewicz (31 GS, 13-10, 2.85 ERA, 1.082 WHIP)

2.Sean Newcomb (30 GS, 12-9, 3.90 ERA, 1.329 WHIP)

3.Kevin Gausman (31 GS, 10-11, 3.92 ERA, 1.301 WHIP)

4.Julio Teheran (31 GS, 9-9, 3.94 ERA, 1.173 WHIP)

5.Kyle Wright (0 GS, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.667 WHIP)

 

MIAMI MARLINS

 

The Marlins have taken the role of the laughing stock of the league over the past few seasons. A team that looked like they were one piece away from being a playoff team a few years ago is now a bottom dweller with mostly all of their core gone. J.T. Realmuto, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Justin Bour, and Marcell Ozuna are all former key players for the Marlins who now have new homes. The Derek Jeter ownership take over of the team was the point in time where this downsizing began, and the ownership group continues to be under fire from the media for not handling the roster properly. The Marlins now trot out a collection of veterans and young guys looking to prove themselves and maybe get out of Miami at the trade deadline if they are having a good year. The roster really isn’t all that impressive though. Starlin Castro and Neil Walker are two good, not great hitters who can give you solid production out of the infield spots. Lewis Brinson is an intriguing prospect who could do big things this year. The only other notable guy in the lineup is veteran center fielder Curtis Granderson- a guy who has had ups and downs throughout his long career. The team is not projected to do much this season and by the looks of their offense, they may finish last in most offensive statistical categories. The pitching staff at least has some young guys to pay attention to. Jose Urena is known by most baseball fans as the guy who intentionally hit Ronald Acuna Jr. last season, to prevent Acuna’s streak of leadoff home runs from extending. The pitch got Acuna in the face and ended up keeping him out for a big portion of the season. But Urena is actually a pretty solid pitcher. Trevor Richards and Caleb Smith are also two young guys that the Marlins would like to see grow into pitchers they can rely on in the future. The bullpen talent is actually solid. Sergio Romo as the closer is pretty nice actually, as even if he has a bad year he can be someone in the clubhouse for the young guys to learn from. Adam Conley is a starter turned reliever and looks to embrace that role. The Marlins squad looks on the downhill coming into 2019, but at least they can look forward to the future…. hopefully.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Jorge Alfaro (108 G, .262 BA, 10 HR,37 RBI)

1B-Neil Walker (113 G, .219 BA 11 HR, 46 RBI)

2B-Starlin Castro (154 G, .278 BA, 12 HR, 54 RBI)

3B-Brian Anderson (156 G, .273 BA, 11 HR, 65 RBI)

SS-Miguel Rojas (153 G, .252 BA, 11 HR, 53 RBI)

LF-Curtis Granderson (123 G, .242 BA, 13 HR, 38 RBI)

CF-Lewis Brinson (109 G, .199 BA, 11 HR, 42 RBI)

RF-Garrett Cooper (14 G, .212 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation

1.Jose Urena (31 GS, 9-12, 3.98 ERA, 1.184 WHIP)

2.Trevor Richards (25 GS, 4-9, 4.42 ERA, 1.385 WHIP)

3.Pablo Lopez (10 GS, 2-4, 4.14 ERA, 1.261 WHIP)

4.Sandy Alcantara (6 GS, 2-3, 3.44 ERA, 1.412 WHIP)

5.Caleb Smith (16 GS, 5-6, 4.19 ERA, 1.241 WHIP)

 

NEW YORK METS

 

The New York Mets have always been called the “Little Brothers” of New York, obviously referring to the dominance of the Yankees. But for the first time since the Mets 2015 World Series appearance, they are ready to compete for the playoffs and make a deep run into the playoffs. The Mets hitting core boasts young studs Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, veterans Robinson Cano and Todd Frazier, and a solid mix of guys like Juan Lagares, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. The Mets’ mix of contact, small ball, and power in their lineup should help them win games in many different ways. The only real question mark is the first base position. Dom Smith has been less than impressive, and young prospect Pete Alonso looks great. The Mets pitching staff is great, once again. 2018 NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom leads the way with fellow former Cy Young winner Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, and Jason Vargas. The bullpen was a huge question mark last season, but they have improved it a lot, adding Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, and Jeurys Familia. With the mix of high powered offense and a dominant pitching staff, the Mets are looking to jump up in the NL East standings and maybe snag a division title.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Wilson Ramos (111 G, .306 BA, 15 HR, 70 RBI)

1B-Dominic Smith (56 G, .2224 BA, 5 HR, 11 RBI)

2B-Robinson Cano (80 G, .303 BA, 10 HR, 50 RBI)

3B-Todd Frazier (115 G, .213 BA, 18 HR, 59 RBI)

SS-Amed Rosario (154 G, .256 BA, 9 HR, 51 RBI)

LF-Michael Conforto (153 G, .243 BA, 28 HR, 82 RBI)

CF-Juan Lagares (30 G, .339 BA, 0 HR, 6 RBI)

RF-Brandon Nimmo (140 G, .263 BA, 17 HR, 47 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1.Jacob DeGrom (32 GS, 10-9, 1.70 ERA, 0.912 WHIP)

2.Noah Syndergaard (25 GS, 13-4, 3.03 ERA, 1.212 WHIP)

3.Zack Wheeler (29 GS, 12-7, 3.31 ERA, 1.124 WHIP)

4.Steven Matz (30 GS, 5-11, 3.97 ERA, 1.247 WHIP)

5.Jason Vargas (20 GS, 7-9, 5.77 ERA, 1.413 WHIP)

 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

 

The Phillies were the big winners this offseason, as they landed superstar outfielder Bryce Harper on a 13 year, 330 million deal that at the time, broke baseball records. Outside of Harper, the Phillies are a really good team that finally looks ready to make a  run at the division. The Phillies made a slightly smaller splash when they traded for catcher J.T. Realmuto, who many consider to be the best all around hitting catcher in baseball. Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, and Maikel Franco are all home grown talent that remain on the roster and these 3 guys are some of the Phillies’ most important position players. The offense is rounded out by Cesar Hernandez and newly acquired Jean Segura, both guys who hit for a high average and get on base a lot. The pitching staff is awesome too. Aaron Nola was in the race for NL Cy Young last year,, and nearly won. He probably would have won if it were not for the outstanding performance by Jacob deGrom of the Mets. Jake Arrieta was a Cy Young winner himself a few years back but many think he has lost a step. He will look to prove them wrong this year. The last 3 starters in the rotation are good, not great options in Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez. The bullpen is highlighted by David Robertson, Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, and Juan Nicasio. Harper’s presence in the lineup will help the Phillies add more power and overall hitting to their already solid lineup. Harper is a legit superstar who can turn the tide of a game with his situational hitting and massive power. The Phillies are legit this year, look for them to make a push for the top of the NL East, or at least in the 1st or 2nd Wild Card spot.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-J.T. Realmuto (125 G, .277 BA, 21 HR, 74 RBI)

1B-Rhys Hoskins (153 G, .246 BA, 34 HR, 96 RBI)

2B-Cesar Hernandez (161 G, .253 BA, 15 HR, 60 RBI)

3B-Maikel Franco (131 G, .270 BA, 22 HR, 68 RBI)

SS-Jean Segura (144 G, .304 BA, 10 HR, 63 RBI)

LF-Andrew McCutchen 155 G, .255 BA, 20 HR, 65 RBI)

CF-Odubel Herrera (148 G, .255 BA, 22 HR, 71 RBI)

RF-Bryce Harper (159 G, .249 BA, 34 HR, 100 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1.Aaron Nola (33 GS, 17-6, 2.37 ERA, 0.975 WHIP)

2.Jake Arrieta (31 GS, 10-11, 3.96 ERA, 1.286 WHIP)

3.Nick Pivetta (32 GS, 7-14, 4.77 ERA, 1.305 WHIP)

4.Zach Eflin (24 GS, 11-8, 4.36 ERA, 1.305 WHIP)

5.Vince Velasquez (30 GS, 9-12, 4.85 ERA, 1.343 WHIP)

 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

 

The Nationals lost a lot of thier core from the previous season’s playoff runs this past offseason. Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies this offseason, Daniel Murphy got traded to the Cubs last season, and other key guys have also departed. That being said, the Nats are still the favorites to win the NL East. Despite the losses of Murphy and Harper, the Nationals team is still loaded with talent, and after a disappointing year in 2018, they are looking to bounce back and take the division. Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and Brian Dozier are leading the stacked lineup, with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Eaton, Yan Gomes, and Trea Turner right behind them. The offense is stacked from top to bottom, and some extra excitement wil swirl around the Nats this season, because they have one of the top prospects in baseball, Victor Robles, as their starting center fielder. Robles, if he performs well, will bring even more optimism to this already high powered offense. The pitching staff is just as electric. Max Scherzer is a perennial Cy Young award candidate, and he’s been one of the best pitchers in the league for some time now. Stephen Strasburg is not quite on Scherzer’s level, but he too has been elite, pretty much ever since he entered the big leagues. The Nationals landed the top pitching free agent this offseason, signing All-Star left hander Patrick Corbin. Corbin was the prized free agent among pitchers, and many thought he would either go to Philadelphia or the Yankees. Instead, he joins Scherzer and Strasburg in the rotation and gives the Nats a dominant lefty to mix in with the right handed arms of the top 2. Anibal Sanchez is definitely past his prime years, but he is really good when his stuff is on. He can give you a lot of innings as well, as he has become known for eating innings at a high rate. His year with Atlanta last year was actually somewhat of a bounce back for him, and he will look to have another reliable year with the Nats. Rounding out the rotation is Jeremy Hellickson. In the bullpen, Sean Doolittle as the closer is definitely a solid option, as the fireballing lefty gives hitters a lot to handle in the 9th inning. Trevor Rosenthal and Koda Glover are two more guys who are really good and will come up big in big situations. They can even win you some games single handedly. Tony Sipp is a nice veteran lefty pickup to mic up the pen a little bit. The Nats, despite the loss of thier two best hitters, and their home grown superstar, don’t look phazed and are once again containers for not only the NL East, but the World Series.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Yan Gomes (112 G, .266 BA, 16 HR, 48 RBI)

1B-Ryan Zimmerman (85 G, .264 BA, 13 HR, 51 RBI)

2B-Brian Dozier (151 G, .215 BA, 21 HR, 72 RBI)

3B-Anthony Rendon (136 G, .308 BA, 24 HR, 92 RBI)

SS-Trea Turner (162 G, .271 BA, 19 HR, 73 RBI)

LF-Juan Soto (116 G, .292 BA, 22 HR, 70 RBI)

CF-Victor Robles (21 G, .288 BA, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

RF-Adam Eaton (95 G, .301 BA, 5 HR, 33 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1.Max Scherzer (33 GS, 18-7, 2.53 ERA, 0.911 WHIP)

2.Stephen Strasburg (22 GS, 10-7, 3.74 ERA, 1.200 WHIP)

3.Patrick Corbin (33 GS, 11-7, 3.15 ERA, 1.050 WHIP)

4.Anibal Sanchez (24 GS, 7-6, 2.83 ERA, 1.083 WHIP)

5.Jeremy Hellickson (19 GS, 5-3, 3.45 ERA, 1.073 WHIP)

 

NL CENTRAL

 

CHICAGO CUBS

 

The Cubs broke their 108 year World Series drought a couple years back, and they are not satisfied with just one championship. They are hungry for #2 and even more beyond that. They have managed to keep some of thier core guys together. They did suffer losses of Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Justin Wilson, however. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are two of the best hitters in the league, and Javy Baez solidified himself as a star last season when he was an MVP candidate. The Cubs hitting core isn’t the problem, and neither is their pitching rotation. Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks,  and Jose Quintana make up probably the best 1-5 staff in baseball. All of those guys could be an Ace on many other teams in the league. The problem for the Cubs is their bullpen. While not bad, it is very inconsistent. Wade Davis is now in Colorado, so the Cubs don’t have that dominant closer to shut games down anymore. Pedro Strop as your best reliever is good, not great. Brad Brach and Steve Cishek are also solid options. It all comes down to whether they can stay healthy and consistent. IF the whole team can fit into that narrative, then the Cubs looked poised for another playoff run.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Willson Contreras (138 G, .249 BA, 10 HR, 54 RBI)

1B-Anthony Rizzo (153 G, .283 BA, 25 HR, 101 RBI)

2B-Ben Zobrist (139 G, .305 BA, 9 HR, 58 RBI)

3B-Kris Bryant (102 G, .272 BA, 13 Hr, 52 RBI)

SS-Javier Baez (160 G, .290 BA, 34 HR, 111 RBI)

LF-Kyle Schwarber (137 G, .238 BA, 26 HR, 61 RBI)

CF-Albert Almora, Jr. (152 G, .286 BA, 5 HR, 41 RBI)

RF-Jason Heyward (127 G, .270 BA, 8 HR, 57 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1.Jon Lester (32 GS, 18-6, 3.32 ERA, 1.310 WHIP)

2.Yu Darvish (8 GS, 1-3, 4.95 ERA, 1.425 WHIP)

3.Cole Hamels (32 GS, 9-12, 3.78 ERA, 1.264 WHIP)

4.Kyle Hendricks (33 GS, 14-11, 3.44 ERA, 1.146 WHIP)

5.Jose Quintana (32 GS, 13-11, 4.03 ERA, 1.319 WHIP)

 

CINCINNATI REDS

 

The Reds are in the midst of a rebuild, as they are long removed from the days where they were a playoff team. They do have a couple top prospects though, in Jesse Winkler and Nick Senzel, both of whom should be able to play this year for them. Eugenio Suarez is by far the best hitter on the team, and is overall a great player who had a breakout year last year. Joey Votto is still a good offensive player, even now as he is entering his 12th season. He is a guy who can hit for average and power from the left side of the plate, and is always a great defender at first base. The Reds also made a trade this offseason to acquire outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig from the Dodgers. Puig was a great player for the Dodgers, but his last couple seasons weren’t exactly stellar, and the Dodgers thought it was time to move on. As for Kemp, he was in his second stint with the Dodgers, after stops with San Diego and Atlanta. Kemp is also a really good hitter, but the Dodgers had to include him in the deal in order to acquire Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray from Cincy. The Dodgers also included left hander Alex Wood in the deal, who was starting to come on for the Dodgers. Wood gives Cincinnati another lefty option in the rotation. Unfortunately, he will start the season on the disabled list. Speaking of Wood, lets take a look at his fellow starters and how they fit into the rotation. Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray are competing for the opening day starter job. Castillo has been solid and is only 26 years old. Castillo has a lot of time to fix his mechanics. Gray struggled with the Yankees last year, and the highlight moment of his horrible year was when he was seen smiling coming off the mound after he had let up 6 runs in 2 innings. Gray was seen as a top pitcher just a couple seasons ago, but the tenure in New York was a failure. Gray still has really good stuff and has something to prove coming off a disappointing 2018. Tanner Roark is another solid pitcher in the third spot. The bullpen doesn’t have a ton of great pieces, but its a group that, when they’re on their game, can actually be pretty successful. Raisel Iglesias has proved to be a shutdown closer, Amir Garrett and Zach Duke are two solid lefties, and Jared Hughes is a veteran who brings experience and solid pitching to the pen. The Reds are taking the right steps in building a roster, but still have to see if their young guys can develop and wait a little longer before they can be contenders.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Tucker Barnhart (138 G, .248 BA, 10 HR, 46 RBI)

1B-Joey Votto (145 G, .284 BA, 12 HR, 67 RBI)

2B-Jose Peraza (157 G, .288 BA, 14 HR, 58 RBI)

3B-Eugenio Suarez (143 G, .283 BA, 34 HR, 104 RBI)

SS-Jose Iglesias (125 G, .269 BA, 5 HR, 48 RBI)

LF-Jesse Winker (89 G, .299 BA, 7 HR, 43 RBI)

CF-Scott Schebler (107 G, .255 BA, 17 HR, 49 RBI)

RF-Yasiel Puig (125 G, .267 BA, 23 HR, 63 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation

1.Luis Castillo (31 GS, 10-12, 4.30 ERA, 1.220 WHIP)

2.Sonny Gray (23 GS, 11-9, 4.90 ERA, 1.496 ERA)

3.Tanner Roark (30 GS, 9-15, 4.34 ERA, 1.281 WHIP)

4.Anthony DeSclafani (21 GS, 7-8, 4.93 ERA, 1.287 WHIP)

5.Tyler Mahle (23 GS, 7-9, 4.98 ERA, 1.589 WHIP)

 

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

 

The Brewers have turned themselves from a bottom dweller to a playoff team in recent years. The roster is probably good enough to make the NLCS, but they may need to add a piece or two more to really get over the hump and make the World Series. The roster consists of some big time hitters. Christian Yelich had a tremendous season in 2018 and was rewarded for his efforts with the NL MVP Award. Joining Yelich in the outfield are Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun. Braun is a former MVP who is now aging and looking to get back into his former form. Cain is an all-around great center fielder who plays defense and gives solid production at the plate. The infield has Mike Moustakas, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw, and Orlando Arcia in it. This group is solid, with Moustakas and Shaw being power hitting lefties, Jesus Aguilar breaking out last year for 35 homers. Arcia is a good defender but not a good hitter. He is still young and has time to figure it out, but right now, his production at the plate isn’t getting it done. The offense is really good, but the pitching staff is something you just cannot say the same thing about. Top to bottom, its Jhoulys Chacin, Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Zach Davies. This rotation does not even feature someone who most fans would call decent, and the rotation is going to be the ultimate downfall of the Brewers in the playoffs if they can even get them there. The bullpen is actually pretty solid. Josh Hader is one of the better young relievers in the game, Alex Claudio is a nice lefty and Matt Albers is solid. Overall, the Brewers have a great lineup and will win some games just because of them, but at the same time, the pitching rotation just does not look good enough to carry them into the postseason, or if they do make it, make a deep run.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s stats)

C-Yasmani Grandal (140 G, .241 BA, 24 HR, 68 RBI)

1B-Jesus Aguilar (149 G, .274 BA, 35 HR, 108 RBI)

2B-Mike Moustakas (152 G, .251 BA, 28 HR, 95 RBI)

3B-Travis Shaw (152 G, .241 BA, 32 HR, 86 RBI)

SS-Orlando Arcia (119 G, .238 BA, 3 HR, 30 RBI)

LF-Ryan Braun (125 G, .254 BA, 20 HR, 64 RBI)

CF-Lorenzo Cain (141 G, .308 BA, 10 HR, 38 RBI)

RF-Christian Yelich (147 G, .326 BA, 36 HR, 110 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup

1.Jhoulys Chacin (35 GS, 15-8, 3.50 ERA, 1.163 WHIP)

2.Freddy Peralta (14 GS, 6-4, 4.25 ERA, 1.136 WHIP)

3.Brandon Woodruff (4 GS, 3-0, 3.61 ERA, 1.181 WHIP)

4.Corbin Burnes (0 GS, 7-0, 2.61 ERA, 1.000 WHIP)

5.Zach Davies (13 GS, 2-7, 4.77 ERA, 1.333 WHIP)

 

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

 

The Pirates are expected to be in the basement of the league this year. While they do have some talented players, nobody really stands out as a true star and the roster just isn’t good enough to compete with some other team vying for Wild Card spots. Josh Bell and Starling Marte are the two best hitters on the team. Bell isn’t quite at the level the Pirates want him to be, but he has been good nonetheless. Jung Ho Kang at third is a solid hitter, Corey Dickerson was awesome last year, and Gregory Polanco hasn’t blossomed into the star many Bucs fans thought he would become by now. There are a lot of positives to look for in this team though. Some guys who will have good years could be used at the trade deadline to get prospects who will help with the imminent rebuild, and the pitching staff is actually solid. Jamison Taillon and Chris Archer aren’t exactly aces per say, but both are good options for a first starter. The bullpen features Francisco Liriano, Felipe Vasquez, and Keone Kela as the top three guys. The Bucs are without some key pieces they had last season though. Andrew McCutchen, longtime star and fan favorite, was traded to the Yankees last season and is now on the Phillies. The Pirates are looking to try and put together a team that, may not win many games, but one that can develop and learn how to play together and grow together.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Francisco Cervelli (104 G, .259 BA, 12 HR, 57 RBI)

1B-Josh Bell (148 G, .261 BA, 12 HR, 62 RBI)

2B-Adam Frazier (113 G, .277 BA, 10 HR, 35 RBI)

3B-Jung Ho Kang (3 G, .333 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

SS-Erik Gonzalez (81 G, .265 BA, 1 HR, 16 RBI)

LF-Corey Dickerson (135 G, .300 BA, 13 HR, 55 RBI)

CF-Starling Marte (145 G, .277 BA, 20 HR, 72 RBI)

RF-Gregory Polanco (130 G, .254 BA, 23 HR, 81 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1. Jameson Taillon (32 GS, 14-10, 3.20 ERA, 1.178 WHIP)

2.Chris Archer (27 GS, 6-8, 4.31 ERA, 1.375 WHIP)

3.Trevor Williams (31 GS, 14-10, 3.11 ERA, 1.178 WHIP)

4.Joe Musgrove (19 GS, 6-9, 4.06 ERA, 1.179 WHIP)

5.Jordan Lyles (8 GS, 3-4, 4.11 ERA, 1.266 WHIP)

 

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

 

The Cardinals have revamped their roster and are ready to come and win the NL Central in 2019. They acquired arguably the best first baseman in baseball, Paul Goldschmidt, and he is destined to have yet another monster season. The Cards are surrounding him with some interesting pieces. Yadier Molina has been their catcher forever and is still as productive as he was 10 years ago. Outside of Molina, Paul DeJong, Marcell Ozuna, Matt Carpenter, and Dexter Fowler are all good hitters and they all know their place in the lineup. The pitching staff is headlined by Miles Mikolas, who had an All-Star year last season and got a big extension in the offseason. Behind him, young prospects Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson look to show that they are up next in the Cardinals rotation for years to come. Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright, two veterans who have been in the Cards rotation for years, follow behind them and look to be mentors to the young guys who will be pitching for a playoff team this early in their careers. Carlos Martinez is a big question mark for the rotation. He will begin the season on the disabled list for a short stint, but the real question is if he will be a starter or pitch out of the bullpen. Martinez has proved himself to be a good starter, but the Cards feel like they have a set rotation all ready and maybe Martinez would be better out of the bullpen. Speaking of the bullpen, they too are missing a key piece in Luke Gregerson, who too will begin the year injured. Jordan Hicks is a fireballer who looks to be the best pitcher out of the pen. The Cardinals, with the Goldschmidt pick up, have turned themselves into legitimate contenders for the World Series crown.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Yadier Molina (123 G, .261 BA, 20 HR, 74 RBI)

1B-Paul Goldschmidt (158 G, .290 BA, 33 HR, 83 RBI)

2B-Kolton Wong (127 G, .249 BA, 9 HR, 38 RBI)

3B-Matt Carpenter (156 G, .257 BA, 36 HR, 81 RBI)

SS-Paul DeJong (115 G, .241 BA, 19 HR, 68 RBI)

LF-Marcell Ozuna (148 G, 280 BA, 23 HR, 88 RBI)

CF-Harrison Bader (138 G, .264 BA, 12 HR, 37 RBI)

RF-Dexter Fowler (90 G, .180 BA, 8 HR, 31 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation

1.Miles Mikolas (32 GS, 18-4, 2.83 ERA, 1.071 WHIP)

2.Jack Flaherty (28 GS, 8-9, 3.34 ERA, 1.106 WHIP)

3.Dakota Hudson (0 GS, 4-1, 2.63 ERA, 1.354 WHIP)

4.Michael Wacha (15 GS, 8-2, 3.20 ERA, 1.233 WHIP)

5.Adam Wainwright (8 GS, 2-4, 4.46 ERA, 1.463 WHIP)

 

NL WEST

 

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

 

The D’Backs are coming off of a rough offseason. They suffered big losses, with some of their best players now in new homes, ready to begin the season without them. For one, Paul Goldschmidt left for St. Louis via trade. The D’Backs got Luke Weaver, a right-handed pitcher, Carson Kelley, a catcher, and Andy Young, an infielder. All three of these guys have promise, and the Diamondbacks should be happy they at least got some sort of value in return for the best position player in franchise history. The Diamondbacks should not think that this was a good move, though. Trading away your best player always sucks, even if it was nearing necessary. A.J. Pollock, the star outfielder for the D’Backs, also left this offseason. Pollock signed a 4 year, $55 Million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the D’Backs division rival. Pollock, when healthy, put up awesome numbers and was a great defender in center. Those two words are very key, however, when healthy. Pollock has missed a bunch of time over the past 2 years, hindering his numbers a bit. But, if he can stay on the field he is one of the best Center Fielder in the game. The last big fish to leave Arizona was Patrick Corbin. The star lefty pitcher signed with the Washington Nationals. It was expected that Corbin would not resign with Arizona all offseason. Now that we’ve covered the Backs rough offseason, let us talk about their actual roster and what they have to work with. David Peralta has jolted up the list of top hitting outfielders in recent years, highlighted by a 30 home run season in 2018. Steven Sousa, Jr. and Jake Lamb are both power hitters as well and can give you some good production at the plate. Eduardo Escobar and Wilmer Flores are sleepers. These guys can hit for average as well as give you some pop. The rotation starts and ends with Zack Greinke. Greinke is by far the ace of this staff, he is followed by Zack Godley, Robbie Ray, Luke Weaver, and Merrill Kelly. The pitching staff really isn’t great, and the loss of Corbin will hurt them mightly. The bullpen’s only real notable player is Archie Bradley, who has been able to come up clutch in a lot of situations. The Diamondbacks suffered losses of their 3 best players, and now they need to regroup and see where the pieces fit in. The bad news is, most teams in that scenario don’t do so good that initial season.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Alex Avila (80 G, .165 BA, 7 HR, 20 RBI)

1B-Jake Lamb (56 G, .222 BA, 6 HR, 31 RBI)

2B-Wilmer Flores (126 G, .267 BA, 11 HR, 51 RBI)

3B-Eduardo Escobar (151 G, .272 BA, 23 HR, 84 RBI)

SS-Nick Ahmed (153 G, .234 BA, 16 HR, 70 RBI)

LF-David Peralta (146 G, .293 BA, 30 HR, 87 RBI)

CF-Ketel Marte (153 G, .260 BA, 14 HR, 59 RBI)

RF-Steven Souza, Jr. (72 G, .220 BA, 5 HR, 29 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1. Zack Greinke (33 GS, 15-11, 3.21 ERA, 1.079 WHIP)

2.Zack Godley (32 GS, 15-11, 4.74 ERA, 1.447 WHIP)

3.Robbie Ray (24 GS, 6-2, 3.93 ERA, 1.350 WHIP)

4.Luke Weaver (25 GS, 7-11, 4.95 ERA, 1.496 WHIP)

5.Merrill Kelly (Pitched in Minor Leagues)

 

COLORADO ROCKIES

 

The Rockies have elevated themsleves to the second best team in the competitive NL West. Colorado has won 87 and 91 games in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The high powered offense partnered with the altitude of the Rocky Mountain area leads to a lot of home runs flying out of Coors Field every season. Nolan Arenado is the best third baseman in the league (again, just an opinion, don’t kill me for it), and he has been the Rockies best player for a few years. Arenado has been exceptional at third base on the defensive side of the equation, but his offense has been nothing short of great. 35 + homers and 100 + RBIs in 4 consecutive seasons is nothing to Arenado, who could probably continue that streak for another 5 years. Charlie Blackmon has also been awesome at the plate and has turned himself into a potential MVP Candidate year after year. Trevor Story had a great rookie campaign, followed up by a 2017 season where he was good, but didn’t take a big step forward like he was expected too. He took that step in 2018, hitting 37 homers and driving in 108 runs. The Rockies also added star Daniel Murphy. Murphy is an excellent hitter for both average and power, and he can elevate a lineup to great status all by himself. Ian Desmond and David Dahl are also two good hitters who join Blackmon in the outfield. The pitching rotation is this team’s greatest weakness, but it really isn’t something to look down upon. With young rising star Kyle Freeland leading the way, German Marquez, Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, and Chad Bettis are a solid starting 5. These guys will have to be on their best and come up big in certain situations to help win the Rockies some extra games, and it may be that this group is not ready to do that. The bullpen may be able to help out though. Star closer Wade Davis is a guy that can always be relied on to shut down opposing offenses when the game is on the line. Seungwhang Oh has been a solid reliever throughout his career, and if he can recapture the magic he had in 2016 with the Cardinals, the Rockies may have found themselves another gem out in the pen. The Rockies home run hitting offense and their electric bullpen should be enough to bring playoff baseball back to Coors Field come this fall.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Chris Iannetta (110 G, .224 BA 11 HR, 36 RBI)

1B-Daniel Murphy (91 G, .299 BA, 12 HR, 42 RBI)

2B-Ryan McMahon (91 G, .232 BA, 5 HR, 19 RBI)

3B-Nolan Arenado (156 G, .297 BA, 38 HR, 110 RBI)

SS-Trevor Story (157 G, .291 BA, 37 HR, 108 RBI)

LF-David Dahl (77 G, .273 BA, 16 HR, 48 RBI)

CF-Ian Desmond (160 G, .236 BA , 22 HR, 88 RBI)

RF-Charlie Blackmon (156 G, .291 BA, 29 HR, 70 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1. Kyle Freeland (33 GS, 17-7, 2.85 ERA, 1.245 WHIP)

2.German Marquez (33 GS, 14-11, 3.77 ERA, 1.204 WHIP)

3.Tyler Anderson (32 GS, 7-9, 4.55 ERA, 1.273 WHIP)

4.Jon Gray (31 GS, 12-9, 5.12 ERA, 1.346 WHIP)

5.Chad Bettis (20 GS, 5-2, 5.01 ERA, 1.396 WHIP)

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

 

The Dodgers have reached the past two World Series- and are 0 for 2. In 2017, they fell to the Houston Astros, and in 2018 to the Boston Red Sox. That being said, the Dodgers are most likely the favorite to reach their third consecutive World Series and win the NL once again. The hitting core of Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Joc Pederson are back together once again. The Dodgers made some improvements to their lineup this offseason by signing star center fielder A.J. Pollock. Pollock gives the Dodgers another star player who adds another element to their already dangerous lineup. Max Muncy came onto the scene last year, hitting 35 homers. The pitching staff will start off the season missing a huge piece in Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been the best pitcher in baseball for quite a while and has a resume that you could stack up against a lot of MLB greats. Kershaw has been absolutely phenomenal his entire career, and you could have said he would be a Hall of Famer after his 2013 season, 6 years ago, and you probably would have been right. Kershaw will begin the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, however, and Hyun-Jin Ryu will be the Dodgers Opening Day starter. Behind him, Kenta Maeda, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias follow. Buehler and Urias are two pitchers with a ton of promise. The Dodgers are hoping that they can both pitch really well this season because if the Dodgers have a great 1-5 rotation, that could be the thing that propels them to the World Championship that they have wanted since 1988. The bullpen is looking really good, though. Kenley Jansen is still considered by many as the best closer in the game despite a down season last year. He has been lights out his whole career and if he has a bounce-back season, the Dodgers will be untouchable in the 9th. Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez make for a nice 1-2 punch in the 7th and 8th before Jansen comes in to finish the job. The Dodgers are once again ready to make a push for the World Series crown.

 

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Austin Barnes (100 G, .205 BA, 4 HR, 14 RBI)

1B-Max Muncy (137 G, .263 BA, 35 HR, 79 RBI)

2B-Enrique Hernandez (145 G, .256 BA, 21 HR, 52 RBI)

3B-Justin Turner (103 G, .312 BA, 14 HR, 52 RBI)

SS-Corey Seager (26 G, .267 BA,2 HR, 13 RBI)

LF-Joc Pederson (148 G, .248 BA, 25 HR, 56 RBI)

CF-A.J. Pollock (113 G, .257 BA, 21 HR, 65 RBI)

RF-Cody Bellinger (162 G, .260 BA, 25 Hr, 76 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1.Hyun-Jin Ryu (15 GS, 7-3, 1.97 ERA, 1.008 WHIP)

2. Ross Stripling (21 GS, 8-6, 3.02 ERA, 1..189 WHIP)

3.Kenta Maeda (20 GS, 8-10, 3.81 ERA, 1.261 WHIP)

4.Walker Buehler (23 GS, 8-5, 2.62 ERA, 0,961 WHIP)

5.Julio Urias (0 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.250 WHIP)

 

SAN DIEGO PADRES 

 

The Padres have been yet another team who for a long time was the “laughing stock” of baseball, but are now starting to turn things around. The Padres landed a big fish in free agency this season when they landed superstar third baseman Manny Machado. Machado is the second straight big free agent the Padres have landed, as last year they signed former Kansas City Royals All-Star first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hosmer and Machado are joined by a hitting core of Wil Myers, Ian Kinsler, and Hunter Renfroe. This Padres offense is actually pretty good and could finish atop the majors in homers. The problem for San Diego is the pitching staff. The rotation is pretty weak 1-5, with their two best starters, Garrett Richards and Dineslon Lamet starting the season on the DL. The projected opening day starter is Joey Lucchesi. He is followed by young guys Eric Lauer, Chris Paddack, Matt Strahm, and Jacob Nix. The rotation just does not look good enough to keep the Padres competitive in close games. The bullpen is a bit better, with Craig Stammen, Adam Warren, and Aaron Loup leading the way. The Padres are seemingly on the rise with a new offense that is electric, but they must figure out the pitching situation in order to compete in the NL West.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C-Austin Hedges (91 G, .231 BA, 14 HR, 37 RBI)

1B-Eric Hosmer (157 G, .253 BA, 18 HR, 69 RBI)

2B-Ian Kinsler (128 G, .240 BA, 14 HR, 48 RBI)

3B-Manny Machado (162 G, .297 BA, 37 HR, 107 RBI)

SS-Luis Urias (12 G, .208 BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI)

LF-Wil Myers (83 G, .253 BA, 11 HR, 39 RBI)

CF-Manuel Margot (141 G, .245 BA, 8 HR, 51 RBI)

RF-Hunter Renfroe (117 G, .248 BA, 26 HR, 68 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation

1.Joey Lucchesi (26 GS, 8-9, 4.08 ERA, 1.292 WHIP)

2.Eric Lauer (23 GS, 6-7, 4.34 ERA, 1.545 WHIP)

3.Chris Paddack (Pitched in Minor Leagues)

4.Matt Strahm (5 GS, 3-4, 2.05 ERA, 0.978 WHIP)

5.Jacob Nix (9 GS, 2-5, 7.02 ERA, 1.535 WHIP)

 

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

 

The Giants were once a dynasty, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Now, the Giants roster is a shell of what it used to be. The offense is led by Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, and Brandon Crawford. The outfield spots are a problem. With MacWilliamson in left, Steven Duggar in Center, and Austin Slater in right, the Giants are in big trouble, having no real vets or quality guys in the outfield. Joe Panik at second base is another solid hitter. The pitching staff is also kind of weak. Outside of Madison Bumgarner, nobody really stands out. Johnny Cueto, the second best starter, is on the DL to open the season. The bullpen is a bright spot though, as with Tony Watson, Will Smith, and Mark Melancon, the Giants pen should be able to keep them in some games this year. But all in all, the Giants may have to blow it up soon, so look for a lot of Giants to be on the move come July 31.

 

Projected Opening Day Lineup (Last Season’s Stats)

C- Buster Posey (105 G, .284 BA, 5 HR, 41 RBI)

1B-Brandon Belt (112 G, .253 BA, 14 HR, 46 RBI)

2B-Joe Panik (102 G, .254 BA, 4 HR, 24 RBI)

3B-Evan Longoria (125 G, .244 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI)

SS-Brandon Crawford (151 G, .254 BA, 14 HR, 54 RBI)

LF-Mac Williamson (28 G, .213 BA, 4 HR, 11 RBI)

CF-Steven Duggar (41 G, .255 BA, 2 HR, 17 RBI)

RF-Austin Slater (74 G, .251 BA, 1 HR, 23 RBI)

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation (Last Season’s Stats)

1.Madison Bumgarner (21 GS, 6-7, 3.26 ERA, 1.242 WHIP)

2.Dereck Rodriguez (19 GS, 6-4, 2.81 ERA, 1.132 WHIP)

3.Derek Holland (30 GS, 7-9, 3.57 ERA, 1.290 WHIP)

4.Andrew Suarez (29 GS, 7-13, 4.49 ERA, 1.297 WHIP)

5.Jeff Samardzija (10 GS, 1-5, 6.25 ERA, 1.634 WHIP)

 

Well, that’s it. We have an exciting season of baseball ahead of us! The Regular Season officially begins on March 28.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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