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Tank's 2019 MLB Preview

National League East

Philadelphia Phillies 94-68

After acquiring J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper the lineup of the Philadelphia Phillies is downright potent, especially in Citizen’s Bank Park where you could expect them to pile up the home runs. The pitching though has some issues as Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta are the only prove starters, while the bullpen is also hit and miss. The Phillies are set up well to win the division, whether they are strong playoff contender could depend on another move or two at the trade deadline.

New York Mets 85-77

The New York Mets are a team that has the widest range of possibilities. The sure thing is their frontline starting pitching Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard might be among the best in baseball. The bullpen is improved significantly, and the lineup should be better. However, the Mets need to stay healthy to make a run at the playoffs, that never happens in Flushing. If things fall just right, they can have a special season if things fall wrong, and the bullpen falters, Robinson Cano looks old and Yoenis Cespedes does not return the season could be another disaster, so just assume it goes 50-50 and the Mets fall just short of the Wild Card.

Atlanta Braves 84-78

The Atlanta Braves are another team with a wide range of possible outcomes. Last season saw just about everything fall in the right direction, leading to a division title in the National League East. The Braves have welcomed back Brian McCann to play catcher and signed Josh Donaldson. Both players will need to bounce back after struggling in 2018 if the Braves are to succeed. The pitching staff is a significant weak spot, as they don’t have a true ace that can act as a stopper during a losing streak. The Braves can again win the East, but they will once again need a lot of things to break right.

Washington Nationals 82-80

The Washington Nationals were among the biggest disappointments in MLB last season, posting a record of 82-80. This offseason, they lost one of their biggest stars in Bryce Harper to a division rival. The starting rotation has improved with the signing of Patrick Corbin, and the bullpen is strong as well. However, looking at what went wrong last season in Washington, and I am not sure that the Nationals did enough to address those issues. Dave Martinez left much to be desired in his first year as manager, and it will be hard for him of the Nats to do any better than last year, without the bat of Harper.

Miami Marlins 57-105

Last year it was remarkable that the Miami Marlins did not lose 100 games. This season it will be even more remarkable if they avoid the century mark as the Marlins continue to dispose of assets under the ownership of Derek Jeter. The Marlins do seem to at least be stockpiling some talent in the minors, so things could turn around in a few seasons. However, the team that begins play this year looks almost like an expansion team, with a mix of unproven rookies and veteran castoffs. The castoffs like Neal Walker are almost using the Marlins to audition for a job on a contender come the trade deadline. At least the uniforms are improved, and that ugly sculpture is gone from Marlins Park.

National League Central

Milwaukee Brewers 92-70

The Milwaukee Brewers came within one game of reaching the World Series, thanks to a historically good second half from Christian Yelich. The Brewers made expert use of the opener, as they did not have the greatest starting rotation. The bullpen is still stacked and deep in Milwaukee and the ultimate key for the Brewers success. However, if Milwaukee is to have an Octoberfest unlike any other, they still need that last piece. The Brewers are so close their fans can taste it. They have the lineup and depth in the lineup as they resigned Mike Moustakas but if they are to become a complete team, they still need a reliable starting pitcher, and they should be able to get one of those.

St. Louis Cardinals 90-72 (Wild Card)

The St. Louis Cardinals had an up and down season last year, making a late run after a slow start. The addition of Paul Goldschmidt should make the Cardinals one of the more dangerous teams in the National League. The Central Division could be one of the best divisions in all of baseball with three legitimate pennant contenders. Their lineup could be one of the best in baseball, especially if Matt Carpenter is able to repeat the power numbers he showed last season. The pitching staff remains a question in St. Louis if Adam Wainwright is able to return to full health the Cardinals chances will certainly improve. Look for the Red Birds to make a return to October in 2019.

Chicago Cubs 86-76

Ever since winning the World Series in 2016 it has been diminishing returns in Wrigleyville as the Chicago Cubs second half swoon and Wild Card loss have placed Manager Joe Maddon squarely on the hottest of hot seats. The last two seasons have been rather disappointing for Kris Bryant. If the Cubs are to return the World Series, Bryant will again need to play like an MVP. The starting rotation remains strong at the top led by Jon Lester, but the bullpen has been spotty at best since Aroldis Chapman returned to the Yankees. Something just does not feel right in Chicago, and that will lead to many changes to come in the next year.

Cincinnati Reds 76-86

After losing 90 plus and finishing in last place the last four seasons, the Cincinnati Reds have taken significant steps to improve in 2019 as they celebrate their 150th anniversary. A blockbuster trade with the Dodgers has seen Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp land in Cincinnati. This should help Joey Votto who has been one of the best players in baseball despot the Reds struggles. The rotation is also somewhat better, with the addition of Tanner Roark. However, bad news at the end of Spring Training has sidelined Scooter Gennett for at least the first two months of the season. This injury will make contending harder for Cincinnati, though by season’s end they should be showing some signs of life to escape last place.

Pittsburgh Pirates 68-94

It has been 40 years since fans sang “We are Family” as the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. After a brief rebirth in the middle of the decade, the Pirates appear to be sailing in shallow waters again, as the Pirates are clearly the worst team in the National League Central. The Pirates lineup lacks depth and the rotation is unreliable at best. The bullpen has some potential but is not good enough to lift the Pirates into contention. Look for a fire sale to be the story in Western Pennsylvania, as Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco could be on the move.

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers 95-67

After back to back losses in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers are clearly the team to beat in the National League. However, with a starting rotation that has begun to fall apart, it is clear that the gap has closed. The Dodgers can no longer depend on Clayton Kershaw, who will begin the season on the disabled list and is now a shell of the pitcher who was the best in baseball some five years ago. The Dodgers lineup depth is the strength of the team as the addition of A.J. Pollock has given them another potential All-Star in the Outfield. The Dodgers should also get a boost from the return of Corey Seager.

Colorado Rockies 87-75 (Wild Card)

The Colorado Rockies have made sure that MVP candidate Nolan Arenado will be in the Mile-High city for the foreseeable future. Arenado had perhaps his best season last year, with 38 home runs and 100 RBI as the Rockies advanced to the Division Series, after stunning the Cubs in the Wild Card Game. While the loss of Adam Ottavino hurts, the bullpen, the Rockies have potentially the best offense in the National League. Look for monster seasons from Arenado along with Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy who is made for putting up big numbers in Coors Field.

San Diego Padres 83-79

The San Diego Padres were the surprise winner in the Manny Machado sweepstakes as they signed the All-Star Shortstop to a ten-year contract. The Padres have some solid prospects who could begin making an impact this season, but overall the team is likely a year away from being a playoff caliber contender. The pitching remains unproven, and Machado’s desire level could be a concern. After all last season, he spent half the season with the historically bad Orioles. The Padres should be improved, but not enough to make the playoffs.

Arizona Diamondbacks 71-91

It looks like the Arizona Diamondbacks are starting all over again after an off-season saw them lose their best hitter and their best pitcher. Don’t be shocked if there are more players leaving the desert, as the Diamondbacks wish they could unload the burdensome contact of Zack Greinke. A contract that a contender may be willing to take under the right circumstances. David Peralta should emerge as Arizona’s top slugger, but if the Diamondbacks are committed to the rebuild, he too could be had for a top-level prospect.

San Francisco Giants 69-93

Manager Bruce Bochy has already announced he would retire at the end of the season. A lock for the Hall of Fame, he won three World Series for the San Francisco Giants. However, as a great decade closes, the Giants are a team that has declined and need to rebuild. A key part of that rebuild will be to bring back some top prospects to Madison Bumgarner, who will likely be elsewhere by the time the season ends. The Giants even in their great years struggled in odd number years, with Johnny Cueto recovering from Tommy John, and an anemic lineup, the Giants are likely heading for last place.

American League East

New York Yankees 102-60

As the season begins, the New York Yankees have several injury concerns. However, unlike most teams, they are uniquely situated that they can overcome it. The Yankees are among the deepest teams, with solid players on the bench backing one of the best lineups in baseball. They have a bullpen that may be historically good, with Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton each capable of closing and Adam Ottovino being among the best middle relievers. The starting staff is a question mark, but the Yankees have prospects that could be used to get a big arm for the postseason. Unless something catastrophic happens, they will top 100 wins again, as Gary Sanchez should bounce back after a horrific 2018.

Boston Red Sox 100-62 (Wild Card)

Last year the Boston Red Sox had the best season in franchise history, as they won their fourth World Series since 2004, and ninth overall. Just as impressive, they beat out a Yankees team that won 100 games for the division title. This year the roles could be reversed as both heated rivals could win over 100 games again. The Red Sox lineup is a minefield, with no easy outs as J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts each could have won the MVP. The starting rotation is strong with Chris Sale again one of the best when he is 100%. However, that bullpen could be a concern. If they can’t find a reliable closer in Boston, the Red Sox will be hard-pressed to repeat.

Tampa Bay Rays 85-77

Last year the Tampa Bay Rays were a surprise 90-win team, as they rode the arm of Blake Snell. There is a sense of optimism in Tampa, as they inked Snell to an extension that will keep him happy and on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The Rays still need a stadium though if they are to be successful long-term. It is these shortcomings that keep the Rays from being a true contender. Like the 2019 Rays, they should be good enough to be in the Wild Card hunt, but unless they add another bat or find another arm, they are doomed to fall short again.

Toronto Blue Jays 74-88

The Toronto Blue Jays are just a few years removed from back-to-back appearances in the ALCS but are now back in a rebuilding mode. However, things could turn around quickly as Toronto is loaded with top-level prospects. The best of those prospects is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The Blue Jays are expected to call up Guerrero before the end of April. When he arrives excitement should return to Toronto. The Blue Jays likely won’t contend for a playoff spot as their pitching staff is severely lacking, but if Marcus Stroman bounces back, they can sell him off and land more top-level talent for the future.

Baltimore Orioles 53-109

Last year the Baltimore Orioles were historically bad, as Buck Showalter checked out mentally as the cupboard was stripped bare. The result was a 47-115 season that was among the worst in the history of baseball. While the roster is not much the Orioles cannot possibly be worse as they should at least win 50 games even if by accident. The Orioles farm system was barren before last season and the road back starts below as they got some talent in return from Manny Machado. In the end, they are still the worst team in baseball and again will lose over 100 games.

American League Central

Cleveland Indians 89-73

After blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series, the Cleveland Indians rode a long winning streak to a 100-win season in 2017. Last season was a bit of a disappointment as they struggled in the second half, leading to talk there could be a fire sale coming to Cleveland. For now, they still have the most important pieces with Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco at the front of the starting rotation. They still also have a decent lineup with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez plus the return of Carlos Santana. This should be good enough to win the Central Division tough any cracks, and that Tribe could begin selling these pieces off and open the door for the Twins.

Minnesota Twins 86-76

The Minnesota Twins were among the most disappointing teams in the American Last season as they fell out of the race, after playing in the Wild Card Game in 2017. The Twins are hoping to bounce back for that to happen they will need Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton to rebound off bad seasons in 2018. They will also need somebody to emerge as the ace in a rather mediocre rotation. However, with the additions of Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, and Marwin Gonzalez to the lineup, the Twins could make a serious run at the division title.

Chicago White Sox 72-90

After losing 100 games in 2018, the Chicago White Sox looked for the quick fix as they aggressively pursued Manny Machado in the off-season. However, the White Sox whiffed and are forced to take the long road back to respectability. The White Sox have made some improvements signing Jon Jay and Yonder Alonso. In addition, Yoan Moncada showed great promise last year. However, until Carlos Rondo or another starter emerges the White Sox are doomed to lose much more than they will win.

Kansas City Royals 65-97

The Kansas City Royals went from World Champions to 100 losses in three years in a stunning and complete fall from grace. The farm system was sacrificed during their run to the Fall Classic, thus leaving the Royals with a stripped roster in 2018. Things are not much better this year, though they expected to get continued improvement from Adalberto Mondesi and Whit Merrifield. Pitching is a major concern as their rotation is likely to be among the worst in baseball. However, with the addition of Billy Hamilton, the lineup could create havoc on the bases which should help them win a few more games.

Detroit Tigers 61-101

The 2019 Detroit Tigers, they are not great. In fact, they could battle the Marlins and Orioles for the worst record in baseball as they will approach 100 losses. Clearly long overdue for a rebuild the Tigers are worse than step one as they are still stuck in a condemned slum, with the inability to move forward. Want to know why teams are reluctant to dole out big contracts? Look at Detroit and the albatross that is Miguel Cabrera. Once an MVP and Triple Crown winner, Cabrera is broken down and a shell of his former self and making $28 million with four years left. Making matters worse they lost their most tradable asset Michael Fulmer for the season to Tommy John surgery.

American League West

Houston Astros 98-64

Coming off their first World Championship, the Houston Astros were again one of the best teams in baseball as they again topped 100 wins and went to the ALCS. The Astros should continue to be pennant contenders as they have a significant gap over the rest of the Western Division. The starting rotation has taken a hit with the loss of Dallas Keuchel, still an unsigned Free Agent. The lineup is among the best, as Carlos Correa should bounce back after an injury-plagued 2018 season. When October arrives, the Astros will be there, the only question is how good of shape will they be in to make another championship run.

Los Angeles Angels 92-70 (Wild Card)

The Los Angeles Angels have made sure that Mike Trout will be in Anaheim for the next 12 years with a record contract, worthy of the best player in the game. Now the job is to get Trout some help to lead the Angels to the postseason. Gone is Manager Mike Scioscia after 20 years leading the Halos, Brad Ausmus does not seem like an upgrade but a change should help as things got stale with the Angels. One acquisition that went unnoticed was the signing of Johnathan Lucroy, who was key in helping the Oakland pitching staff last season. The Angels pitching staff should benefit from him behind the plate and could be enough to lift the Halos into a Wild Card spot.

Oakland Athletics 87-75

The Oakland Athletics were the biggest surprise in baseball in 2018, winning 97 games as they made the playoffs as a Wild Card team. A big key to the A’s success was Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate, with his departure, Oakland will be hard pressed to get back to October. The Athletics had several players have careers years, also unlikely to be repeated in 2019. The bullpen should continue to be strongly led by Blake Treinen and Khris Davis is a bonified star capable of hitting 40 home runs again. The rest of the team is a crap shoot that will determine if the Athletics play for the postseason for fade quickly.

Texas Rangers 72-90

With the Texas Rangers moving into a new stadium in 2020, the theme of this season will be transitioning as they are clearly in a rebuild mode. The Rangers have some sluggers that can put up big numbers, while the pitching staff might be the worst in all of baseball. Look for the Rangers to be more interested in moving on from bad contracts or getting younger prospects as they will clearly miss Adrian Beltre who retired after the 2018 season. It is likely that anybody could be moved even players like Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo who among the team’s leaders.

Seattle Mariners 69-93

After a second-half fade, the Seattle Mariners who have not made the postseason since 2001 decided to go for the full rebuild as they got rid of some of their biggest contracts, including Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. Expect the changes to continue as they will likely look to move Edwin Encarnacion, Dee Gordon, and Jay Bruce. Pitching will be a sore spot in Seattle as they traded James Paxton their top starter to the Yankees and Closer Edwin Diaz to the Mets. Unless Felix Hernandez steps in a time machine and pitches as he did in his prime the Mariners are doomed to sink to the bottom of the American League West.