2019 MLB Season Preview, Part 1: The Regular Season

Now that all (okay, most) major free agents have signed with their respective teams after months of deliberation, we can finally get to making predictions that will most likely be wrong. All 30 teams come into the 2019 season with the same dream: a World Series title. Which ones actually have a chance? Let’s find out.

American League East

Boston Red Sox

2018 Record: 108-54

Additions: N/A

Subtractions: Drew Pomeranz, Ian Kinsler, Joe Kelly

2019 Over/Under Wins Total (via betonline.ag): 94.5

My projection: 98-64

While this team did lose a few pieces, most of these pieces were not immensely important come October for the reigning champs. Joe Kelly is the only real subtraction from the 2018 World Champions. At the time of writing, Craig Kimbrel is a free agent, and all signs point towards his departure, so he is also a possible loss. The upcoming season is very bright for this team, as standard regression to the mean for their guys with monster seasons in 2018 still puts them above 95 wins, and a serious championship contender.

New York Yankees

2018 Record: 100-62

Additions: Adam Ottavino, DJ LeMahieu, Troy Tulowitzki, James Paxton

Subtractions: Sonny Gray, David Robertson, Lance Lynn, Andrew McCutchen

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 96.5

My projection: 96-66

The whole talk of the offseason was that the Yankees were shoo-ins for Manny Machado and had a good chance to land Bryce Harper too. Instead, they come into the season adding a solid starting pitcher in Paxton, another dominant reliever in Ottavino, and 2 former All-Stars coming off bad seasons in Tulo and LeMahieu. They also shed the players they picked up for their stretch run last season in Lynn and McCutchen. Everybody is hyping up the Bronx Bombers as if they improved massively. They didn’t. They pretty much broke even. Everybody talking about how their bullpen is going to propel the, right past the giants of the league is working with a flawed perception about what a bullpen does. A bullpen can’t win you a game. It can only keep you from losing one. Expect more regression to the mean for this team, and another invite to the AL Wild Card Game.

Tampa Bay Rays

2018 Record: 90-72

Additions: Avisail Garcia, Charlie Morton, Mike Zunino

Subtractions: Sergio Romo, Jake Bauers, CJ Cron

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 84.5

My projection: 86-76

The Rays surprised everybody last year by winning 90 games in a tough division. While losing a slugger like CJ Cron will hurt, they finally gave Blake Snell another starter in Charlie Morton. Like other teams, I expect more regression to the mean from these guys. I don’t see Blake Snell winning 21 games again and having a sub-2.00 ERA, but the future is brighter for this team than previously. Now if only they could get out of the disaster of Tropicana Field…

Toronto Blue Jays

2018 Record: 73-89

Additions: Freddy Galvis, Clayton Richard, Matt Shoemaker, Bud Norris, Clay Buchholz

Subtractions: Yangervis Solarte, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, Aledmys Diaz, Marco Estrada

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 74.5

My projection: 70-92

The Blue Jays got a few decent starters, but they also lost their best hitter in Yangervis Solarte. There’s not much to say about this team. They are most likely beginning an organizational rebuild. I would say that playoff contention is out of the question for a couple years unfortunately.

Baltimore Orioles

2018 Record: 47-115

Additions: John Axford, Alcides Escobar, Jesus Sucre, Nate Karns

Subtractions: Caleb Joseph, Tim Beckham, Colby Rasmus

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 59.5

My projection: 54-108

This is going to be rough. The O’s were the laughing stock as they finished their 2018 season with an abysmal 47 wins. The weirdest part about this team is that they actually got worse. Last year they had Manny Machado, Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop, Brad Brach, and Zack Britton for half of a season. Now they have…nobody of note. While it’s hard to imagine this team getting 7 wins better, it’s harder to imagine them falling below last year’s win total. I’m giving them 54 wins because I don’t think it’s possible to go lower than 47 wins in this day and age. Maybe Chris Davis will actually produce this year.

American League Central

Cleveland Indians

2018 Record: 91-71

Additions: Jake Bauers, Carlos Santana

Subtractions: Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Josh Donaldson, Yonder Alonso, Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes, Lonnie Chisenhall

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 90.5

My projection: 93-69

Oh boy, it’s another year where we get to watch the Indians get handed 90+ wins thanks to playing 76 games against a terrible AL Central, only to get embarassed come October by real competition. It may sound harsh, but the AL Central has been a joke the past couple years. The fact that they lost a lot of their key pieces and yet still are projected for 90+ wins just shows how playing 19 games a year against each divisional opponent can really pad a win total. This will be the outlook for this team until they prove me wrong.

Minnesota Twins

2018 Record: 78-84

Additions: Marwin Gonzalez, Lucas Duda, Martin Perez, Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, CJ Cron

Subtractions: Joe Mauer

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 84.5

My projection: 85-77

This Twins team is taking steps in the right direction after a disappointing 2018. They added great bats in Cron, Schoop, and Cruz, and the new Ben Zobrist of baseball, Marwin Gonzalez. Their pitching is what will hurt them if they don’t change. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Kyle Gibson are not a playoff-worthy top 3 in a rotation. Their bats are solid, but they need arms to match Cleveland’s rotation if they want to leapfrog them.

Chicago White Sox

2018 Record: 62-100

Additions: Jon Jay, James McCann, Yonder Alonso, Ivan Nova, Alex Colome

Subtractions: Matt Davidson, Avisail Garcia, Hector Santiago

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 74.5

My projection: 72-90

Don’t get me wrong, I think the White Sox have some promising young bats. Eloy Jimenez is a good-looking prospect, Tim Anderson is a serviceable hitter, and Jose Abreu is great to lead the charge. But south-siders, hear me out. Your rotation is historically bad. Lucas Giolito was the worst pitcher in the league last year and he is your number 3 starter this year. This team was also considered to be the favorite to sign Manny Machado, but that did not come to fruition. They would have been better off trying to get a pitcher to try to drag this team to 80 wins, but no. In other bad news, Michael Kopech is going to miss 2019 with Tommy John, so his growth will unfortunately have to take a year off. There’s some optimism in this team’s future, even if they aren’t going to win a lot of games this year.

Detroit Tigers

2018 Record: 64-98

Additions: Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Tyson Ross, Matt Moore

Subtractions: Francisco Liriano, James McCann, Jose Iglesias, Victor Martinez

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 68.5

My projection: 68-94

This team isn’t great. Michael Fulmer is a decent starter, Nick Castellanos is an underrated hitter, even though he has his troubles in right field, and you guys have a few other names, but this team is nothing special. Much like the Blue Jays, it’s time for this team to start rebuilding for the future.

Kansas City Royals

2018 Record: 58-104

Additions: Billy Hamilton

Subtractions: Alcides Escobar, Jason Hammel

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 69.5

My projection: 57-105

This is another cellar-dwelling team that got even worse. Hard to believe this team is 4 years removed from a championship. I might have given the Royals a few more wins, but unfortunately Salvador Perez has a UCL injury and will miss all of 2019. This team is not what it used to be. Noof their core guys from their championship run will not be playing for them in 2019. Alas, this team is in tank mode, and will try to rebuild for a better tomorrow.

American League West

Houston Astros

2018 Record: 103-59

Additions: Michael Brantley, Robinson Chirinos

Subtractions: Charlie Morton, Brian McCann, Marwin Gonzalez

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 96.5

My projection: 102-60

The Astros have turned from the joke of the league to juggernaut in the past few years. Their pitching is top-tier, and so is their lineup, and it doesn’t seem like that is going to change soon. As a disclaimer, Dallas Keuchel, Martin Maldonado, and Evan Gattis are unsigned, so those 3 could potentially be subtracted from the mix, but I think Michael Brantley will mostly make up for their losses, and I’m a fan of Robinson Chirinos as well. The Marwin Gonzalez loss will definitely sting, but this team is certainly capable of making a prolonged October run again.

Oakland Athletics

2018 Record: 97-65

Additions: Jurickson Profar, Marco Estrada

Subtractions: Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy, Kendall Graveman, Trevor Cahill

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 83.5

My projection: 89-73

The Oakland Athletics had an improbable season last year, with 97 wins, and a spot in the Wild Card game. Their combination of stellar defense, lockdown bullpen, and timely hitting reminded me a lot of the 2014-2015 Royals teams. Unfortunately for the A’s, they have almost no pitching. While I do still have them as a Wild Card team, there is nobody in that rotation that I could really trust in a postseason game. I think for this team to have any shot at playing more than one game in October, they would have to get some more serviceable starting pitching.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2018 Record: 80-82

Additions: Cody Allen, Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Justin Bour

Subtractions: Matt Shoemaker, Garrett Richards, Jose Alvarez

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 83.5

My projection: 81-81

Not even Mike Trout can carry a team to 90 wins. The Angels front office tried to get him some help by snagging Shohei Ohtani last year, but they aren’t going to get much production out of him this year, as there hasn’t been much indication as to how much he will be playing. The Angels have been pretty much the same the past few years. Mediocre starting pitching, an okay bullpen, and nobody in the lineup besides Trout. The epitome of mediocrity is poised for yet another 81-win season.

Seattle Mariners

2018 Record: 89-73

Additions: Tim Beckham, Yusei Kikuchi, Domingo Santana, Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce, Mallex Smith

Subtractions: Nelson Cruz, Ben Gamel, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Alex Colome, James Paxton, Mike Zunino

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 71.5

My projection: 74-88

The Mariners seemed to try last year for 3/4 of the season, give up once they realized they couldn’t compete, and basically cleaned house in the offseason, giving them another sub-.500 season to watch. Almost all of their key pieces are gone, and the ones they got in return are nearing the end of their careers. As with any foreign player that signs with an MLB team, I don’t know what to expect with Kikuchi. He could be good, but it’s not going to make this team competitive

Texas Rangers

2018 Record: 67-95

Additions: Matt Davidson, Hunter Pence, Jason Hammel, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lance Lynn

Subtractions: Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar, Robinson Chirinos, Matt Moore, Adrian Beltre

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 70.5

My projection: 72-90

This team is also joining the tank brigade, as they hope to rebuild after their postseason window shut a couple years ago. Rougned Odor and Willie Calhoun are promising young players that hopefully will make this team watchable. Their pitching is pretty bad, and their roster doesn’t have much that pops out at you. Don’t expect much with this team.

National League East

Philadelphia Phillies

2018 Record: 80-82

Additions: JT Realmuto, David Robertson, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Alvarez, Bryce Harper

Subtractions: Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Justin Bour

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 89.5

My projection: 93-69

The Phillies won the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, signing him to a 13 year, $330 million dollar contract this offseason. They also added JT Realmuto and David Robertson, two guys who will make big impacts. I think this team is the team to beat now in the National League, as they have a deadly lineup and a certified ace in Aaron Nola. I have very high expectations for this team in 2019. This year signifies a return to relevance that has been 7 years in the making. Don’t screw this up, Philly.

Washington Nationals

2018 Record: 82-80

Additions: Brian Dozier, Anibal Sanchez, Matt Adams, Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki

Subtractions: Bryce Harper, Mark Reynolds, Tanner Roark, Kelvin Herrera, Matt Wieters

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 88.5

My projection: 90-72

The Nationals did a pretty good job this offseason, considering they lost their best player. They added to a prime rotation with Patrick Corbin, and they got some serviceable bats in Brian Dozier, Yan Gomes, and Matt Adams. I feel like this team has too much talent to not make the playoffs. These are the Nationals though, so I guess anything is possible.

Atlanta Braves

2018 Record: 90-72

Additions: Josh Donaldson, Brian McCann

Subtractions: Brad Brach, Ryan Flaherty, Anibal Sanchez, Kurt Suzuki, Brandon McCarthy

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 86.5

My projection: 89-73

It’s hard to believe that even though the Braves are poised to grow even stronger than they were last year, I still see them getting knocked out of the postseason picture. This is through no fault of their own, their team is very solid (maybe their pitching could be improved), but their division is tough. I think the 2020 Braves will be much better than this year’s team, even if there aren’t any roster changes. The Phillies and Nationals both seem to have players in their prime, and the Braves are just waiting for those primes to end.

New York Mets

2018 Record: 77-85

Additions: Jed Lowrie, Hector Santiago, Keon Broxton, Wilson Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz

Subtractions: Wilmer Flores, Jay Bruce

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 85.5

My projection: 83-79

I’m not going to get too optimistic about this team. Yes, they added some big names this offseason, but the baseball gods just don’t seem to like this team with the amount of injuries and bad luck they have. I could see them winning 90 games if everything goes perfectly. I could also see them losing 90 games if deGrom and Syndergaard get hurt and their hitters underperform. I think 83 wins is a modest expectation.

Miami Marlins

2018 Record: 63-98

Additions: Sergio Romo, Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson

Subtractions: JT Realmuto, Derek Dietrich

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 63.5

My projection: 55-107

This team is hot garbage. They finally got rid of their last relevant player in JT Realmuto, and now they have one of the worst teams in baseball. Marlins, do yourself a favor and get some relevant players. That’s all I have to say about this team. Try not to look at their roster for too long. You might go blind.

National League Central

St. Louis Cardinals

2018 Record: 88-74

Additions: Matt Wieters, Andrew Miller, Paul Goldschmidt

Subtractions: Matt Adams, Tyson Ross, Luke Weaver, Bud Norris

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 88.5

My projection: 93-69

The Cardinals made some great moves this offseason, and now they are among the top teams in the National League. MVP-candidate Paul Goldschmidt and super-reliever Andrew Miller have been added to a team with some pretty interesting players, players that have outperformed expectations, and the Cardinals dynasty refuses to take years off from relevance. They will be very relevant come October.

Chicago Cubs

2018 Record: 95-68

Additions: Brad Brach, Kendall Graveman, Daniel Descalso

Subtractions: Daniel Murphy

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 88.5

My projection: 92-70

The Cubs underperformed last year, getting beaten at Wrigley Field twice in two days to end their season. Their roster hasn’t changed much. I think this may be the beginning of the end for the Cubs championship window. They did win one, but they don’t seem satisfied with just one. Their roster is definitely capable of making a deep run, but I don’t see them finishing the season on top.

Milwaukee Brewers

2018 Record: 96-67

Additions: Yasmani Grandal

Subtractions: Curtis Granderson, Wade Miley, Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, Joakim Soria, Jonathan Schoop

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 86.5

My projection: 89-73

This team came within a game of the World Series last year, a big accomplishment for the franchise. I don’t think last season was an anomaly, but I don’t see them winning this stacked division again. They will compete for a playoff spot, but I don’t think they will get it this year. As much as I am a fan of Jeremy Jeffress, I still expect some regression from this team.

Cincinnati Reds

2018 Record: 67-95

Additions: Sonny Gray, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Tanner Roark, Derek Dietrich, Jose Iglesias

Subtractions: Matt Harvey, Billy Hamilton

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 79.5

My projection: 79-83

I really wish this team weren’t in the NL Central. They could be vying for a Wild Card spot if they weren’t. Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez are complete studs, and they finally bolstered their rotation by adding Sonny Gray, Alex Wood, Tanner Roark. Unfortunately, their improvement is going to be overshadowed by the giants of their division. I hate to see Joey Votto’s prime wasted, but that’s what’s happening.

Pittsburgh Pirates

2018 Record: 82-79

Additions: Melky Cabrera, Francisco Liriano, Jordan Lyles

Subtractions: Jordy Mercer, Ivan Nova, Josh Harrison

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 77.5

My projection: 70-92

This team overachieved last year. They kinda tried to make the playoffs after a torrid stretch late in the season, but it was for naught. They lost a few pieces, they added a few pieces, but I think their roster has about as much talent as it did last year, and on top of losing a few of their wins to overachieving last season, they are also going to be on the wrong end of their improved division.

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers

2018 Record: 92-71

Additions: AJ Pollock, Russell Martin, Joe Kelly

Subtractions: Manny Machado, John Axford, Yasmani Grandal, Brian Dozier, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 93.5

My projection: 95-67

The Dodgers are still the kings of this division, but I think their World Series run is over. If they get there this season, they aren’t winning. They have been a mainstay in the playoffs for years, and they probably will continue to do that, but I think they have been relegated to the 2017 Cubs; just a speed bump in the road for the eventual World Series hopefuls. They got rid of a lot of their mainstays and shipped them off to the Reds, but I don’t think the trade makes a difference either way.

Colorado Rockies

2018 Record: 91-72

Additions: Mark Reynolds, Daniel Murphy

Subtractions: DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Gerardo Parra

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 84.5

My projection: 82-80

This team isn’t going anywhere. Sure they may have given their star, Nolan Arenado, a wealthy extension, and they added All-Star Daniel Murphy, but their pitching is still a question mark for me. Jon Gray, German Marquez, Tyler Anderson, and Kyle Freeland never seem to have more than one good season in a row. It’s hard to lure a pitcher to Colorado, but hopefully one day they will overcome their own pitching woes for 11 days in October.

Arizona Diamondbacks

2018 Record: 82-80

Additions: Caleb Joseph, Greg Holland, Wilmer Flores, Robby Scott, Luke Weaver

Subtractions: AJ Pollock, Jon Jay, Shelby Miller, Randall Delgado, Daniel Descalso, Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Owings, Brad Ziegler, Clay Buchholz

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 74.5

My projection: 74-88

The Diamondbacks did the right thing this offseason to blow it all up. Their postseason window shut pretty tight after getting embarassed by the Dodgers in 2017. David Peralta and Eduardo Escobar are great bats, and they should stay good for the future. To me, this is the perfect rebuild. They have a couple solid players to build around, and some good prospects in the pipeline. This might be the most watchable 74-win team ever.

San Diego Padres

2018 Record: 66-96

Additions: Manny Machado, Ian Kinsler, Garrett Richards

Subtractions: Freddy Galvis, Clayton Richard, Christian Villanueva

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 78.5

My projection: 74-88

Believe it or not, I’m not mad at the Padres for signing Manny Machado. It seems to follow well with their timeline of a rebuild. They play in a pitcher-friendly park, and seem to want better pitching, they have some good bats backing up Machado in Hosmer, Hedges, and Renfroe, and Francisco Mejia headlines their list of top prospects. They will be good in the future. Just not this year.

San Francisco Giants

2018 Record: 73-89

Additions: Cameron Maybin, Yangervis Solarte, Drew Pomeranz, Gerardo Parra

Subtractions: Nick Hundley, Hunter Pence, Hunter Strickland

2019 Over/Under Wins Total: 73.5

My projection: 72-90

Assemble the tanks. The even year magic is over. 3 rings ain’t bad though, especially considering the roster turnover from year-to-year, but I think the Giants know that their core’s peak has expired. Hopefully there’s more than the Giants-Dodgers rivalry to look forward to for them this season.


Big shoutout to Joe Spinosa (@jjspinny) for helping me sort through the win totals.

Over/Unders via betonline.ag

Photo via sbnation.com

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