• Joe Soccoa

2019 MLB Predictions

Dust off the cleats, shake the cobwebs because baseball season is here and it’s time for the 2019 edition of predictions for the upcoming season. Making predictions is no easy task and I don’t find myself to be an expert by any means. It is safe to say that last year’s predictions weren’t entirely bad but certainly a few surprises. I believe though, I pay attention enough and have a deep devotion to baseball where it’s always fun each and every year to make these predictions based on teams expectations and what moves were made throughout the offseason.

For the second straight year, the offseason saw it’s oddity once again with the signings of two of the games mega stars inking deals well into spring training. February 22, 2019 was the day the San Diego Padres introduced Manny Machado as their newest edition as he signed a 10-year, $300-million dollar deal. As for Harper, who wanted to top that deal of Machado’s signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for a record 13 year, $330 million deal with a full commitment and no opt-outs that took place on February 28th.


Baseball has shown some of its colors when it comes to players and owners with their labor agreement that seems to be flawed as we get closer to the end of the current CBA. This isn’t an article on that issue but it has affected the way business is being operated and we have seen it on full display the last two seasons but specifically more this offseason. Believe it or not, it renders predictions for the upcoming season as teams are looking at cost-efficient ways to be competitive. We’ve heard a lot about teams tanking and not spending to win in order to get higher draft picks and go after some of the young talent coming through the pipelines which in essence makes it cost-friendly. There are some players that could make impacts that are not yet signed from the time I wrote these predictions (as of March 13).


Typically, when I make my predictions, I go with a full on record but this year it will be a little different. This year, I will take the Vegas under/over totals and predict whether the team will be over their win total or their under total or agree with Vegas. I will still give my opinion and thoughts and go in depth of what each team can and will provide in order to get the top of the mountain.


Let’s dive into it and I hope you enjoy my perspective on this season’s predictions and more importantly, HAPPY BASEBALL SEASON!


Aaron Judge - courtesy of Newsday

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

TEAM

VEGAS WIN TOTAL

UNDER/OVER/SAME


YANKEES

96.5

OVER (99 W)


RED SOX

94.5

UNDER (91 W)


RAYS

84.5

OVER (88 W)


BLUE JAYS

75

SAME


ORIOLES

59.5

UNDER (55 W)


The American league is back to their right state of power. The Yankees and Red Sox are back on top. The Red Sox are the defending World Series champions and coming off a 108 win season while the Yankees finished with an even 100 wins during the regular season. Starting with the defending champs, they haven’t done much during the winter due to being well over the luxury tax and being the highest payroll in baseball last season. They lost key pieces in the bullpen in Joe Kelly and the departure of elite closer Craig Kimbrel to free agency. They resigned Nathan Eovaldi to a questionable contract and will have to now deal with Mookie Betts entering his final season under contract. All indications point the Red Sox won’t win as nearly as many games as last season given with their lack of moves. Vegas has the Red Sox at 94 ½ wins for the season and I find it hard given no closer and no eye poppers in the bullpen that they reach that mark.

Although the Yankees did not land any of the big ticket free agent players such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, they did improve their bullpen and their depth. The Yankees had to be in the conversation with Machado but there was no indication they were serious on Manny. They had full confidence in Miguel Andujar as he looks to build off his impressive first season. They added a major piece to the bullpen in Adam Ottavino who was impressive last season striking out 112 batters in 77.2 innings. Adding to their depth were fellow former Colorado Rockies in DJ LeMahieu and ex Rockie and Blue Jay Troy Tulowitzki who missed all of the 2018 season due to injury. The Blue Jays cut him and the Yankees were impressed with his workouts and gave him a chance to be their starting shortstop until Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are banking on a bounce back from Gary Sanchez, a healthy Greg Bird and repeat performances from both JA Happ and James Paxton whom they acquired early in the offseason. The Yankees are a better team on paper than they were a year ago with their additions but their starting pitching is going to be key given they will start the season without Luis Severino and CC Sabathia. Both pitchers dealing with minor injuries that set them back a bit in spring training. They have a chance to eclipse the 100 win mark again and Vegas has them at 96 ½ wins and I do believe they can go over that mark if they are the team we think they are.


The Rays were the pleasant surprise last season hitting the 90 win mark and not making the playoffs. Go figure. Even with the 90 wins, they finished 18 games back of the Red Sox and 10 back of the Yankees and seven back of the Oakland Athletics who captured the second wild card spot. They were bashed going into the season having traded off major pieces but shut down those critics nicely. They used the “opener” a lot and will plan to do so again this season making their games bullpen games to get wins. If it worked last year, why not do it again. They have a sneaky good first three in their rotation starting with reigning AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, newly signed Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow whom they picked up at last seasons trade deadline when they dealt Chris Archer to Pittsburgh. Vegas had them dipping this season but I don’t see it, I think they can be close to a repeat last year and may have a chance to sneak into a wild card spot.


Both the Blue Jays and Orioles are in transition periods but the Blue Jays just a few years removed from having success are slightly ahead of Baltimore but both teams will begin a new season with new managers. Charlie Montoyo for the Blue Jays and Brandon Hyde for the Orioles will get a taste of the powerful AL East. One bright spot to be on the lookout for in Toronto will be the beginning of the Vlad Guerrero Jr. era as the games number one prospect. Despite the fact he is indeed ready for the big leagues, Toronto has stated they will hold him back so they gain an extra year of control which has caused a firestorm. Vegas has Toronto pegged at 75 wins and that seems about right with the Orioles being near the bottom with 59 ½ wins but I believe it won’t be pretty in Baltimore as I think they’ll finish under that Vegas mark.


AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

TEAM

VEGAS WIN TOTAL

UNDER/OVER/SAME


INDIANS

91

SAME


TWINS

84

OVER (86 W)


WHITE SOX

74

OVER (76 W)


ROYALS

69.5

UNDER (67 W)


TIGERS

69

UNDER (65 W)


This will probably be the easiest division in baseball. It really has been a non issue for the Cleveland Indians, who, still can’t seem to get over the hump of winning a World Series. Their chance came a few years back in 2016 but the Cubs broke their curse and Indian’s fans hearts. There was a lot of chatter in the offseason about the possibility of moving Corey Kluber but ultimately decided to keep him. The Indians moved some players out (Edwin Encarnacion) but have added Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers. They still have a decent starting rotation with Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger. They did lose Cody Allen their closer and Andrew Miller so their bullpen is a bit depleted but Brad Hand will be capable of holding down the fort. The 91 win mark by Vegas is fair but it wouldn’t surprise me if they struggle to get to the 90 win mark.


The Twins had a quietly good offseason as first time manager Rocco Baldelli will look to lead a young team for a push. With additions of Jonathan Schoop, Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez, the Twins can be back near the playoffs after a dip in last season’s play. I believe they are going to be a dark horse team and I will take the over as Vegas has them pegged at 84 wins. They may certainly make a run for the Tribe at the top of this weak division. But I still have them finishing just short.


The White Sox were all-in for Manny Machado including recruiting family members, friends and anyone you can think of in trying to land him. They didn’t get him and that might have been the dagger in the Sox season before it even started. They have been in the rebuild process and they do have the games second best prospect in Eloy Jimenez, who, I anticipate like Vlad Jr. will be up here this season and look to make an impact from the start. There is a mix of veteran presence in Yonder Alonso, Ivan Nova and Alex Colome along with the young guys looking to build. They’ll make some noise but don’t expect much this year.


The Royals biggest defeat came when it was announced veteran and leader Salvador Perez had to undergo Tommy John surgery and knock him out for the entire 2019 season. Hard to believe this team was at the top a few years back and won a World Series but that is how tough it is to sustain that type of success so it makes you think about how great certain teams are. They too are in their transition mode and I didn’t expect much from them this season and despite being a weaker division and they could pick up some wins, I’m going with the under from Vegas.


AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

TEAM

VEGAS WIN TOTAL

UNDER/OVER/SAME


ASTROS

96.5

SAME


ANGELS

82.5

OVER (84 W)


ATHLETICS

83.5

UNDER (82 W)


MARINERS

71.5

SAME


RANGERS

71

UNDER (67 W)


Just as weak the central in American League I believe is, I think the west will be slightly better but there for the taking for the Astros. The Astros have been built for long term success and getting some key players back and healthy this should be a better year for the Houston bunch. They also have a top closer in Roberto Osuna. A slowed spring for Jose Altuve as he battled through injury but a healthy Carlos Correa should have this bunch right back on top. Their rotation took a slight hit losing Charlie Morton to the Rays but they still have the games top one-two punch in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. The only reservation I have is if Verlander starts to show his age which I don’t believe will happen but something that lingers in the mind as he is now 36 years old. The new dad might have another reason to shine with the birth of his daughter so I think he’ll be just fine. I’m comfortable with the Astros at 96 ½ wins, if they add a rotation piece somewhere in the season they could inch closer to 100 wins.


The biggest surprise was the Athletics last season when they picked up 97 wins and played a wild card game against the Yankees. This year for me will be the Angels as the surprise in the west as I think they will squeak into contention for the second place spot this year but I still give it to the Rays. Will they challenge the Astros? No not at all. In fact, the Angels will be better but I still think they are a .500 team at best. They added a few pieces but with new manager Brad Ausmus, they might turn some heads but they need to stay healthy and they need to hope the Tommy John surgery for Shohei Ohtani recovery process doesn’t take a bad turn. He is projected to be their DH as the surgery doesn’t take as long for a hitter as it would for a pitcher. He would add to the rotation when he comes back later in the year that could be a boost. Don’t expect too much from the Angels but they are my pick to finish in second place and give them a few more wins than Vegas is projecting.


The A’s as mentioned surprised the heck out of us with an impressive 97 wins to then be knocked out by the Yankees in the wild card game. It’s amazing because year in a year out they seem to surprise many  while other years they disappoint. That moneyball approach seems to be still in effect and it seems as if they are getting closer. End of the day though, I believe they won’t have the same success. Yes they added a name such as talented Jurickson Profar and they do have a decent relief core but nothing pops out this year and every thing says the magic might be gone. In fact I, at 28 years old am older than 12 of their current roster players so they do have youth it’s just a matter if they can blossom into something. The A’s for me get third place and the under.


Every year for the last few, I’ve seem to have the same analysis on the Mariners. Good but not good enough and they seem to have the same inconsistency each year so in retrospect they are consistently inconsistent whereas they finish in the mid-80’s in wins and just can’t seem to get over the hump. They began a massive overhaul shipping out a bad contract in Robinson Cano to the Mets along with elite closer Edwin Diaz. They will be without Kyle Seager for the entire month of April after having surgery on his left hand. They added some veterans through trades that will try and help the young kids transition but this team looks like it will be another year of disappointment and also it will be increasingly likely this will be the end of the Felix Hernandez era in Seattle. The 71 wins mark seems to right for them.


Finally, the Texas Rangers who continue their rebuilding process but they do have some talent. Expect another monster year from Joey Gallo just hope he can keep the strikeout total down. Nomad Mazara can only get better and Elvis Andrus is looking for a better year and possibly be a trade candidate come July. The Rangers are stuck at the bottom of a top heavy Astros division but luckily for them they are ahead of teams like the Mariners and maybe even the Angels that we could see them back near the top sooner rather than later. I’m keeping them at their same win total from last season so I’m taking the under.


DIVISION WINNERS - YANKEES/INDIANS/ASTROS

WC GAME - RED SOX VS RAYS


NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

TEAM

VEGAS WIN TOTAL

UNDER/OVER/SAME


PHILLIES

89

OVER (91)


NATIONALS

89

SAME


METS

85.5

SAME


BRAVES

86

UNDER (84)


MARLINS

63

UNDER (59)


         The belly of the beast is going to be in the National League east this season. It could turn into a four team bloodbath when it’s all set and done and could be tiebreakers of games 163 and 164. The Phillies now have Harper, the Nationals addressed their rotation and the Mets got better. The Braves are banking on continued success from last season and the Marlins are well, the Marlins. This is going to be the tightest division in baseball and will certainly be fun to watch.

Let’s start with the Phillies, they claimed to have “stupid money” to spend and at one point in the offseason believed they can sign both Machado and Harper. As the winter progressed so did the roller coaster of reports where some believed Philly might not get Harper or Machado because there was belief neither wanted to play in Philadelphia. It took until February 28th for Harper to finally sign a record deal. With the signing, it didn’t bump the Phillies up too much but makes them a favorite for sure to win the division. For me, the Phillies don’t have the most spectacular rotation but addressed offensive categories with the acquisitions of Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen. They also added some bullpen help with David Robertson, so on paper the Phils look stacked. They will have a powerful offense as the expectation is for a bounce back year for Maikel Franco and a monster year from Rhys Hoskins. Mixed in all of that is Harper who should have a great time at a hitter friendly ballpark. The Phillies are my pick to win the division and win 91 games in a tough east.


Everyone might think because Harper is no longer on the team, it may hurt them. I don’t think so. They still have a good team. They spent some more money on their rotation in landing Patrick Corbin, they picked up Yan Gomes and have a sneaky good pick up in Trevor Rosenthal who will be a key in that bullpen. Their offense will be good and they will look to the two youngsters in Victor Robles and Juan Soto to contribute. Soto burst onto the scene last season and was a thrill, let’s just hope he doesn’t hit that sophomore jinx. If they can add a little more to the bullpen and some depth, they can make another run and show they don’t need Harper. I’m looking at the Nationals to pick up a wild card spot and I’d be stunned if we saw a repeat performance of last season. Sometimes when you lose a player such as Harper it could actually work better for team dynamic. We will see.


The New York Mets had a very good offseason. They brought in a new general manager in Brodie Van Wagenen who carries confidence. They went out and acquired Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners and signed a few under the radar players such as Jed Lowrie and Wilson Ramos. Mix that in with a hopeful healthy rotation, the Mets will be contenders this year in this tough division. With some good moves however, comes a question of IFs because we all know the Mets by this point. It’s crazy at how predictable they have become. It looks as if they will start the season without Lowrie and Todd Frazier. Two injuries right off the bat, pun intended. There will be an infusion of young talent as Pete Alonso in fighting for a roster spot with Dom Smith as both have looked impressive in the spring. It’s plain and simple at this point, the Mets NEED to stay healthy otherwise it’s a disaster all over again. Their bullpen has been their biggest concern and was addressed, now it’s time for it all to gel together. If that can happen then I see them fighting for a wild card spot. It will be tough because the rest of the league has improved.

The Braves were fortunate enough the Nationals stunk last season and the Phillies dropped off. They won 90 games in a year they believed was ahead of schedule. They have a good young team. They added some power with Josh Donaldson and brought back the veteran Brian McCann. Other than that, there wasn’t too much the Braves did in the winter. Their rotation is about the same and it makes me question a year of regression. The writing is on the wall. I could be wrong, after all these are just predictions based on my thoughts. Ronald Acuna Jr. was terrific and he too needs to hope the league hasn’t figured him out. In this stacked division, I don’t see them hitting 90 games again this year and it might be tough for them to grab a playoff spot unless they make a big time move. Vegas has them at 86 wins, ahead of the Mets but I don’t see it. I have them at 84 and missing out on October.


The Miami Marlins are now in year two of the massive rebuild from the ground up. They shipped out Realmuto to the division rival Phillies and continue to stockpile prospects. They added veteran Curtis Granderson for the clubhouse and is one of the nicest and classiest players in the game so that’s a win right there. Other than that, their biggest offseason move besides Realmuto was Jeter bringing in fellow core four member Jorge Posada to the team as an advisor. The Marlins are going to likely get pounded in this division and will be in the race for worst record in the league. Vegas was generous to give them 63 wins, I say nope.


NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

TEAM

VEGAS WIN TOTAL

UNDER/OVER/SAME


CARDINALS

88.5

UNDER (87 W)


BREWERS

86.5

SAME


CUBS

88.5

UNDER (83 W)


REDS

79

SAME


PIRATES

77.5

UNDER (75 W)


For a time, this was one of the toughest divisions. It still is especially now with the success of the Brewers. The Cardinals finished third in a year they dismissed Mike Matheny. The Cubs won 95 games only to look lost and gassed in the wild card game and the Brewers marched to the NLCS. I expect it to be interesting this season especially with the Cardinals back on the map. They went out and acquired Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks and picked up Andrew Miller for their bullpen. Not much when look around the league but prolific players to say the least. It will be tough but for me the Cardinals get back on top of the division this year and get back to October where they belong.


The Brewers were one of the best stories last season. They way a young team, mixed in with veterans marched through the playoffs only to be stopped by the power house LA Dodgers. Their success was no fluke, they pitched well and hit well. Christian Yelich showed the type of player we all thought he would be. With a lights out bullpen, the Brewers are a team not to sleep on. They are bringing back the same team essentially but added Yasmani Grandal to the mix who brings defense and some pop in the lineup. It is going to be tough to repeat that same magic because of a powerhouse national league, but I’ll pencil them in to pick up one of the wild card spots.


The Cubs are an interesting bunch, many projections actually have them finishing in last place. Talk about a big drop off from last season. Guys got hurt, and they just were over matched by the Rockies. They didn’t make any big splash in the offseason thanks to enormous contracts they’ve given out. I do think they are another team of IFs for this season. If the starting rotation can stay healthy, they have a good one. Although slightly aged, they can still get the job done. They would need bounce back seasons from Kris Bryant who looks healthy, Wilson Contreras who felt disappointed on his year and a breakout year for Kyle Schwarber. They won’t have their closer Brandon Morrow to start the season, so their bullpen will be their biggest issue. There is no one that stands out. For that reason, I can understand the projections of last, but I’ll give them a little more and put them third but no playoffs.


The Reds are my pick for fourth. It will be close and I can certainly see them jumping over the Cubs based on what I mentioned above. They added some pitchers along with some bats. Alex Wood, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark with Luis Castillo looks to be a decent rotation on paper. Adding veterans like Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig also brings personality to the team. They might actually surprise some teams as they continue their transition but I won’t be convinced enough to have them higher than fourth in the division.


The Pirates do have some talent, but they too are in that transition mode heading in the right direction. Picking up Chris Archer from the Rays gives them an ace. They have good outfield talent but they all need to click. The bullpen still questions me and as much as I don’t want to write them off, I still don’t know enough about them. The pecota projections from baseball prospectus has them finishing in fourth ahead of the Cubs. It feels like it’s been a long time since we saw the Pirates at the top and we’ll just have to keep waiting.


                                             NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

TEAM

VEGAS WIN TOTAL

UNDER/OVER/SAME


ROCKIES

84.5

OVER (89 W)


DODGERS

93.5

UNDER (87 W)


PADRES

78.5

SAME


GIANTS

73.5

OVER (75 W)


DIAMONDBACKS

75.5

UNDER (72 W)


I’m fed up with the Dodgers. Two years in a row make it to the fall classic and can’t close the deal. They didn’t land Harper but instead A.J. Pollock who I absolutely love as a ball player - if he can stay healthy. They will get Corey Seager back after missing the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery but even with that it takes time to shake the rust off. There isn’t much of a difference with the team other than trading Kemp and Puig but they have had their chance and I think it’s time for some balance. Certain players are getting older and having hard times staying off the DL - or should I say injured list. Players like Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw need to stay healthy if the Dodgers want to stay near the top. I’m not saying it’s out of the question they don’t finish in first place but this is my gut feeling this year which is getting under the 93 ½ wins projected by Vegas.


The Rockies locked up their franchise player and looking towards the future while still trying to win now. There is a mix of young talent and veterans that can help them win. My dark horse is David Dahl who had a really good year last season. They add Daniel Murphy who I believe will have a field in Colorado. The pitching was good but I think if they can add a piece through the season they can be dangerous. I like them a lot and that’s why they are my pick to win the division.


The Padres have lots of young talent but are still a year away even with the signing of Manny Machado. They still don’t have a rotation that stands out and their bullpen could be better. They should start using the deep prospect pool they have to get some pitching and then they would be for real. Expect Fernando Tatis Jr. to make an impact when they decide to bring him up as well as Francisco Mejia who is projected to be one of the top catching prospects in baseball. This team can look dangerous in a year or two but that’s solely based on getting pitching.


Both the Giants and Diamondbacks are in rebuilds. The Giants were trying to land Harper on a shorter term deal that could have sped their rebuild up but that didn’t happen. There was a lot of talk about Madison Bumgarner being on the block and I do think he gets moved in order to continue to overall within the Giants and their new president Farhan Zaidi who came over from the rival Dodgers to rebuild the Giants. The first season for Evan Longoria didn’t go so well so they hope he can get back to form. Don’t expect much from the Giants even though they would sure like to win in Bruce Bochy’s final year as manager. The D’Backs began their rebuild when they shipped Goldschmidt out but they do have good talent on their team they are just in transition. Could they turn some heads? Sure but they are still tied to a massive Zack Greinke contract that no one wanted. They do add a veteran work horse in Adam Jones whose offensive production has been good in recent years. The D’Backs are moving in the right direction but expect them to sit on the bottom with the Giants.


DIVISION WINNERS - PHILLIES/CARDINALS/ROCKIES

WILD CARD  - NATIONALS VS DODGERS


POSTSEASON PREDICTIONS

Look it is the most difficult to predict the way the baseball season plays out and my predictions haven’t looked pretty but that’s the point. They are my opinions and what I think of each team. Having done these for this season, the National League is by far the hardest and we may see some real races which will make it all the more exciting. Heck, we may even see tiebreakers, that’s how close I believe the National League will be.


The American League power may have shifted with more talent in the National League and more races tighter there as well but the American league will be an interesting one as well and could hold its share of surprises. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed reading my predictions and here are my postseason predictions based on my thoughts from above.


AL WC - RED SOX OVER RAYS

NL WC - NATIONALS OVER DODGERS

ALDS - YANKEES OVER RED SOX

ALDS - ASTROS OVER INDIANS

NLDS - PHILLIES OVER NATIONALS

NLDS - CARDINALS OVER ROCKIES

ALCS - YANKEES OVER ASTROS

NLCS - PHILLIES OVER CARDINALS

WORLD SERIES - YANKEES OVER PHILLIES


Begin the Yankee bias bashing and enjoy the 2019 MLB season!

42 views
  • Facebook App Icon
  • Twitter App Icon

© 2020 JOE SOCCOA MEDIA