SportsPulse: Now that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have signed we can finally look ahead to actual baseball. Here are the storylines that will define the MLB in 2019.
As the calendar gets deeper into March, teams are getting closer to be fully prepared for the six-month grind that is the 2019 Major League Baseball season.
While a couple of top free agents remain on the market, we have a pretty good idea of where everyone stands approaching opening day. In a world of overwrought predictions (certainly ourselves included), we figured it was worth cutting to the chase and previewing the bottom line for every club: What can fans reasonably expect from their team in 2019?
Here’s a one-sentence prediction on how the season will play out for all 30 clubs:
Orioles: Play in a ton of “meaningful” games down the stretch, trying to avoid breaking the MLB record of 120 losses.
Red Sox: Defending champs get back to the postseason – via the wild-card – but regret not doing more to improve over the winter.
Yankees: An impossibly deep bullpen proves to be the difference as the Yankees overtake Boston to win the AL East for the team’s first division crown since 2012.
Rays: They hang with the big boys in the division and fight their way to a wild-card spot with a group of pitchers as “bullpenning” continues to take the league by storm.
Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is as good as advertised and the Blue Jays finish around .500, but that’s only good for fourth place in the deep division.
White Sox: Eloy Jimenez provides some excitement and a glimpse at the future but the South Siders endure their seventh consecutive losing season.
Indians: They win the division for the fourth year in a row on the back of the pitching staff, but it’s way closer than in years past.
Tigers: Miguel Cabrera stays healthy and sets himself up to reach the 500-home run and 3,000-hit marks in 2020.
Royals: Lead the league in stolen bases by a sizable margin, but lose 100 games for the second year in a row.
Twins: The offseason acquisitions pay off as Minnesota hangs with Cleveland in the division and pushes for a wild-card spot.
Astros: Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are dominant in their contract year as Houston wins 100 games for the third season in a row.
Angels: Mike Trout has another Mike Trout season and Shohei Ohtani hits some home runs but the club languishes below .500.
Athletics: They stay competitive and push for a wild-card spot, but the pitching staff just isn’t deep enough to see the season into October.
Mariners: The longest postseason drought in professional sports continues as the rebuild gets off to an ugly start.
Rangers: Pitching continues to be a problem and they finish last in the AL West for the second year in a row.
Braves: The young squad fights for the division title, but the failure to add depth in the winter results in a third-place finish behind Washington and Philadelphia.
Marlins: Lose about 100 games, but cause some frustration for the teams above them in the NL East.
Mets: The offseason additions pay off and they manage to hang around, but ultimately they’re the fourth-best team in the division.
Phillies: The massively-upgraded offense does damage as they push for the division crown and their first postseason trip since 2011.
Nationals: They overcome the departure of Bryce Harper as the rotation dominates and they make their sixth postseason appearance in nine years.
Cubs: Kris Bryant has a big bounce-back season and the Cubs fight for a fifth consecutive postseason berth.
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Reds: A fun season gives Cincinnati hope for the future, but the division is just too strong for the Reds to overcome a weak pitching staff.
Brewers: The high-flying offense leads the fight for a return trip to the postseason, but it’s the starting pitching that holds the team back from being the class of the division.
Pirates: Jameson Taillon continues his development into the team’s ace but the lineup struggles as they finish near the bottom of the division.
Cardinals: The trade for Paul Goldschmidt proves to be the biggest move of the winter as the Cardinals fight for their first division title since 2015.
Diamondbacks: They hang around for a few months but the first year of the post-Goldschmidt era ends with a losing record.
Rockies: They hang with the Dodgers in the division as Daniel Murphy wins the batting title, and they fight for a third consecutive postseason berth.
Dodgers: Get all they can handle from the Rockies, but win the NL West for the seventh year in a row.
Padres: There are definite signs of progress in their first year with Manny Machado, setting themselves up to be a trendy pick for 2020.
Giants: They finish last in the division, but Madison Bumgarner nets a nice return at the trade deadline.