Regular reader Dick Snyder asked me to make predictions for the 2019 baseball season, which is always a dicey endeavor, but here they are! (Yes, I take requests.)
The American League seems to be a pretty predictable affair. Both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will make the playoffs out of the AL East, and I see the Red Sox repeating as Division Champs. Boston has better starting pitching and their catchers can all catch, unlike Yankee backstop Gary Sanchez who cannot. My Baltimore Orioles could improve by 20 games and still lose 95, which seems to be impossible math, but it’s true. Nevertheless, I’ll make a bold prediction: The Orioles and Yankees play each other six times in the first nine games, and if the Birds can split those six (not impossible early on) the New Yorkers will be in chaos for the first month of the season with fans jumping into the East River and calling for manager Aaron Boone’s head before splashing down.
The AL West will be won by the Astros[period]
The AL Central is a toss-up between Minnesota and Cleveland. Yes, I give the Twins an equal shot at the Division crown and if Jose Martinez is out for any length of time, the Twins are probably the favorites.
The final wild card team, the Red Sox or Yankees being one of the first two, will come down to Minnesota or Cleveland, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. I’m going with Minnesota or Cleveland based on the fact that they have three very weak teams (Kansas City, Detroit, and Chicago) in their division, while the other two divisions only feature two weak teams.
The National League, on the other hand, is totally unpredictable. I like Washington in the NL East, despite losing Bryce Harper to the rival Philadelphia Phillies, who will be in the mix for the division crown, along with the vastly improved New York Mets. Last year’s champs, the Atlanta Braves may well finish fourth, but then it would not be a total surprise for them to win the division, either. As for the Miami Marlins, they should have a Don Johnson Day at the ballpark and let it go at that.
The NL West will be a shootout (can we still use the term shootout? One of the best logos ever was the Houston Colt .45s, but I digress) between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies. If San Diego’s rookies take off behind newly minted Padre (operative word being mint, as in a depository for large sums of money) Manny Machado, then the Padres could surprise some people. I also predict that Manny will say or do something stupid, or both; and that will surprise no one.
The battle for the NL Central will be at least as competitive and entertaining as the one for the NL East. There is not a bad-bad team in the entire Central and one could easily make a case for the Cardinals, Cubs, or Brewers capturing the division. I’m going with St. Louis because I think that Paul Goldschmidt, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter, will make that much of a difference. Because this division is so competitive, I don’t see either wild card emerging from the Central and that’s probably true of the East as well. Once again, I’ll go bold and predict the NL wild card winners will be the Rockies and Padres.
One more prediction: You will love Fathers, Sons, & Holy Ghosts: Baseball as a Spiritual Experience and in celebration of Opening Day, you can download a free copy. This offer is good on Thursday* only, and unlike the predictions above this one is guaranteed or you get your free back. If you read it and enjoy it, please leave a nice review! Thank you.
*Thursday is Opening Day in the United States. Oakland and Seattle have already played two games in Japan, which is stupid. One last prediction: Commissioner Rob Manfred will continue to do stupid things to the game. I vote to give Cincinnati back its traditional opener.