It’s opening day and it’s the first time since my college days in 2006 that I’m not either playing, coaching, or scouting professionally. Now I’m writing about baseball professionally for this site and publications like Baseball America. It seems that everyone likes to make predictions before the season starts so with opening pitch just a few minutes away, I’ll join the parade. Check out my predictions below:
AL Playoffs: This is fairly predictable. A lot of people are saying the Twins but I think Oakland for the last wild card spot is a better team.
New York Yankees
NL Playoffs: A really good race for the final wild card spots that should have the Cubs, Reds and Dodgers all in the mix.
New York Yankees
Washington Nationals (I also debated having the Rockies here)
World Series Winner:
New York Yankees
Cincinnati Reds. I see Yasiel Puig going for 40 homers and Jose Peraza and Eugenio Suarez hitting over .300 and scoring a lot of runs. This will be a fun offense to watch, especially with rookie Nick Senzel entering into the fold and their new assistant hitting coach, Donny Eckert in the dugout. I have concerns that there still isn’t enough starting pitching to get them to the playoffs though. Still they’ll be a force in the NL Central this year and should make a good run for the playoffs, just falling a bit short this year.
AL MVP: 3B Matt Chapman. Oakland’s gold glove fielder has been increasing his offensive production steadily over the past couple of years. He’s a the ripe age with requisite experience and he has the physical tools necessary to put it all together now at the dish too. He is already probably the best fielder in the AL according to the metrics and I see him having a Josh Donaldson type of offensive production now as well. With apologies to Mookie Betts, my favorite player in baseball (and probably the most talented), it would have been easy to pick him or Mike Trout, but I wanted to go with a dark-horse candidate here. My original pick would have been Frankie Lindor but he’ll start the season on the DL – and I’m not sure how much time he’ll miss.
NL MVP: SS Javier Baez. The ridiculously talented and fun to watch Cubby was AWESOME when I saw him this Spring. Considering he was tops in the NL last year in RBI’s and also just a few homers shy of winning that crown, I predict he’ll continue that trend of destroying the baseball while playing marvelous defense and stealing bases for a Cubs team that will miss the playoffs by a game (if they don’t make it at all). I think Baez’s bat speed and contact ability are probably the best in all of baseball and although he’ll never be known for taking a walk – I can see him hitting well over .300 and leading the league in homers. His teammate Kris Bryant should rebound and be in the conversation and you can’t sleep on Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado or last year’s MVP Christian Yelich either and then you have Yasiel Puig who will get everyday AB’s in the best hitter park in baseball. I was also thinking of Bryce Harper here with his new launching pad in Philly but he may need a year to adjust before getting back his MVP award next year.
AL Cy Young: Carlos Carrasco. A ridiculous 22:2 – K:BB ratio in Spring Training with elite stuff across the board all he has to do is stay healthy. Initially I was going to pick Yankees Luis Severino but he’ll begin the season on the DL and I don’t know how much time he’ll miss. Cookie’s teammates Corey Kluber, Trevor Brauer and even young righty Mike Clevinger would all be solid picks here but I’m taking the guy with the best stuff and pedigree.
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer. Even more ridiculous 34:3 – K:BB ratio this Spring, I see him continuing his run of dominance for at least one more year. Walker Buehler could have been a guy here but the Dodgers are set to limit his innings and I think Brewers RHP Brandon Woodruff will be in contention.
AL Rookie of the Year: LHP Jesus Luzardo (with apologies to a crowded field of Eloy Jimenez, Rowdy Tellez, Vlad Guerrero Jr, I think Luzardo’s stuff right now projects to be a well above average starter while some of these young hitters may go through some ups and downs).
NL Rookie of the Year: OF Victor Robles. The tooled up Nationals CF has all the ingredients to bust out after losing last year to injuries. It’s another close call over Cardinals RHP Alex Reyes who will start the year working out of the pen, the Padres uber-prospects RHP Chris Paddack and Fernando Tatis Jr, the Dodgers Alex Verdugo, and even Cincy’s Nick Senzel should factor in the mix.
AL Breakout Star: RHP Mike Clevinger. He may have been a breakout guy last year but this is is the year he becomes one of the games elite pitchers with his funky delivery and above average 4-pitch mix. Apologies to Jurickson Profar of the A’s who I think will have a wonderful season in a new home with less pressure than he did as the #1 prospect in Texas who hadn’t really lived up to all the hype yet.
NL Breakout Star: OF David Dahl (with apologies to Brewers RHP Brandon Woodruff and DBacks 1B Christian Walker), I wrote about Dahl’s expanded role and abilities this spring here – https://baseballspy.com/2019/03/07/chicago-cubs-vs-colorado-rockies-mesa-az/