Ranking the Teams #18-13, My Version: Who Else Misses out on Playoff Contention?

Welcome to Article #3 of my 2019 MLB preseason power rankings.  In this article, I will be covering teams in the middle of the pack, and determine whether or not they will contend.  Click the links below for other articles in the series (I will add them as I post them):

 

Image result for mlb opening day 2019

2019 MLB Preseason Power Rankings Series:

Ranking The Teams #30-25, My Version: The Bottom of the Barrel

Ranking The Teams #24-19, My Version: Who will have to Wait till Next Year?

Ranking The Teams #18-13, My Version: Who else Misses out on Playoff Contention?

Ranking The Teams #12-7, My Version: Who has Playoff Chances?

Ranking The Teams #6-1, My Version: Super Six?

I also released my 3rd annual preseason Baseball Bits!

18. cincinnati_reds_logo Cincinnati Reds

The Case for the Reds

The Reds began to gear up for contention this off-season by acquiring OF Yasiel Puig and multiple starting pitchers including Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, and Sonny Gray. This team is still headlined by 1B star Joey Votto as well. The NL Central is a really tough division, so that may hold the Reds back this year unless one of last year’s top three in Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis takes a step back.  When Cincy last made the playoffs in 2013, there were two other teams ahead of them in the NL Central standings, so they may just need a few more pieces and one team to crack in order to contend. However, I can’t see that happening this year.  Expect a sub-.500 season in the meantime.

Contenders or Pretenders?

Pretenders: The Reds are definitely closer to contention after making some big moves this off-season.  But I wasn’t so crazy about some of the moves they made.  The Puig trade was a steal, but they could have done a better job fine-tuning the rotation.  Getting rid of Homer Bailey was not smart, as he is a consistent mid-tier starter when healthy.  Sonny Gray, one of the pitchers who replaced Bailey, is far less consistent.  They made some good moves, but it’s not enough for a playoff run.

Projected Finish: 80-82, 4th in NL Central

 

17. minnesota-twins Minnesota Twins

The Case for the Twins

The Twins didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2018. They were expected to chase the Indians for the AL Central for the 2nd straight year. But they ended up a few games below .500, dragged down by the struggles of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.  Those two were expected to lead this team when they first made the majors. This off-season, the Twins did add Nelson Cruz, but at his age, I don’t know how much longer he can produce at an elite level. Michael Pineda’s return will also boost them, but I don’t know how much they can improve with Sano and Buxton both remaining question marks. A Jose Berrios breakout could help, but I still can’t see them being a legitimate 2019 playoff contender.

Contenders or Pretenders?

Pretenders: The Twins made some nice moves to add to a roster that was already intriguing.  They added Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, and others.  But the lingering questions surrounding Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano remain, and the bullpen is also a question mark.

Projected Finish: 80-82, 3rd in AL Central

 

16. chicago-white-sox Chicago White Sox

The Case for the White Sox

The White Sox may have lost out in the Manny Machado sweepstakes despite adding Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay to intrigue Machado. But their off-season is not a full failure. They added some nice pieces in Jay, Alonso, and SP Ervin Santana while still allowing their young core to receive playing time. Yoan Moncada (once he breaks out), Adam Engel, and Eloy Jimenez give me optimism about the future in Chicago. As they start to develop, Chicago will jump into the mix in a weak AL Central. But they may have to add a few more pieces and wait till 2020, or maybe even 2021 for legitimate playoff contention. They could have won the division and done it in 2019 with Machado.

Contenders or Pretenders?

Contenders: I don’t expect the White Sox to win the AL Central this year, but this next wave of talent may begin to make the White Sox appear capable of contending.  Moncada, Engel, Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease, and others should significantly boost the roster and allow this team to show flashes of greatness in a weak division.

Projected Finish: 81-81, 2nd in AL Central

 

15. new-york-mets New York Mets

The Case for the Mets

Brodie Van Wagenen made things very interesting in his first off-season with the Mets. After refusing to trade Jacob deGrom and/or Noah Syndergaard and instead acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from Seattle, he made it clear that the Mets were hoping to contend for one more season. He proceeded by continuing to beef up the roster, adding Jed Lowrie, Wilson Ramos, Carlos Gomez, and others. The Mets will at least be competitive this season, but I can’t see them standing out in the league’s best division, the NL East. They will not be able to keep up with the Braves, Phillies, and Nationals. Maybe it’s time to rebuild if this season is indeed another failure.

Contenders or Pretenders?

Pretenders: The Mets added some nice pieces, such as Cano, Diaz, Ramos, and Lowrie.  But they did not address their direct positional needs.  Sure, they added a catcher, and an outfielder.  But until they get the infield situation figured out, this team will have trouble finding an identity and jump-starting back into contention.  Lowrie and Cano are nice pieces, but where do they fit, and will 1B Peter Alonso be on the roster come Opening Day?

Projected Finish: 83-79, 4th in NL East

 

14. sanfran-giants San Francisco Giants

The Case for the Giants

In Bruce Bochy’s last season, I expect the Giants to exceed expectations. Though injuries have held them back the last couple of years, they still have a very strong roster on paper. Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija lead a rotation that now contains more depth. So long as Buster Posey can bounce back at the plate in 2019, the lineup should be set as well. Who knows, maybe Evan Longoria could be a bounce back candidate as well. Behind Posey and Longoria, they have new additions Yangervis Solarte and Gerardo Parra, SS Brandon Crawford, 1B Brandon Belt, and others. The Giants have not done very well in these last two seasons. But assuming they are healthy, 2019 contention isn’t too farfetched.

Contenders or Pretenders?

Contenders: The Giants will at least be closer to the playoffs this season than most people expect.  It’s injuries that has held them back over the last couple of years.  Neither MadBum nor Posey had been healthy in 2017 and 2018.  With those two feeling alright, the rotation beginning to come together after Dereck Rodriguez’s emergence, and the lineup looking okay despite outfield depth issues, the Giants could come close to the playoffs if they don’t make it.

Projected Finish: 84-78, 3rd in NL West

 

13. los-angeles-dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers

The Case for the Dodgers

The Dodgers have now lost two World Series’ in a row. Expect a hangover this time around. The loss of Brian Dozier to free agency hurts their infield depth significantly, and it was a rough off-season. They traded Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Matt Kemp to the Reds for Homer Bailey, who they ended up releasing. It did clear up crowding in the outfield, and they signed A.J. Pollock to maintain depth out there, but it’s still a waste of a trade. The rotation has plenty of depth, but Clayton Kershaw’s health and Walker Buehler’s ability to replace him remain question marks. Bullpen depth could also be problematic. Expect the Dodgers to try to contend, but fail to make the playoffs in a weak NL West.

Contenders or Pretenders?

Pretenders: The Dodgers should finish with a fairly strong win-loss record as usual.  But I think the team will take a step back after a rough off-season, and despite their strong record, they may have a hard time getting into the mix for the Wild Card.  Even in a weak division, the Dodgers will have trouble relying on repeat performances from two older 2018 breakouts, Max Muncy and Chris Taylor.

Projected Finish: 85-77, 2nd in NL West

 

That’s all for this portion of my MLB preseason power rankings.  Stay tuned for my next set later today.

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Bummer!  Red Sox Walk-Off in Extras After Pitchers Duel

If you’re a White Sox fan, last night must’ve been a Bummer for you as Aaron Bummer gave up the Red Sox’s walk off solo shot.  

It was tied 2-2, with Bummer pitching in the bottom of the 11th.  He needed one more out to send the game into the 12th.  But then Mitch Moreland came up to bat.  He hit it high into left center and it was gone.  What a Bummer for the White Sox as the Red Sox walked it off.  

Early in the game, it was a pitchers duel.  Through the first 3 innings, Carlos Rodon had struck out 3, and had given up 1 hit.  Eduardo Rodriguez had also held the White Sox to 1 hit.  


But in the top of the 4th, the White Sox struck first.  Jose Abreu hit a double to begin the inning.  Kevan Smith almost got on base again after reaching on an error in the 2nd, but Mookie Betts wouldn’t let him. 


However, Leury Garcia walked, and Yoan Moncada advanced the runners with a groundout.  Now it was 2nd and 3rd for Nicky Delmonico, who has been a pest for the Red Sox so far this series.  He hit a 2 run double to give Chicago the lead.  

After Rodon struck out 2 in the bottom of that inning, the Red Sox offense woke up in the 5th inning.  It was still a 2-0 lead for the White Sox.  Rafael Devers led off with a single.  Then Bogaerts got Devers to third on another base hit.  Chris Young made it back-to-back-to-back singles and knocked on Devers the next at bat.  The Red Sox were on the board.  The Red Sox continued to try and rally. 

Vazquez struck out next, but with 1 down JBJ got crazy infield single to load the bases.  The White Sox could’ve had a double play, but good baserunning got in the way.   Betts failed to produce, even with the bases loaded and grounded into a force out that got Bogaerts out at the plate.  Benintendi was up with bases loaded and 2 down.  However, he struck out as the Red Sox blew it with bases loaded, twice in one inning!  They could’ve won the game right there, but instead, the game dragged on.  

However, in the bottom of the 6th, Eduardo Nunez led off with a moonshot that nearly went over everything.  It was his 7th homer of the season (his 5th with the Red Sox) and the game was tied 2-2.


 Although the Red Sox were not able to score in the 7th or 8th, good relief outings by Addison Reed and Matt Barnes kept the game tied.  Reed even picked off Tim Anderson at 2nd base to end the 7th. 

Kimbrel came in to pitch the 9th with the game tied.  He got in a jam though that made it first and second for Adam Engel.  Engel bunted, but the Sox went for the out at third.  It was originally called a bunt single with no out, but the Red Sox challenged it.  They clearly won the challenge and the play was overturned.  Then Kimbrel struck out the next two batters!  That’s how you get out of a jam!


But the White Sox shutdown the Red Sox again, and the game went into extras.  The 10th was quiet due to good relief pitching.  Heath Hembree got out of First and second after another bunt into a forceout, followed by a pickoff at second and a groundout!  It looked like White Sox pitcher Aaron Bummer was going to have a strong inning too.  With 2 outs and nobody on with Moreland up, it looked like this would just be another 1-2-3 inning.  But no.  Moreland hit it out of the park!  What a Bummer for the White Sox!  


Aaron Bummer blew the game for Chicago as the Sox walked off 3-2.  What a game.  Can the Red Sox clinch the series with a win tonight as Pomeranz takes the mound?  Find out tonight at 7PM.