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):
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
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
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
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. 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
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.
By the way, I actually have the Dodgers winning the world series, but I wanted to show my Red Sox fandom on my Animoto account.
Alright, let’s dig in.
Boston Red Sox 92-70
Toronto Blue Jays 89-73
New York Yankees 85-77
Tampa Bay Rays 83-79
Baltimore Orioles 74-88
I have the Red Sox bouncing back from an ugly season and going from worst to first once again. The Red Sox were even bolder than they were last off season, acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, despite giving up former #3 and #7 prospects Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra. Then they signed AL Cy Young runner up David Price to a seven year, 217 million dollar deal. They also signed Chris Young to a two year deal and traded Wade Miley for relievers Roenis Elias and Carson Smith. They now have a strong rotation front and a top closer, along with the powerful lineup the 2015 Red Sox provided.
Meanwhile I think the Blue Jays will stay strong even without their 2015 ace and closer (David Price & LaTroy Hawkins). They still have a strong lineup and some amazing prospects, and they acquired some new starters like J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez, plus closer/set-up man Drew Storen. I think they still have some playoff relevance.
The Yankees meanwhile have done majority of their moves via trade. They acquired Starlin Castro for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan, plus star closer Aroldis Chapman from Cincy. Having Chapman in New York will heat up the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as the Sox acquired Kimbrel. The Yanks should be competitive in the division.
The Rays upgraded their pretty empty offense with Logan Morrison and Brad Miller. Centerfielder Desmond Jennings also will return from injury this season. Alex Cobb will also return. I think the Rays are still a little washed up in their lineup, but they have good defense and pitching.
Meanwhile I don’t think the Orioles’ acquistions are efficient. Mark Trumbo is not a full time starter, Hyun-Soo Kim might not be as good in America, and they still have a serious hole in the rotation. They already had a pretty bad team last year, they just made it a lot worse. The Orioles are by far the worst team in this division. Besides maybe the Rays, every other team in this division will still be in the playoff race at the beginning of September.
Detroit Tigers 93-69
Chicago White Sox 89-73
Kansas City Royals 89-73
Minnesota Twins 73-89
Cleveland Indians 68-94
This division’s teams have made many impact transactions but not every team that made an impact in free agency can do well, especially all in the same division.
The Tigers have really improved their pitching game and outfield to match the rest of their good teams. They signed Justin Upton, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey and Jordan Zimmermann and have acquired Cameron Maybin and Justin Wilson via trade. They only gave up Ian Krol to trade and Alfredo Simon and Rajai Davis to free agency. Even after a bad season, I think that the top prospects and star players will combine to make a bad team in 2015 a great, powerful team that will make an impact in 2016.
Meanwhile the White Sox have also been very active in the hot stove. They’ve revamped their infield by trading for both Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. Lawrie was a third baseman like Frazier but will play at second to make room for Todd Frazier. They still have a hole at shortstop though.
The Royals are still good, but are once again lacking a rotation. They also have a hole in the outfield unless Jarrod Dyson can step it up. So, they’ll compete, but they aren’t necessarily make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, I don’t think the Twins’ youth plus Byung-Ho Park is enough to bring a good season in the Twin Cities. The Indians haven’t done enough by getting Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis. So there are teams in the Central that aren’t competitive as well.
Texas Rangers 90-72
Seattle Mariners 87-75
Houston Astros 79-83
Oakland Athletics 78-84
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 71-91
I have the Texas Rangers at the top of this division. Look at their rotation. Personally, I think that both Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are serious Cy Young candidates. The two ace-like pitchers are joined by wing man Derek Holland. They also have a powerful lineup with some guys like Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder who have a ton of potential.
The Mariners also made a lot of impact trades. Despite giving up Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Roenis Elias and Carson Smith, they traded for Wade Miley, Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Aro, Nathan Karns, Adam Lind, Leonys Martin and Luis Sardinas. They also signed closer Steve Cishek, outfielder Norichika Aoki and resigned King Felix’s trusty wing-man, Hisashi Iwakuma. So this is a pretty revamped team.
The Astros are also still a somewhat powerful, young team. Guys like Carlos Correa really stepped it up last year, and they signed some strong veterans like Doug Fister. Some veterans, like Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez, are also playing their first full season in Houston and others like Brad Peacock are returning from injury this year. The Astros have a lot of potential but aren’t quite as good as the Mariners and Rangers.
There are teams worse than that though. The Athletics made some minor moves as usual, and they’ve recovered from some injuries to players, so they will be better, just not enough to make an impact. Jarrod Parker returns from Tommy John surgery, and hopefully the former star Coco Crisp can bounce back.
The Los Angeles Angels also will get C.J. Wilson back, but this team is in need of some serious luck. Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava must create an efficient platoon in left, the rotation is full of people who are either feast or famine or fresh off a breakout, and they still have serious problems at second.
So the AL West is competitive, but there is a wide division between the good teams, decent teams and bad teams.
Washington Nationals 93-69
New York Mets 87-75
Miami Marlins 77-85
Philadelphia Phillies 75-87
Atlanta Braves 66-96
The Nationals continue to improve their team. They got solid second baseman Daniel Murphy. They also got Ben Revere for their second unneeded closer Drew Storen. The Jays did need him. They already had a good team, now they have a great and healthy one built off Bryce Harper and star pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer.
The Mets also resigned Yoenis Cespedes and signed Asdrubal Cabrera for the first time. They additionally traded for Neil Walker. They have a strong rotation but still lack power in their lineup. They should be good, but not necessarily a playoff contender as there are much better wild card candidates in the NL.
The Marlins also have improved their pitching to match the lineup they revamped in 2015. But some of the guys like shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, utility Derek Dietrich and first baseman Justin Bour are still developing. At least they have Martin Prado and Don Kelly in the infield, and a pretty powerful, but somewhat old outfield.
The Phillies have gotten better as well. They’ve really improved their rotation, including the acquisition of veterans Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Brett Oberholtzer and Vincent Velasquez. Bobby LaFramboise, Jerad Eickhoff, Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez will lead the bullpen. They also have acquired Peter Bourjos to join Odubel Herrera and Cody Asche in the outfield. They have a stronger, more developed lineup and rotation, but still aren’t above .500 material.
Meanwhile, the Braves are much worse. They have some serious holes in the infield, despite acquiring Erick Aybar. Their pitching is worse, even more devastated despite signing minor league players Kyle Kendrick, Alexi Ogando and David Holmberg.
Chicago Cubs 96-66
St. Louis Cardinals 91-71
Pittsburgh Pirates 88-74
Cincinnati Reds 79-83
Milwaukee Brewers 65-97
The Cubs already had a good team last year with Kris Bryant and some other dominant young stars making it to the majors. This off season, the really stacked up. They already had Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, they inked John Lackey to a deal too. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward also got deals in Chicago. This team now looks to be one of the most powerful MLB teams while still having a starting lineup that’s almost 50% MLB rookies or sophomores.
The Cardinals still have power in the division, but were fed on just like the 2014-15 Tigers were fed on by the Nationals. What I mean is that without any trades, one team is taking a lot of the Cardinals’ top 2015 free agents, that team is their division rival the Cubs. Their rotation is shorthanded without Lance Lynn and there outfield will miss Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Even Matt Holliday will hit free agency next season. However they have picked up Jedd Gyorko and Seung-Hwan Oh, and got some good insurance in Brandon Moss and Jonathan Broxton at the 2015 trade deadline. They also could still sign a big bat like Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson or Ian Desmond.
The Pirates are clearly at loss after losing Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but with A.J. Burnett retiring, they stacked up on some pitchers. They acquired Jon Niese, A.J. Schugel and Kyle Lobstein, and signed Ryan Vogelsong. yet they still have thriving prospect Tyler Glasnow. Man, their pitching staff is stacked. They additionally signed slugger John Jaso. But in the end, compared to the Cards and Cubs, they aren’t too good.
The Reds even have some potential. I see potential in this rotation. Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen is who I think will make up the rotation. They could also sign a veteran like Tim Lincecum and let Finnegan or Lorenzen rest after Bailey’s return from Tommy John surgery. If not, Keyvius Sampson or John Lamb will have to start until then, unless Robert Stephenson is in the Opening Day rotation. This team also has some serious holes, and needs some better hitting from Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. They desperately need a third baseman and an outfielder, and may have a ton of last minute signings if they don’t want to suck. Hey, maybe Scott Schebler takes the outfield, Jose Peraza platoons at third with Ivan DeJesus efficiently, and Homer Bailey comes back early and shines. Or they snag the older guys like Juan Uribe last minute.
The Brewers don’t look any better. Right now, Matt Garza and Wilin Peralta are their best pitchers, Will Smith is their closer, and they need some serious help in certain other positions. What are they going to do? Suck is what.
Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68
San Diego Padres 91-71
Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
San Francisco Giants 84-78
Colorado Rockies 67-95
This division may surprise you a lot. The Giants put so much money into this off season, and they only go 84-78. The Padres have the season they were expecting a year ago. The D-Backs and Giants both miss the playoffs and are short of a 90-win season after acquiring or signing a combined four top 50 pitchers in the MLB, two apiece. The Dodgers still rule the division after all that drama. Finally, despite a strong rebuild, the Rockies still suck.
The Dodgers however also acquired some good pitchers in Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy will also return this season. They have a secure lineup with very few holes and a strong rotation.
But what happened to the even year luck in San Francisco? Pablo Sandoval brought it to Boston. Oh well, Giants, all that hard work and my Red Sox still get all the glory, with little to pay up at all.
The D-Backs are also looking better but do you honestly think they can win a division title with the lineup they have? Not happening.
MLB 2016 Postseason
Okay, okay, I might be getting a little carried away with the Padres doing so well, because the Cubs wouldn’t lose to them likely. Well here’s something I’ll throw at you, even though I have the Dodgers winning the World Series, I nearly considered the Nats to beat them in the NLDS. Bryce Harper is primed for a bigger breakout than even last year’s. I know I always overrate the Nats, and again, I could be wrong with the Nats even making the playoffs. The Mets could take their spot or San Diego’s. You may have actually noticed that I had the Sox over LA in the Animoto video, I was just showing my Red Sox fandom. But lets be honest here, the Dodgers rotation is by far better than the Red Sox’s. They also have a slight edge with their outfield.
Alright, now the AL. Again, I may be exaggerating with the White Sox, I did say the Tigers are ready to bounce back. Now I don’t have them winning a single playoff game. That’s up for debate. But especially if Chicago signs Ian Desmond, think about it. Jose Abreu, Brett Lawrie, Ian Desmond and Todd Frazier all in one infield. Not bad. I see potential for both sides. Again, Red Sox-Rangers could also be debatable, I just believe the Sox have a slight edge in the match-up and will simply win 3-2 in the ALDS. Besides that, I think I agree with my original instinct. What do you think?
Now its time to make my predictions for some MLB Awards in 2016.
Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays
This is just going to make Bautista way more valuable. Well, what’s my case? Bautista was injured for a good amount of 2015, and played through some of it. He had unsatisfactory results for much of the season. But 2016 is the year for Jose Bautista to bounce back. He didn’t have terrible results last year, but he definitely has room for improvement. When he gets heated up, he reaches MVP level.
Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Carlos Beltran, Xander Bogaerts
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
I almost considered Joey Votto for MVP, but I just think that his team won’t support his relevance well enough. But Harper, he’s ready to dominate. Harper is fresh off a breakout season, and the 23-year old superstar is ready for another one. I also have him winning a very special award, which I’ll surprise you with at the end.
Freddie Freeman, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jason Heyward
AL Cy Young Award
David Price, Red Sox
Price has a seven year deal with the Red Sox, so he’s pressured to do amazing. Besides, there aren’t many other good choices. Cole Hamels, maybe Dallas Keuchel. Guys like that don’t match up to Price at his best, which he wasn’t last year. I don’t think Detroit was the right fit for Price. Boston or Toronto, that’s another story. Price is ready to dominate this year.
Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Chris Archer, Yu Darvish
NL Cy Young Award
James Shields, Padres
You might say Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw will win the NL Cy Young, but where’s the love for James Shields? Especially if the Padres have their long-awaited breakout year, Shields will be a legitimate competitor for the Cy Young. He put up stellar stats for the Royals, he just hasn’t really fit in to the Padres’ system, but I think he’s found a spot as their ace. He is ready to go back to all star form after only a subpar 2015.
Zack Greinke, Kenta Maeda, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw
AL Rookie Of The Year
Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
I’m not as big of a believer in Buxton as most people, but look at the other options in the AL. Byung-Ho Park is typically someone who would be too old to typically be a ro0kie. But Buxton really is a prospect, he’s a typical rookie, he plays like a young rookie. He’s actually one of the best at it in the AL, and I admire that. Plus, I have some serious issues underrating Buxton.
Byung-Ho Park, Sean Nolin, Blake Snell, Gary Sanchez, Dylan Bundy
NL Rookie Of The Year
Corey Seager, SS/3B, Dodgers
Unlike Buxton, I see off the charts potential for this guy. He’s the younger brother of a star third baseman in the league, and he proved himself byputting up great numbers while playing in the majors for the end of last season. There has been so much hype for this kid and I believe it. If there was one Rookie Of The Year for all of the MLB, it would be Seager all the way.
Steven Matz, Tyler Glasnow, Trayce Thompson, Jose Peraza
AL Comeback Player Of The Year
Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers
Darvish has spent nearly two full seasons on the DL. Two years before even that, he was a great new MLB pitcher fresh out of Japan’s best bunch. Darvish put up outstanding stats in 2012 and 2013. I know he’ll never be able to do that again, he’s too old and crippled, but can he at least return to All Star form? I am a firm believer in Darvish and I’d like to see him try.
Justin Verlander, Pablo Sandoval, Jarrod Parker, Desmond Jennings
NL Comeback Player Of The Year
Matt Kemp, OF, Padres
Kemp was a superstar with the Dodgers. He’s old, but if he can do the same in San Diego, that would greatly benefit them. Right now, he’s just a washed up outfielder forced to start. But as the season progresses, I think he has potential to put up some all star stats.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Jon Niese, Travis Wood, Bartolo Colon
Triple Crown Award (NL)
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
This is the big surprise we’ve been waiting for. Surprise, surprise, we have a Triple Crown winner! Guess who it is? Red hot, young Bryce Harper, already claiming the NL MVP. Harper is fresh of a long-awaited breakout and is ready to become an all time great in the MLB. A Triple Crown would really help his relevance, and I think he’s good enough to snag it at only age 23.
So that’s all for my MLB 2016 Preview. Comment with your thoughts.