MLB 2019 preview: Predicting the AL’s division champs, pennant winner, award getters

first_imgCentral — Cleveland IndiansYes, Cleveland underachieved last year and yes, Francisco Lindor is starting the season hurt, Jose Ramirez was bad down the stretch and you can’t name a single one of their outfielders but the Indians are still really, really good.Their rotation had four starters who struck out 200 or more batters last year and they have every chance to do it again and Lindor and Ramirez are still really good too. The bullpen is also likely to improve from last year’s disaster.Cleveland will win this division in a walk.East — New York YankeesThe Yankees are already dealing with a lot of injuries as Luis Severino, CC Sabathia and Greg Bird have already gotten hurt, but the rotation is still good, the lineup is very good and the bullpen in transcendent.The Indians won 10 games less than they should have a year ago because of their bullpen while the Red Sox are in a similar spot this year. It got them through the postseason in 2018, but that was with massive help from Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale. Those men will not be in the pen during the regular season and it will cost them wins and the division.West — Houston AstrosThe Astros lost three starters from a year ago, but can you name the Astros’ top two starters from 2017? You probably can’t. Can you name their bottom three? Without a doubt you won’t. But, this year they still have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole at the top and an accumulation of guys at the bottom.Verlander and Cole will win more than enough to carry the team to the deadline and Collin McHugh, Wade Miley and Brad Peacock will be more than passable to solidify the rotation.Reinforcements will also come in the form of Josh James, Forrest Whitley, Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas. The pitching will be more than fine, the bullpen is very good and the lineup got better with the addition of Michael Brantley. If Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and George Springer are simply slightly more healthy than they were a year ago this team will definitely win 100 games and maybe even 105.Wild Cards — Boston Red Sox, Seattle MarinersThe Red Sox are an obvious pick here. The Mariners not so much. Here’s the thinking: The Athletics are going to regress this year. They have one starting pitcher and while everyone thinks they’ll succeed with bullpenning like they did last year remember Sean Manaea was a staple in the rotation until August and Trevor Cahill and Edwin Jackson ate up some innings while combining to win 15 games.None of those guys are in the rotation this season and that will really hurt Oakland. The only other team that we think could slip in would be the Rays, but they went through a lot of turnover.Seattle has solid pitching again, and a lineup that works. While it may feel like recency bias as the Mariners just beat the A’s twice in Japan, it’s not. We really like this team and think they’ll beat up on the Angels and Rangers and use that to get back to the playoffs for the first time in what seems like an eternity.ALCS pick — Astros vs. YankeesA rematch of the 2017 ALCS, this series will all come down to who has home-field advantage. If the Yankees get it, they win. If the Astros get it, they do. We’ll take the Yankees to win the series for this reason and almost this reason alone: James Paxton is the Astros’ kryptonite.Paxton is 7-3 with a 2.89 ERA in his career versus Houston and he will likely get two starts in an ALCS matchup between the two teams. Houston also can’t hit Luis Severino, and if the youngster comes back healthy after a spring training arm injury, that could be four wins between just those two pitchers.Four games wins an ALCS, so that’s the pick.MVP — Mike Trout, AngelsIt feels like there was a lot of hand-wringing last season when Trout didn’t win the award last year despite the Angels not making the playoffs. Assuming health, Trout will have the best numbers of anyone in the AL both with the eye test and by WAR and he will earn his third career MVP.Cy Young Winner — Trevor Bauer, IndiansIf Bauer had been healthy all of 2018 he would have won the AL Cy Young. He bested teammate Corey Kluber in just about every single category and Kluber was a Cy Young finalist.There is no pitcher in MLB with better stuff than Bauer at the moment. His collection of fastball, curveball, slider and change is as good as gold and when you see him pitch up close you have no idea how anyone can touch him.If he stays healthy he will win the award this year.Rookie of the Year — Yusei Kikuchi, MarinersThis feels a little crummy because Kikuchi is 27 years old, but it will be his first season in MLB and he will be in the rotation for Seattle from day one.He’ll post good numbers in a pitcher-friendly ballpark and earn a lot of wins in a division with bad teams like Texas and Los Angeles and terrible hitter’s parks in Oakland and LA. But, don’t discount Houston for how bad of a park it can be to hit in as well. No one likes that batter’s eye in center field and it hurts runs scored.  The American League, in contrast to the National, is incredibly top heavy again in 2019.The Red Sox, Yankees, Astros and Indians are all capable of winning 100 games and the bottom of all three divisions are capable of losing 100 or more. MLB 2019 preview: Projecting the AL West But the playoffs will be absolutely fantastic, so you will have to take the good with the bad.Here are our predictions for how the AL will shake out in 2019. Related Newscenter_img Kikuchi has very good stuff and is a mature pitcher which should be enough to win him the award.Manager of the Year — Scott Servais, MarinersIf the Mariners get back to the postseason for the first time since 2001, Servais will win the award. This one is pretty self-explanatory. MLB 2019 preview: Projecting the AL Centrallast_img

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