We are finally on the eve of Opening Day, yes, the real Opening Day not this Japan Series nonsense that 27 people were awake to see (kudos to marketing genius Rob Manfred). As we prepare to embark on another 6-month journey that will consume our lives every day, I will attempt to do what so many others have done in the past: predict what will happen in a sport that is highly unpredictable. These are predictions are sure to be way off base and I look forward to the “gotcha” moments on Twitter dot com that will follow in the coming months.
The junior circuit is truly a tale of haves and have-nots as we go into 2019. Going into the season you can make the case that there are really only 7 teams actively trying to reach the postseason. The remaining 8 teams are compromised of a few teams meddling in the middle that didn’t do enough to be taken seriously, and clubs at varying stages of rebuilds. All things considered, the talent disparity between is much wider than what we will see in the National League in 2019.
The league’s powerhouse division retains its title once again in 2019. The top 3 teams (Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays) all promise to be serious contenders heading into the season and promise to do damage against the lesser teams both in their division, and the AL as a whole. I personally expect 3 teams from the East to be playing in October (more on that later), causing a great deal of consternation of people not living on the eastern seaboard. The defending champion Red Sox, coming off perhaps the most dominant title run since the 1998 Yankees after winning 108 games in the regular season and an 11-3 postseason (3 loses, lol) have question marks at the back end of their bullpen as they did not actively engage with still free agent closer, Craig Kimbrel and saw setup man, Joe Kelly, depart to the Dodgers, the team he helped defeat in the Fall Classic. That bullpen could prove to be the Achilles heel of a team looking to be the first repeat champion since the Jeter dynasty.
The Yankees bring their loaded lineup to play every day. A full season Gleyber Torres should be a great watch, although he will be starting the season at SS due to Didi Gregorious recovery from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees provided insurance in the infield by bringing in the solid, yet unspectacular, DJ LeMahieu and oft-injured Troy Tulowitzki. The Yankees cemented an already dominant bullpen by re-signing free agent LHP Zach Britton and added reinforcement from the right side in Adam Ottovino. The Bronx Bombers lone question mark comes in the way of their starting rotation. Luis Severino, fresh off a new contract extension is dealing with shoulder issues in the spring and won’t be ready to start the season. 38-year-old C.C. Sabathia is back for what is his final season and his ability to hold up for the course of 30+ starts has to be a question at this point. In most cases, the Yankees simply need their starters to get them to the 6th inning when they can bullpen teams do death with absolutely dominant, filthy stuff to close out most nights.
The Tampa Bay Rays promise to be one of the most interesting teams in 2019. The team that brought “The Opener” to life brings a pretty balanced roster after an interesting winter. Acquiring catcher, Mike Zunino from the Seattle Mariners promises to help solidify the backstop position, and given the Rays ability to get the most of our players I wouldn’t be shocked if he finally puts it all together in 2019. A 2 year deal for former World Series hero, Charlie Morton will help provide innings and depth to a Rays rotation that should be one of the more compelling in the league. A trade to acquire intriguing 3B, Yandy Diaz from the Cleveland Indians, should help the Rays have added infield depth due to projected starter Matt Duffy’s late spring injury. And former White Sox legend, Avisail Garcia will surely hit 30 homers this year finally realizing that potential, just to drive a stake in the heart of Sox fans.
The Rays are compromised of a plethora of young, big league talent that could take huge steps forward in 2019. Reigning Cy Young award winner, Blake Snell fronts a rotation that will be able to keep the Rays in games every night. The aforementioned, Charlie Morton will help provide veteran depth, and youngster Tyler Glasnow will see if it all finally comes together in 2019. If he can become the pitcher many thought he would be as a prospect, he could be a monster.
On the position player side, shortstop, Willy Adames, offers a high level of excitement in the infield and could really help to lengthen the lineup. Tommy Pham exploded offensively following his trade from the St. Louis Cardinals and looks to provide 30 homer pop in the middle of the lineup. The true wild-card will be an outfielder, Austin Meadows. Meadows once a top prospect in the Pirates organization could be the key to a team that has serious postseason aspirations.
The Blue Jays and Orioles look to be the whipping boys this season. The lone bright spot for the Jays will be the eventual arrival of uber-prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. One of the most highly decorated prospects of the last decade, promises to be must-see tv when he steps into the batters’ box. For the Orioles, the biggest thing to look forward to in 2019 will be the 162nd game.
I put together a detailed AL Central preview recently (https://theloopsports.com/2019/03/26/american-league-central-preview-2019/), so I’ll give you Cliff’s notes here. The Indians look primed to take their 4th consecutive division title despite begging another team to dethrone them this winter. The top rotation in all of baseball will simply prove too much for the rest of a truly weak division. The Twins upgraded their roster over the winter by adding Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, but they stopped short of truly going for it, as they have to stay true to their small market mindset. The Sox, Tigers, and Royals are all in varying stages of rebuilds and promise to be the main reason why the Indians will win 88 games this season and get back to October.
The Houston Astros promise to be the class of this division again in 2019. A team that has tremendous depth and quality at each position on their roster, looks primed for another deep October run. Michael Brantley will add some left-handed balance to an already potent lineup, while Wade Miley will help provide rotation depth as he is coming off a career rebirth with the Brewers last season.
Recently extended, Justin Verlander, heads a starting rotation that again promises to be one of the tops in the league. A group that includes: Gerrit Cole, Miley, Collin McHugh, and Josh James knows that should one of the final two options falter, Forrest Whitley looms in the minors ready to step in. The Astros have maintained quality depth in the minor leagues allowing them the flexibility to get a finishing piece to help cap another World Series quest, should it be needed.
Position player wise, the Astros young core is one of the tops in all of baseball. The infield compromised of former MVP, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, and Alex Bregman is one of the tops in all of baseball. Health will prove to be a key for this group as Correa and Altuve both missed time last year. Top prospect, Kyle Tucker, is waiting in the wings looking to get consistent at-bats and could provide additional thump to an already dangerous lineup. All things considered, this is what I believe to be the best team top-to-bottom in the AL and health will be the one thing that could hold them back.
The Oakland A’s fresh off a surprising 97 win campaign and Wild Card birth have serious questions heading into the season. A team that used “Bullpenning” masterfully in order to get to October will be pushed again this year as their starting rotation is paper thin to start the season. Ace, Sean Manaea will be out for most, if not all the season and top pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo has been shut down with shoulder fatigue. Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada provide a veteran presence to this group, but how much quality will they be able to provide remains the key question. I think the rotation will ultimately be the undoing for this team as I just can’t see them riding the bullpen to another postseason appearance in 2019.
Position player wise the A’s are a really fun team to watch. The hamate injury to Matt Olson will keep him out until at least May so the team will be without one of its main thumpers early on in the season. Third baseman Matt Chapman is looking to cement himself as the top defender at the hot corner and continue building on a resume that is screaming of a superstar. Khris “Khrush” Davis will look to do the truly unthinkable. Have a 5th consecutive season with a .247 BA and 40+ homers. This team hits bombs for days and are truly an entertaining watch.
As is customary the Los Angeles of Anaheim of Orange County of California of Pacific Time Zone Angels didn’t do much in the off-season to help the now highest paid professional athlete on the planet, Mike Trout reach the postseason. This is truly a sad development as we are seeing an all-time great have his peak years squandered without playing meaningful baseball and I expect 2019 to be no different. The Rangers and Mariners are both going through “retooling” phases and don’t look to provide any resistance in this division. The thing we have to look forward to with this group is at least 27 more trades from Jerry DiPoto.
Division Winners and Playoffs
Division Winners: Yankees, Indians, Astros
Wild Cards: Red Sox, Rays
Division Series: Astros over Red Sox, Yankees over Indians (evil smile)
League Championship Series: Astros over Yankees 4-2
Player With Best Teammates Not Named Mike Trout (MVP): Alex Bregman
Cy Young: Gerrit Cole
Rookie of the Year: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
Manager of the Year: Kevin Cash
The Senior Circuit promises to be a very entertaining league across the board this year. The overall balance and depth of the league is significantly greater than that of the Junior Circuit. Even teams that don’t promise to be postseason contenders like the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres (starts sobbing) promise to be fun watches in 2019. There are in my view, nine legitimate post-season contenders in this group so it should be a wild summer in NL cities.
Perhaps the most improved division in all of baseball, this could truly be a gauntlet that is about survival if nothing else. Only the Marlins promise to be a doormat this season as the other 4 teams in the division improved to varying degrees over the winter. A case could be made for any of the remaining teams in this division as post-season worthy.
Perhaps the most active team this winter was the New York Mets with new GM Brodie van Wagenen. The former agent turned front office executive, wasted no time trying to reshape this roster by acquiring a former crosstown star, Robinson Cano and elite closer Edwin Diaz. Brodie wasn’t done there bringing back former closer, Jeurys Familia to help round out his bullpen and acquiring Wilson Ramos to fortify the backstop position and Jed Lowrie to provide infield depth.
The Mets starting rotation, if healthy can be as lethal as any team in all of baseball. Reigning Cy Young winner and recently extended Jacob de Grom leads a group of fireballers can shut down an elite lineup. Noah Syndergaard looks to stay healthy for the first time in a few seasons and if he can, this 1-2 punch is probably the best in all of baseball.
The Mets did a nice job of providing themselves depth among their group of everyday players, which van Wagenen stated was one of his goals this winter. The additions of Lowrie and Keon Broxton should help them in this regard. Yoenis Cespedes promises to be the Wild Card as he will be out until mid-season and his return could prove to be similar to a major trade deadline acquisition if healthy.
Gone is Bryce Harper after departing for the division rival Phillies, but don’t be fooled into thinking this team is going to roll over and play dead. This team is still loaded and a full season of Juan Soto should prove to be on the most exciting parts of the upcoming season. Will Victor Robles, who is finally getting his opportunity to play every day realize his superstar potential that made him an untouchable in trade discussions just a few winters ago? Can Adam Eaton stay healthy for the first time since his arrival in the nation’s capital to give the Nats one of the most dynamic outfields in the entire league?
The Nationals were very active this winter as they never really appeared to be in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes after he decided to turn down their $300 million offer at the end of the 2018 season. So the Nats reallocated those assets to improve an already solid roster. The big acquisition was free agent LHP, Patrick Corbin. Corbin will provide balance from the left side to an already lethal duo at the top of the rotation in perennial Cy Young contender, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg. The Nats added rotation depth by bringing in the resurgent Anibal Sanchez who found past success a year ago in Atlanta. Adding infield depth was another priority to this club as they brought in former All-Star 2B, Brian Dozier. Coming off a down year, Dozier is looking to rebuild value and could provide serious pop at the keystone position for this club. Yan Gomes will provide quality help behind the dish and bullpen pieces Kyle Barraclough and recovered Trevor Rosenthal could be key bullpen additions.
All things considered, this Nats team is loaded and is poised to prove that the loss of Harper won’t mean the end of a solid run for this franchise.
The most puzzling winter of any team for me has to go to the Braves. Coming off a division title, this team seemed poised to take the next step as a World Series contender but they did very little in the way of improving their team. They struck early this winter by bringing in former MVP, Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann on 1-year deals. While a healthy Donaldson will provide series thump at 3B, this winter just felt very incomplete from a team that should be making the big leap to get back to the Fall Classic.
The Braves seem content to rely on continued development from their young core of stud Ronald Acuna, Jr., Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman. The Braves have a wave of young pitching talent at the big league level and upper minors that could take a major step forward making their inactive winter inconsequential. Emerging front-end starter Mike Foltynewicz and youngsters like Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Sean Newcomb and top prospect Mike Soroka could give the Braves a dominant homegrown rotation that will help them relive past glory in the ATL. The team’s main weakness is their bullpen. If only there was a former Braves closer available on the market that could help shore up this group.
Around the diamond, this team is loaded with superstar potential. The player I am most looking forward to watching in 2019 is Ronald Acuna, Jr. I think this guy is ready to explode and show everyone why he was baseball’s top prospect last year. I’m expecting huge things from him, more on that later. To complement Acuna, Jr. the Braves have Ozzie Albies who had an uneven season last year, fading in the second half and the mercurial Dansby Swanson. The former #1 overall pick has struggled to put it together at the plate since being acquired by the Bravos. Stalwart Freddie Freeman will hold down 1B and provide power and presence to what should be a solid lineup.
The Phillies vowed to spend “stupid money” to improve their team this winter and they did that but was it enough. The big signing of Bryce Harper last month capped off a winter that saw the Phillies try to remake their roster into a post-season contender. Joining Harper are newcomers Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, Jean Segura, J.T. Realmuto. This new group promises to put the Phillies in position to be a threat in this crowded division.
On the pitching side, the Phillies rotation is led by recently extended Aaron Nola. Nola promises to be a Cy Young contender and one of the top pitchers in the league. Following Nola is a group comprised of former Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velazquez and Zach Eflin. This is a promising group that just hasn’t quite put it all together yet. If they take the steps forward this year, they could easily jump to the top of this division and be a threat in the National League.
Across the diamond the newly acquired Harper, Realmuto, McCutchen, and Segura promise to give the Phillies serious thump in their lineup. Rhys Hoskins will move back to his natural position at 1B, which should help improve this club defensively. I think this team is going to score a lot of runs and be a fun watch every night. Will the defense improve enough after being truly dreadful a year ago? That will probably be the biggest question mark for this team as they try to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
They still exist, albeit without the home run sculpture in left field. Chicago born, Curtis Granderson will hopefully play well enough to garner a trade to a contender and that’s all I have to say about that.
This division promises to be one of the more entertaining races this season. The defending champion Brewers did next to nothing this winter to supplement a group that was within a game of winning their first pennant since 1982. The perennial contenders in Chicago told everyone they didn’t have money this winter to acquire high-end talent, and it proved to be right in the end. The two most active teams in the division were the St. Louis Cardinals, and *checks note* Cincinnati Reds. Ultimately, the top 3 teams in this division will duke it out in what should be a fun summer in the Midwest.
Much was made of the Cubs second half malaise that saw them squander a September division lead, ultimately relinquishing their hold on it during a 163rd game against the Brewers. Much of the Cubs issues last year stemmed from a power outage in the lineup, most notably superstar Kris Bryant. For the entire summer, I spent time telling people I know who are followers of that team that the sky wasn’t falling they were simply victims of poor health. I expect this trend to reverse course in 2019. This is still an extremely talented group, and I expect Kris Bryant to return to MVP-caliber now that his shoulder is healthy. Lineup depth will continue to be a strength for Hipster Joe in 2019 as the core of Rizzo, Bryant, Mr. Electricity, Schwarber should provide plenty of balance. Resurgent seasons from Willson Contreras and, yes, Jason Heyward could prove to be X-factors for this team. If at least one of those players puts together just a decent season, this could be one of the top offenses in the NL. It is still to be determined how this team will utilize scumbag Addison Russell once he returns from his early-season suspension.
On the pitching side, here is where I see the biggest area of concern. Yu Darvish coming off a disastrous first season on the North Side will be a key to this group. If he can reclaim past success, he still has the stuff to be the top dog in this rotation. A pair of 35-year-old lefties in Jon Lester and Cole Hamels will need to fight off old age for another season for this team to reclaim their division crown. Lester saw his peripherals slide in the wrong direction last season and one has to wonder if father time is finally catching up to the World Series legend. While still being productive, Lester will need to make some adjustments to lead this rotation. Hamels saw an uptick in velocity and overall results following a mid-season trade from the Rangers. Will a full season in the Windy City lead to more success for the former ace? Unheralded starters Kyle Hendricks and a former personal favorite, Jose Quintana round out the rotation. Quintana hasn’t quite been what the Cubs expected when they sent Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to 35th/Shields, but he has still been a solid starter that has had some rough patches. Hendricks bounced back from a tough start to put together another solid season. Following his recent contract extension that will keep him on the North Side until at least 2024, I expect Hendricks to be solid in 2019.
The St. Louis Cardinals haven’t made the postseason since 2015, and while most franchises would kill for that “drought” it’s an eternity in America’s heartland. The Cardinals are looking to end that as they were active this winter making a big splash by acquiring stud 1B, Paul Goldschmidt. The Cards recently extended America’s First Baseman for 5 years ensuring he will terrorize pitchers in the Central for years to come. His added thump will hopefully help a lineup that was unbalanced at times last year. Goldy holding down 1B will allow the Cards to shift long-time infielder Matt Carpenter across the diamond back to the hot corner. Youngsters Paul DeJong, Harrison Bader, and Kolton Wong provide a nice group of youngsters with loads of upside that could take big jumps in 2019.
This Cardinals team has their hopes of 2019 hinging on rebounds from injured players such as Marcell Ozuna, Alex Reyes, Yadier Molina, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, and Adam Wainwright. Those are some big names that have had extensive injury histories in recent years, but if they are able to get production out of that group, and yes it’s a big if, they could be a prime challenger in this division.
The bullpen will be something to watch for this group in 2019. Newly acquired closer, Andrew Miller is coming off an injury-plagued and sub-par season with the Indians in 2019. Is he truly healthy and able to reclaim his past form as a top reliever? Only time will tell. A major question mark for this team heading into the season is Carlos Martinez. Martinez has battled arm injuries for over a year now and will begin the season on the Injured List and speculation has grown that he will shift to the bullpen when he returns. If Martinez could be healthy, that would be a huge bump to this team.
The Brew Crew were one game away from winning the NL pennant before being ousted by the Dodgers last season. A team that utilized prospect depth to acquire MVP, Christian Yelich and cash for star CF, Lorenzo Cain was rewarded with a postseason birth for the first time since 2011. Josh Hader emerged as one of the most devastating relief weapons in the sport last season. Manager Craig Counsell utilized his bullpen masterfully and almost saw it payoff a year ago. The big question for this team will be was the bullpen taxed too much in 2018 for them to follow it up this season?
The Crew didn’t do much in terms of improving their roster this winter with their main acquisition being free agent catcher, Yasmani Grandal. Grandal will provide quality defensive work, despite his defensive issues in the postseason. His switch-hitting ability could also provide 20+ homers to an already balanced lineup.
Pitching will be the key for this group in 2019. I would’ve loved to see this group improve their starting rotation as I just don’t see enough depth to withstand another season of extreme bullpen use. I’ll be interested to see how Hader holds up following a season in which he was taxed like never before. Rumors of interest in a closer, Craig Kimbrel could help this elite bullpen that is already suffering from the injury bug as Corey Knebel is on the shelf to start the season. Starter Jimmy Nelson looks to return for the first time since shoulder injuries in 2017. Ultimately, I think the lack of pitching depth will be this teams undoing in 2019 as they will fail to follow up a successful 2018 season.
The Reds were one of the most surprisingly active teams this winter. Acquiring veterans Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood from the Dodgers while also swinging deals for Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark. The Reds are apparently tired of being division doormats and are looking to change their fortunes. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough pitching to go with a fun, balanced lineup that should score a lot of runs. Once top prospect Nick Senzel arrives, this could be one of the most dangerous and entertaining lineups in the league. However, their inability to develop quality pitching will stand in their way as they just won’t be able to move higher than 4th in this division despite being possibly an 80 win team.
The Pirates still have the best stadium in baseball, no I didn’t stutter. They still have a phenomenal pulled pork sandwich topped with pierogis on a pretzel bun at the Manny Sanguillen sandwich stand behind RF. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring much else to PNC Park for this summer. I think this team finishes in the last place in 2019.
The Dodgers look to continue their stranglehold on this division for another year. The Rockies should be the only team to “challenge” LA in 2019 while the upstart Padres (more tears) will be an entertaining group as their young talent and new star 3B should give the folks in Ron Burgundy’s favorite city reason for hope. The Diamondbacks are stuck in neutral not committing to a full rebuild while not pushing the envelope to really improve on a decent team. The Giants know they have to fully tear down their squad and brought in Farhan Zaidi to complete this task. When it’s all said in done, the boys in blue will be handing another division banner on the facade at Dodger Stadium
The team with the most depth in all of baseball will look to win their third consecutive NL pennant and hopefully finish the job for the first time since 1988. There are question marks for this team heading into the season as Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Walker Buehler are all banged up heading into the season. This development will lead to Hyun Jin Ryu being the teams Opening Day starter. Will Corey Seager regain his All-Star form after being sidelined with Tommy John surgery a year ago? Is Kenley Jansen back to his shutdown self at the back end of the bullpen?
The Dodgers positional versatility is one of the hallmarks of this team since Andrew Friedman took over as head of baseball operations. That will be the case once again in 2019 as manager Dave Roberts will use platoons to mix and match across the board. Newly acquired AJ Pollock will look to stay healthy and hold down centerfield allowing the team to utilize Cody Bellinger and versatile Chris Taylor in other areas across the diamond. The Dodgers as presently constituted have a glut of outfielders with the aforementioned Pollock, Bellinger, Taylor, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, top prospect Alex Verdugo, and Enrique Hernandez. One would think something has to give at some point because there just aren’t enough spots to ensure at-bats for this group. At some point, I expect this team to move one or multiple outfielders to fill areas of need, possibly in the rotation.
Pitching-wise this team will need to withstand the early onslaught of injuries to Kershaw, Hill, and Buehler. Their depth should allow them to tread water until they are back at full strength. If Kenley Jansen can regain his top form to go alongside free-agent acquisition Joe Kelly, this bullpen could cause nightmares for opposing hitters late in games. When we wrap up the 162 seasons, I expect the Dodgers to be celebrating another division title.
The Rockies took the Dodgers to a 163rd game last season before ultimately defeating the Cubs in the Wild Card round. The Rocks weren’t able to capitalize on that momentum as they were quickly swept by the Brewers in the NLDS. The team had a very quiet off-season bringing in Daniel Murphy to handle duties at 1B but their big move was locking up face of the franchise Nolan Arenado. Arenado’s extension ensures he will be manning the hot corner in the Mile High City for at least another 8 years.
The Rockies young pitching took steps forward last year helping this team get to the postseason. Unfortunately, they will be relying on that group to continue their progression as they did nothing to help fortify the group over the winter. As we’ve seen throughout their entire history, pitching can be very problematic at altitude so expecting repeat performances out of this group is a little too much for my taste in 2019.
Perhaps the most fascinating team heading into 2019, the Padres are looking to take major steps forward this coming season. The big move we all know and hurt from too much around these parts is new 3B Manny Machado. Machado took the Padres superior $300mil offer and chose to go to the upstart NL West club for the next decade. To add another final gut punch to Sox fans, the Padres just announced superstar prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. will join Machado on the left side of the infield for Opening Day avoiding the service time manipulation game. The Padres have the games top farm system and will start to see more of these pieces trickle into the bigs during the 2019 season. Ultimately, this team isn’t ready for prime time yet, but it is truly an exciting time for the lone pro sports team in Ron Burgundy’s city so Champ Kind should be saying “Whammy!” quite a bit.
That left side of the infield will be a painful thing for us Sox fans to look at especially this year as the wounds of Manny Machado not coming to 35th/Shields are still fresh. Tatis who went to San Diego in the ill-fated James Shields deal will be a further reminder of the Sox front office ineptitude as the team dealt the former international signee without even consulting it’s Latin American operations director prior to the deal. This sight is going to hurt.
Dbacks and Giants
These two teams are grouped together because they aren’t going to contend in 2019 and their biggest question marks will be if they are able to move veteran pieces to aid in their rebuilding processes. Zack Greinke and David Peralta represent the biggest trade chips for the Dbacks but will the team be able to find a taker for Greinke’s contract that isn’t on his no-trade list? Peralta could represent a nice deadline acquisition for a team needing outfield help.
The Giants core that helped win 3 titles in a 5-year stretch knows the end is near. Madison Bumgarner is in the final year of his deal and looks to surely be dealt to a contender at some point this season. Farhan Zaidi knows the job in front of him and it will be painful to see the face of dynasty depart at some point this year. Will the team be willing to move on from solid everyday players Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt remains to be seen. Belt’s departure could open up 1B for Buster Posey, which looks like an eventual destination for the perennial All-Star allowing top prospect, Joey Bart to take over behind the dish.
Division Winners and Playoffs
Division Winners: Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers
Wild Cards: Cardinals, Braves
Division Series: Dodgers over Cardinals, Nationals over Cubs
League Championship Series: Nationals over Dodgers 4-3
MVP: Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Cy Young: Aaron Nola
Rookie of the Year: Victor Robles
Manager of the Year: Dave Martinez
The Nationals will finally get over the hump and win a post-season series and ironically will do it without Bryce Harper. The Nats will bring the World Series back to the Nation’s Capital for the first time since 1924 but it will be all for naught. In the Fall Classic, they are going to run into a buzz saw that is the Houston Astros. The Astros will ultimately prove to be too much taking down the Nationals 4-2 winning their second title in three years and beginning discussion of a dynasty down in Texas.
There you have it, folks. Now it’s time to “Sit back, relax, and strap it down” and enjoy this daily journey for the next 6 months.