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The 2019 MLB Season: Broken Down By Branigan

New Year. New Team. New Season. New You.

Coors Field by Kari is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The 2019 MLB Season: Broken Down By Branigan

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Biggest Surprises

I have a plethora of delightful surprises for the season, but I’ll give you three big ones.

Rockies Move Mountains

Everyone is loving the Dodgers, but I think the Rockies surprise us and take the NL West division this year. I like their top three in the rotation – Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, and Jon Gray. I think Wade Davis settles down a bit as closer and returns to the Kansas City version of Wade Davis; or close to it.

No Tulo or LeMahieu? No problem. The Rockies still have their now-$260 million guy in Nolan Arenado, who I think could be a legit NL MVP candidate. He’s finished in the top 8 in voting each of the past three seasons. Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story can play at an All-Star level, Ian Desmond more than doubled his home runs and RBIs last season from the 2017 season, and even Daniel Murphy is now added to this potent Colorado lineup. I think this could be a surprisingly good Rockies team, but I also think the Dodgers are taking steps backward, too.

A lot of questions surround their rotation for me this year, and the injury to Kershaw may spell the beginning of the end of a Dodgers reign in the NL West. Give me the Rockies to shock us all and win the division.

Simmons Gets His Moment

Manny Machado and Jean Segura have moved to the NL, Didi Gregorius could miss half the season, and Carlos Correa had a down year last season. It’s conceivable to think Francisco Lindor could be the starting shortstop for the AL all-star team this year. But who will be the reserve shortstop? I think one player who could really break out and surprise us this year is Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Did you know Simmons was 8th in the AL in WAR among position players? EIGHTH! Simmons is outstanding defensively, and he also batted nearly .300 with 75 RBIs. He seems to get better and better each year and, call me crazy, but I think Simmons will be an all-star reserve at shortstop for the AL this year.

From “Dead Red” to “Red Hot”

Is there something in the water in the state of Ohio? It was just about a year ago when the Cleveland Browns finished their regular season 0-16. During the offseason, however, the team made some significant improvements through the draft and free agency; including perhaps finally securing a quarterback for the future in Baker Mayfield.

The Browns were not far off from making the playoffs as they finished this past season 7-8-1. Well I’m here to give you another team out of the state of Ohio who will improve significantly and barely miss the playoffs: The Cincinnati Reds.

Just take a look at their lineup right now:

C: Tucker Barnhart
1B: Joey
2B: Scooter
SS: Jose
3B: Eugenio Suarez
Yasiel Puig
CF: Scott
Schebler/Jesse Winker
LF: Matt Kemp

Dude, not bad right?!

And even their pitching has improved, adding starting pitchers Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, and Sonny Gray (I think he’ll do better in a smaller market). And once he overcomes his ankle injury, minor league prospect infielder Nick Senzel could come onto the scene and be a nice addition as well. The Reds finished in last place in the NL Central last season with a 67-95 record.

This season…I think they win 82 games and finish just above .500, ahead of the Pirates, just missing out on the playoffs, but becoming the most improved team in the majors. The tough part is that the NL Central is stacked. It is going to be a super competitive division. If the Reds were in, say, the AL Central, they could absolutely be a playoff team. The Reds are coming fellas. Give this team a couple more years and they will be a playoff team. Watch, I bet you.

Some Additional Quick Takes…

A lot of people like the Yankees to win the AL East this year. I don’t…and I’m even a Yankee fan. The Yankees seem to never be able to stay healthy and as a unit they are disjointed because of it. And the same big question remains for me each offseason for the Yanks: How good will their rotation really be? How will Severino perform coming off his injury? Can Tanaka stay healthy? How will James Paxton pan out first time in pinstripes? What is going on with CC – is he going to be healthy? Can J.A. Happ perform in the playoffs? A loooot of questions surrounding this rotation, and it seems to be the case with the Yankees every year.

Didi Gregorius will miss about half the season, and Aaron Hicks is already battling an injury. I still think the Yankees can get into the playoffs, but I’m here to tell you that again, they will not win the division. I am still rolling with the Red Sox to take it. Everyone is loving the Yankees saying “this is their year!” But as far as I can tell, Boston still has the better rotation, lineup, defense and, quite frankly, probably the better manager than New York. The only area the Yanks have the edge over the Sox is the bullpen – clearly. But the Red Sox showed us last season that you don’t necessarily need a lights-out bullpen to win a World Series.

So go ahead, bet against the Red Sox…at your own peril.

My Division Winners! Not much changes in the AL, but the NL gets weird…

AL East = Red Sox Yup, nothing changes here.

AL Central = Indians – It’s that starting rotation man…it’s so good. Plus Ramirez and Lindor are deadly.

AL West = Astros – I think Houston is still king of this division.

AL Wild Cards = Twins – Yup, they’re back! and Yankees – They still mash and that bullpen…and get healthy for once will ya!

NL East = Nationals – Give me the Nats. Because their rotation 1 thru 3 is dynamite, their bullpen got better, and Juan Soto and Victor Robles are coming fellas.

NL Central (which is easily the toughest division to predict by the way) = Cubs – A healthy Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber could go a long way.

NL West = Rockies – There’s a new king of the West.

NL Wild Cards = Phillies – They’ll get in the playoffs…they just won’t take the division and Dodgers – They take steps backwards but still have enough talent to sneak into the playoffs.

More, But Disappointing Surprises! WOMP WOMP!

The Brewers, Braves, and Athletics all made the playoffs last season. They won’t make it this year. These will be the three most disappointing teams in 2019. The Cardinals, Rays, and Reds will put up good fights also, but will fall short of the postseason.

More Predictions!

AL MVP = Mike Trout (Angels) (duh)

NL MVP = Nolan Arenado (Rockies) (A bit of a sleeper pick but a big reason why Rockies will win the division)

AL CY Young = Chris Sale (Red Sox) (I just think he’s due)

NL CY Young = Max Scherzer (Nationals) (He seems to win this thing practically every other year since the past half-decade. I’ll go with him getting his fourth CY Young after DeGrom won it last year)

AL Rookie of the Year = Eloy Jiminez (White Sox) (Vlad Guerrero Jr. is the majority pick, but give me Jiminez. This kid killed it in Triple-A. He’s the #1 prospect for the White Sox)

NL Rookie of the Year = Victor Robles (Nationals) (Like I said…Robles is coming)

AL Manager of the Year = Rocco Baldelli (Twins)

NL Manager of the Year = Dave Martinez (Nationals)

Who Wins The World Series?! This might be the biggest surprise of them all!

AL Champions = Astros

NL Champions = Cubs

World Series Champions = Cubs

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing's strictly sports.

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