Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com: (Oct. 27, 2018 – Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)
Opening Day is officially upon us, which is awesome for innumerable reasons. The dullness that has plagued our lives this winter is being removed by the sounds of wood cracking against ball emanating from meaningful baseball. In other words, good things happen to people when the calendar flips to the grind of 162. The first game is obviously more hopeful than the last one. Right now, every team has an inkling of hope however false it may be.
Consequently, people like myself who type words about baseball are drawn to the impossible artistry of making predictions. We like to superimpose our ideology about where each teams’ respective hope should be. Inevitably, we are wrong, yet that never stifles us from trying to be as right as possible. Last season, I picked the New York Yankees to win the American League East and the Washington Nationals to win the National League. These things are hard! Predictions are a frivolous activity that are bred out of a desire for control and serve as an emblem of one’s knowledge about a topic.
I can guarantee that my picks won’t be 100 percent right. Hell, I would be content with 50 percent, which is around where I was last year. If nothing else, these predictions represent a marker for our site’s progress. This is the second season we have staff predictions for Red Sox Unfiltered. It’s cool to think we have been constructing this dream for over a calendar year. Thank you, dear reader, for giving us your clicks and eyeballs. We really do appreciate it.
Without further ado, here are our staff picks for the 2019 season.
American League Predictions
Unfortunately, I think the New York Yankees will take home the division in 2019. New York won 100 games last year despite Aaron Judge missing six weeks of action. That probably won’t happen in 2019, and the Red Sox are due for some regression. This race will go down to the wire, but the Yankees should ultimately prevail.
The Indians are the obvious choice, simply because nobody in the AL Central is trying to win right now. Likewise, the Astros have the best top-to-bottom roster in the league and should win the AL West for the third consecutive season.
AL Wild Card
The wild card game is stupid, as the Red Sox and Rays will both be better than the Cleveland Indians. However, one of these teams will have to go home after just one game. God I hate this playoff format.
AL Rookie of the Year
He’s the best prospect since Alex Rodriguez. The Blue Jays might be starting him in the minors, but he’ll be up before long. Once he is, he should easily win Rookie of the Year honors and could even be a dark horse MVP candidate.
Alex Bregman can do everything and has a case for being the best third baseman in the league. The former second-overall pick is entering his age-25 season and should only improve on last year’s success. That thought should send shivers down the collective backbone of major league baseball.
- AL West-Houston Astros
- AL East- Boston Red Sox
- AL Central- Minnesota Twins
- Wild Card #1- Tampa Bay Rays
- Wild Card #2- New York Yankees
I’m pretty high on the Tampa Bay Rays this year and I think if things break right for them they could end up hosting the wild card game instead of the Yankees. I do not think the Red Sox relinquish their AL East crown this year. The AL Central has generally been weak and usually has a clear cut favorite, but I really like what the Minnesota Twins did this offseason and what the Cleveland Indians did not do. I think the Indians did not capitalize on the weak division as they should have, and it might come back to haunt them this year.
American League Rookie of the Year: Vladimir Guerrero Jr./u>
Does anyone think Vlad 2.0 won’t win this award? The only way I see him relinquishing this is if he gets injured or the Blue Jays are terrible and do not call him up (which could very well happen). If that does happen, it opens the door for Eloy Jimenez of the White Sox, but this is Vlad’s award to lose.
Let’s be real here, Verlander probably should have won the award in 2016 when Porcello won based on the voting system. I think Verlander has really found something in Houston and will find his way to winning this award again.
American League MVP: Mike Trout
I want to believe that this award can be given to a guy who impacts a playoff race, or really lifts their team up, but I do not see the Angels going anywhere this year. That being said, the people who vote for this award love the WAR stat and Mike Trout gets high remarks in that stat category. Trout is the best player that baseball may have ever seen, and I think this award will end up going to him. I personally believe it should go to a guy who impacts a playoff race and is a clear lift on the team and not just the best player in the league, but it really depends on how you quantify the “value” in Most Valuable Player.
American League Predictions:
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
AL West: Houston Astros
Wild Card #1: New York Yankees
Wild Card #2: Tampa Bay Rays
The American League remains very top heavy, which makes these predictions less difficult than its National League counterpart. Only the second Wild Card evoked slight consternation, and I feel fairly decent about that pick. To clarify, the American League East is going to be a toss-up, and you would not be wrong to choose either the Red Sox or Yankees. Last season, I picked the Yankees to win the division in what was another crapshoot. Obviously, I was patently wrong, so I won’t make the same mistake this year. The other team is all but assured (as sure as one can be on day zero) they will get a Wild Card spot.
Meanwhile, the AL Central seems safe for the Indians to reclaim, though there is buzz that the Minnesota Twins could be a sneaky contender. Finally, Houston will win the AL West and they should face almost no pressure in doing so. Their reign of dominance will continue.
AL MVP: Mookie Betts
Betts had a better fWAR season (10.4) last year than Mike Trout has ever had in his career. As of now, there is no debate Trout is the best player in the game. However, everything about Betts’ 2018 season is statistically legit. The underlying numbers suggest the elite offensive production is sustainable. At least, it was in 2018. This easily could be Trout, but Betts’ defense and baserunning are superior to Trout. If he is able to maintain his prolific production with the bat, he could attain his second AL MVP in as many years.
AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole emerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball last season. When he put on an Astros uniform, there was a sense that this transformation would take place. He had always been a solid pitcher, but never an elite one. Moving from a Pittsburgh Pirates organization which imposed a two-seam, down-in-the-zone strategy to a (ostensibly) hands-off Houston Astros organization, Cole was able to average the highest velocity on his fastball in his career. Moreover, he utilized his curveball and fastball more frequently. All in all, he produced a 6.0 fWAR and a 2.88 ERA. He seems like a good candidate to be, at the very least, in the conversation.
AL ROY: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
This has no flair to it. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the top prospect in baseball. When he eventually gets to the majors, he will be a stud. The only thing delaying this prophecy is the “when”. For service-time manipulation and injury issues, his stardom will be kept under wraps to start the year. By the end, though, expect a mashfest and a Rookie of the Year award.
National League Predictions
NL Division Winners
Every team except the Marlins has a chance to win the NL East, so it’s hard to pick a winner. That said, the Braves have a fantastic group of young talent who should only improve in 2019. The Cubs underachieved for the past two seasons and are due to play up to their talent in 2019. The Dodgers are still easily the best team in the West, although their divisional reign of terror will come to an end when the Padres stacked farm system is major-league ready.
NL Wild Card
The Phillies had a strong core in 2018 and only got better with multiple big-name adds in free agency. Likewise, the Cardinals added Paul Goldschmidt to a roster which already has a strong foundation. The Phillies should probably win this one-game series, but it’s just one game so anything can happen.
NL Rookie of the Year
In an unexpected turn of events, the San Diego Padres decided to have their young stud make the Opening Day roster. It is an evident signal they are trying to win right now, as having Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado in your infield sounds pretty damn competitive. He has clobbered the ball at every level, and has paired that with fine defense. A full year of Fernando Tatis Jr. should be lethal.
Fresh off a massive extension, the Rockies third baseman will immediately show he’s worth the money. At 27 years old, Arenado should be entering the prime of his career. He’s already one of the best young players in baseball and should continue to climb the ranks of the MLB elite.
NL East- Washington Nationals
NL Central- St. Louis Cardinals
NL West- Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Card #1- Milwaukee Brewers
Wild Card #2- Chicago Cubs
As a baseball fan, I love the competition in the NL Central and how all teams are attempting to win (except the Pittsburgh Pirates). In a world where tanking is very real, it’s awesome to see a division that could go anyway depending on how the cards happen to flip for a team. I like the Cardinals based on their additions to the offensive side and the Brewers still have rotation questions. The NL West is the Dodgers’ division to lose and the NL East is another compelling division. I think the Nationals have the most well rounded team there.
National League Rookie of the Year: Peter Alonso
I love this guy. I also love the Mets for doing the right thing by adding him to their opening roster. He had a great spring and a pretty good year last year in the minors. I think if he sticks with the big league club he could be something special.
National League Cy Young:Walker Buehler
Walker Buehler had a great year last year and I expect him to do the same again this year and walk away with a Cy Young for his troubles.
National League MVP: Juan Soto
The NL MVP is far more compelling than the AL MVP each year. Soto might be pretty young to be vying for an MVP, but I think he will slide in nicely in the hole that Bryce Harper left in the lineup. I think he will be a major reason as to why the Nationals win the NL East and thus, should receive the NL MVP.
National League Predictions:
NL East: Washington Nationals
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Card #1: Philadelphia Phillies
Wild Card #2: Chicago Cubs
My American League picks were terribly boring, so I thought why not pick some sleepers? Everyone is sleeping on the Nationals, but even without Bryce Harper this team is stacked. They added Patrick Corbin this offseason and, along with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, there is a real case they have the best top-three in the MLB. I am also fascinated at the prospect of a full year of Victor Robles and Juan Soto in the outfield.
The only reason the Cardinals missed the playoffs was because of Mike Matheny. Well, he is gone and this team added an MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt. I expect this to be one of the better lineups in the league with a strong rotation and bullpen to boot.
For the NL West, it’s the Dodgers. Enough said.
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
He will have a new home in 2019, but, make no mistake about it, he will continue to mash like there’s no tomorrow. Goldschmidt struggled in the first half, but followed it with one of the best second-halves in recent memory. I expect that carry over with his new squad in a big way.
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
This is the safest pick, so it is no surprise I feel entirely convicted in it. Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball, and there is no reason to suspect this will not carry over in ‘19.
NL ROY: Nick Senzel
There are a few strong picks for this category. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Peter Alonso come to mind, but Senzel feels like he has all the tools to succeed right now. The only major impediment is the fact they are keeping him down in the minors to start the season. He is ready to go, as he has destroyed the baseball at every level.
World Series Predictions
Astros Defeat Phillies in Five Games
The AL is so much better than the NL, so the AL Championship Game should be the more competitive series. The Houston Astros are the best roster in baseball, and their young talent isn’t going anywhere. The Yankees and the Red Sox have the ability to beat the Astros in a seven-game series, but Houston should be the favorite entering the season.
Boston Red Sox defeat the Washington Nationals in 6 games
I’m really feeling the Nationals to take a step forward. I do not believe Bryce Harper was the reason they lost every year in early part of the playoffs, but I just think their roster is very complete this year in comparison to other rosters in the NL. I think they’ll give the Red Sox a run for their money, but inevitably I think the Red Sox will end up repeating.
Boston Red Sox defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in 6 games
This may seem like a homer pick, but I promise you it only kind of is. Last year, I was stoically objective and picked the Red Sox to fizzle out after a Wild Card run. I did not suspect Alex Cora would deliver such a groundbreaking approach to the team. The analytical, health-conscious approach got labeled “Coralytics”. I believe that his flexibility and thirst for knowledge gives Boston an important edge over similarly elite teams. While most teams were beaten up and tired in October, the Red Sox were fresh and rode that to a dominant playoff run. On the other side, I have the Cardinals, who I really think will bounce-back this season. They are deep and, for the first time in a while, their depth is not their only advantage. They have star power, and this will take them to a repeat of the 2013 World Series.