Michael Connor's 2019 MLB Predictions

The long slow winter is finally coming to an end as we have entered the final full week of Spring Training. Time to make a bunch of predictions. Most of them, for me, are easy...some, not so much. So without further ado, let's get after it.

AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION PREDICTIONS:

AL WEST:

1) Houston Astros

The clear favorite once again to walk away with the division title for a third straight year. We know they will hit and the addition of Michael Brantley to an already potent lineup might make them more dangerous than ever before. Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve coming off of injuries will be on the minds of many early in the season. Verlander and Cole might be the best one, two punch in baseball, it will be interesting to see how the others behind them perform as Forrest Whitley waits for his shot that should arrive sooner rather than later this season.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 95-67

My Thoughts: 95 seems to be the low end for me, I would lean the over on that number.

2) Oakland A's

While Oakland should finish second in the division for the second straight season, I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where they sniff their 97 win mark from a season ago. Pitching is their question mark, both in the rotation and bullpen. Getting through their lineup will once again be no easy task, but will the bats be enough to put them back in the postseason in 2019?

Fangraphs Record Projection: 80-82

My Thoughts: A dip in record from last season is a lock, but dipping down to 80 is too low for me.

3) Los Angeles Angels

The biggest win for them this year will be the extension to keep Mike Trout for the next 12 seasons. Brad Ausmus takes over as the manager hoping to get them out of the land of mediocrity that they have been stuck in. They could mash enough to make things interesting, but once again their pitching has too many question marks to have a real fear of the Halos.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 83-79

My Thoughts: They land somewhere between 78 and 84 wins, wasting another year of brilliance from the best player in baseball.

4) Seattle Mariners

They tore it down this winter while telling everyone that they were just re-tooling. They have enough bats to win games and stick in the middle of the pack for a bit on the high end. There is no doubt that if guys like Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce hit, they won't be wearing a Mariners uniform by the end of the season.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 74-88

My Thoughts: They could be pesky for a little while but at the end of the day they won't play much of a factor in the division at all this season.

5) Texas Rangers

They're hoping for some young guys to make a leap forward in their last season in that heat box in Arlington. It should be a very long season for the few actual Rangers fans that do exist.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 71-91

My Thoughts: Their potential to lose 100 games this season is very real.

AL CENTRAL:

1) Cleveland Indians

They shed their pay role to allow themselves to keep their best arms in Kluber, Bauer and Carrassco. Those three alone should keep them in front in what should be a very weak division once again. They have major concerns for their pen and who knows what they will roll out in their outfield. With Lindor's season starting late due to injury, will they possibly ship off a big arm if the season goes in the wrong direction early?

Fangraphs Record Projection: 94-68

My Thoughts: 94 wins in that division should still be very doable. I would lean on the under of that number as I cannot escape the thought they might end up taking a significant step back this year.

2) Minnesota Twins

Needing bounce back years from some bats, they made some very sneaky good additions that should keep them competitive if guys like Sano or Buxton do not do what they are hoping for. The pitching has a chance to be above average and they should be viewed as a real threat in the wild card and division race.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 83-79

My Thoughts: They should finish above .500 this season. It would not surprise me if they end up pushing the 90 win mark this season.

3) Chicago White Sox

Young and full of potential seems to be the theme once again this season for Chicago. They whiffed on landing a big boy in free agency so it will take some big leaps forward in 2019.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 69-93

My Thoughts: High end cannot be more than 75 wins while 100 losses is still very much in play.

4) Detroit Tigers

Look they stink and are in the middle of the rebuild. They have some young intriguing prospects that should get some run with the big club this season, but the only thing worth monitoring with them is when will they finally trade Castellanos.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 69-93

My Thoughts: 69 wins...nice.

5) Kansas City Royals

It's the Whit Merrifield show!!!! I have nothing else.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 69-93

My Thoughts: How nice would it be if they hit the 69 win projection like the two teams above?

AL EAST:

Wild Card Game - Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees

1) New York Yankees

They had a monster winter and better live up to the hype. Severino's shoulder should have them very concerned, but they did a great job landing James Paxton and keeping JA Happ to give them enough rotation depth this season. They will hit a lot of baseball's very long distances and will strikeout a ton, but that lineup is terrifying and will crush so many pitchers this season. Their bullpen should once again be among the two or three best in all of baseball.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 96-66

My Thoughts: While the division is brutal at the top end, this feels like a 100 plus win team in 2019.

2) Boston Red Sox

It is hard to not put the defending champs, who have the reigning MVP of the league in the top spot in their division, but their offseason did just that for me. They will hit and hit very well, but there are many reasons to have questions about both their rotation and bullpen going into the season.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 96-66

My Thoughts: This is a 90 win plus team that despite their question marks with pitching, can absolutely win more than 100 games and the division once again.

3) Tampa Bay Rays

I still can't believe they won 90 games last year, but it actually did happen. Their talent is real and the addition of Charlie Morton at the top of the rotation with the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Blake Snell, could be huge for them taking another step forward. Will they have enough to actually push one of the two teams ahead of them? Will they have the money available to add if they're in the thick of it come July?

Fangraphs Record Projection: 85-77

My Thoughts: A dip from last season is probably a safe bet, but I would lean towards them beating their win total from a season ago.

4) Toronto Blue Jays

A year of growth that will finally end the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. watch, this team is loaded with some really big prospects that should get to the bigs this season. They have some arms in the rotation that will be sought after in trade if they bounce back in 2019.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 76-86

My Thoughts: Their time is coming before they know it...it just won't be in 2019.

5) Baltimore Orioles

Quick, name five Baltimore Orioles...I'll wait.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 62-100

My Thoughts: Watch out 2003 Detroit Tigers...the Orioles might want a word with you this season.

NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION PREDICTIONS:

NL WEST:

Wild Card Game - Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs

1) Colorado Rockies

I'm a sucker for buying in to teams like this and I am doing it this season. They have better arms than you think, winning a spot in the Wild Card Game each of the last two seasons. Arenado might be the least talked about star in the game and if Trevor Story backs up his 2018 season, it should be a fun summer in the Rocky Mountains. I love, love, love the addition of Daniel Murphy in that ballpark to play first base. It's still Coors Field and of course that could crush any belief anyone has in any of their pitchers.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 83-79

My Thoughts: I understand why projections keep the number so low, but I can envision a scenario where they push 100 wins this season.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

They shipped off a bunch of money and made a nice addition in AJ Pollock, but he like so many on their team have serious injury concerns. They have the talent still in place to win the division and the National League for a third straight season, but their are just too many injury concerns for me to pencil them in at the top of the division once again.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 94-68

My Thoughts: The talent is there to win 100 games, it really does come down to how healthy they are.

3) San Diego Padres

I would have given Machado the contract they gave him, but they it made so much sense for them to dive in and do it. They have the best farm system in the game and some of it will make it to Petco Park this season. They're still a year away from being a real threat in the playoff picture.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 79-83

My Thoughts: Finishing above .500 could happen by a few games. Until they do that, I can't pencil them in for more than 81 wins in a season.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks

They shipped off Paul Goldschmidt and should be looking to do the same with anyone of value during the season. They had a brief window but that time is now gone.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 78-84

My Thoughts: Play the under on that number

5) San Francisco Giants

I still cannot figure out why they chased Harper outside of their fear of losing a fan base that has been as loyal as they come. They have a bunch of old guys with big contracts that they need to move. Bruce Bochy will ride off to Cooperstown in a tough final season. When will they ship off Madison Bumgarner?

Fangraphs Record Projection: 72-90

My Thoughts: Trade it all.

NL CENTRAL:

League Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Milwaukee Brewers - Game Seven

1) Milwaukee Brewers

Nobody wants to believe they are this good, but I think it is very real. They do not have starting pitcher that flashes with name value but they did not win the division last year by mistake. They are doing this a little differently than most would with their lineup, but it they should hit plenty again despite playing some guys out of their normal positions. For me this division is the most difficult to call, but I will give them the edge after being just one game from the World Series a year ago.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 80-82

My Thoughts: Projection systems cannot love them and I get it. I would put my money on 90 plus wins again this year.

2) St. Louis Cardinals

Landing Paul Goldschmidt was huge and perfect fit. They are an odd team that will probably stink in the field again, but if the stars align with their pitching, they can get back to the postseason in 2019.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 85-77

My Thoughts: A lot has to go right with their pitching for me to say they win 90 plus games this season.

3) Chicago Cubs

Insanely talented in a bunch of spots, but too many question marks for me to buy in to them winning this division in 2019. Their pitching could be really good. Their pitching could really stink. They should hit enough and if Bryant bounces back that could change a lot in the division race. Some of those awful contracts they handed out are coming back to bite them in the butt.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 88-74

My Thoughts: It's a gut thing. I can't explain it but I see closer to 80 wins being more likely than 90.

4) Cincinnati Reds

They made some moves that could make them tricky for others in the division. So, so much has to go right for them to play in the central race in 2019.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 82-80

My Thoughts: Lower

5) Pittsburgh Pirates

They surprised last year and contended for a while but that was more than likely fools gold. They should be in the market to sell off some pieces come deadline time.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 80-82

My Thoughts: Not terrible, not great, high 70's to low 80's for wins this season.

NL EAST:

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals

1) Washington Nationals

They lose Harper and it probably will not matter. Adding Patrick Corbin to an already stacked rotation has duped me back into thinking they will win the division. Juan Soto is going to be stupid good for a very long time, maybe better than Harper will ever be. This division is loaded and they will probably pull a Nats and make me look stupid for picking them once again. I just cannot go against that rotation.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 90-72

My Thoughts: To win this division, you probably have to push 100 wins. They have enough talent to do just that if they don't crumble collectively.

2) Atlanta Braves

I want to put them first in the predictions after winning it last season. Stupid good young talent lead by Acuna and Albies, they will be around as contenders for a very long time. I loved the addition of Donaldson for one year despite his injury worries the last few years. Freddie Freeman should again be a top five NL MVP candidate in 2019. It's the questions with their pitching that has put them in the second spot for me.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 84-78

My Thoughts: The division being so good could make a mid-80's win total possible. I would be surprised if they do not land a big arm for the rotation during the season and push back over 90 wins in 2019

3) Philadelphia Phillies

They said they would spend stupid money and they followed through. While they did drop a ton of it landing Harper, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson, they crushed it in the trade market as well landing Jean Segura from the Mariners and J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins. Expectations are high and given that they crumbled after a strong first half, last season, I have to see it to believe it that they can make the leap forward to pick them to be division winners.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 84-78

My Thoughts: High end could be 95 wins. Low end maybe 80 at worst?

4) New York Mets

They made a lot of moves and got a bunch of names. If their pitching cannot stay healthy, they will not be in the mix come September.

Fangraphs Record Projection: 82-80

My Thoughts: Betting the under on Mets wins always feels like the safe, smart bet.

5) Miami Marlins

Does Jeter want to play again?

Fangraphs Record Projection: 64-98

My Thoughts: 100 plus losses here they come.

WILD CARD PREDICTIONS:

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins

1) Boston Red Sox

2) Minnesota Twins

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Three

1) Alanta Braves

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

ALCS:

Astros over Yankees

NLCS:

Rockies over Braves

WORLD SERIES:

Astros over Rockies

SEASON AWARDS:

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

MVP: Alex Bregman

Cy Young: Gerrit Cole

ROY: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Manager of the Year: Terry Francona

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

MVP: Nolan Arenado

Cy Young: Max Scherzer

ROY: Fernando Tatis Jr.

Manager of the Year: Dave Martinez

So there you have it. The homer made some homer picks and it feels so good. But for real...Astros are going to be filthy. Let's plan the parade now.

World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven
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