2019 MLB Division and World Series Predictions

After a long wait, baseball is back, and a new season brings a new optimism for all thirty teams hoping to reach the top in October. Technically, the regular season has already started, with the two-game series in Japan played between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. While both Seattle and Oakland have a two-game head start, the rest of the big-league season openers are slated for Thursday. Baseball is extremely difficult to predict, but here is how I think the season will play out:

American League

AL East
  1. Red Sox: 104–58
  2. Yankees: 101–61*
  3. Rays: 89–73*
  4. Blue Jays: 69–93
  5. Orioles: 50–112
AL Central
  1. Indians: 93–69
  2. Twins: 81–81
  3. White Sox: 65–97
  4. Tigers: 63–99
  5. Royals: 61–101
AL West
  1. Astros: 98–64
  2. Athletics: 84–78
  3. Mariners: 72–90
  4. Angels: 64–98
  5. Rangers: 55–107

National League

NL East
  1. Braves: 92–70
  2. Phillies: 90–72*
  3. Nationals: 85–77
  4. Mets: 79–83
  5. Marlins: 62–100
NL Central
  1. Brewers: 94–68
  2. Cardinals: 86–76*
  3. Cubs: 84–78
  4. Pirates: 81–81
  5. Reds: 76–86
NL West
  1. Dodgers: 95–67
  2. Rockies: 85–77
  3. Giants: 75–87
  4. Padres: 73–89
  5. Diamondbacks: 70–92

* Wild card teams

World Series Prediction

While I have my concerns in regard to the Astros pitching, the best pitching team (as measured by ERA) has not won the World Series since the 2016 Chicago Cubs:

Looking back at the previous two World Series winners, the pitching was good but not seen as the primary strength for Houston or Boston. In October, both got clutch pitching, timely hitting, and good managers who pushed the right buttons in key situations; but most importantly, both Houston and Boston’s best players were at full strength in their title runs.

The American League will be a three-team chase for the fall classic. As good as the Indians and Rays are, the Sox, Yankees, and Astros are simply superior when right and healthy. Houston should run off with the West. After coming out of nowhere with a surprise 97-win 2018 season, the A’s will be competitive, but will probably take a step back in their win-loss outcome. The Mariners blew up their roster to rebuild, the Rangers are also rebuilding, and the Angels are in transition between rebuilding and competing, but they aren’t good enough to unseat the Astros in the division.

After winning 100 games in back-to-back seasons, a big reason the Astros could miss the 100-win threshold this season is their pitching, which is a bit questionable. After Correa, Altuve, and Springer dealt with injuries last year, I can see Hinch pulling a Popovich and giving his big guns occasional days off, valuing health over landing the best record in the American League.

The National League, on the other hand, is wide open. The Phillies are loaded, but can they finish a season? Philadelphia went 53–42 in the first half of the 2018 season, but just 27–40 in the second half. The additions of Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto create immediate pressure to win now, but do they have the pitching to get it done? The Atlanta Braves, behind their youth, reached the playoffs for the first time since 2013, but can they build on that success and go even farther in 2019? The NL Central figures to be as competitive a division in 2019 as it was a year ago. Lastly, you can’t forget the team that has represented the National League in back to back World Series: The Dodgers. The question with L.A.: What will their mental condition be after losing back to back World Series?

The bottom line in the National League is that while there isn’t a superpower team like the big three in the American League, there are plenty of good teams capable of reaching the World Series. Right now I do not believe there is an NL team capable of beating the Yankees, Astros, or Red Sox four times in seven games, but a lot can happen between now and October.

Who will win the World Series?

Boston will outlast the Yankees again, thanks in large to part to Alex Cora out-managing Aaron Boone, creating a Houston vs Boston rematch in the ALCS. This time Houston will be healthier, and the series should be much more competitive this time around. Boston will have the home field, and though they didn’t need it in 2018, I believe they will in 2019, and will outlast Houston in a seventh and deciding game at Fenway. On the National League side, the Brewers will flip the script on the Dodgers again in another League Championship Series rematch, with Milwaukee winning in six. In the Fall Classic, Boston’s superiority will be on display as they beat Milwaukee for their second straight title.

Final Word

A lot can change over the course of the season. In the meantime, the offseason is over, spring training is finished, so let’s … play … ball!

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