The 2019 MLB season is finally here with plenty to be excited about. We saw three of the game’s best in Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout sign monster deals worth $300 million or more. There were big trades that are now underrated because of the big signings. Lastly, we have old faces in new places as well as new faces popping up in general.
As players get ready to chew their first bit of gum and sunflower seeds, here are some bold predictions for this 162-game stretch:
1. Under-the-Radar NL MVP
Before the massive signings by some of the best in baseball, an exciting move happened in December. The St. Louis Cardinals acquired one of the best first baseman in six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt.
Goldy brings elite productivity, strong defense, and stability to the Cards.
Missing only 18 games in the last four seasons will pay huge dividends for the three-time Gold Glove winner’s new teammates. Especially on defense as St. Louis had the most errors in the NL with 133. A lot of those errors can be attributed to guys being in and out of the lineup as well as playing out of position. Look no further than Matt Carpenter as he played first, second, and third base last season.
And while Carpenter hit a career-high 36 home runs in 2018, it’s hard to believe he will continue that torrid pace at age 33. This is where Goldy’s batting comes in handy and where he will show his value the most. He has hit at least 30 home runs, 80 runs batted in (RBI), and .290 the last two seasons.
While all the hype will exist around Machado and Harper, Goldschmidt will win NL MVP if he leads the Cards to the playoffs.
2. Baseball’s Top Dog
Outside of Boston, you would be hard-pressed to find someone not stubbornly on the Trout train. However, after a stellar 2018 campaign, Mookie Betts is in the discussion for baseball’s best player.
Let’s look at the last two years for starters.
2017-2018 Stats: Trout (Betts)
- Batting Average (BA): .309 (.301)
- Home Runs (HR): 72 (56)
- RBI: 151 (182)
- Stolen Bases (SB): 46 (56)
It gets even more interesting when you compare their numbers through each player’s first five years.
Stats: Trout – 2011 to 2015 (Betts – 2014 to 2018)
- Batting Average (BA): .291 (.303)
- Home Runs (HR): 139 (110)
- RBI: 397 (390)
- Stolen Bases (SB): 113 (110)
- MVPs: 1 (1)
As you can see, not only has Betts been on Trout’s “tail” for the last two seasons, but there isn’t much of a difference through their first five seasons.
Sure, Betts has the better team, but it’s not like Trout doesn’t have help around him. Shohei Ohtani should make his life easier while Andrelton Simmons is an All-Star caliber talent. Albert Pujols might be in the twilight of his career, but he can still deliver from the box.
In fact, the Angels hit 214 homers while the Sox hit 208.
If Betts wins another ring and Trout fails to get the Angels to the playoffs, it will be hard to deny Mookie as the best player in all of baseball folks.
3. New York’s Resurgence
The New York Mets stunk in 2018 like the Knicks, Jets, Islanders, and Rangers. It was a barrage of reasons why things went awry. They were plagued with trade rumors surrounding aces Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, injuries, and inexperience.
Syndergaard still remains while deGrom just re-upped with NYM. The big splash of their offseason was acquiring Robinson Cano. He will bring solid two-way play along with veteran leadership for a very young ballclub. In addition, Wilson Ramos joined the team as an All-Star catcher.
The Mets were 12th in the NL in RBI with 649. That is a category in which Cano and Ramos should help in as they combined for 120 in just 101 games in 2018. Keep in mind Cano only played 50 games.
The team consists of exciting youngsters in Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and Jeff McNeil. All three guys have less than five years of experience in the majors. Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso will be in the mix at some point as well.
The Mets new look roster is one of promise and excitement. Once Yoenis Cespedes returns, the offense could really take off. It’s not like Syndergaard, deGrom, or Zach Wheeler need a big lead to work with anyway as they hold teams to three or four runs.
The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies had strong 2018 campaigns, but 2019 is the Mets’ time to shine.
4. Rookie All-Star
Last year we saw New York Yankees rookie infielder Gleyber Torres earn an All-Star bid after a bit of a late start in terms of entering the lineup. This year we should expect the same from Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres.
Tatis was lighting it up in the minors last season with 16 homers, 43 RBI, hitting .286, and slugging .507. He looked comfy in spring training too with two homers and hitting .265.
Securing an All-Star bid at shortstop won’t be as farfetched as it seems for the Dominican born rookie. Trevor Story figures to take a spot after a gaudy 2018 season with 37 homers and 108 RBI. The other 2018 All-Star shortstop was Brandon Crawford who hit just 14 home runs with 54 RBI all year.
Tatis has all the hype surrounding him and if he is even the slightest bit productive he will be a rookie All-Star.
5. Looking for Revenge
The Houston Astros had the appearance of a team on the cusp of repeating all the way through the ending of Game 1 in the ALCS. They came out and blitzed the Red Sox 7-2 as it was expected they would dismantle Boston. However, they were humbled the next four games as they lost each one.
It’s hard to repeat in baseball, but make no mistake this Astros team is a championship contender heading into the season. They still have a pitching staff featuring Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr., and Gerrit Cole. All of which had an ERA at 4.00 or under.
The batting lineup still features All-Stars Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and George Springer.
The Astros pitching will still be one of the best in the majors, which makes them lethal on offense. As long as their fans aren’t trying to catch home runs, Houston will win their second title in three seasons.
Wrapping it Up
The MLB season is one that will feature many exciting headlines and surprises. With so much activity in the offseason by teams acquiring new talent, this 162-game marathon is sure to be an instant classic.