- Tampa Bay Rays: After 90 wins under Kevin Cash, Tampa was the first AL team out of the playoff picture in 2018. I like their odds to reach the postseason this year, but they just don’t have the star power to be in the top 10 just yet.
- Philadelphia Phillies: This is a team that now has tons of talent after dominating the off-season. However, coming off of a below .500 year and having a roster filled with guys that have never played together, I’d like to see how they play before putting them in the top 10.
10. Washington Nationals
Do not let the departure of Bryce Harper distract you from the talent on this team. Although the Nats had a disappointing season in 2018, which kept them out of the postseason, they have the ability to rise to the top of the NL East if they reach their potential.
Washington’s pitching staff is led by the three-headed monster of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and the newly signed Patrick Corbin. Closer Sean Doolittle is now set up well by the acquisitions of Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough.
Their lineup is led by Anthony Rendon (who I believe to be the most underrated player in baseball); the speedy Trea Turner; last years rookie phenom, Juan Soto; and top prospect Victor Robles. Washington certainly has the tools to bounce back in 2019, it is just a matter of how Dave Martinez gets the team to respond to last seasons disappointment.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
The acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt is going to do wonders for the Cardinals. Goldschmidt is a 6 time All-Star, 3 time Gold Glove winner, and can practically be penciled in for 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s. His career splits are .297/ .398/ .532. After a great run in Arizona, he will now be featured in a more talented lineup which includes Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna.
Miles Mikolas was one of the most interesting stories in baseball last season, as he returned to the MLB from Japan for the first time since 2014. He emerged as the Cardinals’ ace with a record of 18-4, 2.83 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Mikolas, Carlos Martinez and Jack Flaherty will lead the St. Louis staff.
The signing of reliever Andrew Miller creates the great 8th and 9th inning punch of Miller and Jordan Hicks. In case you haven’t heard of Jordan Hicks, here’s a look at his 105 MPH arm.
After narrowly missing out on last year’s postseason, don’t be shocked to see St. Louis playing in October this year.
8. Atlanta Braves
This is one of my favorite teams in baseball, and definitely one of the most exciting. Their young core of Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and 2018’s Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr is certainly one of the best in the league. Combined with the veteran leadership of Nick Markakis and All-Star Freddie Freeman, Atlanta topped the NL East last season at 90-72.
The real question is whether their pitchers can match the powerhouse offense. Their ace, Mike Foltynewicz delivered in 2018 and captured his first All-Star appearance. He had careers bests in ERA, hits per 9, home runs per 9 and strikeouts per 9. Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint are both promising young pitchers, and I don’t believe this staff will hinder the Braves.
Although the Braves have signed Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann, they are still in need of a boost in the bullpen. Former Brave Craig Kimbrel remains a free agent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him head back to Atlanta
This team can do some damage, and I can see them making a deep postseason run.
7. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers were one of the greatest stories in baseball last year, winning the NL Central with a record of 96-67. This was their first division title since 2011, and just the second in team history.
Led by NL MVP Christian Yelich, Milwaukee retains their entire starting lineup with the exception of their catcher. Yasmani Grandal will take over behind the plate, providing more power to the lineup. Alongside Jesus Aguilar, Travis Show, and Mike Moustakas this team can straight up MASH.
The team’s weakness lies within the pitching staff, which can be labeled as shaky at best. Jhoulys Chacin is their number one, which may lead one to question how this team can be ranked so high. The answer is that their bullpen is strong enough to shorten games for starters and support the offense. They have two All-Stars in Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, and the reliable Corey Knebel.
This hungry team made it all the way to the NLCS last year, and will be wanting to go even further now.
6. Cleveland Indians
The Indians have won three straight AL Central titles, and this year will be more of the same. Playing in a division with no other threat, Cleveland will likely find themselves with 90+ wins and the 3 seed in the 2019 Postseason.
Terry Francona’s squad is lead by lights out pitching, with a staff that features: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. Aside from Bieber, every member of that staff had an ERA of 3.38 or lower last year, and I have no reason to believe they will regress. Kluber is my pick for AL Cy Young, largely due to his ridiculous slider. Bauer also took major strides last year, finishing 6th in Cy Young voting.
Their lineup is more than capable as well, led by Jose Ramirez. Ramirez has proven himself to be an elite player, putting up 39 Home Runs and 105 RBI’s last year. Alongside his .270 average, .939 OPS, and 30 stolen bases it is no wonder this guy has been a back to back All-Star and Silver Slugger winner.
Francisco Lindor is also one of the best in the game, putting together 3 All-Star appearances, 2 Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove in his career. Did I mention he’s only 25? Cleveland’s biggest blemish is their questionable outfield, but it will not cost them a divisional crown.
5. Chicago Cubs
After four straight postseason appearances, I have recently seen the 2016 World Series Champions predicted to finish 79-83, worst in the NL Central. One may ask, “how does this make any sense?” The answer: it doesn’t.
The Cubs young core from their World Series title have now entered their prime, with Javier Baez coming in 2nd in NL MVP voting last year. Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Kris Bryant are all capable of producing 25+ home runs this year. Each could quite easily be All-Star selections as well.
The rotation has tons of talent with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. They also have one of the deepest bullpens in the MLB.
What I value most, however, is this team’s experience. They know what it takes to win a World Series, they know how to respond to adversity and are lead by a great manager in Joe Maddon.
Despite it being a loaded division, expect the Cubs to win the NL Central.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
After back to back World Series appearances, the NL runs through Los Angeles. LA looks to win their 9th straight NL West title, and I believe they’ll get it.
With the addition of AJ Pollock, a healthy Corey Seager, and another year of development under their young stars’ belts, this team very well could be even better than last year. With the exception of the catcher, which is lacking across the MLB, there isn’t a single position that the Dodgers need to address.
One player I’m really excited to watch and think could make a huge impact is Walker Buehler. After a 2.62 ERA in the regular season of his rookie campaign, he was fantastic in the playoffs. In Game 3 of the World Series, Buehler went 7 innings, 0 runs and 7 strikeouts against the Sox. He’s not afraid of the big moments, and he is a great compliment to Clayton Kershaw for a 1-2 punch.
Don’t be shocked when this team wins the NL West and captures the NL 1 seed for the postseason.
3. Houston Astros
Talk about talent. This team definitely could climb to number 1 on the Power Rankings as the season continues, and they will run away with the AL West, barring injuries.
Houston by far has the best infield in baseball, which includes Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa. Any of these three guys could win the AL MVP, and the fact they are in the same infield is preposterous. The talent doesn’t stop in the infield, however, as the outfield retains George Springer and added Michael Brantley.
The talent continues with the pitching, as the staff is led by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Dallas Keuchel would be a tough loss, as he remains unsigned, but even if he leaves Houston’s rotation will be okay.
There are practically no flaws with this team, they just happen to be in the same league as two other powerhouses. They will likely find themselves playing one of those teams in their third straight ALCS.
2. New York Yankees
After a 100 win season that resulted in a playoff defeat to their arch rivals, the Yankees are looking to take the AL East title and more this year.
It was a great off-season for the Yanks, despite missing out on Harper and Machado. They addressed their starting pitching needs with the addition of James Paxton and re-signing of J.A. Happ. Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton signed, helping New York assemble what could be the best bullpen of all-time. DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki were brought on to help while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery.
With the anticipation of a full year of Aaron Judge and a bounce back year from Gary Sanchez, I predict the Yankees will break their own record, set last year, of most home runs in a season.. The question remains whether their home run or strikeout mentality will hinder them as it did in the ALDS. The addition of LeMahieu, a year of growth for Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, and the retention of Aaron Hicks will likely give the Yankees more contact hitters and less strikeouts.
I fully expect this team to win the World Series. But for now, with the new injury to Luis Severino and losing to the World Champion Red Sox in last year’s postseason, the Yankees will stay at 2.
1. Boston Red Sox
As much as it pains me to write this as a Yankees fan, the Red Sox are number one in my Preseason Power Rankings.
The talent in that lineup is undeniable, as Mookie Betts has solidified his spot among the greatest players in the league, JD Martinez has put together back to back incredible seasons and Andrew Benintendi continues to grow.
With Sale and his incredible arsenault of pitches leading the Sox rotation, fully expect him to be a top contender for the Cy Young. The bullpen is something I would be scared of if I were a Sox fan, though. It was already an issue last year, and now they will likely lose Craig Kimbrel.
However, manager Alex Cora will have this team constantly prepared. In his first year, Cora proved to be among the top managers in the MLB with a World Series title. His baseball IQ and ability to rally his team are obvious.
For now, the Sox are number 1 as they look to repeat, but in a competitive division and league, they will have a target on their back.