Dutch Lion’s 2019 MLB Preview!
Welcome to our 3rd Annual Baseball Preview! The first two Previews were a mixed bag of both success and failure, believe it or not. Hey Ripley, are you out there, reading this with a deep respect for my use of your “Believe It or Not” phrase? Did someone say “phrasing”? Are we using “phrasing” again? Any fans of “Archer” out there? I dunno but let’s get back to baseball.
In 2017, we predicted the Los Angeles Dodgers would beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series (Houston beat L.A. in a fantastic seven game series). In 2018, we took the Washington Nationals over the Cleveland Indians (Boston beat L.A. in five). Who will Dutch take this year…….. over the Indians?!?! Or will he go a different route you never expected? He might……… BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
* NOTE : We are publishing this after the first full week of games has taken place. Most teams have played about ten games so far. Honestly, I wish I had published this Preview prior to Opening Day but sometimes life gets in the way. In this case, “life” was a beautiful sandy beach in the Dominican Republic, which is loaded with…… baseball players. “Dutch Lion” just can’t get away, even when he tries. My wife is revving up the lunar module to get me away. She’s ready to purchase one of those private flights to Mars for me. No thanks wifey. I’d rather sit at a baseball field. My bumper sticker reads “I’d rather be playing, watching, reading, and writing about baseball” right next to the “Where the Heck is Wall Drug” sticker.
Dutch Lion’s 2019 MLB Predictions
American League East – Always one of the best divisions, this year’s A.L. East will come down to a couple powerhouses in Boston and New York. Last year I took the Yankees and they disappointed…..well, not exactly. They won 100 games! However, as you may remember, Boston won 108 before dominating the postseason and earning a place as one of the greatest baseball teams of all time. Last year was Boston’s year. This year, I’ll take New York again. Can we be right one of two years?
- * New York Yankees (102-60) – Early injuries will subside. Then the power of the Evil Empire will take over. Shades of historic Yanks teams will fill reporter’s notebooks in the dog days of summer. Aaron Boone will get his due as Manager of the Year. The Yanks are back.
- * Boston Red Sox (94-68) – WILD CARD – The Carmines were the team of the year in ’18. They were special. They won’t be special again. Look for a slight hangover after all the offseason partying. They will still make the Playoffs, if you want to call the one-game Wild Card “making the Playoffs”, but won’t be able to repeat.
- Tamp Bay Rays (81-81) – Blake Snell is awesome. They have some decent young pitchers in their rotation such as Tyler Glasnow and a veteran in Charlie Morton. The rest of the Rays are stuck at the bottom of the sea, hanging with SpongeBob and Squidward. Their lineup is pedestrian. Tommy Pham is their best hitter? That spells doom. It reminds me of this Mariners fan I met on a bus in Seattle after a Sox/M’s game in 2010. “No sticks man”. I know what he meant.
- Toronto Blue Jays (77-85) – Emerging young stars will bring back the fans to SkyDome. Don’t get mad, get Vlad! Vlad Jr. is gonna be fun to watch. Dante Bichette’s son is named Bo. He’ll be interesting too. Whatever happened to Marcus Stroman?
- Baltimore Orioles (60-102) – Welcome to Tank City, population one….. team from our nation’s capital. What happened to Chris Davis? He used to be a star. Now he’s one of the worst players in the pros. The O’s are stuck with him in the middle of a huge 7 year deal. What to do? Ride it out bros and O’s.
American League Central – The Central has one dominant team and 4 teams in fluctuating modes of rebuilding or tanking. Minnesota was a surprising contender last year but I don’t believe they were really as good as their record (85-77). Look for them to take a step back. 2nd through 5th place could be one jumbled mess. If Cleveland does NOT win this division, you know the apocalypse is near.
- * Cleveland Indians (100-62) – A great team. They seem to have it all. In fact, management might be a little overconfident like “Hey, how much can we sell off and yet still win the A.L. Central?” Are the Injuns committed to winning it all? Or are they near the end of their reign? I think the return of Carlos Santana to Cleveland after his one year sabbatical in Philadelphia is important. Their starting rotation is Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger (underrated), and Shane Bieber. That’s a lot of pitching. Find me a better rotation. Cleveland rocks with this roster. Not only do they have talent, but 19 games each against their four division opponents will inflate their win total. You realize they “get” to play 76 games against the 4 tanking Central opponents. This is another reason why we need to get back to the balanced schedule. The unbalanced schedule isn’t fair.
- Minnesota Twins (81-81) – Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Nelson Cruz. To us, just an average club in a crappy division.
- Chicago White Sox (74-88) – Young and talented. Trying to win rather than tank for draft position, expect Chicago to finish ahead of the loser Royals and Tigers. This Sox team could finish anywhere from 2nd to 5th. For the first time in several years, at least they’re trying. The bullpen is better with Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome so at least they have somebody to save games. That’s a start. Yoan Moncada is showing signs of stardom. Tim Anderson is still getting better. I’m definitely pumped for the future but we still need to wait. Have patience my friends. I’ll continue analyzing the ChiSox in more detail in my “Put Your Sox On” columns.
- Kansas City Royals (72-90) – Rebuilding and probably tanking. The only positive seems to be their re-commitment to speed. They brought in Billy Hamilton. I always felt K.C. was at their best when they pressured their opponents with straight up speed. Remember Jarrod Dyson, Terrance Gore, and Lorenzo Cain during their World Series years? Speed kills.
- Detroit Tigers (65-97) – Miguel Cabrera and not much else. Tanking.
American League West – This division is somewhat hard to predict. Houston is fantastic and will have a good chance at getting their second title in three years. After that, who knows?
- * Houston Astros (97-65) – The Astros have some competition in this division but ultimately their talent will prevail.
- * Seattle Mariners (90-72) – WILD CARD – So far the M’s are off to their best start in franchise history at 10-2, as of press time. What does it mean? It looks like they might be good but it’s somewhat of a mirage. King Felix is a shadow of his former self. 3B Kyle Seager is out for a while. They got rid of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. However, they do have Mallex Smith, Dee Gordon, Edwin Encarnacion, Mitch Haniger, and Jay Bruce. Add it all up and this could be a Wild Card team.
- Los Angeles Angels (82-80) – Why did Mike Trout re-sign with L.A.? He must love it there, but why? They don’t seem to be on the right path. They develop no pitching. They don’t go out and get great free agents. The big ones they’ve paid over the last seven years have been big busts (Josh Hamilton (druggie), Albert Pujols (old and injured), that one lefty pitcher C.J. Wilson (just bad)…. Nonetheless, Trout just keeps putting up incredible numbers for a lousy team. You do realize he’s one of the greatest players of all time, right? He’s Mickey Mantle reincarnated, without the booze.
- Oakland Athletics (73-89) – Everything went their way last year, shocking fans with a 97-65 record. The three years prior they won 75, 69, and 68 wins. Their starting rotation stinks. Expect a return to their sub .500 records of ’15, ’16, and ’17. Their home-field advantage in the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum is noteworthy. Their fans are nuts, kinda like the Raiders “Black Hole” fans. They take pride in making themselves annoying to opponents. It won’t be enough this year. Expect a return to 70 some victories.
- Texas Rangers (65-97) – Bad. Future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre retired. Worse. A first year manager named Chris Woodward. Tough luck and good luck.
American League Playoffs
AL Wild Card:
AL Division Series (ALDS):
over – Always fun when these rivals meet in the Playoffs. I hope this happens because it would be high-priced theater.
AL Championship Series (ALCS):
American League Award Winners:
AL MVP – Aaron Judge/New York Yankees (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Mike Trout, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mookie Betts)
AL Cy Young – Trevor Bauer/Cleveland Indians (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Corey Kluber, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Blake Snell)
AL Rookie of the Year – Vladimir Guerrero Jr./Toronto Blue Jays (LAST YEAR’S PICK, aka Gary “The Gut” Goombah’s Lock of the Year!: Shohei Ohtani), LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Shohei Ohtani)
AL Manager of the Year – Aaron Boone/New York Yankees (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Mike Scioscia/Angels, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Bob Melvin/Athletics)
National League East – This is the most exciting division race of 2019. Four of the five teams are in the running. The Nationals, Braves, Phillies, and Mets could all win this division. The Bryce Harper signing by Philadelphia is the seismic personnel shift that has balanced the power in this division. Along with the Nationals and Phils, the Braves rebuild is coming along nicely. Don’t forget they actually won the East last year with 90 wins. The Mets have been on and off since their World Series appearance in 2015. The Marlins are trash.
- * Washington Nationals (95-67) – Sure they lost their big star. However, they were and still are loaded! Don’t forget about Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon, and Sean Doolittle. To make up for losing Harp, the Nats added a stud southpaw in Patrick Corbin. He’ll be the 3rd starter in what remains the division’s best roster.
- * Philadelphia Phillies (94-68) – It’s not just about Bryce Harper. The Phils added Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura. Add those vets to a rising young core and you get a potentially fantastic group.
- Atlanta Braves (92-70) – Loaded with young talent, this Braves franchise is starting to look like the 90s juggernaut. They won 90 games last year but now face much stiffer competition.
- New York Mets (81-81) – Jacob deGrom is amazing. Noah Syndergaard is fantastic too. They have some good young hitters. They added the veteran Robinson Cano and one of the best closers in Edwin Diaz. Can they get that pitching staff back to what it was when Matt Harvey was good? They still have too many holes to compete in the long run in this gauntlet of a division.
- Miami Marlins – (57-105) They stink like fish. They might set a record for worst record ever (1962 Mets were 40-120). Well, they won’t be that bad. Will they?
National League Central – Last year I picked a tie for the N.L. Central champion that would need a one-game tiebreaker. I was right! However, I only predicted one of the teams correctly. So I was also wrong at the same time. “Dutch” was predicting a one-game playoff between Milwaukee (right!) and St. Louis (wrong!). Instead it was a dual between Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs. 2019 will be similar. I’m once again picking the Cubs to finish down in the division despite the majority of the baseball media picking the Cuuuuu much higher. I just don’t see it. They have been overrated for years. I still don’t understand how they won the World Series in 2016. They were never that good and have started to show their true colors. Has weird Manager Joe Maddon lost the clubhouse just like he did in Tampa? It’s only a matter of time.
- * St. Louis Cardinals (96-66) – St. Louis is hungry for the Playoffs! This year the GM added underrated slugger Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona. Since he played out west, many fans have ignored him but the truth is Goldy is a stud. After a slow start last year, he put up 33 bombs with a .290 average. Along with a group that won 88 games last year, I expect the Cards to take the next step. With new manager Mike Shildt leading the way, the Cardinals will return to the N.L. Playoffs for the first time since 2015.
- * Milwaukee Brewers (93-69) – Wild Card – I’m very proud of “Dutch Lion’s” pick of the Brewers for the N.L. Playoffs last year. They came through by winning 96 games, defeating the hated Cubs in the one-game playoff, sweeping the Rockies in the NLDS, then taking the L.A. Dodgers to the 7 game limit in the NLCS. This year the Brew Crew will establish themselves as more than a one year wonder. It looks like they are contenders for many years ahead.
- Chicago Cubs (89-73) – I used to love Yu……… Yu Darvish that is. Now I think he’s an overrated headcase. What happened to this dude? I’ll never forget watching Darvish dominate in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He was so good I knew he’d be a force in MLB once he left Japan. It seemingly all fell apart in the 2017 World Series when the Houston Astros discovered he was tipping his pitches. That helped the ‘Stros beat him twice for two of their four Series victories. Without that sequence, Los Angeles would have won their first Championship Title since 1988. Meanwhile, the Cubs paid Yu huge wads of Japanese yen to sit in their training room with an assortment of injuries. Will Yu ever come back? I doubt it. And if he does, can he sustain success? Unlikely. Soon he’ll retire and ride off into the sunset back to the Land of the Rising Sun.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (73-89) – I have nothing to write about the Bucs. Oh wait, one thing…… they fight a lot. It’s probably due to their Manager Clint Hurdle. He must be a fighter. They got into it with the Cubs last season and already had a brawl with Cincinnati the other day. I like it. Bring the passion guys. Have some guts. Fight like hockey players. Drop the gloves and get five for fighting. I dig.
- Cincinnati Reds (65-97) – At least they tried to improve the roster this offseason. They nabbed Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp. Nonetheless, they still have way too many holes to compete. What kind of ship transports oil overseas?…… a TANKER.
National League West – The West Champion will be…….. the same team that has won it six years in a row.
- * Los Angeles Dodgers (99-63) – The Dodgers are the closest thing to a “dynasty that never was” since the Buffalo Bills. I mean, this is getting serious. L.A. has won the N.L. West SIX YEARS IN A ROW. They have won two National League pennants in a row. Does this ring a bell? Like the Brooklyn Dodgers of yore, this group of Dodgers is having similar results. What will happen? Will they finally become Champions? Or will they end up as the greatest runner-up ever, or at least tied with the early 90s Buffalo Bills?
- Colorado Rockies (88-74) – The Rockies won 91 games last year, losing the N.L. West tiebreaker to their division rival Dodgers. They’ve made the N.L. Playoffs two years in a row for the first time in franchise history. Will they do it again? I don’t think so.
- San Francisco Giants (76-86) – Manager Bruce Bochy has announced 2019 will be his last year. Unfortunately, the Giants aren’t good enough to give him a deserved send-off. San Francisco won 73 games last year. Expect more of the same.
- San Diego Padres (74-88) – The Padres won 66 games last year. Sure they went out and got Manny Machado. I’m not buying into them being contenders yet. I see a slight 8 game improvement.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (68-94) – A very blah team. Now they don’t even have Paul Goldschmidt as he’s off to the Arch. However, the D’Backs are slithery. Usually poor, somehow they managed a 93 victory campaign in ’17 only to fall back in the pit of 82-80 last year. I’m calling for another decline. The Diamondbacks have lost their venom (Goldschmidt).
National League Playoffs
NL Wild Card:
over – These one game Wild Card matchups come down to the starting pitchers, and then of course the bullpens that go in earlier and earlier every year. The starters in this game would likely be Jhoulys Chacin vs Aaron Nola. Nola has the likely edge but Milwaukee has a great bullpen led by Josh Hader.
NL Division Series (NLDS):
over – Los Angeles is dying to get back to the Playoffs. One of their main challenges in ’19 will be staying focused during the regular season so that they can get back to October. Once they get there, L.A. is a freight train hauling years of Playoff frustrations in their cargo hold. Nonetheless, they should steamroll Philly.
over – St. Louis could easily lose this series, giving the Nats their first playoff series victory after losing in the NLDS in 2012, ’14, ’16, and ’17.
NL Championship Series (NLCS):
over – L.A. does it again, getting back to the World Series for the third year in a row. Will the third time be a charm?
National League Award Winners:
NL MVP – Paul Goldschmidt/St. Louis Cardinals (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Bryce Harper/Nats, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Christian Yelich/Brewers)
NL Cy Young – Max Scherzer/Washington Nationals (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Max Scherzer/Nats, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Jacob deGrom/Mets)
NL Rookie of the Year – Victor Robles/Washington Nationals (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Lewis Brinson/Marlins OR Scott Kingery/Phillies, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Ronald Acuna/Braves)
NL Manager of the Year – Gabe Kapler/Philadelphia Phillies (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Craig Counsell/Brewers, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Brian Snitker/Braves) – Counsell got hosed on this Award. Maybe he’ll win it this year instead.
2019 World Series
Oh wow! This would be a sick World Series matchup. The Bronx Bombers vs Dem Bums! It’s a throwback to the battle of the boroughs of New York City. Back in the 1940s and ’50s, Brooklyn had to overcome their demons after losing to their intracity rivals five times in the World Series before finally prevailing in 1955. After losing in 1941, ’47, ’49, ’52, and ’53 the team mantra became “Wait ’til Next Year”. Then in ’55 it finally became “This IS Next Year”. What a great era of baseball it was. Then it all ended in NYC as the Dodgers left Brooklyn to plant new roots out west in 1958. The New York Giants did the same thing by leaving the Polo Grounds at Coogan’s Bluff to head to San Francisco in 1958. New York has never been the same.
Overall, the Yankees and Dodgers have met 11 times in the World Series with the Yanks winning 8 Championships. The Dodgers have won 3 Titles (’55, ’63, and ’81). “Dutch Lion” is calling for the 12th World Series matchup with the Dodgers winning their 4th in the head to head rivalry.
Los Angeles has won their division six years in a row but haven’t crossed the finish line on top. As in 1955, this year’s Bums will finally get over the hump, winning their first Championship since 1988.
After writing down my predictions, I looked at other 2019 baseball previews.
Sports Illustrated : Astros over Phillies
Street & Smith’s Baseball Preview : Astros over Braves
Lindy’s : Astros vs Cardinals – They didn’t name a champion.
Athlon’s : Dodgers over Astros
Chicago Tribune :
As you can see from the photo above, the Chicago Tribune posted a “Baseball Preview Magazine” and they collected predictions from ten baseball writers around the country from Tribune affiliated newspapers. Locally, we have three writers listed above: Teddy Greenstein, Mark Gonzales, and their lead baseball writer Paul Sullivan.
- Greenstein : Dodgers over Astros
- Gonzales : Yankees over Dodgers
- Sullivan : Red Sox over Phillies
You can see the others listed above. When we add up all of the predictions we compiled above, we have the following:
- 4 Astros (Kristie Ackert, Alex Putterman, SI, Street & Smith’s)
- 4 Dodgers (Dutch Lion, Teddy Greenstein, Dom Amore, Athlon’s)
- 4 Yankees (Tom Housenick, Mark Gonzales, Peter Schmuck, Deesha Thosar)
- 1 Red Sox (Paul Sullivan)
- 1 Nationals (Jon Meoli)
- 1 Cardinals/Astros (Lindy’s)
Very interesting! I’m surprised that nobody is picking Milwaukee (not really because they never get any respect), Philadelphia, or the Chicago Cubs. I’m also shocked only one person/publication picked St. Louis. If the soothsayers are right, we’re looking at Houston, N.Y. Yankees, or L.A. Dodgers to win it all in 2019.
I’m all in on the Dodgers. 2019 is the Dodgers year. Mark it down! While you’re placing your wagers, listen to the song played at Dodger Stadium the second the last out is made signaling each Dodgers victory.
Belt it out Randy Newman! “I Love L.A.”