Here are my predictions and thoughts for the 2019 season in the American League.
There are some truly great teams in the American League, due in part to an inordinately high number of teams “tanking.” Each of these divisions are quite top heavy. I doubt we’ll see very many surprise teams sneaking in to these races.
Before the year started, I thought the Yankees were postured to be the best team in baseball. Of course, that was before they suffered a string of injuries to their stars: Severino, Sanchez, Hicks, Andujar, Stanton, Torres, Betances, Bird, Gregorius, Judge, Paxton, Tulowitzki…the list just goes on and on. And yet, the Yankees continue to stay afloat in the American League East. If they can ever get somewhat healthy, I still expect this team to play deep into October.
Boston’s bid for a repeat hasn’t started well either, but the Sox are still among the premier teams in the league. I’m worried about Chris Sale — he just doesn’t seem to be himself these days. And I’m honestly shocked Boston didn’t sign Craig Kimbrel to solidify the bullpen. Pennants can be won and lost in April just as much as in September. But this team is too good not to have a playoff share this fall, too.
I honestly didn’t expect Tampa Bay to be this competitive. But they continue to rely on different players in big spots: one night it’s Tommy Pham; the next it’s Austin Meadows; another night, Yandy Diaz gets the big hit; or there’s Brandon Lowe filling up a stat sheet. And the pitching looks great, too. Tyler Glasnow is looking like a Cy Young candidate. And they have the reigning Cy Young winner in Blake Snell. I don’t know if they’ll keep it all spring, but I’ll definitely be rooting for these guys.
Heading into the season, I figured Cleveland was the most surefire division winner in the majors. But they look pretty ordinary and I’m thinking their window as one of the elite teams in the game may have already closed. Minnesota has made some competitive moves during the offseason. Marwin Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, and CJ Cron will lengthen the lineup considerably, and I think their pitching could be sneaky good. (Jose Berrios is a Cy Young dark horse candidate.) The Twins are really the only team that can challenge Cleveland in this division.
Out West, I have Houston running away with things. I fully expect Oakland to regress back to the pack and I don’t see any of the other teams catching the Astros.
AL MVP pick: A couple weeks ago, I might have selected Miguel Andujar as a surprise pick here. Of course, his shoulder injury on March 31 eliminates that savvy choice. And I could always go with Mike Trout, who will probably put up MVP-caliber numbers again this year. But I’m going to go out on a limb and go with George Springer. Houston will score a ton and Springer has the chance to be in the middle of plenty of rallies.
AL Cy Young pick: I really think Berrios is ready to break out. He could carry the Twins to the postseason with his killer fastball / curveball mix. I also like Tyler Glasnow.
AL Rookie of the Year pick: Eloy Jiminez is a stud.