2019 American League Predictions

The Big 3

New York Yankees (102-60)

The Bronx Bombers are coming off a 100 win season which resulted in a wild card spot and a quick exit in the ALDS via the rival Boston Redsox. However the balance of power between New York and Boston seems to have shifted in favor of the Yankees over the course of the offseason. The Yankees bolstered an already impressive bullpen by adding RHP Adam Ottavino and retaining LHP Zack Britton. Brian Cashman also acquired the big Canadian LHP James Paxton, a front of the line starter who could be an AL CY Young candidate this season. The Yankees even added to an already stacked lineup with the additions of former NL Batting Champion and Gold Glove winner IF D.J. LeMahieu, and SS Troy Tulowitzki, both who could play a crucial role as SS Didi Gregorious returns from injury.

It will be hard to have back to back seasons with 100+ wins, however I feel the Yankees have the tools to do just that. RF Aaron Judge missed a chunk of last season, which resulted in Shane Robinson (exactly who) playing key games down the stretch. This year Judge is back healthy and crushing the ball in Spring. C Gary Sanchez had one of the worst seasons I have ever seen. He hovered around and below the .200 mark and struggled with injuries all season long. Chances are he will return to his 2017 form before he ever has another season like last. OF Giancarlo Stanton had a “down year” where he posted 38 HR, 100 RBI and 102 Runs Scored. SO in year two in the Bronx, where he will be more comfortable and familiar with the AL, expect his “down year” numbers to improve as well. Also the baby bombers of 2B Gleybar Torres and 3B Miguel Andujar who finished behind Ohtani for ROY, should only get better, especially on the defensive side where both struggled last season. From top to bottom, the Yankees roster has no real areas of weakness.

If health is a given, there is no reason the Yankees shouldn’t win the division and play deep into October. The two past World Series Champions have knocked out the Yankees in the last two Postseasons, the Astros in the 2017 ALCS and the RedSox in the 2018 ALDS. I have the Yankees as the team representing the American League in the 2019 Fall Classic.

Houston Astros (100-62)

The Houston Astros are in the middle of a very good stretch of baseball over the past few years. They reached the ALDS in 2015, won the World Series in 2017, and reached the ALCS last season before being knocked out by the eventual champion Boston RedSox.

Coming into 2019, I expect the Astros to continue on their streak of success. This offseason the team added OF Michael Brantley to its already lengthy and productive lineup. Brantley just adds to the Astros ability to make contact and put the ball in play. A lineup featuring multiple MVP candidates in Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, with the backing of George Springer and Carlos Correa, should be a top 3 offense in the American League. The team is losing their former ace LHP Dallas Keuchel to free agency, which could hurt them. However the starting rotation featuring Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers, and Colin McHugh, backed by the powerhouse offense, should be able to absorb the loss of Keuchel.

The Astros should run away with the AL West Division and end up once again in the ALCS.

Boston RedSox (93-69)

The reigning World Series Champion Boston Redsox come into 2019 with much of the same roster it had in 2018. The stacked lineup remains in tact headlined by OF Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benditeni, and SS Xander Bogarts. Long time RedSox Dustin Pedroia is expected to be back, splitting time with Eduardo Nunez at second base after missing all but 3 games of the 2018 season. The starting rotation is still solid, with the front men of LHP Chris Sale and David Price, however the back end of the rotation and bullpen seem to be high question marks for this ball club. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez has looked bad so far in spring, which had manager Alex Cora publicly say Rodriguez needs to be better. The true issue with the team remains the bullpen. Last season the bullpen had its issues, but came together as the season progressed. But this season RHP Joe Kelly is playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Closer Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned as he sits at home on his couch waiting for a team to meet his large contract demands. As of right now, the Redsox have no proven closer, or even a proven setup man whines primed for the closer role. It will be interesting to see how Alex Cora manages his pitching staff, mainly late in close games.

Expect the Redsox to slug their way through the regular season to absolve their pitching question marks, but they will take a significant step back form last year. They will run away with the first wild card spot and have a place come October. However I expect that run to be brief this year as the current roster, particularly the bullpen is not strong enough to make a run like the Sox had last year.


The Other Playoff Contenders

Cleveland Indians (90-72)

The Indians have been a model of consistency over the past few seasons, winning the AL Central there consecutive years. And I have news for you, they’re on their way to a fourth. The AL Central is by far the weakest division in baseball with the Indians as the only true contender. The Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox are smacked dead in rebuilds. The Minnesota Twins are too inconsistent to gage at the moment. Two seasons ago they were a shocking team who found themselves in the wild card game, but then struggled last season. And even at their best the Twins are no real threat to the Indians who yet again will hold the crown at the tip of the Central. Despite the Indians losing key players over the past few seasons like Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, and Andrew Miller, the team still has more than enough talent to find themselves in October. With a top 5 rotation in all of baseball featuring Cory Kluber and Trevor Bauer at the front end, to go along with an impressive lineup consisting of multiple MVP candidates SS Fransico Lindor and 3B Jose Ramirez, the Indians are sitting pretty atop the AL Central.

Rays, Angles, Twins, and A’s Battle For 2nd Wild Card

Predicting the second wild card spot in the American League is always a crap shoot. It seems to be a surprise team each year that snags the last playoff spot. Last year it took the Oakland A’s an insane 97 win total just to secure the second wild card, a win total that usually wins any division on any given year. And the A’s came out of nowhere, along with the Rays who posted a 90 win season just to miss the playoffs. Nobody would’ve had either of them with a punchers chance to be in contention and both were. The point being, I’m probably going to be wrong on this one because there seems to be no indication of who secures the position year to year. But let’s give it a shot.

Despite the moves the Rays made to improve the team, I think they fall back into the mid 80’s in wins. The A’s are definitely taking a step back from 97 wins. Like I mentioned earlier the Twins have been unpredictable for years so I guess they have to be in the conversation. But the team I have securing the second wild card spot is the Los Angeles Angels. The reason being, the Angels have to be feeling the pressure surrounding Mike Trout’s free agency coming up in two years, especially with the latest Harper pitch. The team needs to show they can get to the playoffs or Trout is likely leaving. Other than that I don’t have much of a real reason to support it, but I’m going with it anyway.

Playoff Breakdown

Wild Card Game- Boston defeat the Los Angeles Angels

ALDS Yankees defeat Red Sox in 4 games. Astros defeat Indians in 4 games.

ALCS: Yankees defeat Astros in 7


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