Stories to Watch in MLB in 2019
The 2019 Major League Baseball season is set to begin tonight as all 30 teams will take to the diamond. That includes the defending World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, playing the final contest of the day when they travel out west to take on the Seattle Mariners.
There will be a lot of great storylines to tell in MLB, and here are 10 questions that should be exciting to see how they are answered this season.
10. Can the Tampa Bay Rays Win in the AL East?
Consider that 11 teams won at least 90 games last season, one of them (the Atlanta Braves) even won a division title with 90 wins. The Tampa Bay Rays also won 90 games, but finished 18 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and 10 games behind the New York Yankees. It is hard to win a division when the two teams ahead of you won 100+ games, but the Rays could have helped themselves last season had they played better head-to-head against New York and Boston. Five more wins against each and they would have been the wild card team. Tampa Bay finished September 19-9, so it will be interesting to see if that carries over to 2019.
9. Are the A’s for Real?
The surprise team of 2018 was the Oakland Athletics. They somehow won 97 games to earn the final wild card berth. This was a bit of a surprise for a team that finished 13th in hitting and 11th in ERA. What they did do was hit homeruns, finishing third in the Majors with 227. It will be interesting to see if their power surge can continue and if that is enough to make them a division contender again.
8. Are the Cubs a World Series Contender?
Wow, how winning a World Series can change things. For 108 years if this question was asked people would have laughed, but finally breaking the curse a few years back has changed the team’s outlook. Chicago earned a wild card spot with 95 wins last season, but many think this team will win no more than 85 games in 2019. Cubs fans are always optimistic come April, but this is likely not to be their year.
7. Will Attendance Drop?
For 14 straight seasons, overall attendance increased from the previous year. That was not the case last season. Weather played a big part in hurting attendance, but fans may be getting bored with the sport. It is no wonder why the powers that be are so willing to make rule changes.
6. Is Anyone in the NL East for Real?
The Atlanta Braves won the NL East with 90 wins last season, the lowest total of any division winner. This was a good Braves team that got outstanding pitching and timely hitting to be a 90 win club. The New York Mets and Washington Nationals both imploded and now the Nationals have lost their star player. If the Mets can stay healthy, they have the pitching to be a 95 win club. However, most eyes will be on Philadelphia (more on that later).
5. How Many Homers Will the Yankees Hit?
The new Bronx Bombers blasted 267 homers last season, leading the Majors by 32 over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The addition of Giancarlo Stanton gave this team a heart of the order that was simply brutal. The team only hit .249 however, 16th in the Majors. They should have another outstanding power production, but not as big as last year. The Yankees hit 248.
4. Who Will Be the Biggest Surprises in 2019?
If the New York Mets stay healthy, they are going to be very tough to beat in the East. They have six outstanding starters and a deep bullpen. It is all about the health.
However, the big story could be the San Diego Padres. After playing in obscurity for the last decade, this team finally looks ready to take the next step. A deep and well-developed farm system has them eyeing a playoff run. Fernando Tatis, Jr., the No. 2 prospect in the game, will become the team’s shortstop. He joins right-hander Chris Paddack, as both players are so talented that they jumped right from AA to the Majors, forgoing AAA.
3. Will Mike Trout Earn that Big Contract?
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout became the highest paid player in sports, signing a deal worth $430 million. He already had two American League MVP awards, but his best years may be ahead of him. Trout is just 27, and there are few that don’t already believe that he is the best player in the game. Will he earn that big deal? As much as any player in baseball can.
2. How Will Bryce Harper Affect the Phillies
The big story this past off-season was where would former Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper land. He took big money to join division rival Philadelphia in what should be a greatly improved Phillies team. Are they a World Series contender right now? Probably not, but this team could very well win the NL East behind an outstanding lineup and solid, young pitching.
1. Who Wins the World Series?
In the American League, the Boston Red Sox are still going to be tough, as are the Houston Astros. No one really improved enough to beat out either one of these teams. Boston won out last year, so we take Houston this year, beating the Red Sox in the AL Championship in seven.
In the NL, Milwaukee is so good. This team does everything well. They were close last year, but this will be the year they win the NL pennant, beating the Dodgers in six.
A Houston-Milwaukee World Series should be a great one, but the experience is the big factor. The pitching staff for the Astros is just better and has World Series experience on their resume, so they down the Brewers in five.