Although baseball technically kicked off last week in Tokyo (Mariners vs A's) of all fucking places tomorrow is officially Opening Day here in the good old States. Lets get the season started with some predictions.
AL EAST: New York Yankees
While the Red Sox (expect a World Series hangover) are the defending champs after a historic season for the ages the Yankees I feel have the better overall ball club. Luis Severino going down could be a big blow for the Pinstripes but they still have plenty of arms to fill in including new addition James Paxton. Yankees easily have the best bullpen in the majors. Factor in their lineup getting bounce back seasons from Gary Sanchez who was awful last year and the addition of DJ LeMahieu will solidify them. It should be a close division race between the Yankees and Red Sox all season. The Rays will hover around .500 all season in the empty Trop. The Blue Jays got some exciting young players coming up this year including Vlad Guerrero Jr. but they are still years away from contention. The Orioles almost completely gutted their front office and MLB and minor league system after an embarrassing 47 win season.
AL CENTRAL: Cleveland Indians
The Wahoos should coast in the league's worst division. The question remains do they have enough firepower to compete with the other division winners come playoff time? Not so sure but I love any team with a top of the rotation consisting of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger who are all in their prime years. Perennial MVP candidates Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are battling some injury issues but should be ready to go. The only other team I could see contending in this division are the Minnesota Twins who signed Jonathan Schoop and Marwin Gonzalez to relatively bargain deals. The rest of the division stinks with Detroit, Kansas City and the White Sox all in rebuild mode for this season at least.
AL WEST: Houston Astros
The World Series hangover was real for the Astros last season but I think they bounce back and win the division again this year. Getting a healthy Altuve and Correa will be the key for the Astros all season. Alec Bregman is a legit MVP candidate. When Justin Verlander isn't throwing ropes on Kate Upton he's still a horse on the mound entering his late 30's. While the Angels have the best player and now the highest player in the game in Mike Trout they still got too many holes to contend for the division but could make a Wild Card run. I'm expecting the A's to fall back after a great 2018 season in which they played well beyond expectations and went to the playoffs. The Rangers and Mariners are looking at long seasons.
AL WILDCARDS: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins
You know whomever finishes 2nd in the AL East will get a Wild Card so I'll roll with the Red Sox here after losing a close race with the Yankees. In a bit of a surprise I'll go with the Twins who are led by a rookie manager in Rocco Baldelli as my upset pick for the 2nd Wild Card.
AL MVP: Mike Trout
Yes I know Mookie Betts won it last year but if you look at Trout's numbers you could make an argument that Trout should have won the MVP every year since his rookie season. I'll go with the safe bet and the most paid player in MLB history in Trout.
AL CY YOUNG: Chris Sale
Sale got his long term contract extension and is fully comfortable in Boston. He should be a monster once again.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Vlad Guerrero Jr
It wouldn't shock me to see Vlad Jr. have a Ronald Acuna-like effect for the Blue Jays this season.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Rocco Baldelli
If the Twins can snag the last Wild Card their rookie manager will win the award.
NL EAST: Atlanta Braves
This is gonna be the funniest and most competitive (minus Marlins) division to watch in baseball. While the defending NL East champs Braves added Josh Donaldson the Phillies went out and got Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, JT Realmuto and Andrew McCutchen. Sick moves by the Phillies to bolster a lineup that on paper could be the best in baseball. Problem is the Phillies have the worst defense in baseball and their manager is too fucking analytical for my liking. The Mets acquired Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz and have a great top of the rotation with Cy Young Winner Jacob deGrom leading the way. The Nats might have lost Harper to the Phillies (could actually be addition by subtraction for DC) but they are looking to bounce back after a distraction filled season. Signing Patrick Corbin to team up with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg rivals the Mets top 3 for best rotation in the division. Honestly you can throw all 4 of these teams in a hat and you can't go wrong with picking any of them to win the division. I'll go with the Braves because they are getting a full season of Ronald Acuna and Josh Donaldson in the lineup and both are legitimate MVP candidates along with the steady Freddie Freeman. While the Braves rotation doesn't look as good on paper as the other 3 they got more depth IMO and plenty of young arms to fill needs all season. Plus the Braves have arguably the best defense in the game.
NL CENTRAL: Chicago Cubs
The Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals will all be battling to the end to win the most competitive division from top to bottom. If the Cubs stay healthy I think they win a close race over the Brewers and Cardinals. I think what separates the Cubs from them is their pitching and defense. But to be honest anyone of these teams could win the division and the pennant this season. I'll just throw shit on the wall and say the Cubs get a MVP performance from Kris Bryant to help decide the final outcome in the division. The Pirates also aren't anything to sneeze at and should be much improved. The Reds made a ton of off season moves (Puig and Kemp among others) but I don't think they got the pitching to contend this season. They should be a lot better though and at least fun to watch.
NL WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers
I think this will be the last season the Dodgers hang on to win the NL West for the 7th straight season. The Dbacks and Giants are years away from contending. The Padres signed Manny Machado and have a lot of young players ready to emerge but are still too young. The Rockies could make a run but they don't have enough to catch the Dodgers.
NL WILDCARDS: Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals
It's almost impossible to pick any of the Wild Card winners. The Phillies, Mets, Brewers, and Rockies are also serious contenders for a spot but I'll roll with the Nats and Cardinals at this point. When in doubt I go with pitching and defense as the difference and both the Nats and Cards are better top to bottom at least on paper than the other contenders.
NL MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr.
This will be the first of many MVPs for the young King phenom. I'm not saying he's Trout but Acuna is just a step below him and should put up monster stats hitting behind Donaldson and Freeman all season.
NL CY YOUNG: Max Scherzer
Mad Max just continues to get better while he punches his first ballot ticket to Cooperstown with his 4th Cy Young Award this season.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Victor RoblesWhile the Nats lost out on Juan Soto getting ROY honors last season because of King Acuna's monster 2nd half this year they can celebrate with Robles winning the award.