The countdown is on. We are now just shy of 24 hours from opening day across Major League Baseball. (Let's just forget the Athletics and Mariners already played two regular season games in Japan last week, cause it only makes things more confusing.) After an agonizing winter and spring waiting for free agents to sign, at last we can watch and write about what's actually taking place on the field.
If you're looking for our annual Nationals media season predictions, you're going to have to wait one more day. Those will be published right here tomorrow morning. In the meantime, here are my own predictions for the entire sport, not only the standings and postseason results but the major award winners as well.
After correctly nailing the Astros as 2017 champs, I was not quite as successful in 2018. (Indians over Nats? Oof.) But I'm back up on the horse and making another run at it, going back to Houston as my World Series pick. What could possibly go wrong? ...
1. Braves - Banking on young rotation to do what young lineup did last year.
2. Nationals (WC) - They look improved across most of roster, but bullpen is a real question.
3. Phillies (WC) - Harper, Realmuto, McCutchen boost lineup. Not sold on pitching staff.
4. Mets - Can contend if rotation and aging lineup stay healthy. Wanna take that bet?
5. Marlins - Will play major role in NL East race ... team that beats them most will win.
1. Cardinals - Two great offseason additions: Goldschmidt to lineup, Miller to bullpen.
2. Cubs - Pressure's on in Wrigleyville to win this year, or else Maddon is out.
3. Brewers - So much went right last season, tough to expect it to happen again.
4. Reds - Bolstered staff with Gray and Roark, but not quite ready to win yet.
5. Pirates - Biggest additions after going 82-80: Lonnie Chisenhall and Melky Cabrera?
1. Dodgers - Rotation health again a big concern, but too much talent not to win West again.
2. Rockies - Daniel Murphy might hit .350 with 40 homers at Coors Field.
3. Padres - Manny Machado + top-rated farm system = improvement in 2019.
4. Diamondbacks - Seems like they're stuck in no-man's land, not great, not terrible.
5. Giants - Bumgarner and Posey remain, but the rebuild is now officially underway.
NL Rookie of the Year: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
NL Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer, Nationals
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
NL wild card game: Nationals over Phillies
NLDS: Cardinals over Nationals, Dodgers over Braves
NLCS: Cardinals over Dodgers
1. Red Sox - Will defending champs call Kimbrel sometime this summer to save bullpen?
2. Yankees (WC) - They'll be playing in October, but can they avoid the wild card game?
3. Rays - Can squeeze more out of paltry payroll than anyone, but division's just too tough.
4. Blue Jays - Really had something going a few years ago. That ship has now sailed.
5. Orioles - They could lose 100 games and still be MLB's most improved team.
1. Indians - Good enough to win MLB's worst division. Not good enough to do much more.
2. Twins (WC) - Somebody's gotta be the AL's second wild card. Let's take a flyer on them.
3. White Sox - It's time for Lucas Giolito to become something, or else become a bust.
4. Royals - Those back-to-back World Series feel like they happened decades ago.
5. Tigers - Jordan Zimmermann (5.24 ERA with Detroit) is the opening day starter.
1. Astros - Might have the best roster, top to bottom, in the majors.
2. Athletics - Already off to rough start: 0-2 in Japan, lost Olson and Luzardo to injuries.
3. Angels - Mike Trout is an Angel for life. Now it's time to build a winner around him.
4. Mariners - Jerry Dipoto makes a trade every 27.4 seconds. Few have turned team around.
5. Rangers - Final season at ballpark doesn't figure to be a memorable one.
AL Rookie of the Year: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
AL Cy Young Award: Chris Sale, Red Sox
AL MVP: Alex Bregman, Astros
AL wild card game: Yankees over Twins
ALDS: Astros over Yankees, Red Sox over Indians
ALCS: Astros over Red Sox
World Series: Astros over Cardinals