March 27, 2019

2019 Predictions: The Athletic, Boston Herald, NY Post

Jim Bowden, The Athletic:
AL East

Boston Red Sox - Predicted finish: 1st

Pitching: The Red Sox just extended their ace, Chris Sale, which bodes well for their medical staff's view of his health going forward. ... [T]he Red Sox have the best starting rotation in the division. Their bullpen is loaded with power arms, but no experienced impact closer ... However, they're confident that Matt Barnes can successfully take over as closer after watching him succeed in high-leverage situations last year, and they think Ryan Brasier can successfully move into Barnes' old role. The X-factor this summer could be rookie left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who throws 100 mph with one of the game's top spin rates on his breaking ball.

Offense: The Red Sox have one of the most balanced and deepest lineups in the game, with a tremendous combination of speed and power. ...

Defense: The Red Sox also have the best defensive outfield in the sport, with three centerfielders manning the outfield position: Benintendi in left, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Betts in right. The trio combined for a 17.6 WAR last year.

Big Picture: The Red Sox were able to bring back practically the entire team from last year, outside of Kimbrel and Joe Kelly. The bullpen's ability to close games and succeed in high-leverage innings will probably be the determining factor in whether the Red Sox can repeat as champions.

New York Yankees - Predicted finish: 2nd (1st wild card)

Pitching: The Yankees had an immediate setback this spring when their ace, Luis Severino, was shut down with right shoulder tendinitis. He is not expected to return until sometime in May. ... The Yankees bullpen, when healthy, is the best in baseball. ... Dellin Betances will start the year on the IL with a sore shoulder ...

Offense: The Bronx Bombers will live up to their name again this season; they have the most powerful lineup in baseball ... Gary Sanchez, my pick for comeback player of the year, should lead all catchers in dingers.

Defense: The Yankees will miss center fielder Aaron Hicks, who is starting the year on the injured list with back issues after agreeing to a seven-year, $70 million contract. ... Overall, the team is in the top third of the league defensively. ... The left side of the infield could be an issue for New York, as both Andújar (who is still developing his consistency) and Troy Tulowitzki (dealing with a lack of range at this point in his career) are likely to be below-average defensively.

Big Picture: The Yankees will need a healthy Luis Severino and Dellin Betances if they want to catch the Red Sox this year. ...

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees*, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: Cleveland, Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Royals
AL West: Astros, Athletics*, Angels, Mariners, Rangers

MVP: Aaron Judge
Cy Young: Gerrit Cole
Rookie of the Year: Yusei Kikuchi, Mariners
Executive of the Year: Brian Cashman, Yankees
Manager of the Year: A.J. Hinch, Astros
Comeback Player of the Year: Gary Sanchez, Yankees
Bowden also wrote up the NL:
NL East: Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Atlanta, Marlins
NL Central: Cubs, Brewers*, Cardinals , Pirates, Reds
NL West: Rockies, Dodgers*, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants

MVP: Nolan Arenado
Cy Young: Walker Buehler
Rookie of the Year: Victor Robles, Nationals
Executive of the Year: Matt Klentak, Phillies
Manager of the Year: Bud Black, Rockies
Comeback Player of the Year: Corey Seager, Dodgers
Michael Silverman, Boston Herald:
AL MVP: Trout (Alternates: Betts, Bregman, Lindor)
AL Cy Young: Cole (Alternates: Bauer, Sale, Kluber)
AL ROY: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Alternates: Eloy Jimenez, Yusei Kikuchi, Josh James)
AL Manager: Rocco Baldelli, Twins

NL MVP: Arenado (Alternates: Bryant, Machado, Goldschmidt)
NL Cy Young: Scherzer (Alternates: deGrom, Buehler, Syndergaard)
NL ROY: Victor Robles (Alternates: Fernando Tatis Jr., Peter Alonso, Touki Toussaint)
NL Manager: Gabe Kapler, Phillies
New York Post
AL East
Ken Davidoff        - Yankees, Red Sox*, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
George A. King III  - Red Sox, Yankees*, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
Kevin Kernan        - Red Sox, Yankees*, Rays*, Blue Jays, Orioles
Mike Puma           - Yankees, Red Sox*, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
Joel Sherman        - Yankees, Red Sox*, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
Mike Vaccaro        - Yankees, Red Sox*, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
Dan Martin          - Yankees, Red Sox*, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
(*: Wild Card Team)
AL East: Yankees 5, Red Sox 2
AL Central: Cleveland 4, Twins 3
AL West: Astros 7

NL East: Nationals 5, Phillies 2
NL Central: Brewers 4, Reds 2, Cardinals 1
NL West: Dodgers 6, Padres 1

AL Champions: Astros 4, Yankees 3
NL Champions: Dodgers 3, Nationals 1, Brewers 1, Cardinals 1, Padres 1
World Series Champions: Yankees 2, Astros 1, Brewers 1, Cardinals 1, Padres 1, Dodgers 1

AL MVP: Judge 3, Betts 1, Trout 1, Bregman 1, Stanton 1
NL MVP: Arenado 2, Acuna 1, Soto 1, Yelich 1, Goldschmidt 1, Machado 1

AL Cy Young: Sale 4, Cole 2, Verlander 1
NL Cy Young: Scherzer 4, deGrom 1, Nola 1, Strasberg 1

AL ROY: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 5, Eloy Jimemez 2
NL ROY: Victor Robles 4, Pete Alonso 1, Fernando Tatis Jr. 1

Joel Sherman, on the American League East:

1. Yankees - Over/Under win total: 97
Key player: James Paxton. He was important anyway, but with the loss of Luis Severino for at least a month and the season-opening absence of CC Sabathia as well, Paxton simply can't be Sonny Gray redux — an AL West ace who flames out in New York. ...

Player who'll need to step up: Gary Sanchez. ... Last year he batted .186, the worst ever by a Yankee with at least 350 plate appearances. ...

Biggest question mark: The rotation depth will be challenged from the outset with Severino and Sabathia sidelined. Luis Cessa and Domingo German are going to have to hold serve from the mound and Troy Tulowitzki at short until injured players return.

How it'll go down: The past four champs — Royals, Cubs, Astros and Red Sox — have been built around young, starry, positional cores. The Yankees have such a group. It can be their time.
2. Red Sox - Over/Under win total: 94
Key player: Chris Sale. When healthy, Sale is on the short list for best starter in the majors. But he has not been right late in each of the last two seasons, including two second-half injured list stints for shoulder inflammation last year. The rest of the rotation ... is strong, but the depth is not, so Sale's availability is vital.

Player who'll need to step up: Ryan Brasier. ... The Red Sox have stated belief in Braiser and Matt Barnes. The ability to become the first repeat champs since the 1998-2000 Yankees hinges on finding the right late-game formula.

Biggest question mark: Beyond the obvious relief conundrum, the Red Sox will have to avoid the physical/mental letdown that has beset recent champions.

How it'll go down: Aside from Kimbrel, Boston is returning a championship roster headed by AL MVP Mookie Betts. The Red Sox are good enough to repeat ...
Re "the physical/mental letdown that has beset recent champions": I have to point out that the most recent champion - the 2017 Astros, who won 101 games and the World Series  - actually won two more games (103) in 2018.


The Athletic:
As​ we did last​ season, this spring The Athletic​ had​ our beat​ writers​ ask as​ many players​ as​ they could​​ — about a third of the league overall, including players from all 30 teams — about a wide range of topics. ... [E]ven when granted anonymity, some players declined to discuss a few of the more controversial topics, so the players who did answer had a bigger say in the results.

1. Who is the most intimidating pitcher in the game?
Max Scherzer, Nationals (38.7%), Chris Sale (18.5%), Aroldis Chapman (11%)
On Scherzer: "I don't think there are many of them left that will throw at you and don't give a shit."

On Sale: "Two weeks before we even played the Red Sox, (teammates) were looking to see if Sale lined up against us. I'm like, 'I've never seen that.' These guys were like, 'Shit.'"
2. Who is the most intimidating hitter in the game?
Mike Trout, Angels (40.2%), Aaron Judge (12.6%), J.D. Martinez (7.5%), Giancarlo Stanton (6.3%)
On Trout: "He's going to end up being the best player ever, and we're watching him, taking him for granted."
4. Who is the most underrated player in the game?
Anthony Rendon, Nationals (11.4%), Paul Goldschmidt (8.9%), DJ LeMahieu (5%), Nick Markakis (4.4%)

5. Who is the most overrated player?
Bryce Harper, Phillies (62%), Marcus Stroman (4.1%)
On Harper: "It's marketing. It's star power. But what has he done besides have one year?"
8. Which manager (aside from your own) would you least want to play for?
Gabe Kapler, Phillies (18.3%), Joe Maddon (16.1%), Buck Showalter (7.5%), Mike Scioscia (6.5%)
On Maddon: "His glasses weird me out."

On [Aaron] Boone: "I was a Sox fan in '03 when he hit that home run off Tim Wakefield."
11. Do you think there has been collusion among teams that has affected free agency?
Yes: 40%, No: 17%, Don't know: 43%

12. Do you think there will be a work stoppage when the current CBA expires?
Yes: 28.6%, No: 25%, Don’t know: 46.4%

13. Do you think MLB should ban the shift?
Yes: 17.4%, No: 77.2%, Don't know/no opinion: 5.4%

14. Should the DH expand to the National League?
Yes: 37.7%, No: 58.6%, Don't know/no opinion: 3.5% ...

18. Who is the dirtiest player in the game?
Manny Machado, Padres (64.8%), Chase Utley (9.3%) "even if he is retired"

No comments: