Baseball is officially back! With a little over a week of baseball played, there is no telling what the future holds for the 30 teams fighting for the end goal of the World Series. Statements have been made early, contenders have looked like pretenders (and vice versa), and familiar faces in new places are off to hot starts. Here are my bold predictions for the MLB season.
The Red Sox Won't Make the Playoffs:
This may be a stretch considering they are the reigning World Series Champs, but Boston is not the same team they were last year. They have started off 2-6. The biggest problem at the start of the year has been their pitching. Chris Sale's fastball has looked very flat and it has shown in his first two starts posting an 0-2 record with an 8.00 ERA. Boston's biggest problem is their bullpen. They lost key guys like Craig Kimbrel that has made their stellar bullpen of last year, look very lackluster at the start of the season. Aside from their 1-0 loss to Oakland, they have given up at least 6 runs in every other game, with their bullpen allowing 10 runs on opening day in Seattle. The big bats in the lineup will get going, but the lack of depth and reliability in the pen may keep the reigning champs out of the hunt in October.
Jacob deGrom Will Have a Better Year Than Last Season and Win Back to Back Cy Young Awards:
No one thought it was possible, but Jacob deGrom is off to a better start in 2019 than he was in 2018. In his first two starts, deGrom is 2-0 and has yet to give up an earned or unearned run. He has faced 48 batters, striking out half in his two outings. His velocity looks on par to last year, and his control has been incredible. He has made most batters looks clueless up at bat so far in 2019. The key to deGrom's success this year will be that he'll win more games. The Mets have a much better offense compared to last season. In his two starts, the Mets have combined for 8 runs, something they couldn't do last year in games that deGrom started. With his ERA on pace to reflect last year, and his wins to seemingly increase, deGrom will run away with the Cy Young and may even get some MVP votes.
Joc Pederson Will Finish in The Top 3 for MVP Voting:
The Dodger slugger is off to a blistering start to the season. He is batting .412 with 3 homeruns in 17 at bats. Pederson has hit everything in sight so far. His slugging percentage is at an incredible .462. Pederson has always been known as a homerun or strike out type of player. If he can cut down on his strikeouts and maintain his hot streak throughout the season, Pederson will be undoubtedly in the conversation for MVP at the end of the season.
The Orioles Will Contend for a Wild Card Spot:
This may sound crazy, but yes the 47 win Orioles of last season will be in a playoff race. They will attempt to replicate the 2002 A's and use the Moneyball tactic. Due to their underwhelming amount of talent, they will base how they shift and set their lineup based on analytics. Their new manager has learned behind one of the best coaches in baseball, Joe Madden. Although they don't have the most talent, they have veteran guys like Villar, Mancini, and Cobb who can run the show. According to MLB.com, they have a top 5 farm system. At 4-3 and in second in the AL East, if they are still contending come July, look for them to be buyers at the deadline to beef up their bullpen and starting rotation with a guy like Madison Bumgarner.
The Mariners Will Make The World Series:
Seattle is off to one of the best starts in franchise history. At 7-1, they have looked almost unbeatable. More than half of their lineup is batting over .300, with the leaders of the group being Domingo Santana, Tim Beckham, and Edwin Encarnacion who are all hitting over .400. The starting rotation has been amazing as well as no starter has been given a loss on the season yet. Marco Gonzales has led the pack with a 3-0 start to the season. Felix Hernandez and Wade LeBlanc still continue to shine at the ripe ages of 33 and 34. Aside from Hunter Strickland, the bullpen has been lights out. They have the perfect mix of young talent and veteran experience, power and speed, and pitching depth to make a deep run in the postseason.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. Will Be a Bust:
Arguably one of the best prospects in baseball, Vlad Guerrero Jr. has yet to be called up to the Blue Jays. He has been battling an oblique injury. Although he has dominated the minors in his career (.331, 41HR, 200RBI), he will be one of the biggest bust in MLB history and it will not be because of his attributes. His sample size in spring training is good, but it's very small. The major issues that arise from Guerrero Jr. are his weight and injuries. He is 250 pounds at 6 foot. He is in the category of guys like Mo Vaughn when it comes to weight. Along with his weight problems, he already has had multiple injuries. He is recovering from an oblique strain and has had previous knee injuries. A combination of his weight and injuries will start to pile up, restricting his abilities.