Saturday, March 23, 2019

Prediction Analysis

AL East:       Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central:  Indians, Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Royals
AL West:      Astros, Angels, Athletics, Rangers, Mariners
NL East:        Phillies, Braves, Nationals, Mets, Marlins
NL Central:  Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates
NL West:      Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants

                                         Sports Illustrated
AL East:       same as mine
AL Central:  Twins, Indians, White Sox, Royals, Tigers
AL West:      Astros, Athletics, Angels, Mariners, Rangers
NL East:        Phillies, Nationals, Mets, Braves, Marlins
NL Central:  same as mine
NL West:      Dodgers, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Giants

                                              Bleacher Report
AL East:       Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central:  same as SI
AL West:      same as SI
NL East:        same as mine
NL Central:  Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, Pirates
NL West:      same as mine

                                                  USA Today
AL East:       same as mine
AL Central:  same as SI
AL West:      same as SI
NL East:        Nationals, Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins
NL Central:   Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Reds
NL West:       Dodgers, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Padres, Giants

Analysis:  USA Today’s predictions are a composite of six people, and they look that way, seemingly mirroring last year’s finishes rather than offering any insight into the coming year.  SI’s picks seem the most imaginative, giving the Twins the nod over the Indians, and picking the Padres for second. 

Here are some team-by-team observations:
Red Sox:   Only Bleacher Report has them repeating.
Twins:       SI has them overtaking the Indians.
Royals:     Only I have them still in last.
Angels:     Only I have them in second.
Mariners:  Only I have them last.
Nationals: Only USA Today has them in first.
Phillies:    Only USA Today has them as low as third.
Braves:     Only SI has them as low as fourth.
Reds:        Only USA Today has them in last.
Padres:     Only SI has them as high as second, while only USA Today has them as low as fourth.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

MLB Predictions for 2019

Sports Illustrated has again come out with its list of the top 100 MLB players, so that analysis will have some bearing on my thoughts for the coming year. The Yankees head the list with 8 players in the top 100, followed by the Red Sox and Astros with 7 each, then the Brewers, Dodgers, Cardinals and Indians with 6 each, the Nationals, Rockies and Phillies with 5 each, and the Cubs and Angels with 4 each.  Four teams have nobody on the list--Tigers, Orioles, Rangers, and Marlins.

But we have to be careful not to put too much stock in who has the most stars.  Baseball can be termed a "weakest link" sport, unlike the other major team sports, meaning that in baseball you can't go to the same players over and over. Even the best players only get to bat one out of nine times, and can only field balls hit to them.

Added to this is what SI has termed the "gig economy", meaning that role players are being utilized more than ever before in baseball, with a set lineup fast becoming a thing of the past.  The Dodgers, despite all their good players, did not have a starter who started more than 140 games in the past two years, nor did they have a pitcher who threw more than 175 innings.  What this means is that role players are more important than ever, and superstars less important.

Another important consideration in my thinking this year is Bleacher Report's ranking of the farm systems for every team.  I will use this to break the ties, when I cannot decide otherwise between two teams.

So, with all that in mind, here we go.

AL East:  Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles

The Yanks have the most players in the top 100, and seem poised to give the Red Sox a run for their money.  Undoubtedly both teams will be in the playoffs again, as they were last year.  Rays have the #5 ranked farm system, while the Jays and O's are both on hard times.

AL Central:  Indians, Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Royals

Some commentators are questioning whether the Indians can repeat, but with four starting pitchers in the top 100, and with the 5th, Bieber, set to have a breakout year, I think they will win the division easily. I can't see any of the other teams even being competitive.

AL West:  Astros, Angels, Athletics, Rangers, Mariners

The Astros made what I consider the most overlooked free agent signing of the offseason when they signed Michael Brantley away from the Indians.  The Astros don't need any more superstars, but a guy like Brantley will  make them better, and will be a good mentor for the younger players.  The Angels for 2nd is a sentimental pick, as the A's will likely beat them out.  The Mariners have the worst farm system, so they get the nod for last.

NL East:  Phillies, Braves, Nationals, Mets, Marlins

The Phillies showed they are committed to winning with the signing of Bryce Harper.  Besides that, their farm system is ranked #8.  The Nationals have disappointed me so often in recent years that I am giving up on picking them to win their division.  The Mets have their usual good pitching which always seems to disappoint, the Matt Harvey fiasco of a few years ago being a good example

NL Central:  Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates

The Brewers are the up-and-coming team in the division.  The Cubs have made some serious missteps recently, such as the botched negotiations last year with Jake Arrietta, and the ridiculous signing of Yu Darvish, who is so dense and lazy that he could not figure out from one start to the next in the 2017 World Series that he was tipping his pitches.  (Hey, Yu, why don't you try watching some video?)  The Cubs farm system is the second-worst of the 30 teams, so I expect that they will be on the decline during the coming years.  The Cards have historically been the best organization in baseball, with the best fan base, and they often surprise with their results.  Hence, I pick them to overtake the Cubs for 2nd, although it would be no surprise if the Cubs finish ahead of them.  I like the Reds acquisition of Yasuil Puig; I think his presence will be a shot in the arm to the team and to its long-suffering fans.  Reds also have the #9 farm system.

NL West:  Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants

The Rockies showed they are committed to winning with their great signing of Nolan Arenado to a long-term deal, but I doubt they have quite enough to catch the high-flying Dodgers.  The Padres  made a big splash with the signing of Manny Machado, and they have the top-rated farm system.  They are a sentimental favorite to improve, as San Diego has never had a championship of any kind in the major pro sports, and with the Chargers gone, the Padres are the city's only hope for a championship.  I'll be rooting for them.