RANKINGS FOR ALL SIX DIVISIONS OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
A look at every team in the NL East and their predicted order of finish:
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2018 – 80-82, 3rd in East
Last year in playoffs – 2011 No team loaded up this winter like the Phillies. They broke records with their 13-year, $330-million contract for Bryce Harper. They won the sweepstakes for catcher J.T. Realmuto. They also added shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and reliever David Robertson. Kept out of the playoffs since 2011, they might be the favorites to win the East.
2. Washington Nationals
2018 – 82-80, 2nd in East
Last year in playoffs – 2017 The perpetual underachievers, unable to get past the first round of the playoffs since moving to Washington, were undaunted this winter when facing Harper’s departure. The team responded by doling out $140 million to pitcher Patrick Corbin, while acquiring catchers Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes to shore up their catching. They still boast phenomenal talent in pitcher Max Scherzer and budding star outfielder Juan Soto.
3. New York Mets
2018 – 77-85, 4th in East
Last year in playoffs – 2016 The arrival of new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, a former high-powered agent, infused life into the wayward franchise. Van Wagenen retooled the roster over the winter, adding All-Star closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano in a trade with Seattle. With Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard headlining their rotation, the Mets will try to ride their pitching back into the playoffs.
4. Atlanta Braves
2018 – 90-72, 1st in East
Last year in playoffs – 2018 The Braves surprised the industry by winning 90 games and the NL East in 2018, buoyed to the top of the division by the emergence of NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña Jr. Despite the success, the team largely stood pat this offseason as the rest of the East loaded up. Outside of a one-year contract for former most valuable Josh Donaldson, the Braves are banking on repeat performances from their young players.
5. Miami Marlins
2018 – 63-98, 5th in East
Last year in playoffs – 2003 Under the leadership of Derek Jeter, the Marlins remain in a perpetual rebuild. The latest star to be shipped out of town was catcher Realmuto, who joined an exodus begun the previous winter with the trades of outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. Former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly must prepare for another season in his division’s basement.
A look at every team in the NL Central and their predicted order of finish.
1 – Chicago Cubs
2018 – 95-68, 2nd in Central Last year in playoffs – 2016 The lovable, feel-good Cubs descended into a gloomy spring as they welcomed back shortstop Addison Russell from a suspension for violating the sport’s domestic violence policy. Manager Joe Maddon does not have a contract beyond 2019. The teamwon 95 games in 2018 but lost in the wild-card game. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein called this a “year of reckoning” for a reason.
2 – St. Louis Cardinals
2018 – 88-74, 3rd in Central Last year in playoffs – 2015 After missing the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, the Cardinals made perhaps the most significant addition for the 2019 season, trading for former Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He will join a lineup that already featured All-Star infielder Matt Carpenter, and aid the defense behind talented young pitchers such as Jack Flaherty and John Gant. The Cardinals moved to extend staff ace Miles Mikolas this spring, and did the same with Goldschmidt over the weekend, guaranteeing him an additional $130 million from 2020-24.
3 – Milwaukee Brewers
2018 – 96-67, 1st in Central Last year in playoffs – 2018 The Brewers used an unorthodox strategy in 2018, often abandoning the concept of starting pitchers en route to a berth in the NL Championship Series. The offense was powered by NL Most Valuable Player Christian Yelich. The team remains intact for 2019, with the addition of former Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal.
4 – Cincinnati Reds
2018 – 67-95, 5th in Central Last year in playoffs – 2013 The Reds zagged this winter, loading up on players entering free agency by acquiring outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp and pitcher Alex Wood from the Dodgers. The addition of Puig should bolster a lineup that featured a strong core of first baseman Joey Votto, third baseman Eugenio Suarez and second baseman Scooter Gennett. And Wood will improve a rotation that also added Sonny Gray as the Reds aim to be competitive in 2019.
5 –Pittsburgh Pirates
2018 – 82-79, 4th in Central Last year in playoffs – 2015 You think your team didn’t do much this winter? They probably did more than the Pirates. After making a surprising trade for pitcher Chris Archer last summer, Pittsburgh did not make major augmentations to its core for 2019. The Pirates will be competitive, but likely underarmed in the NL Central.
A look at every team in the NL West and their predicted order of finish.
1 – Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 – 92-71, 1st in West Last year in playoffs – 2018 You know the history: The team has gone three full decades without winning a title. They’ve never been closer than they were in 2017 and 2018, when they fell in back-to-back World Series. They won’t face much pressure from their division, even with left-hander Clayton Kershaw nursing a sore shoulder. Will this be the year?
2 – Colorado Rockies
2018 – 91-72, 2nd in West Last year in playoffs – 2018 The Rockies came close to ending the Dodgers’ six-year reign atop the NL West last season, only to fall in Game 163 at Dodger Stadium. Colorado has made the wild-card game in each of the previous two seasons, riding pitching rather than offense to get there. Can Kyle Freeland and German Marquez repeat their performances on the mound in 2019? That will be the key question as they once more toil in the high altitude at Coors Field.
3 – San Diego Padres
2018 – 66-96, 5th in West Last year in playoffs – 2006 San Diego made a $300 million investment in the prospect of contending when they signed Manny Machado this spring. Machado, first baseman Eric Hosmer and second baseman Ian Kinsler will be the veterans in a lineup of prospects. The team might not challenge the Dodgers in 2019, but their future looks brighter. All it cost was $300 million.
4 – San Francisco Giants
2018 – 73-89, 4th in West Last year in playoffs – 2016 The arrival of former Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi instigated a winter of upheaval for a franchise still showing off three championships from this decade. The Giants have fallen on hard times during recent years, but Zaidi wasted little time transforming the 40-man roster, using the tactics that aided the Dodgers during his tenure. More tumult is on the way: San Francisco could trade franchise pillar Madison Bumgarner by the July 31 deadline.
5 – Arizona Diamondbacks
2018 – 103-59, 1st in West Last year in playoffs – 2017 The front office of Mike Hazen effectively let the team’s core disperse over the winter. He traded Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals. He let Patrick Corbin sign with the Nationals. A.J. Pollock defected to the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks aren’t aiming for a lengthy rebuild, but they aren’t likely to contend in 2019.
A look at every team in the AL East and their predicted order of finish.
1 – Boston Red Sox
2018 – 108-54, 1st in East Last year in playoffs – 2018 The loss of 42-save closer Craig Kimbrel and hard-throwing set-up man Joe Kelly left holes in a bullpen that probably is the only question mark on a defending World Series-champion team that has one of the best rotations in baseball and a lethal lineup led by reigning AL Most Valuable Player Mookie Betts, who had 32 homers and 80 RBIs last season, and J.D. Martinez, who had 43 homers and a league-leading 130 RBIs. The return of gritty veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia from knee surgery should provide an emotional boost.
2 – New York Yankees
2018 – 100-62, 2nd in East Last year in playoffs – 2018
Injuries to ace Luis Severino, who will miss April because of rotator cuff soreness, and veteran CC Sabathia, who is recovering from right knee surgery, could force the Yankees to open with youngsters Jonathan Loaisiga and Domingo German, who have combined to make 18 big league starts, in the rotation. Veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, limited by injuries to 66 games the past two seasons, replaces the injured Didi Gregorious (elbow surgery) in a potent Giancarlo Stanton-led lineup that led the major leagues with 267 homers last season.
3 – Tampa Bay Rays
2018 – 90-72, 3rd in East
Last year in playoffs – 2013 Manager Kevin Cash, who last season made liberal use of the “opener,” a reliever who starts the game, throws one or two innings and is replaced by a long man, plans to begin the year with a rotation of Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow and two openers. He just might have the bullpen depth to pull it off again. Most of the lineup, with the exception of center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and infielder Daniel Robertson, has turned over, but there are promising young hitters in Austin Meadows and Yandy Diaz.
4 –Toronto Blue Jays
2018 – 73-89, 4th in East
Last year in playoffs – 2016 A rib cage strain will push the big league debut of 20-year-old Vladimir Guerrero, one of the top power-hitting prospects in baseball, to at least late April, giving the Blue Jays a convenient excuse for delaying the slugger’s start date and pushing his eventual free agency back by a year. The lineup does not appear potent, but if Toronto gets bounce-back years from injury plagued veteran righthanders Matt Shoemaker and Clay Buchholz, the rotation could be good. Kevin Pillar is one of the game’s better defensive center fielders.
5 –Baltimore Orioles
2018 – 47-115, 5th in East
Last year in playoffs – 2016 Things can’t get much worse for the Orioles, who in 2018 posted the club’s worst record since it moved from St. Louis in 1954. Or can they? First baseman Chris Davis, who has four years and $92 million left on his contract, must rebound from a rock-bottom season in which he batted .168 with 16 homers, 49 RBIs and 192 strikeouts. Slugger Mark Trumbo, who had seasonending knee surgery last August and is only three years removed from a 47-homer, 108-RBI season in 2016, needs to stay healthy.
A look at every team in the AL Central and their predicted order of finish.
1 – Cleveland Indians
2018 – 91-71, 1st in Central Last year in playoffs – 2018 What is arguably baseball’s best rotation, a group headed by two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, will keep the Indians in the hunt for their fourth straight division title, and a bullpen anchored by Brad Hand looks stout despite the loss of closer Cody Allen and versatile lefthander Andrew Miller. A topheavy lineup featuring leadoff man Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, who combined for 163 extra-base hits and 197 RBIs last season, should benefit from the return of Bradley Zimmer from shoulder surgery in July.
2 – Minnesota Twins
2018 – 78-84, 2nd in Central Last year in playoffs – 2017 New manager Rocco Baldelli has an improved roster. The addition of right-handed sluggers Nelson Cruz, who has averaged 40 homers and 104 RBIs over the past five seasons, and C.J. Cron, who had 30 homers and 74 RBIs in 140 game for Tampa Bay in 2018, helps balance a lineup that includes the left-handed-hitting Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Jason Castro and switch-hitters Jorge Polanco and Marwin Gonzalez, who will play third base until Miguel Sano returns from leg surgery in May. The rotation might lack an ace but is solid.
3 – Chicago White Sox
2018 – 62-100, 4th in Central Last year in playoffs – 2008 The White Sox have been stockpiling prospects during a lengthy rebuilding process in which they’ve averaged 69 wins over the past six years. One of those players–outfielder Eloy Jimenez–should boost the lineup immediately after signing a 6-year, $43 million contract March 20. The rotation should benefit from a full season from ace Carlos Rodon, who was limited by shoulder surgery to 20 starts in 2018.
4 – Detroit Tigers
2018 – 64-98, 3rd in Central Last year in playoffs – 2014 Two-time AL Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera appears sound after having seasonending surgery to repair a ruptured left biceps tendon last June. The Tigers will need significant production from the slugger, who has five years and $162 million left on his contract, to be competitive. Ace Michael Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year, will have Tommy John surgery and be lost for the season. Youngsters Christin Stewart and Jeimer Candelario show promise, but the Tigers appear years away from contending.
5 – Kansas City Royals
2018 – 58-104, 5th in Central Last year in playoffs – 2015 Three years after winning the World Series, the Royals had the second-worst record in baseball in 2018, and they remain in a rebuilding phase. Kansas City did well to sign veteran catcher Martin Maldonado, a capable defensive replacement for Salvador Perez, who had seasonending elbow surgery during early March. But Maldonado is not a productive hitter and won’t match Perez’s 25-homer, 80-RBI power. The return of cleanup batter Jorge Soler, who missed the final three months of the 2018 season because of a foot injury, should bolster the lineup.
A look at every team in the AL West and their predicted order of finish.
1 – Houston Astros
2018 – 103-59, 1st in West Last year in playoffs – 2018 The loss of veteran starters Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton put a sizable dent in the rotation, but the Astros still have dominant starters in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Houston’s bullpen is as deep as any in baseball. A lineup featuring George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa is strong, though just a shade less potent than the Red Sox and Yankees. The Astros might not be World Series favorites, but they have enough to win their third straight division title.
2 – Oakland Athletics
2018 – 97-65, 2nd in West Last year in playoffs – 2018 The rotation is a major question mark again, but the A’s won 97 games while going through essentially two full rotations last season, and they appear to have good depth again with 21-yearold left-hander Jesus Luzardo, who has the makings of a star, and right-handers Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn. A deep and capable bullpen that ranked second in the league with a 3.37 ERA in 2018 should be terrific. The defense – especially at the corner infield spots – is excellent, and a Khris Davis-powered lineup should score plenty of runs.
3 – Los Angeles Angels
2018 – 80-82, 4th in West Last year in playoffs – 2014 Mike Trout enters his eighth full season in search of his first playoff victory. It will take considerable overachievement by a thin rotation and relief corps for the best all-around player in baseball to return to the October stage he craves. The Angels made incremental upgrades to the rotation with Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, but Andrew Heaney (elbow inflammation) will open the season on the injured list. The bullpen has plenty of power arms but not much experience. An expected May return of slugger Shohei Ohtani will help.
4 – Texas Rangers
2018 – 67-95, 5th in West Last year in playoffs – 2016 The retirement of probable Hall of Fame third baseman Adrian Beltre, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner, left huge voids in the lineup and the infield, but there is good power with Joey Gallo, who hit 81 homers the past two seasons, and Rougned Odor, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Asdrubel Cabrera, who each hit 20 homers or more last season. The rotation has been rebuilt with veterans, and while the bullpen lacks depth, the Rangers have one of the baseball’s best young closers in Jose Leclerc.
5 – Seattle Mariners
2018 – 89-73, 3rd in West Last year in playoffs – 2001 Jerry Dipoto didn’t think the Mariners were ready to compete with the Astros, so the GM dismantled an 89-win team, trading 57-save closer Edwin Diaz, middle infielders Jean Segura and Robinson Cano, pitcher James Paxton and catcher Mike Zunino and allowing slugger Nelson Cruz to leave as a free agent. What’s left is a decent rotation, a mish-mash of a bullpen, a patchwork lineup that will be without injured third baseman Kyle Seager until May and five or six prospects that Seattle hopes will make it competitive by 2021.