MLB Season Preview: Predictions, Scouting Reports and Everything You Need for 2019

MLB Season Preview: Predictions, Scouting Reports and Everything You Need for 2019

Award predictions? We have them. Inside information from area scouts? We have that too! Come join the only MLB preview you'll need.
March 27, 2019

It was a winter of discontent not just for the free agents who navigated a bitter and unhappy winter, but for the fans as well. Why? Because even hot stove season was freezing! Why belabor the bigger point here? Welcome to SI's 2019 MLB preview. We have playoff predictions, award predictions, 30 comprehensive team-by-team previews and extensive scouts' takes for every team. If you want to be ready for opening day, then scroll and click around with us while you dream of sunshine.

Playoff Predictions

Do your predictions for division winners and award winners match up with the SI MLB staff? We polled nine writers on how the standings would look after Game 162. The numbers in parentheses are the number of votes each team received in the respective category. 

AL East: YANKEES (7), Red Sox (2)

Despite losing to the eventual World Series champion Red Sox in the 2018 ALDS, most of our writers are sticking with the Yankees, freshly bolstered by a host of new acquisitions in the bullpen (Adam Ottavino), the starting rotation (James Paxton) and the lineup (D.J. LeMahieu). Another playoff matchup between the historic foes is a distinct possibility.

AL Central: INDIANS (8), Twins (1)

While most think the Indians will coast in the game's weakest division, Tom Verducci is bucking the trend and picking the Twins. New manager Rocco Baldelli has delivered an infectious energy to a team that disappointed last season, and perhaps this is finally the year when Byron Buxton masters his incredible physical tools. The Indians, meanwhile, have one of the game's elite starting rotations, but did virtually nothing to improve in the offseason

AL West: ASTROS (9)

The A's enjoyed a standout 2019 campaign, but nobody thinks they'll be capable of displacing the Astros atop the AL West. As Jack Dickey writes in his team preview: "Houston allowed just 534 runs in 2018, 112 fewer than the AL’s second-best staff (Tampa Bay). You don’t reach those heights in run production and run prevention without a bunch of great (and eminently watchable) players".

AL Wild Cards: RED SOX (7), Rays (3), A's (3), Yankees (2) Twins (1), Angels (1)

Despite battling Boston and New York in the AL East, three members of our staff like the Rays to make the playoffs after their surprise 90-win season in 2018. With defending Cy Young winner Blake Snell leading the charge and the polarizing opener strategy at work, Tampa Bay remains one of MLB's most innovative franchises.

NL East: NATIONALS (7), Phillies (2)

They may have lost Bryce Harper, but the Nationals are favored by our writers over his new team in Philadelphia. Trendy MVP pick Juan Soto is the new must-see item in D.C. and outfielder Victor Robles is the other young stud primed to make fans forget Harper. Oh, and they also have the best starter in the game in Max Scherzer. 

NL Central champion: CUBS (4), Brewers (3), Cardinals (2)

It's the toughest division in baseball, and nobody seems quite sure who to pick. Are you partial to reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich in Milwaukee? The electric Javy Baez in Chicago? Or is it going to be the Cardinals with new franchise first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and a budding ace in Jack Flaherty? Whomever finishes first likely won't clinch until the very end of the season.

NL West champion: DODGERS (9)

With Arizona and San Francisco years away from contention and San Diego cultivating its wealth of young talent, Colorado is the only real challenger to the back-to-back pennant winning Dodgers. As nobody picked the Rockies to win the division or earn a Wild Card berth, the consensus is that the Dodgers will have little trouble winning the division for the seventh consecutive season. 

NL Wild Cards: PHILLIES (6), Mets (4), Cardinals (3), Cubs (2), Brewers (1)

Picking the Mets to reach the playoffs is always a gamble given their penchant for bad luck and goofy decision-making, but a busy offseason from new GM Brodie Van Wagenen has four writers buying in. Note that none of our writers picked last year's NL East champion Braves to even make the playoffs.

AL champion: ASTROS (5), Yankees (2), Red Sox (1), Indians (1)

Why not pick the Astros to win the pennant? They unlock seemingly any pitcher who arrives in Houston (see: Verlander, Justin and Cole, Gerrit) and have three MVP candidates in the infield alone. The talent isn't in question with this team; it's a matter of whether they can conquer the traditional powers from the AL East.

NL champion: NATIONALS (4), Dodgers (2), Brewers (1), Phillies (1), Cubs (1)

They still haven't won a playoff series since becoming the Nationals, but Washington is expected to win two playoff series by four of our writers. If they receive a full season of Stephen Strasburg, a usual season of Max Scherzer and another standout campaign from Soto, the Nationals have the depth and talent to win it all.

World Series Champions

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Houston Astros (Ben Reiter, Emma Baccellieri, Michael Beller, Jon Tayler)

Emma Baccellieri: The Astros have one of baseball’s best rotations; a stellar infield with Alex Bregman, José Altuve, and a hopefully healthy Carlos Correa; and more. They’re primed to reclaim their title.

New York Yankees (Jack Dickey, Connor Grossman)

Jack Dickey: Worry about the starting pitching all you like, but the Yankees have the necessary offense to take an early lead on any opponent and a bullpen capable of protecting every early lead.

Los Angeles Dodgers (Tom Verducci, Gabriel Baumgaertner)

Gabriel Baumgaertner: It's becoming a tiresome pick as the Dodgers always seem to fade come championship time, but they still have the best depth, most versatility and two shining young pitchers in Walker Buehler and Julio Urías. Even if Clayton Kershaw is on the back side of his career, the young core of the team all entering their primes will elevate the tortured Kershaw to his elusive title.

Philadelphia Phillies (Stephanie Apstein)

Yes, Bryce Harper will get his parade "on Broad Street, in a frickin' boat, or whatever it is.” But he won’t be the only person responsible for the Phillies’ success—the addition of J.T. Realmuto, in particular, should help push this team over the top.

AL MVP

Norm Hall/Getty Images

Mike Trout, Angels (Ben Reiter, Connor Grossman, Jack Dickey, Stephanie Apstein, Jon Tayler)

Ben Reiter: He could very easily have six of these already, but four second place finishes (in 2012, '13, '15 and '18) means this will only be his third.

Aaron Judge, Yankees (Tom Verducci, Gabriel Baumgaertner)

Tom Verducci: After 1,000 major league at-bats, cutting down his whiff rate just a bit will yield monster numbers that could top 2017. His power stroke is made for Yankee Stadium.

Alex Bregman, Astros (Michael Beller)

The correct answer here is Mike Trout, but where’s the fun in saying the best player on the planet will remain the best player on the planet? If someone other than Trout wins it, I’ll put my money on the guy who hit .286/.394/.532 with 31 homers, 51 doubles and 103 RBI in his age-24 season.

José Ramírez, Indians (Emma Baccellieri)

Assuming that his spring training knee contusion clears up quickly, the third baseman looks ready to build on the MVP-caliber work from his previous two seasons.

NL MVP

Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Verducci, Grossman, Baccellieri)

Grossman: Turning 28 in April, Arenado is primed for a career year beyond his usual elite numbers. He has finished 3-8 in MVP voting four straight years. It’s time. 

Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves (Dickey, Baumgaertner, Tayler)

Tayler: Last season’s NL Rookie of the Year pulls the Kris Bryant Brace, earning MVP honors. And why not choose him? All he did last year was hit .293/.366/.552 with 26 homers and 16 steals in just 111 games at 20 years old. The sky’s the limit.

Juan Soto, Nationals (Reiter)

He had a .923 OPS as a 19-year-old in `18.  Players that good that young don’t just tend to become all-time greats—they tend to start playing as such faster than you think.

Bryce Harper, Phillies (Beller)

Like it or not, these awards are partially driven by narrative. A polarizing superstar joins a new team and leads it to the postseason with a, say, .310/.400/.580, 40-homer campaign? Yeah, that’s a narrative voters will get behind.

Anthony Rendon, Nationals (Apstein)

A young star in his walk year, playing in what looks to be the tightest division race in the game? Sign me up.

AL Cy Young

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Chris Sale, Red Sox (Apstein, Tayler, Dickey)

Apstein: The newly-extended Red Sox ace is always among the best pitchers in the league; the question is generally whether he will hold up physically all season long. The prediction here is that he will.

Trevor Bauer, Indians (Verducci, Reiter)

Verducci: His goal in life is to win this award. He has the stuff to match the will.

Blake Snell, Rays (Grossman)

With no opener needed, Blake Snell will break through with another tremendous season on a Rays team that will inevitably surprise the rest of baseball. He’ll become the first repeat winner of the AL Cy Young since Pedro Martinez in 1999-2000.

Mike Clevinger, Indians (Beller)

I’ve been beating the drum all offseason for Clevinger, calling him a darkhorse Cy Young candidate as early as January. I’m making that prediction official now. He won’t be flying under the radar in MLB’s best rotation any longer.

Gerrit Cole, Astros (Baccellieri)

His 2018, the pitcher's first season in Houston, was a resounding success, posting a 12.4 K/9 and 2.88 ERA after shelving his sinker. He's ready to build on that in 2019. 

José Berríos, Twins (Baumgaertner)

Nobody thought Blake Snell would do it last year, either. Berríos has always had wipeout stuff. The difference is that he now knows how to control it.

NL Cy Young

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Max Scherzer, Nationals (Reiter, Beller, Tayler) 

Tayler: In what’s essentially a softer version of my “Don’t pick against Mike Trout" maxim, Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball, and it takes truly absurd seasons (see: deGrom, Jacob) to dethrone him for the award that recognizes him as such. I won’t bet against him.

Jacob deGrom, Mets (Verducci, Baumgaertner)

Verducci: He never has a bad game. With 29 straight starts giving up three earned runs or less, he is poised to extend his run to win back-to-back Cys. 

Aaron Nola, Phillies (Apstein, Baccellieri)

Baccellieri: The 25-year-old signed a big extension this winter, coming off the best year of his young career, and he looks poised to prove just how good of a deal that was for the Phillies.

Walker Buehler, Dodgers (Dickey)

Buehler didn’t get regular every-sixth-day starter work until late last July. In his 12 starts once he was entrenched in the rotation? 75.1 IP, a 1.55 ERA and a .477 OPS against, with 87 strikeouts against only 23 walks. I’m not saying he’ll replicate those stats; he won’t. But, with apologies to Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, I’m saying I won’t make the mistake of picking anyone else to win the Cy Young.

Kyle Freeland, Rockies (Grossman)

A Rockies pitcher? Winning the Cy Young? It’s a gutsy call, for sure, but last year Freeland put up one of the best seasons ever for a pitcher tied to Coors Field. The lefthander will be even better in 2019 on a Rockies team that could threaten the Dodgers’ NL West throne.

AL Rookie of the Year

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays (Verducci, Reiter, Tayler, Baumgaertner)

Verducci: Don’t mind that he starts the year on the injured list. Guerrero is a plug-and-play impact hitter in the mold of Miguel Cabrera. He just has to keep that big body fit.

Eloy Jiménez, White Sox (Beller, Apstein, Baccellieri)

Beller: Kris Bryant, Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Ronald Acuña, Juan Soto. Jimenez is ready to be the next big-time prospect to enjoy immediate, immense success with little-to-no previous MLB experience.

Josh James, Astros (Grossman)

In the non-Vlad Jr. division of this award, I’ll highlight the Astros flame-throwing righthander who could carve out a key role in the Astros bullpen or rotation. He’s going to be given every opportunity to stand out on an exceptional club.

NL Rookie of the Year

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Victor Robles, Nationals (Verducci, Grossman, Tayler, Baccellieri)

Tayler: Injury and Juan Soto stole Robles’s shine last year, but with the starting centerfielder job his and power and speed for days, 2019 will be the year he reminds everyone that he’s still one of baseball’s top prospects.

Pete Alonso, Mets (Beller, Dickey)

Dickey: Alonso whomped 36 homers between double- and triple-A in 2018. Batting behind some high-OBP hitters in the Mets’ lineup, he’ll see pitches to hit.

Fernando Tatís Jr., Padres (Apstein)

Tatis is a dazzling enough talent at shortstop that $300 million man Manny Machado ceded the position to him. The Padres will surely hold him down at first so as not to start his service-time clock, but if they truly intend to contend this year, they must bring Tatis up by mid-April, at which point he will start demolishing opponents.

Nick Senzel, Reds (Baumgaertner)

The Reds invested in winning this year, which means they need to avoid the service time games with their top prospect and call him up now that second baseman Scooter Gennett may be out until July. Senzel has all the tools at the plate and looked ready to be an everyday centerfielder in the spring. If the Reds want to compete in the brutal NL West, they need to call him up immediately.


Team-by-Team Previews


New York Yankees

"It's must-see with the Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. You go out there in Yankee Stadium, about 500 feet away [from home plate], and you might get hit." — Rival scout

MLB Writer Emma Baccellieri says ...

You’ve got masterful slugging from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, vibrant youth in Miguel Andújar and Gleyber Torres, and first-class pitching from Luis Severino and James Paxton. Just like last year’s Yankees, this club can be a bit hard to stomach for seasoned haters of the franchise: It’s a Yankees team that’s genuinely, seriously, undeniably likable. [Full Yankees season preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who Don't You Want At-Bat With the Season on the Line?: It's a tossup between Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton at times can give you some of the ugliest at-bats. He can just wave at three pitches like he doesn't even give a s---.


Boston Red Sox

 

"Reigning World Series champions, featuring Chris Sale’s slider, J.D. Martinez’s dingers, Mookie Betts’s everything? Yeah."

MLB Writer Emma Baccellieri says ...

Rafael Devers is just freshly 22. He’s already shown big-league patience, talent and power (21 HRs in 2018) and the ability to hit southpaws. He’ll likely master all of these traits by the time he’s old enough to rent a car. [Full Red Sox team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What is the ceiling for the team this year? Win the whole thing. It’s gonna depend on what they do in the ninth inning. If this were a seven-inning game, they’d win it again, but they have to figure out the eighth and ninth innings.


Tampa Bay Rays

 

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

"For some people, the opener might be seen as a jolt of excitement for the start of the game. For others, it’s just taking away a game’s natural narrative arc and most natural protagonist. At the very least, it’s something that you can only get from the Rays."

MLB Writer Emma Baccellieri says ...

You’ve got the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner in Blake Snell, an established outfield presence in Kiermaier, and not a whole lot else in the way of name brand talent." [Full Rays team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who has the nastiest stuff on the team? Blake Snell. He’s aggressive. He uses all his pitches. He’s got all four pitches—good fastball, good changeup, good slider, good curveball— and he goes after hitters. He has fastball velocity and command. He’s the real deal and he deserved his Cy Young win last season.


Toronto Blue Jays

 

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

"If there is any justice in the baseball universe, Vlad Guerrero, Jr. will soon be fully recovered from his oblique injury and freed from any service time shenanigans, playing in the majors where he belongs. The 20-year-old doesn’t just look ready for the big leagues, he looks ready to dominate."

MLB Writer Emma Baccellieri says ...

MLB’s overall top prospect, Vlad Guerrero, Jr., is poised to be his own mandatory viewing, a perfect 10.0. Until he’s called up, though, with third base held down by… Brandon Drury? Toronto’s farm system can make this club truly interesting in 2020, but for now, there isn’t much around to make them too exciting. [Full Blue Jays team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What is the key question surrounding this team in 2019? When and how good is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. going to be? And if not that, can Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman bounce back and be healthy? It would go a long way in stabilizing this club some.


Baltimore Orioles

 

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

“Will this team lose 100-plus? I think I might sneak out to Vegas and bet that one.” — Rival scout 

MLB Writer Emma Baccellieri says ...

This one depends on your appetite for rubbernecking at a crash and/or genuinely enjoying anonymous games in the minor leagues. If you’re a fan, come on down! Otherwise… probably best to avert your eyes. [Full Orioles team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who gets the least out of his talent? Chris Davis. He makes no adjustments. He's so big and strong, in Camden Yards he can hit homers to leftfield, which he did the year he hit [53]. But it's like he's taken that money, you've got the failed PED [test in 2014], and then you've got zero adjustments. That just pisses you off, you know? At some point, do they just go, ‘biggest mistake ever, get the f*** out of our clubhouse?’' 

 


Minnesota Twins

"The division is so bad, that they’re gonna win games. They’ve got some talent."

MLB Writer Stephanie Apstein says ...

This is Byron Buxton’s year! Finally. Maybe. He was preposterously bad last season while battling injuries—his .156 average was his best stat—but he is reportedly healthy this spring. He has still yet to put it together over a full season, but his tools are so sparkling and his ceiling so high that he still has a chance at the career that had scouts dreaming when he went No. 2 in the 2012 draft. [Full Twins team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What is the key question surrounding this team in 2019? Are they ever going to work on fundamentals? They don’t work on turning double plays or infield defense, pitchers covering first base, bunt situations, outfield relays. Spring training’s the time when you get a lot of stuff established and they haven’t done it. All the computer gerbils have been hard at work, I’m sure, filming bullpens and whatever, but you still have to do some work on the field and they haven’t done it.


Cleveland Indians

 

"They’re the favorite in the AL Central this year despite the bullpen question marks. Other teams can’t match up every day with Cleveland’s starters when they’ve got three aces." — Rival Scout

MLB Writer Stephanie Apstein says ...

They get credit for what should be an exceptional rotation, and Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez are delights to watch—for nearly opposite reasons—but the Indians are disappointing, and it’s hard to put that aside. This team will likely win the division, but that’s not a credit to ownership and the front office, who did virtually nothing this offseason. [Full Indians team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Is the current manager one that you would hire to run your club? Absolutely yes. If you were to draw up a manager, it’s Tito. He embraces analytics, he’s open minded, he communicates, he keeps it loose and free all while keeping structure. He’s the best at combining old school and new school and Brad Mills does an awesome job as his bench coach. He surrounds himself with really good people. For me, Terry is the best in the big leagues." 


Chicago White Sox

 

“They really don't have a chance to win the division this year, so the biggest thing for them is getting their younger players to play and develop for next year.” — Rival Scout

MLB Writer Stephanie Apstein says ...

If the White Sox had acquired Manny Machado, that would have boosted their window of contention, their win total and this rating, but as it is, they are a year away at best. [Full White Sox team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Whose batting practice makes your jaw drop? Eloy Jiménez. I've seen this kid since A-ball, and it’s impressive. I saw him in big league camp and he looked like he belonged. This guy's got power to all fields, he’s a home run hitter, but he’s not a big swing-and-miss chaser. He has good at-bats. Once he settles in, he definitely has a big upside. His ceiling in the future could be as an MVP candidate.


Kansas City Royals

 

"They’re going about a rebuild the right way and I think that the future is bright."— Rival scout

MLB Writer Stephanie Apstein says ...

Adalberto Mondesi’s volatility drives scouts crazy, but they continue to lust after his tools. He has top-end speed and hit 14 home runs in 291 plate appearances—a 28-homer full-season pace. He also struck out 26.5% of the time last year and walked only 3.8%; you can’t steal first. But he has reportedly looked more focused this spring. If he can put it all together, he could be a star. [Full Royals team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What young player(s) is/are on the cusp of stardom? Whit Merrifield. He’s everything you want in terms of talent combined with makeup, energy, and effort. Everything you hear about him is so positive. They extended him, but he still flies under the radar, hits all over the field. He’s not José Altuve, but he’s not that far behind him either.


Detroit Tigers

 

"The next three years depends on what they can get for the guys they trade this year. They need to get some impact pieces back for the three or four guys they may trade. And then, if they hit on their draft picks, three or four years from now, they should be able to become competitive." — Rival Scout

MLB Writer Stephanie Apstein says ...

Don’t do this to yourself. This team is bad. Looking for breakout players only sets up expectations that this collection of souls cannot possibly meet. The present is dark here, and the future is hazy. [Full Tigers team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who has the best baseball instincts/IQ? As a hitter, I’d say Miguel Cabrera. There aren’t any better. Position-wise, maybe not, but offensively? That kid’s always known what to do, how to do, when to do it, where to do it. He knows what’s coming. He’s just always been a very intelligent offensive player. He knows the zone.

 


Houston Astros

 

Tim Warner

"It looks good here for the future. They’ve got some good young arms, some younger position players who are on the way up, and they’ve got the core guys in Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and José Altuve."

MLB Writer Jack Dickey says ...

The Astros are so stacked lineup-wise that Carlos Correa and George Springer can have down years and nearly 800 runs still follow. And the pitching makes the offense look bad! Houston allowed just 534 runs in 2018, 112 fewer than the AL’s second-best staff (Tampa Bay)." [Full Astros team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who Don't You Want At-Bat With the Season on the Line?: I probably wouldn’t want Robinson Chirinos up there, just ‘cause he strikes out all the time. I’m pitching around three or four guys to get to him.


 

Oakland A's

 

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

"This is such a great group of guys. They’re really tightly knit. Bob Melvin is such a smart guy. He treats them like men and they don’t want to disappoint him." —Rival scout 

MLB Writer Jack Dickey says ...

The A’s have surrounded a contending core with mediocrities and no-names—Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada started the opening games in Japan. There’ll be a lot of pressure on the bullpen. [Full A's team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What young player is on the cusp of stardom? In my opinion Matt Chapman is the best in the game defensively at third even more so than Arenado, though some people think I’m crazy to say that.


Los Angeles Angels

 

Icon Sportswire

"The ceiling is about 80 wins for the next couple of years. I don’t see them getting any better anytime soon." —Rival scout

MLB Writer Joe Sheehan says ...

 Mike Trout, through age 26, is the best player in baseball history. We have a hard time processing that, always placing sepia-toned superstars above the HD ones we see every day. He does everything at an elite level — hit, hit for power, run, field, get on base — except throw.  He does all this without a hint of controversy, without ever showing the frustration of being the best player on a team that has made the playoffs once in his eight years. No matter who your team may be, take a minute this year to watch Mike Trout. He’s our Ruth, he’s our DiMaggio, he’s our Mays, except he may just be better than all of them.​ [Full Angels team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Whose batting practice makes your jaw drop? Shohei Ohtani. Ichiro could have hit for more power had he sold out and this guy is a super-sized Ichiro. He can do it to all fields. It’s got that sound to it and he has such a pretty swing that’s just so effortless.


Seattle Mariners

 

Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

"It’s a bland team. This is a team with no identity. You’d like to know the direction they’re going in. I can’t think the fans were happy seeing Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura and Nelson Cruz go. And now it’s going to be a sad year in Seattle because it’s the end of Felix Hernandez. It’s the swan song." —Rival scout 

MLB Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner says ...

Over 157 games last year, Mitch Haniger slashed an impressive .285/.366/.493 with a 139 OPS+—securing his status as the Mariners’ most potent offensive weapon. After him, however, it’s a thin lineup without much youth. [Full Mariners team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who gets the most out of his talent? Dee Gordon. He makes everybody around him better. I love Gordon. He’s out there hanging with kids with no cameras around. He doesn’t do things for the notoriety. He was a shortstop in Los Angeles who was eventually moved to second. Then Seattle they threw him in centerfield, a challenge he took without complaining. He’s a total professional. My son was in the minors for a couple years and he said Dee treated him like a 10-year veteran.


Texas Rangers

 

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

"You don’t want to think they’ll be in last place for three straight years, but how can you have hope for this team? Their staff is full of old guys who have all been through Tommy John. Your candidates for starters are Mike Minor, Edinson Vólquez, Lance Lynn. This is awful!"  — Rival scout

MLB Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner says ...

"The Rangers are not an aesthetically pleasing team at all, but they do hit some big dingers thanks to Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. They go up there trying to do damage." [Full Rangers team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Which under-the-radar prospect/non-roster invitee could make a splash this season? Willie Calhoun is going to break out. He has incredible power for his size. I thought it would be a slam dunk for Calhoun to start the season in the outfield, but they brought Hunter Pence to camp to try and impact the team. The problem with Calhoun is where to put him in the field.


Philadelphia Phillies

 

Icon Sportswire

They're definite contenders for the playoffs for the next three years. They're in a good place. They have a really deep bullpen, and you need that with this lunatic who manages.  —Rival Scout

MLB Writer Jon Tayler says ...

How the Bryce Harper Show plays out will be fascinating to watch, particularly now that he’s joined a team with real World Series hopes. All eyes will be on MLB’s resident phenom to be a superstar from Day One in Philadelphia. But the rest of the supporting cast is well worth your time too, from Aaron Nola on the mound to Rhys Hoskins’ nightly home run derby. [Full Phillies team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Is the current manager one you would hire to run your club? No. Hopefully Gabe Kapler makes some adjustments and lets his players play a little bit more. I think he micromanages players and the game. He doesn't let it breathe. I scouted them [in September] last year, and he was f------ Dr. Frankenstein when he got a 40-man roster. It was ridiculous some days. He pinch-hit for Scott Kingery before he got his first at-bat in the game one time, which is absolutely horrible for a kid’s confidence. He started matching up in the third inning in games where starters had given up one run. Let the game breathe! He hardly watches the game because he's got so much data in front of him. 

Washington Nationals

 

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

"When I saw Juan Soto last year, I told my people that he might be better than Bryce Harper down the road. We hear a lot about Vlad Guerrero Jr., but Soto’s only four months older than Guerrero and already has done what he did in the big leagues." — Rival scout 

MLB Writer Jon Tayler says ...

Last year was Juan Soto’s time to shine; 2019 will belong to Victor Robles. The former top prospect missed a huge chunk of last year with an elbow injury and saw Soto swipe his spotlight in the process, but he’s healthy and ready to mash as Washington’s new regular centerfielder. Armed with plus speed and power, he could make a Soto-esque impact to help fill the Nationals’ Bryce Harper-sized hole. [Full Nationals team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who has the nastiest stuff on the team? The shape of Max Scherzer's breaking balls with his fearlessness to pitch inside give him an edge because of his fear factor. Scherzer's got that f------ look in those eyes like a caged f------ lion, and he comes up and in at 97, that makes you uncomfortable.


New York Mets

 

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

"They could get in the playoffs. It’s just a whole new attitude, what Brodie Van Wagenen has brought in there. It’s a breath of fresh air." —Rival Scout

MLB Writer Jon Tayler says ...

Every Jacob deGrom start is a must-see event, every Noah Syndergaard offering is a GIF in the making, and each Edwin Diaz appearance is full of jaw-dropping heat. But while the Mets should be better in 2019, your viewing pleasure will depend greatly on how long the players can stay off the injured list—that is, unless your idea of fun is watching a lot of Keon Broxton and J.D. Davis at-bats. [Full Mets team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who is the most underrated player on the team? For that role, I like Brandon Nimmo. He just has a nice, solid approach. It’s not the sexy, New York-type of player, but he puts together good at bats. I think he’s going to continue to get better in the big leagues the longer he stays there, and he’ll do it quietly.


Atlanta Braves

 

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

"If the young kids step up, this is gonna be a very deep and talented team, ’cause that lineup is very good." — Rival Scout

MLB Writer Jon Tayler says ...

Ronald Acuña alone—the closest thing we have to Young Mike Trout—is more than enough reason to tune into Braves baseball. A bevy of highly talented kids in the rotation and the potential of Donaldson turning back the clock to 2014 adds some extra flavor. So, too, will a bullpen that will have Atlanta fans watching through their fingers most nights. [Full Braves team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who gets the most out of his talent? Freddie Freeman. He is one of the few guys in baseball that understands that you use the whole field. He’ll take base hits to leftfield, he’ll drive the ball out of the ballpark in left-centerfield. They stack three infielders on the right side and he breaks shifts all by himself. One of the reasons Atlanta won the division is he’s a great situational hitter.


Miami Marlins

 

"There's a good chance they’re the worst team in the league this year." —Rival scout

MLB Writer Jon Tayler says ...

Brian Anderson’s fourth-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting likely elicited a lot of confused looks from folks outside south Florida, but his place there was legit. The 25-year-old hit a solid .273/.357/.400 with a 115 OPS+ and 3.9 bWAR while bouncing between third base and rightfield and makes lots of loud contact. If he can cut down on the strikeouts and improve against breaking balls, even better could be in the offing for 2019. [Full Marlins team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who do you want at-bat or on the mound in a season-defining moment? From their pitching staff? Golly, I can’t put anybody out there right now.

 


Milwaukee Brewers

 

Alex Trautwig

“I definitely think they're a playoff team, a wild card team, possibly a division winner, but they're going to have to add that top of the rotation guy. They have the prospects to trade. If they can go buy anything, they're a serious World Series contender.” —Rival scout

MLB Writer Matt Martell says ...

Josh Hader dominating out of the bullpen with his elastic left arm should be the same attraction it was in 2018, and there is some appeal to the innovative in-game moves that manager Craig Counsell makes. But without any true elite starting pitchers, an element of the game is missing in Milwaukee. Marquee pitching matchups still matter for fans, and the Brewers likely won’t have too many of those with the way their rotation stands right now. [Full Brewers team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Whose batting practice makes your jaw drop? You know, people might not know this, but when Christian Yelich was in Miami, he was never a power guy — last year was the first year he hit a lot of home runs. If you watch him, it's a flat swing, it's a whole field approach, but if you go early to watch BP, he'll hit balls in the upper deck. It's just like, ‘you've gotta be kidding me, is this the same guy?’ The first time I saw him in batting practice, I was like, ‘this isn't Yelich, it can't be Yelich, he's hitting balls in the upper deck in Miami, just, wow.’ He's not a launch angle guy, but he has just monster power. It is just shocking he can have that much juice.


 

St. Louis Cardinals

 

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

"This year, if the pitching stays healthy, they can hang in there. They’ll be right in the mix." —Rival scout

MLB Writer Matt Martell says ...

Jack Flaherty finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting last season after posting a 3.34 ERA and 182 strikeouts, but the Cardinals are expecting the 23-year-old to be even better in 2019. If spring training is any indication, Flaherty’s sophomore campaign will be just fine. [Full Cardinals team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who gets the most out of his talent? Matt Carpenter. You just look at him, and it’s not like you think nothing of the guy, but s***, you turn around and he’s got 30 home runs. With two strikes, he fouls the s*** off all day long. He’s absolutely a pain in the ass (to face), his at bats wear you down.


Chicago Cubs

 

Rob Tringali

“Can Kris Bryant stay healthy for the whole season? They aren't going to win a World Series without him.” —Rival scout

MLB Writer Matt Martell says ...

"Any team with Javier Baez is watchable. From his quick tags, fast play and lethal hacks at the plate, you never know what head-spinning play you’ll see from him next––but you’re sure to see something exciting. Plus, there’s nothing more refreshing that watching Javy show just how much fun he’s having on the field. His smile tells it all. [Full Cubs preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who gets the least out of his talent? Yu Darvish. I mean, he’s got number one starter stuff, but he's just never pitched up to that. He has four above-average pitches. I know he was hurt last year, but even when he was in Texas, and with the Dodgers, he just pitches underneath this stuff."[Full Cubs team preview with scouts' takes]


Cincinnati Reds

 

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

"Yasiel Puig bat-flipping in a hitter-friendly park, Joey Votto’s artful approach to hitting AND Michael Lorenzen raking as a pitcher and (hopefully!) as a part-time outfielder? SIGN ME UP!"

MLB Writer Matt Martell says ...

Seven relief pitchers since the start of 2016 have logged 200 innings and posted an ERA+ of at least 150. Raisel Iglesias ranks third on that list with a 176 ERA+, behind the elite Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and all-star Blake Treinen of the Athletics. Iglesias is the only one of the seven who has not been to the postseason in that span, which is perhaps why he’s so underappreciated. [Full Reds team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What is the key question surrounding this team in 2019? Will Sonny Gray bounce back now that he’s out of NYC? I think that’s the biggest question. Joe Votto did not have a true Votto year last year, but  I don’t think that’ll carry forward. He’ll figure it out. There are a lot of personalities on the team now that Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp are there. Is that going to work?


Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Justin Berl/Getty Images

"If they go .500, they should be jumping for joy.  I don’t see any guys on this team that can put the team on their back and charge through the NL Central.” — Rival Scout

MLB Writer Matt Martell says ...

Sorry Pirates fans, but your team lacks excitement. Francisco Cervelli (and his lifetime .383 slugging percentage!) is projected to be Pittsburgh’s cleanup hitter in a lineup that lacks star power. Plus, this is the team’s watchability rating on TV or streaming devices, not at the beautiful PNC Park, where every game is worth attending. [Full Pirates team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who is the most overrated player on the team? Josh Bell can’t play. He’s not a good defender. He’s a big lump. He has bad agility, bad footwork. He can’t run. Supposedly he’s a big power threat, but he hit 12 home runs at first base. This is not a kid! This is his third year in the big leagues! I don’t think he’s got the ability to get better.

 


Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

"If they don't go to the World Series, it'd be a huge disappointment. They're the best team in the National League."

MLB Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner says ...

The Dodgers are the truest arbiters of contemporary baseball: their best hitters have launch angle swings, their relief pitchers throw smoke and they’ll likely pound a weak NL West into submission. [Full Dodgers team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What young player(s) is/are on the cusp of stardom? Does Walker Buehler count? I saw this guy last year and if he wins the Cy Young this year, I wouldn't be surprised. I saw him down the stretch, and it's great stuff, there's makeup there. He needs to refine his command a little bit, but, wow. This guy, for me, he's got some of the best stuff in the league.


NL West

San Diego Padres

 

Ralph Freso

"This is one of the most interesting teams in baseball this year. Not often do you see so many young players at so many different positions with the opportunity to make an impact and take the team to the next level. It’s not hype here, I think they’re for real." — Rival Scout

MLB Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner says ...

San Diego is at least one year away from playoff contention, but the glut of outstanding young talent and arrival of Manny Machado make them one of the most hip options of the upcoming season. [Full Padres team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Name two guys on this team that you would immediately trade for: Chris Paddack and Manny Machado. Machado has always been one of my favorite players, top-three in the game. I wish he wouldn’t have made the ‘Johnny Hustle’ comment because it dents his reputation. He’s so special on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he can straight up rake. Tatís says Machado has been great to him and Machado says he wants to be the mentor that J.J. Hardy was to him. I love the signing. It’s a great place for him.


Colorado Rockies

 

Norm Hall/Getty Images

"I think they have a chance to upset the Dodgers. They’ve been in the postseason two years in a row now. I really think they’ve got the personnel to win that division. I think they’re a team that’s capable of winning 90 maybe even 95 games." —Rival scout

MLB Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner says ...

Kyle Freeland might not be the best pitcher to ever take the ball for Colorado, but he may be on his way to being the best pitcher in the history of Coors Field. The 25-year-old lefty was masterful at the notorious pitcher’s hell—he logged a 2.40 ERA over 15 home starts and just one homer every nine innings. [Full Rockies team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

Who gets the most out of his talent? Nolan Arenado’s work habits are top of the charts. There were questions with him coming up in the minor leagues whether he’d even be able to stay at third base, now he’s the best third baseman in the business. His work habits are unbelievable, and he’s made himself into the type of player he is.


Arizona Diamondbacks

 

Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

"It just looks like a light offensive club to me and they don’t have a lot of depth there. The pitching’s going to have to carry a lot of weight on its shoulders. I think they’ll probably battle for the cellar with the Giants." —Rival Scout

MLB Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner says ...

If Zack Greinke isn’t starting, then there aren’t many good reasons to watch this team. Trading a franchise icon in Paul Goldschmidt was tacit admission that the Diamondbacks did not wish to compete the way they did in 2017 and ‘18, and the departure of A.J. Pollock to the rival Dodgers only further demonstrated that Arizona is prioritizing the future instead of this season. [Full Diamondbacks team preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What player gets the most out of his talent? [David] Peralta. He’s a grinder, just intense. This guy came up as a pitcher, was released, went to Indy-ball to try to convert to a position player and came out of nowhere basically. He built his body up and now he’s a Silver Slugger. He’s a good story and a guy that I never expected this much to come out of him, and might be the leader of this group.


San Francisco Giants

 

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

"There is so much to do and every other team in the division is built to win sooner than San Francisco." — Rival scout

MLB Writer Gabriel Baumgaertner says ...

New team president Farhan Zaidi might be the brightest executive in baseball not named Brian Cashman, but he’s inherited a roster full of bloated legacy contracts and a shallow farm system. It’s unclear whether Buster Posey will resemble his old self after returning from a hip injury, and Madison Bumgarner is a prime midseason trade candidate with his contract due to expire at the end of the season. [Full Giants season preview with scouts' takes]

A Rival Scout Says...

What young player(s) is/are on the cusp of stardom? Dereck Rodríguez is going to step up. He’ll pitch his way up to even more prominence in that rotation. He’s got a ton of moxie and a big arm. You can tell he’s been in a big league clubhouse his whole life. He wants to dominate every time out. He’s got a chip on his shoulder since he didn’t work out as a position player and had to move to the mound.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)