SportsPulse: now that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have signed we can finally look forward to current baseball. Here are the plots that will define the MLB in 2019.
After winning 108 games and their fourth World Series title in 15 years, it could be assumed that the Boston Red Sox would be the clear favorite again in the 2019 season.
Alas, that's not how life goes in the Eastern American League.
Victim of a series of AL Division by their biggest rivals after a season of 100 victories, the New York Yankees came out and improved significantly this winter.
In their quest for a 28th championship, the Yankees switched to the initial James Paxton, added the three-time winner of the Golden Glove and the 2016 baptism champion DJ LeMahieu to the mix infield and have strengthened the already dominant bullpen with the signature of Adam Ottavino.
Meanwhile, Boston largely stood. The club retained the services of the World Series heroes Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce, but the Red Sox have not (yet) returned to Craig Kimbrel and the team's opening roster is unlikely to have a new player.
The next six months will tell if the Yankees will be able to claim their first division title since 2012, but New York starts the 2019 season at the top of the US TODAY Sports power charts, as voted by a panel of eight writers and publishers:
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton give the Yankee one of the best formations in the game. (Photo: Paul Rutherford, USA TODAY Sports)
1. New York Yankees
- Managed to make the bullpen even stronger with the signature of Adam Ottavino.
2. Houston Astros
- Added even more depth in the offseason – and their best prospects are coming.
3. Boston Red Sox
- Will they regret not being active this winter?
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
- Six consecutive NL West titles and still nothing to show for this.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
- "Trust the Process" seems to have also been applied to the city's baseball team.
6 (draw). Washington citizens
- Expect to get tired of hearing "are they better off without Bryce Harper?"
6 (draw). Cleveland Indians
- Corey Kluber is still here – and their title window is still open.
8. St. Louis Cardinals
- How good will Paul Goldschmidt be in his contract year?
9. Braves of Atlanta
- It will be very difficult to repeat as champions of the NL East.
10. Milwaukee Brewers
- What will Christian Yelich do for the encore?
11. Chicago Cubs
- Joe Maddon's contract year should be interesting.
12. Rays of Tampa Bay
- Tommy Pham hit .343 with 1,071 OPS after a trade from St. Louis.
13. Colorado Rockies
- With Nolan Arenado extended, there are no clouds looming over the team.
14. Oakland Athletics
- Better prospects Jesús Luzardo could be the savior of the rotation.
15. New York Mets
- As usual, hopes depend on the health of the pitchers.
16. Minnesota Twins
- Quietly it has improved a lot this winter.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates
- Starling Mars reached a career with 20 homers last season.
18. Angels of Los Angeles
- It is worth keeping an eye on the way they handle the rehabbing of Shohei Ohtani.
19. San Diego Padres
- Manny Machado is here, and Fernando Tatis Jr. should not be far behind.
20. Cincinnati Reds
- This team has greatly improved and could be a lot of fun.
21. Arizona Diamondbacks
- Robbie Ray found his way after a difficult first half (5.03 ERA).
22. Seattle Mariners
- Lots of expensive veterans for a team in full reconstruction mode.
23. Toronto Blue Jays
- Counting the days until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes his debut.
24. San Francisco Giants
- Madison Bumgarner hopes to avoid another strange wound.
25. Chicago White Sox
- Crucial year for Yoan Moncada after the ugly 2018 (217 strikeouts).
26. Texas Rangers
- Joey Gallo vs Mendoza Line is one of the most fascinating subplots of MLB.
27. Detroit Tigers
- Miguel Cabrera has 465 homers – will he come to 500 this year?
28. Kansas City Royals
- If you like stolen bases, keep an eye on this team.
29. Miami Marlins
- 2018 wasn't as bad as expected, but this year could be pretty awful.
30. Baltimore Orioles
- Their only goal this season is not to lose 120 games.