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Updated: July 2019
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The 2018 Major League Baseball season has started as the world of baseball looks to the Chicago Cubs to see if they can recapture the magic that they had last year. The Cubs won their first World Series in over a century in the fall of 2016 and now the question is if they can repeat. It's hard to tag the Cubs as the Lovable Losers now, their former nickname. In fact arguably since Chicago fans have a taste of glory, it's doubtful that they'll find the Cubs amicable at all if they don't keep up their winning ways.
When it comes to the guessing game of trying to pick and choose the winners and losers in the big picture of the whole season then it's common to consider off-season signings. The St. Louis Cardinals, for instance, signed Dexter Fowler, nabbing the centerfielder from their in-division rivals, the Cubs. The roster change may very well help St. Louis get back to the post-season and perhaps not just as a Wild Card. It could be that Chicago fall a bit relative to last season, precisely because of the loss of Fowler.
Another team that made a bold move over the off-season was Colorado. The Rockies signed Ian Desmond, most recently of the Texas Rangers. However, signing a key player is one matter - keeping him in the lineup is another. Desmond has started the season off on the 10-day disabled list. Colorado, with a high-powered offense and playing half of their games in baseball's greatest hitters' ballpark, do promise to put a lot of runs on the scoreboard this season even when one of their bats is missing.
When it comes to World Series favorites, the Cubs, the Cards, and the Rockies may all enter the mix. However, the Cleveland Indians certainly didn't take defeat in game seven of the 2016 World Series lightly. Over the off-season they acquired long-time Toronto Blue Jay member Edwin Encarnacion. The only way Cleveland can improve on last year's result is by winning the World Series and they seem to be determined to do just that.
When it comes to rising stars in the Major Leagues, one team that looks loaded with some young stars is the New York Yankees. Both Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird will look to propel the Yankees back into playoff relevancy. Both have proven that they have some power and they could be central to a winning season in the Big Apple. With the 5-team playoff format in each league, any team that can stay above .500 stands a chance of entering the playoff race in September. Look for the Yankees to win between 82 and 86 games this season.
On the flip side of teams rising are the ones that can be expected to fall. We'll see if the Toronto Blue Jays can make the post-season for a third straight year. Surely losing Encarnacion suggests that they won't, however they were never about just one player the last two seasons. That said, don't be surprised if they finish just below .500, with Jose Bautista injury prone and far out of his prime. Last year Bautista had just 22 home runs, well down from his previous totals of 35 and 40 in the previous two seasons. Look for the 36 year old to have a down season again. Conversely, players to watch for big seasons are Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, Khris Bryant, and Bryce Harper.
MLB Baseball 2019 Season Matchups Line Movement and Odds Comparison Page