After Game 3 of the ALDS last year when the Yankees were completely embarrassed at home by the Red Sox, I’ve tempered my expectations. In addition, going into 2019 the Yankees have a lot of injury issues, which I think could slow them early and allow Boston to win the East again. The Rays and Athletics may seriously challenge for the second AL Wild Card spot, but I wanted to go with a different team, hence the Twins. The Indians seem to be in slow decline and I don’t think they’ll have a chance against one of the Big 3 juggernauts come October, just like last year.
I think the AL West is the most interesting division in the AL this year. I’m always half expecting the Angels to finally make it back to the postseason, but the Athletics should be better. The Mariners seem to be tanking a bit and are due for a regression. I think the Rangers could surprise a bit and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them as high as third in that division.
The National League is tough to predict. The East and Central both have 3 or more teams vying for the division titles. Washington has the talent and pitching to embarrass Harper’s Phillies. I’m trying not to have sentimental picks (else I’d have the Yankees winning the World Series with the Cardinals in the NLCS), but I couldn’t help it with the Braves. I think their incredible young players could get even better in 2019, with their pitching edging them past the Phillies.
The NL Central should be a fun race to watch once again. I don’t doubt that the Brewers can make a serious World Series run this year, but the Cubs are Cardinals have great teams as well. The NL West has been declining and could be the weakest division in the NL. That should make it easy for the Dodgers to win it, but I think they’ll be too weak for another pennant run.
Some miscellaneous categories that are fun to ponder:
Surprising team: Twins
Disappointing team: Angels
Surprising player: Ronald Torreyes
Disappointing player: Charlie Morton
Surprising team: Cubs
Disappointing team: Phillies
Surprising player: Touki Toussaint
Disappointing player: Bryce Harper
Feel free to leave your 2019 MLB Predictions below!
The time has come to start the 2018 MLB Postseason! Obviously my 2018 predictions are a bit off, but that’s pretty typical. It’s fun to make a new bracket once the postseason is about to begin.
As I write this post, we are less than one hour away from the start of the NL Wild Card Game between the Rockies and Cubs. Fittingly enough I just filled out my bracket for how I hope the postseason goes down. You can do the same at MLB.com!
ALWC: Yankees over Athletics
NLWC: Rockies over Cubs
ALDS: Yankees over Red Sox, Indians over Astros
NLDS: Rockies over Brewers, Braves over Dodgers
ALCS: Yankees over Indians
NLCS: Braves over Rockies
WS: Yankees over Braves
Going into the postseason, I’m worried that the Yankees (my favorite team) will have trouble if they match up against the Red Sox. However, the Yankees won 2 of 3 at Fenway in the last series of the regular season, so perhaps this Yankees team can actually win road games when they matter. (excluding Game 5 of the 2017 ALDS of course – the only road game the Yankees won in the 2017 postseason) I’m less confident about the AL Wild Card Game than I was last year against the Twins, but overall I love the postseason bracket. I was pulling for the Brewers and Rockies in Game 163’s, but hoping the Braves can stun the field and win the pennant.
Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion being back together (and Donaldson’s presence in particular) is the main reason I’m hoping the Indians can upstage the Astros. I have a bad feeling the Cubs and Dodgers may match up in the NLCS again, but the Brewers are hot and look ready to maybe even win it all.
Baseball in 2018 is certainly different than the baseball I grew up watching primarily from 2006-2010. In this blog post I’ll give my thoughts on the current game, what I like about things, and what I’m not a fan of.
The Home Run Explosion
As most of you probably know, 2017 was truly the year of the long ball, as MLB set a new record for total home runs hit during the season. They seem to want us to think that the balls are not juiced, but the pitchers and tons of statistics say otherwise. I’m definitely inclined to believe the ball is juiced, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It is true that offense gets more fans in the seats and watching on TV, and to me it can make the stats more fun to look at.
However, I feel that it may be going too far. When you’ve got a normal or possibly even below-average crop of hitters across baseball, and they end up breaking home run records set in the heart of the steroid era, you know something is up. My problem isn’t so much the total number of home runs, but the players who are hitting them in abundance who would not thrive in this way in any other year or era. To me it makes the stats a bit artificial if someone would normally hit 10-15 home runs but can now consistently pop 25 and have a greater legacy simply because the ball was juiced.
Overall I’m fine with it. I especially enjoyed it in the 2017 Postseason, when the Yankees hit a handful of big and memorable home runs, not to mention the insanely epic Game 5 of the World Series. Moments like those are what make it worthwhile, but to me some of the regular season stats have become somewhat absurd for the level of player producing them.
I’m very happy that MLB is working to address the pace of play issues. Mound visits can be frustrating to sit through in the late innings of a regular season game, so limiting them is a good idea. I don’t like the idea of baseball being a timed sport with any kind of clock, but certain pitchers do take a long time to deliver the ball. I’m not sure how best to address that problem outside of a clock.
This is just about my favorite thing regarding the sport. It seems as though every year there are classic postseason moments. Matchups that make dreams come true. Aces coming out of the bullpen to sink or swim. Players like Charlie Culberson, Pete Kozma, and Alex Bregman delivering huge hits that turned games or series around.
October baseball has reached a height that excites me. From 2006-2009, I didn’t notice as many epic moments. This could be some recency bias on my part, and of course I was overjoyed when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009. However, there have been a string of great postseasons, arguably from 2010-2017. It’s these classic games and moments that make me love baseball so much and get me excited about watching every fall.
Overall I’m extremely excited about baseball going forward. There is an exciting youth movement, more home runs than ever before, epic postseasons just about every year, and the Yankees look like they’re set up for success in the near future! 😀
I know it’s June 2nd, but back in high school I used to do baseball predictions at the beginning of every season. Myself and a couple other friends would fill out pieces of paper with small dollar amounts for each spot, though we never actually agreed to bet on it and pay each other at the end of the season. Still, it was a fun exercise, and one that I’ve gotten away from as I know less about Major League Baseball players and teams since 2012 and prior.
Ben’s 2018 MLB Predictions
New York Yankees (could it really be any other team?)
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres
AL Most Valuable Player
NL Most Valuable Player
AL Cy Young
NL Cy Young
AL Rookie of the Year
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
NL Rookie of the Year
Ronald Acuña Jr.
Sure there’s some Yankees bias, but who can blame me for that? I feel that the Angels could finally make another postseason push, but the heavyweights of the past 2-3 years will be far too much for them to overcome. The Red Sox are sometimes all over the place, and I feel the Yankees are more clutch and ready to roll this year. I really feel like the Red Sox missed their chance in 2016 in Big Papi’s final year. They looked incredible going in but got swept by the Indians. Speaking of the Indians, they had an amazing chance that year but came up just short of the title.
Houston is just insane between their success last year and their crazy rotation this year. However, until a team can prove wrong the championship funk (even the Giants’ short dynasty couldn’t win two in a row), I’m going to not put them as the champs. I think the Yankees are hungrier and have a higher ceiling than the Astros.
In the National League, there is much more parity and uncertainty, even 2+ months into the season. The Brewers never seem to keep up their early season pace, so I think the Central will eventually be overtaken by the Cubs. I’ll admit that the Dodgers were my pick to win the World Series going into 2018, but they’ve been a complete disaster and look unable to make another pennant run. The Braves and Rockies would be fun to see in a Wild Card game. I think the Braves lineup would overcome the Rockies and Nolan Arenado’s brilliance (hopefully he’ll win at least one MVP sometime).
All that said, the Nationals have a deep team and I think this year is when their pitching staff will hold up and pitch them deep into October. With the Cubs and Dodgers not looking like themselves, it’s time for the Nationals to capitalize, end their NLDS woes, and make a serious challenge for a title.
Lastly, some miscellaneous categories that are fun to ponder.
Welcome to my first blog post on Baseball with Ben! This is a project I am excited about, and quite frankly should have done sooner. However, I’m still in my 20’s, so “better late than never” certainly applies here. This is my history within the great game of baseball. From the beginning to the time I write this post in 2018.
Origins – A Home Team Dynasty of Epic Proportions
I honestly don’t know which year I began rooting for the New York Yankees. Having been born in late 1994 in New York State (not New York City) the “perfect storm” for a lifelong Yankees fan was brewing. What I do know is that I wanted to root for a “home team”, and I’m not sure I even knew about the mets. XD It may have been as late as 2000 or 2001 that I began rooting for the Yankees, but I may have been aware of them in the late 90’s as well. Call me a bandwagon fan if you want, but that’s pretty much all I could be at that point.
Two books were foundational in my love for the Yankees and their signature player of the era, Derek Jeter. Game Day was the first, followed by The Life You Imagine. I was hooked. After reading those books, I wanted to become “the next Derek Jeter” and be an all-world shortstop for the Yankees when I grew up. Of course, lots of other little kids had that exact same goal. XD
Playing adventures and mishaps, and the beginning of a long-term obsession
The first baseball game I remember watching was Game 6 of the 2003 World Series, when Josh Beckett pitched the Marlins to the series win. I still remember being bored and depressed by the game, because it was the opposite of what I wanted: a pitching duel where my favorite team lost the biggest game of their year.
However, by spring 2005 I took a big step in my “career”. I started playing in Little League Baseball at the AAA level. That started as I was finishing up 4th grade. I distinctly remember getting at least 2 hits in my very first game, and the coach of the opposing team even said something to his pitcher from the dugout to warn him when I came up for my 3rd or 4th at bat. Little did I know that it would be one of my best baseball games I played in. XD
I played in Little League for 3 years, making the “Majors” in 6th grade. The one thing I am quite happy about was all the positions I played. At various points in my “career” (my love for all things epic tends to lead to me exaggerating things sometimes haha) I played at every position except catcher, which I intentionally avoided. In fact, I remember sneakily avoiding the catcher drills during practices and tryouts just so I didn’t have to put on the gear, wear the sweaty mask, and have trouble catching pitches that were faster than I could hope to throw myself.
In Little League I remember mainly playing first base, third base, shortstop, and (usually) starting pitcher. I was never good tracking balls off of bats, so the outfield was a weakness of mine. I wanted to play shortstop, but there were already kids better than me. The corner infield positions worked out fairly well, and I wasn’t the worst pitcher in the league.
It was probably partly due to the school I played for, but I always seemed to be on losing teams. Though not just losing teams, but truly atrocious teams. I remember being part of a “Best of the Rest” team (for the All Star team “runner ups”) that went 0-7. I think our only “win” came when the other team forfeited due to not having enough players, or not showing up to the game. Embarassing indeed. I almost never played on a team with a losing record, so it was pretty frustrating at times.
Modified, Middle School, and Baseball consumes my life
2006 was the year that changed everything. It was my first year of middle school, and at lunch I sat with a group of friends that were even more baseball-minded than some of my previous friends. Everything came together in 2006 for my baseball obsession, and the sport started to consume my life. Prior to 2006, I had hardly watched any baseball games, regular or postseason. In 2006 I watched a LOT of games, a trend that would continue until around 2011. My sister and I watched quite a lot of Braves games on TBS and Cubs games on WGN, so naturally they were our favorite teams outside of the Yankees. To this day the Braves are usually in my top 5 teams I root for, though I’ve soured on the Cubs for various reasons (more on that later). We didn’t get the YES Network with our cable, so we only saw the Yankees sparingly.
Modified baseball was the level I played at in 7th and 8th grade. This was when I realized that not only was I not going to become the next Derek Jeter, but I wasn’t going to come anywhere close to making the Major Leagues either. XD It was a trying time, and 7th grade in particular was somewhat rough for me in general. However, I still have some good memories of those years, especially off the field. Most years I played 3 seasons out of 4, with summer ball and fall ball pretty consistent. At this point my passion for playing started to wane, and my skill level compared to the other players my age was not as good as in Little League (where I was a bit above average).
I had never been into baseball cards before 2006 either, but in 2006 my sister and I started buying packs quite often. I never quite got there, but at one point my goal was to collect the entire base set of 2006 Topps from opening packs alone. My love for cards was part of the reason I developed a love for baseball statistics as well. I’ve always enjoyed math in general, so the statistical side of the game appeals to me. Topps was my favorite brand of cards because they were the most consistent with numbers on the backs of the cards – other brands often don’t show a player’s full career worth of stats, and/or they don’t have red/italics/bolding for leading the league or MLB. Also, 2006 Topps was just a nice-looking set in general in my opinion, and some of the cards were nice and shiny. 🙂
I was always a big reader as a kid, so reading about baseball was inevitable. From 2006-2010 I read dozens if not over a hundred different baseball books. I studied the history of the game and LOVED it. Along with a friend from school, I quickly became the most knowledgeable baseball fan in my grade, and probably the entire school (not huge though – around 160 people per grade). I read a lot of great books, which I hope to delve into more detail on this site eventually.
In short, from 2006-2010 I lived and breathed the game of baseball. Every day I was either playing it, reading about it, collecting the cards, talking about it, studying it, or more likely, many of the above on any given day.
Inevitable failures and an appropriate shift
In the spring of 2010 and 2011 (9th and 10th grade) I played Junior Varsity (JV) baseball my first two years of high school. However, my playing abilities reached an all-time low and my desire to play was even lower. Combine that with my passion for violin and an academically challenging final two years of high school approaching, and I decided by the end of my 10th grade season that I had had enough. I “retired” after a 7 year career from 2005-2011. In high school I mainly played second base and came on in relief, pitching occasionally. You can even see the positional decline, as I was often playing first, shortstop, and starting pitcher. The long slow decline was over, and I actually have absolutely no regrets about it. I did face a bit of peer pressure/disappointment from people I had played with for years, but I’ve always been incredibly immune to peer pressure to a bizarre extreme.
After my playing career was over, I was still heavily invested in Major League Baseball. My focus shifted away from baseball cards and books, but I was still watching games regularly and knew pretty much every player on any MLB roster at the time. During my final two years of high school, I developed a sudden interest in personal finance and investing, so I began reading books about that all the time. I also reached the (probable :)) apex of my violin career, so that took up a decent amount of time as well. The final shift was the biggest though – in the first half of 2011, I got back into Pirates Constructible Strategy Game, one of my childhood enjoyments from 2005-2006. In fact, in a way baseball took me away from Pirates CSG for a number of years, but now I’m back with a vengeance and it has been my biggest passion in life since 2011.
A New Yankees Era, and a great time for fans of the Epic moment
Here I am today, a Yankees fan for about 20 years now. Here in 2018 they are doing well, and hopes are high for championships in the near future. I was surprised by their incredible success in 2017, and I’m looking forward to the postseason for many years to come.
Speaking of the postseason, that is where my focus on baseball now lies. There is nothing I love more than October Baseball. The postseason is where the magic happens. The loudest and biggest crowds. The stars come out when it matters most. The goosebumps. The electric atmosphere. The epic moments I’ll never forget. Although I haven’t watched many regular season games the past 6+ years, I always catch as many postseason games as I can, often at the expensive of schoolwork and sleep while in college from 2013-2016. XD
Thank you for reading. I look forward to providing value, information, and entertainment in the times ahead.
Welcome to Baseball with Ben! On this personal site of mine I share my favorite things about baseball, including memories, hobbies, and my favorite, the epic moments that keep me watching October baseball every year.
My passion for baseball started at a young age. Born in 1994 in the state of New York, I grew up rooting for the home team, the dominant New York Yankees of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Two books on Derek Jeter and his reputation as a clutch player quickly made him my favorite player, and he was my biggest role model as a young boy. I began playing baseball in Little League during 4th grade. My dream was to become “the next Derek Jeter” and play shortstop for the Yankees just like him. Like thousands of other kids, I realized in middle and high school that it definitely wasn’t going to happen!
However, my passion for baseball continued though the years. 2006 was when I really got into it. Before that year, I didn’t watch that often and was a very casual fan. From 2006-2010, baseball was my biggest passion and hobby in life. I like to say I lived and breathed it. Watching baseball, reading baseball books, collecting cards, talking about baseball with my friends, playing, I did everything I could think of related to the sport.
My passion for baseball slowly waned over the years, but it’s still one of my favorite things. I stopped playing after 10th grade in high school, and I stopped collecting cards and reading a ton of baseball books. However, one thing has stuck with me like nothing else: the Postseason. My love for October baseball has led to a lot of late nights obsessing over every postseason game, even if it meant I didn’t get enough sleep or that I had to sacrifice something else in life. I can honestly say that I regret almost none of the time I’ve spent watching postseason baseball. Part of that is because of the sheer amount of epic moments that have happened not just in my lifetime, but in the recent past (since 2010 for example). Even as I type this in May 2018, I can’t wait for October!
Helping baseball fans find their favorite moments
I want everyone’s favorite baseball memories to last forever, with the exception of the mets, my least favorite team by far. To that end, I like to focus on the epic moments that often occur in the postseason. By rekindling those goosebumps from that crazy night, I want people to love baseball as much as they ever have, and look forward to the next walkoff, the next record-breaker, the next “fans litter the field” moment, the next monumental crowd reaction.
Let me know if you have comments, questions, requests, or anything else!!