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The opening day is just around the corner, and so begins the MLB story of 2019. Will Machado and Harper meet their Titanic contracts? Who will prevail in the arms race of the American League? And can pitchers ever get Mookie Betts out? Here are the players who will work hard for the big stories of this season, and the guys who are just going to have fun.
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The Japanese sensation was one of the biggest electric players to see in baseball in the first two months of last season, the rare player in the modern game of both on the hill as well as on the plate. That is, until he raised his arm and was banished to the designated strike service. He will be stuck there until 2019 after undergoing an operational Tommy John operation in the offseason. That's a shame, but Ohtani should still have a lot of fun on the plate – even if his inevitable moon shots will not be linked to this ill heating by 2020
The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are all imprisoned in an arms race for the biggest weapons in the American League. Aaron Judge had an absolute crack last season before breaking his wrist, but showed some of that incredible power during the New York playoff run and hit three long balls in his first three playoff games. The star of the Yankees is likely to continue his dominance this season as long as he can stay healthy.
Does anyone enjoy baseball more than Javy Baez? The Cubs star had a breakout season in 2018 with one of the most reliable bats in Chicago and, of course, his freestyling, great work in the infield. They do not call him El Mago for nothing. The North Siders will need another big year from him if they want to stay on top of a National League Central division that is becoming more and more talented.
Speaking of the maddening NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers MVP had an absolutely insane second half of 2018, beating in almost 70 runs after the All-Star break and leading his team deep into the postseason. It remains to be seen if the outfielder will be able to repeat this success this year – for a whole season – but if he does, he will make Milwaukee a fearsome opponent.
not the most consistent player in the game – and one of the consistently best players in the last six years. In each of the last four years, he has been an All-Star player who dissected the record and played the Gold Glove defense – with almost no days off. After his fourth consecutive All-Star season, at 38, leading the entire National League in Homers, the third-baseman is smart money for yet another exceptional year.
The Nationals ace brought another light 2018 led the majors in innings and punches throughout the year and led the NL with 18 wins. He was surprisingly consistent with his ERA, which has not risen above 3.00 since 2014. As a three-time Cy Young winner, the 34-year-old enters the 2019 campaign as a favorite to once again win the highest pitching award.
Trout is arguably the best player in the game – a perennial all-star who beats average and power and offers an excellent field of field. It is a shame that his incredible career is being played for the largely uninspired Angels, but that does not rob him of the pleasure of seeing him play.
It goes without saying that you are a man fan of baseball, you should love watching Mookie Betts play it. His Red Sox won the World Series last year, not least because of the right fielder's game. Dude has been solid since joining the league in 2014, but he was unbelievable last year. He scored a Best League.3346 – .346! – and earned another Gold Glove for his work in the field.
Manny was one of the biggest free agents on the market this off-season, languishing in a teamless fashion for what felt like forever. Then he signed a 10-year contract with 300 million US dollars at the Padres. There is a reason why he gets all the dough: he's a generational talent and he proved last year that his slump in 2017 was a mere departure, perhaps because he had his best season. Finding out what that means for an otherwise inconspicuous San Diego team will be part of the fun.
Like Machado, Harper smashed for months on the hot stove, between the Nats and the team that would come next. He finally signed a contract in March, and it was a fool: 13 years for $ 330 million in Philly, one of the biggest contracts in the history of the sport. It's going to be a lot for the 26-year-old who can do it yet, but it seems likely that he can do it: Harper, like Machado, is a generational talent and apparently in the sweet spot of his prime. His addition could make the Phillies a legitimate contender – but at least it's fun to look at them.
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