South Region Breakdown

  1. Virginia
  2. Tennessee
  3. Purdue
  4. Kansas St.

Sleeper team to win: Villanova

I am going to contradict myself by saying my sleeper is the same team that I think could be on upset alert.  The Villanova Wildcats had a rollercoaster season, ultimately though the ride was enjoyable for Jay Wrights crew as they took home the Big East regular season and tournament title.  Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are big time players that can carry the load for the Wildcats that lost literally their entire lineup to the NBA last season.  They will face off with upset minded St. Mary’s fresh off a destruction of heavily favored Gonzaga in the Mountain West Conference tournament.  St. Mary’s will have another upset on their mind in this matchup that currently seems like a toss- up according to most insiders.  If Jay Wrights crew does get by St. Marys they have a cast of unproven but solid teams in their way including a Purdue team that is basically a one man show and a Tennessee team that can be unfocused at times. 

Potential First Round Upset: Oregon over Wisconsin

This is popular.  Both teams play a slow and defensive game.  Oregon has caught fire at the right time though running through the Pac12 tournament and forcing their way on to the scene.  Louis King has emerged as a playmaker on the offensive end and they get great point guard play from Payton Prichard.  While I want to see Ethan Happ get a great run in the tournament his problems from the free throw line could lead to an early exit for the Badgers. 

Keep an eye on the health of Dean Wade.  If he cannot play another potential upset could be UC Irvine over Kansas State.  UC Irvine is very good at defending the rim. 

Who’s going to win it: Virginia

The Cavaliers will come into the 2019 tournament motivated.  Virginia lost three games during the season to Duke (2) and Florida State in the ACC tournament. They have their issues on the offensive end but the bracket breaks down well for them.  A potential third round matchup with Ole Miss or Oklahoma will be a walk in the park with only a potential matchup with K-State or Wisconsin whom doesn’t have the athletes to beat Virginia. Tennessee is the only team that realistically has the players to matchup with Virginia defense.

Second Round Picks:

Virginia

Ole Miss

Oregon

UC Irvine

Villanova

Purdue

Cincinnati

Tennessee 

East Region Breakdown

Top Seeds

  1. Duke
  2. Michigan State
  3. LSU
  4. Virginia Tech

Sleeper team to win: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech as a #4 seed probably isn’t considered a sleeper but they are being overlooked.  The return of Justin Robinson is going to help with the depth of the Hokies.  With Robinson being hurt Kerry Blackshear was able to develop into a star.  His size and ability to handle the ball if caught on the perimeter is a tough matchup for any team.  With a first-round matchup against an undersized SLU team and a potential matchup with an underwhelming Mississippi State team. Virginia Tech will not have an overwhelming matchup until they face the #1 overall seed Duke Blue Devils in the Sweet 16.

*Maryland has all the ability to steal this bracket if they can control the ball.  Can’t expect them to change their game though overnight.

Potential first round upset: Liberty and Yale

Yale has the size you don’t usually see in an Ivy League team. They also have potential NBA threat Miye Oni leading their offense.  LSU has all the talent to make a huge run in this tournament but you can’t ignore the distraction of losing your coach at this point in the season.

Liberty was able to overcome the favored Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun Championship game.  They get a matchup with the Mississippi State Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs have some high level talent in Quinndary Weatherspoon but have not shown the ability to win big games during the season.  Liberty will not back down in this matchup.

Who is going to win it: Duke

Michigan State got a tough draw for a team that should have been considered for a #1 seed. Instead they were put into a bracket with the number one overall seed, they SEC regular season champion LSU and a potential matchup with a veteran led Louisville team. The Spartans are finally healthy and playing at a high level.  They should be able to coast to the elite 8 to matchup with a Duke team that is going to be tested big time by a fully healthy Virginia Tech team. Duke/Michigan State will be a great game that will matchup veterans versus youth.  Cassius Winston will have a tough time with the defense of Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire.  The Blue Devils will lock down on defense and find themselves in the final four.

Second Round Picks

Duke

UCF

Liberty

UCF

Maryland

LSU

Lousiville

Michigan State

Big Ten Tournament Preview and Predictions

Michigan State walked away with the regular season title after a dominate second half performance against rival Michigan Saturday night.  Sunday the final regular season games took place finalizing the seeds for what could be the funniest tournament of all the power fives.  The ACC is top heavy, the Big12 is a three-team race, anyone can beat anyone in this tournament.  Let’s break it down.

Sleeper- Indiana Hoosiers

Most may not remember that the Hoosiers entered the season with very high expectations.  They have slowly begun to return to form.  With the two man punch of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan Indiana has two studs they can lean on during big moments.  The Hoosiers also got a favorable draw against a reeling Ohio State team and potentially matching up with Michigan State whom they defeated twice during the regular season.

What to watch for- Returning Nick Ward

Michigan State showed what they are made of while dealing with multiple injuries during the regular season.  Kenny Goin and Xavier Tillman stepped up in the absence of Nick Ward.  The Spartans will welcome back Ward for this tournament.  If he plays to his ability this team has a shot to steal a #1 seed.

Opening Round

Nebraska over Rutgers– Nebraska was an early season darling in the Big Ten. The injury to Isaac Copeland derailed what could have been a promising season.  Still the Cornhuskers will have the best player on the court in James Palmer Jr. Feeding off the momentum of Sunday’s shocking comeback versus Iowa should propel Nebraska to an opening round victory.

Northwestern over Illinois– Illinois made a nice run mid-season showing the potential of Brad Underwood’s team.  I prefer Northwestern in this matchup mainly because of their ability to handle the ball.  Northwestern is top five in the Big Ten in turnovers per game which is the bread and butter of the Illini.  Northwestern will control the tempo and Vic Law will have a big game.

Second Round

Indiana over Ohio State-

Indiana has to win, and they will versus an Ohio State team that has looked bad without Kyle Wesson.  The Hoosiers will have too much for the Buckeyes.

Maryland over Nebraska-

Maryland has a problem with turnovers.  They will have to take care of the ball to have a chance in the big dance. Locking down Nebraska’s James Palmer will be a problem, but the size of Maryland will be too much for the Cornhuskers.

Penn State over Minnesota-

Penn State has turned their season around after a rough start and will continue it against a Minnesota was barely able to get by a struggling early season Nittany Lions team. Penn State will have to keep Jordan Murphy off the glass, if they contain him they roll.

Iowa over Northwestern-

Iowa needs this win, they will score to much for Northwestern to handle. 

Third Round

Michigan State over Indiana-

Cassius Winston will lead his veteran team to a revenge victory over an Indiana team that surprisingly handled the Spartans twice during the season.  Michigan State will also have a lift from the returning Nick Ward.

Maryland over Wisconsin-

Maryland will have a tall task beating the slow paced Wisconsin Badgers.  The Badgers are to inconsistent on the offensive end, their inability to hit free throws will do them in down the stretch of the game.

Purdue over Penn State-

Carson Edwards versus Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Josh Reaves will be a very fun matchup.  Purdue will have to much ancillary pieces for Penn State to get the win. 

Michigan over Iowa-

I’m not a believer in Michigan but their defense is too good for an Iowa team that that will be forced to take a lot of contested jumpers.

Semi-Final

Michigan State over Maryland

Maryland has the talent to win this game.  Unfortunately, their turnover problems will return in this semi-final matchup with the veteran Michigan State Spartans.  Kenny Goins outside shooting will help pull one of the young bigs from the paint opening up lanes for Cassius Winston.  Michigan State wins big.

Purdue over Michigan

Purdue’s early season defeat against Michigan will be in the minds of the Boilermakers.  Carson Edwards will come up. Big against Michigan early.  The Wolverines are a great defensive team, but they have problems with putting together points when they are down early.  Boilermakers make it to the final.

Finals

Michigan State over Purdue

These two teams split the regular season with both home teams winning. Cassius Winston will solidify himself as the MVP of the tournament while Nick Ward will be handled Matt Haarms.  The Spartans are too deep for the Boilermakers.  Michigan State wins the Big 10 Tournament.

NBA DFS 3.11.19

PG: De’Arron Fox, Sacramento Kings ($7,300)

Fox is always a questionable play.  He can dominate a game or play 20 minutes.  This matchup is ideal for both teams with a total reaching into 240 for the game.  The Kings and the Wizards are up pace teams that don’t play a lot of defense.  Fox at $7,300 is a good play.

SG: Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards ($5,800)

Satoransky has play 37 minutes +  over his last three games. A matchup with the Kings is great for PG’s and bigs.  Satoransky doesn’t rely on one thing to provide value, even if he isn’t scoring he can give you boards and assists.

SF: Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings ($5,800)

The veteran Barnes has been playing big minutes since joining the Kings.  The former Warrior is hungry and has proven himself to be a solid contributor to the Kings and will continue it.

PF: Bobby Portis, Washington Wizards ($5,900)

Portis feasts off of weak defenses, the Kings are weak.  Should have solid value here for another medium priced player. 

C: Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons ($9,100)

Coming off of 30 minutes that didn’t take him to much effort puts Drummond in a great spot against the second worst defense against bigs.  The Nets are a team you always plug the center in against no matter what.  The Pistons have quietly become one of the most efficient offenses in the second half.

G: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets ($6,000)

I love Spencer Dinwiddie.  While not starting his still provides starter minutes and starter production. Dinwiiddie has been shooting the three at a 37% clip this season making him valuable even if the Nets are behind.

F: Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics ($4,600)

With not Tatum in the lineup Hayward and Jaylen Brown should see more minutes in a favorable matchup with the Clippers. Hayward’s price is too good without Tatum.  If he starts look for big points, if he doesn’t he should still hit value.

UTL: Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz ($5,900)

No Ricki Rubio has turned Joe Ingles into a versatile option.  Averaging 7 assists a game when getting the chance to play the point.  Russell Westbrook will most likely have the matchup with Spider Mitchell which should free up some play making for Ingles.

Other players to consider:

Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte Hornets

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics,

Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards

Missouri Valley Conference Preview

The Missouri Valley Tournament kicks off tonight at the Enterprise Center. Everyone’s cinderalla story of 2018 Loyola comes in as the #1 seed and the obvious favorite to win the tournament for the second straight season. Despite Loyola-Chicago being the favorite this entire season has seen a conference that has flip-flopped at the top constantly, leaving this very open to all ten teams.  The Valley will only be being getting one team in the NCAA tournament, so every team will be playing for their lives over the next four days.  Let’s break it down.

The top 4 seeds.

#1 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers 19-12 (12-6 MVC)

The Ramblers will welcome back wing Lucas Williamson for this tournament.  Immediately making the best defensive team in the conference even better.  The Ramblers are not the same team as the cinderella of 2018.  They still feature 2018 Player of the Year Clayton Custer, center Caleb Krutwig and potential Player of the Year Marques Townes.  The Ramblers are the best defensive team in the conference allowing a meager 60.9ppg in conference play. The offense has disappeared at times during the season.  Leading to surprising losses to Bradley and twice to a rebuilding Missouri State team.

The Ramblers rank second to last in scoring offense in the conference they will have to rely on their defense and offensive efficiency if they want to go dancing for a second straight year.

#2 Drake Bulldogs 23-8 (12-6 MVC)

No one expected much from the Drake Bulldogs in 2019.  Picked to finish second to last in the preseason polls Drake put together a great season that saw them lose out on the #1 seed by literally one game, still winning a share of the regular season championship.  Much different then Loyola the Bulldogs are a strong offensive team leading the Valley in scoring and margin of victory.  They are led by two seniors Forward Nick McGlynn and Guard Brady Ellington.  McGlynn leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks.

#3 Southern Illinois Salukis 17-14 (10-8 MVC)

A sleeper team that can win it all may be the Southern Illinois Salukis.  A team with great leadership from Head Coach Barry Henson and a group of upperclassman.  The Salukis are a high level shooting team, 37% from behind the arc during the regular season.

Senior forward Armon Fletcher will lead the way for Southern Illinois averaging 16.6PPG, watch out for Kavion Pippen the nephew of Scottie Pippen protecting the rim.  Pippen is averaging 1.9 blocks per game. The key for Southern Illinois will be the play of PG Aaron Cook, if he can play at a high level Southern Illinois could be a team to watch. 

#4 Missouri State Bears 16-15 (10-8 MVC)

The Missouri State Bears took major strides under new Head Coach Dana Ford. Seniors Jarred Dixon and Ryan Kreklow have helped provide great leadership for a cast of transfers.  Ford has gotten the Bears to buy into the methodical approach, running the clock and working the offense until they get their advantage. The MVC newcomer of the year Tulio Da Silva has been a force on both ends of the floor while transfer Keandre Cook can light up the score board at any moment.  The Bears got a great draw with Bradley whom they defeated twice and potentially playing Loyola-Chicago who they have defeated twice in the regular season.

Tournament Prediction:


Session 1

Illinois State defeats Evansville


Illinois State will impose their will, forcing a grind it out game which will play to their advantage.

Indiana State defeats Valparaiso

Indiana State has better shooters that will take advantage of poor Valpo defense

Session 2

Loyola Chicago defeats Indiana State

The Ramblers play tight defense against the 3 and that is the may offense that Indiana State will bring to the table. 

Missouri State defeats Bradley

Missouri State has defeated Bradley twice.  The Bears will impose their will on the Braves in a low scoring affair.

Session 3

Southern Illinois defeats Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa is to inconsistent to match the Southern Illinois offense.  The Salukis will have a huge advantage on both ends.

Drake defeats Illinois State

Drake’s offense will be tough to matchup for Illinois State playing on a back to back nights. 

Fantasy Baseball Sleepers at Every Position.

C: Omar Narvaez, Seattle Mariners

Narvaez was a major player for almost every Draftkings lineup I put out last season. Playing in 97 games for the White Sox Narvaez popped 9 homers and added 30 RBI’s.  He also has a solid 12.3 walk rate while striking out 16.9 percent of the time. Among catchers with 200 plate appearances last season, Narvaez led all with a 29 percent line drive rate. He’s someone that has always squared up the ball going back to his minor league days. 

Narvaez was dealt to the Mariners in the offseason which will put him in a tough home ballpark.  But with multiple trips to Houston and Oakland allowing him for some hitter friendly places for the power to continue to develop.

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

First Base is not the stacked position that most assume it will be.  Projected as the 18th best first base eligible player Cabrera is the perfect player to fall to the bottom of most draft boards.  An injury last year limited Miggy to just 38 games last year but he is still going to be the focal point of the Detroit offense in 2019 and he can still hit the ball hard. Per Statcast, Cabrera twice exceeded 114 MPH on batted balls last year, a feat which only 52 of 390 hitters with at least 100 plate appearances managed.

This is not the MVP Cabrera of his past but the productions should still be there for a player that no one will be looking at.

2B: Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies

The Rockies let DJ LeMahieu moving on to New York a spot opened up at second base for Hampson.  Ryan McMahon will most likely get a few starts at 2nd the job should go primarily to Hampson whose speed will be a great attribute to a loaded Rockies lineup. The 24-year-old hit at least .301 across every minor league level. In 2018, he hit 10 home runs and stole 36 bases across two levels. The kid can hit and he can flat out run.

Let’s never forget that Coors Field can do wonders for any player. Hampson will have huge upside while most likely being overshadowed in most drafts.

SS: Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals have made their lineup one of the deepest in the league by adding potential game changer Paul Goldschmidt.  Whether DeJong is batting in front or behind Goldschmidt shouldn’t matter with the power potential he has.  A healthy DeJong is the only worry anyone should have about his potential. 

Getting a 30HR potential bat at shortstop late in your draft will be huge down the stretch of the long fantasy baseball season.

3B: Josh Donaldson, Atlanta Braves

Donaldson’s injuries put a halt to a career that was seeing him propel himself to the top of the MLB. Donaldson won’t get back to his MVP form but his signing with the Braves puts him in the middle of a diverse lineup.  With guys like Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies around him Donaldson will have huge opportunities to knock in runs.  30 homers makes a lot of sense if he can stay healthy this season. 

OF: Domingo Santana, Seattle Mariners

Another Mariner makes my list, this one with similar traits as Narvaez.  Domingo Santana has the power to make a huge difference in any lineup.  Finally finding consistent at bats this year will be huge for a player that was the odd man out in Milwaukee last year. When given a full season of at bats in 2017 Domingo put together all-star level numbers smashing 30 homers with an .870 OPS.  Santana also surprised many with 15 steals added to those power numbers.

With an ADP of 356 you may be able to pick up Santana after the season has already begun in smaller leagues. At just 26 years old Santana is still progressing as a hitter and could add more tools as the season goes on. 

RP: Trevor May, Minnesota Twins

After missing the 2017 season Trevor May made it back to the mound in 2018 and dazzled in the back end for the Twins. His swing and miss ability was ability was nearly elite level with a `15.4% rate.  Further his K-BB% of 30.1% was top flight.   The Twins have made moves to strengthen their lineup in 2019 and with no clear choice in the back end May stands out as the best possible choice for the Twins.

SP: Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays-

       Yusei Kikuchi, Seattle Mariners

       Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers

      Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros

NBA DFS Picks 3.1.19

A 7-game schedule with every game having projected total of 220+ leaves DFS players with a lot of options. Tonight’s slate will be about picking the rights studs and while finding the value in a few players that have seen a minutes increase.  It’s going to take a 350 score to most likely give you a chance to cash.  Let’s get to work.

PG: Elfrid Payton, New Orleans Pelicans ($5,600)

Elfird Payton has been getting the minutes over the last three games and he has produced at a high level.  Over 30 DK points in each of those games. Phoenix is the definition of a horrible defensive team.  Payton will put up a double-double tonight with ease. 

SG: Malcom Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks ($5,600)

Brogdon is the model of consistency.  With George Hill and Sterling Brown being out for tonight’s game Brogdon will get even more consistent minutes. Matching up with the Lakers whose defense will be focused on Giannis should open up the floor for Brogdon to see some open looks.  He is a boring play but consistent is what you need.

SF: Otto Porter Jr., Chicago Bulls ($6,300)

The Hawks give up the 2nd most points per game to power forwards.  Otto Porter has seen a rejuvenation since being moved to the Bulls.  At $6,300 Porter has the upside for a 50 point night.

PF: Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans ($8,000)

The most underrated player in the NBA.  Yes, I said it.  Randle is a scoring machine coming off a huge night against the Lakers. Randle has stepped right in for Anthony Davis as the primary scoring option.  With Davis still on the minutes restriction Randle will be the main inside target against a poor Phoenix interior.

C: Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers ($6,400)

Harrell doesn’t need big minutes to make his mark on the game. In three games versus the Kings this season Harrell is averaging 39.7 Draftkings points per game. The fast pace of the the game is perfect for Harrell.

G: Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics ($8,900)

Kyrie is due for a big game.  The media continually bashing him for his facial expressions during games should motivate his play. Irving averages four more points per game at home this season and in his only matchup with the Wizards Irving put up 54 DK points.

F: Moe Harkless, Portland Trailblazers ($3,800)

The price for has not caught up with the play of Harkless. Over his last 4 games Harkless has not gone under 28 points.  His cost is too low and a matchup with the Raptors should scare some people off.

UTL: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings ($5,400)

Bogdan is a potential slate breaker every night.  With the injury to Bagley more points will become available.  Coming off of a 54 DK point night he should be ready for another great showing against a poor Clippers team defense with a high projected total.

3 Reason why its Lebron’s fault If the Lakers don’t make playoffs.

The Lakers pulled off a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans behind Lebron James and Brandon Ingram.  The playoffs are still a long shot for the historic franchise.  If they do not make it to one of the top eight teams in the West the blame should lie on the supposed “GOAT”.  Here is why.

Lebron’s a destructive locker room presence.

It’s really not a great idea to openly tell the world that you don’t think your team is good enough.  It’s even worse to basically tell them you hope they are traded.  James has always manipulated management based on his needs but the Lakers front office has allowed him to unwillingly be their mouthpiece. 

The Lakers are a young core that have spent most of their young lives watching Lebron James dominate the league.  They strived to be Lebron, they played him on video games, wore his jersey, pretended to be him when playing pickup games in the park.  When you get the once in a lifetime chance to be on his team you hope that it is everything you dreamed.  Instead you are told you are not good enough and openly disrespected.  While he is the one that takes the criticism in the media they are the ones that the blamed is cast upon. 

Lebron and Luke Walton were never going to work.

Luke Walton was a hot commodity when he was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers.  The fill in for Steve Kerr for a handful of games in 2015 impressing may around the league leading the Warriors to a historic 39-4 start.  Walton had a team that was built around multiple players that were willing to work hard as a unite.  All they needed was a string leader to set the course and they would execute to the highest level. 

Lebron James is not the type of player that wants to be lead.  He is the type of player that wants you to fall in line, that is the same with his coach.  To many times we have seen Lebron run a coach out of town.  David Blatt made it to the finals and was fired the next year because of Lebron. It’s his way or the highway.  Luke Walton is young enough and bold enough to step up to Lebron, which is not a good thing for his career.

Lebron is more worried about the summer then the team.

I love the set-up of the All-Star game over the last two years.  This year especially showed why it can be very interesting.  If you checked the roster of team Lebron it featured Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  There is no coincidence that the core of his roster was comprised of potential running mates for next season.  Lebron knows that his team his not good enough to beat the Warriors right now so why should he give max effort, he can just wait until the summer so that the excuse can be that he needs help.  Lebron always needs help.  If Lebron loses it’s because the players around were not good enough. 

Telling the world “playoff” Lebron is kicking hasn’t seemed to help his effort on the defensive end.  What about “playoff” Lakers?  Shouldn’t that be what he is focused on.  The King is the greatest player of my generation.  I was never able to watch Jordan in his prime while I was old enough to appreciate it, so sadly I am stuck with Lebron, a selfish player that thinks about excuses rather than taking ownership.  It’s cool though this summer the Lakers will probably sign someone to play alongside him and become the new scape goat.

NBA DFS 2.26.19

PG: Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics ($8,800)

Kyrie was able to torch the Raptors in their last matchup.  With the obvious popularity of Russell Westbrook tonight going different with a hungry Kyrie can set you aside from the pack.

SG: Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder ($4,300)

In a 3 game slate someone has to standout.  Schroder at a low cost in a high total game can bring major upside.

SF: Gordan Hayward, Boston Celtics ($4,300)

Before his injury Gordan Hayward had three straight games of over 30 DK points.  If he is fully healthy he can be a tough matchup for the Raptors second unit.

PF: Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic ($6,400)

This isn’t an ideal spot for Gordon against a slower paced Knicks team but if the choice is between him or Jonathon Isaac the choice has to be the upside of Gordon

C: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets ($10,000)

Jokic like Westbrook is always a smart start no matter what.

G: DJ Augustin, Orlando Magic ($4,100)

Backup point guard Isaiah Briscoe is out which means Augustin is the only point guard on the roster that has played any minutes.  Augustin and Terrance Ross have been going off lately either will be a solid start tonight.

F: Al Horford, Boston Celtics ($6,300)

Big game Horford will show up tonight.

UTL: Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder ($5,600)

This was a tough choice but with the bigs that Denver can bring at you Adams is a must play for the Thunder.  Tip ins and blocks will be huge tonight for Adams.

*also consider playing Jamal Murray in UTL spot.  Just sub Isaac for Gordon.

AL Central Preview

Cleveland Indians:

Key Additions: Jake Bauers, Carlos Santana, Jordan Luplow

The Cleveland Indians made some interesting moves in the offseason.  Unloading the power of Edwin Encarnacion and the often-injured Michael Brantley were moves made to change up the culture of the Indians locker room, while also making sure to free up money to sign franchise cornerstones Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor for the long term.

Their open negotiations on moving starting pitchers was surprising to say the least.  Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber were openly being discussed in the market, ultimately the Indians decided to hold on to their top two rotation pieces. Making them the favorites for the 2019 season. 

The Indians still have the best rotation in the division.  Brad Hand will take over the closing duties for another departing star Cody Allen, overall the bullpen is still solid.  The biggest worry I have for the Indians would be their depth in the outfield.  They have great speed but no real established major league stars.  The projected starters are currently Jake Bauers, Leonys Martin, and Tyler Naquin.  The Indians will be putting a lot of pressure on their stars in a lineup that is does not have the depth is has had in past years.

Minnesota Twins:

Key Additions: Marwin Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, CJ Cron, Jonathon Schoop

The Twins have quietly become the most improved team in this division and its not even close.  A team that ranked 23rd in the league in homers last year added some serious pop to their lineup.  Nelson Cruz and CJ Cron immediately give them two players that can hit over 30 homers backing up Eddie Rosario and hopefully a resurgent Miguel Sano. Fellow additions veterans Jonathon Schoop and super utility man Marwin Gonzalez gives the Twins some serious depth on the infield. 

Offensively there is a lot to like about Minnesota going into 2019.  To overcome the Indians though they will need more production at the very top of the order.  A healthy Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton are the best bets to take over the lead off role.  If Minnesota can put people on base consistently they could be looking at a top ten offensive club.

The biggest questions will be the starting pitching behind stud Jose Berrios.  Minnesota fans will hope to see Michael Pineida take the mound during the season fresh off his Tommy John surgery.  The former Yankee and Mariner has shown glimpses of what could be before his injury, if he is able to step in and help solidify a rotation with a lot of promise this team will not only take of the central but potentially be a contender in the American League.

Detroit Tigers

Key Additions: Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison

Can someone please make a deal for Nicolas Castellanos??? The Detroit Tigers are not ready to contend, and this guy is too good of a hitter to waste his prime years in Detroit in what is a forever rebuild.  The Tigers have some players that are going to be fun to watch, Jeimer Canderlario, Niko Goodrum and Christian Stewart will all get the opportunity to show the organization what they have this season but that shouldn’t make a huge difference in their overall record.

With a core of veterans like Miguel Cabrera, Jordan Zimmerman and the newly signed Josh Harrison the tigers will be competitive early in the season but it’s time for them to fully commit to their rebuild.  They need to move on from all of their older players and help build their farm system that currently ranks in the middle of the pack.  If the Tigers are smart they will also move their lone pitching star Michael Fulmer while he still has solid value.

Kansas City Royals:

Key Additions: Brad Boxberger, Terrance Gore, Billy Hamilton

The 2019 Kansas City Royals are going to be fun to watch.  An adrenaline rush of energy from almost every spot in the lineup.  With the addition of Billy Hamilton to go along with Whit Merrifield, Alberto Mondesi and Terrance Gore the Royals are going to be tough for opposing pitchers and catchers. 

The Royals have begun the rebuild of their farm system bringing themselves from worst in the league to 27th ranked.  While not a huge upgrade moving up four spots in farm system rankings in just one year is very impressive.  The Royals don’t have much pitching depth in the rotation or bullpen but their great defense and unique offense should help them pull out victories in 2019.

Chicago White Sox:

Key Additions: Kelvin Herrara, Yonder Alonso, Jon Jay, Ivan Nova

I want to say I feel bad for the White Sox for losing out on Manny Machado but when you sign players to help you bring in the guy you want to build around you put yourself in a tough situation. The Sox still have a great core of young players Yoan Moncada, Eloys Jimenez, Dylan Case and Michael Kopech.  They are still looking for the player to finalize the rebuild.

The 2019 White Sox will still be bottom dwellers but there is at least excitement in the works for Chicago’s second favorite team. The pickup of proven major league player like a Yonder Alonso, Ivan Nova and Jon Jay will give them potential trade chips when the trade deadline hits.  Chicago has its core but is still a few years away from being a true contender.

Projected standings:

  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Detroit Tigers

I think that the Twins have done enough to improve their offense to take the American League Central.  This is a two team race between the Twins and the Indians.  The battle for third place in the division will also be a battle for the worst record in the American League.