Where Things Stand: MLB Edition Part 3-2019 Finale
Written by Sean Fitzgerald on October 4, 2019
October baseball has started, but we’re just wrapping up 2019’s Where Things Stand: MLB Edition with a Part 3 finale!
While this season has been ripe with entertainment, joy, frustration and dingers galore, we finally have wrapped up the regular season.
If you’ve read the previous two editions, there will be plenty of humor, snark and analysis galore.
An X at the beginning of a team’s name indicates they are division winners. Wildcard teams are listed with a Z, and the final and previous edition’s records from the first two parts are listed below as well.
Without further ado, time to get started!
X-NY Yankees: 37-19 | Part 2: 68-39 | Part 3: 103-59
Z-Tampa Bay: 35-20 | Part 2: 62-48 | Part 3: 96-66
Boston: 29-28 | Part 2: 59-50 | Part 3: 84-78
Toronto: 21-36 | Part 2: 43-67 | Part 3: 67-95
Baltimore: 18-39 | Part 2: 36-71 | Part 3: 54-108
State of the AL East:
-The Yankees made the playoffs, oh joy! Infinite amounts of money and every player they find off the scrap heap turns into an all-star with the litany of injuries that hit this team all season long. It got so bad that there was an actual all-star team made from just injured Yankees players from this year.
The job they did in spite of the injuries is impressive, but I still hate the evil empire with a passion. I hope they choke this year. That will be of some solace to me after what happened to my Cleveland Indians in the 2017 ALDS.
-On the flip side, Tampa, congratulations, you’re back in the postseason! You overcame some injuries of your own, and the road wasn’t quite so easy compared to that of your big brothers further up north. And now that you’ve won the Wild Card Game over Oakland, please go knock the Astros in the teeth! It would be much appreciated!
-Boston, you are way too impatient. You fired Dave Dombrowski less than a year after a title, and the same fate befell Ben Cherrington after 2013. Are you and this city so disillusioned with reality that if Cora only wins 95 games next year and gets to the World Series but falls short that he will get the pink slip too? Yeah, good luck finding a better manager, and a baseball ops executive who can keep Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. Maybe if you pry Theo Epstein from the Cubs that might make things a little better.
-The same as with Arizona below, I don’t have much to write about with the Jays. However, hope has arrived in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. You may not be very far away from contention as long as they develop, and you get some quality pitching for the starting staff.
-Believe it or not, my criticism for the Orioles is not going to be as sharp as I thought. However, this collapse from just even being in the postseason a few years ago now still shocks me, but at least things can hopefully start to trend up instead of down. Hopefully, this was rock bottom for O’s fans, and they don’t have to suffer for several years like Seattle has.
X-Minnesota: 38-18 | Part 2: 66-41 | Part 3: 101-61
Cleveland: 28-29 | Part 2: 63-44 | Part 3: 93-69
CHI White Sox: 28-29 | Part 2: 46-59 | Part 3: 72-89
Kansas City: 19-38 | Part 2: 40-70 | Part 3: 59-103
Detroit: 22-32 | Part 2: 32-72 | Part 3: 47-114
State of the AL Central:
-Minnesota, You played better, you executed, you didn’t choke. Well done. I don’t know how far you will go, but you actually got over the hump for the first time in nearly a decade. Hopefully the former owners of this division have a response for next year.
-I didn’t want to write this, but I have to: I am upset as any fan would be of being eliminated and falling down this year from the perch of the AL Central throne, but let’s face it; Minnesota actually DID something rather than twiddling their thumbs.
I would call this Indians season disappointing, but not a disappointment, as this team faced more adversity under Terry Francona than it ever has. The roster was barely upgraded in the winter due to payroll constraints, jettisoning Edwin Encarnacion and Yan Gomes while letting Michael Brantley walk without even making an offer (that still makes me very upset). They did get back Carlos Santana though, so it made things more palatable.
Though it isn’t entirely management’s fault. Let’s run through the bad luck train of injuries, shall we?
-Francisco Lindor missing the first few weeks with an injury.
-Carlos Carrasco diagnosed with Leukemia.
-Corey Kluber on the injured list (IL) since May
-Mike Clevinger on the IL two separate times this year.
-Losing Tyler Naquin to an ACL tear, and then the death knell of Jose Ramirez going down in late August and losing Jason Kipnis too, who actually had a decent, albeit not great, season.
-Brad Hand going down with a tired arm.
The fact this team even won 93 games is a miracle. I could keep going on about what the Tribe should do to build a more competitive roster for 2020, but as I wrote this section, I thought of an article I could post. We’ll see what happens.
-Chicago has the pieces to take over the division. They have both pitching and hitting. They scare the living daylights out of me. If Cleveland wants to compete, they better be ready for a new challenger.
-Kansas City, I hope you get back to some degree of relevance soon. Your time was way too short with that World Series core. I won’t go into all the details here, but I do have more long term hope for you than I do of Chicago or Minnesota versus the short term ambitions.
-We’re not Detroit is what every Baltimore fan should be saying. This team didn’t just fall off a cliff, they nosedived straight into the bottom of a canyon, and I don’t know when they’ll return to relevance. They were the worst team in baseball this year.
Earlier in the decade, they were World Series contenders every year with a healthy and youthful Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello, Justin Upton, etc. It’s depressing to think that with all that talent you couldn’t pull through, and now you’re stuck like this for three to five more years.
X-Houston: 38-20 | Part 2: 69-40 | Part 3: 107-55
Z-Oakland: 29-28 | Part 2: 61-48 | Part 3: 97-65
LA Angels: 27-30 | Part 2: 56-54 | Part 3: 78-84
Texas: 28-27 | Part 2: 54-54 | Part 3: 72-90
Seattle: 25-35 | Part 2: 47-64 | Part 3: 68-94
State of the AL West:
-Shocker! Not really. My disdain for Houston has grown since they acquired Zack Greinke, although losing Gerritt Cole could be the end result. The tank job paid off handsomely and could see the team make a return to the World Series.
Maybe I’d like this team more now than I did two years ago if not for the fact their fans have become obnoxious snobs since they won their title in 2017 in my opinion. I hope they go down hard to the winner of the wildcard.
-Oakland, you had a very good season, but still no postseason luck! In most other years, you’d be the division winner. If you had broken your streak of division series loses this year, I would have been a happy man, as well as giving hope to a Matt Chapman extension. If I’m Billy Beane, I would throw a brinks truck worth of cash over to Chapman to lock him up.
-The Angels fired Brad Ausmus after one season and wasted another year of Mike Trout’s services. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE CORRECT THIS INJUSTICE!!! The best player in the game should not have only one postseason trip and zero playoff wins to his name. Get it together Moreno or sell the team!!!
-Texas, I really hope that you can get back to relevance again. For some reason, when you’re not relevant, it doesn’t seem like the world is normal. Hopefully you can find a way to wrestle a wildcard away in the next year or two.
-Seattle, the days of 13-2 and first place are a far-off memory. The good news is they have some payroll space after dumping Robinson Cano’s contract. An added bonus is the prospects you got back in the deal are actually exciting and could make an impact in Outfielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn.
On a slightly somber note, this was probably the last year Felix Hernandez pitches in an M’s uniform. Long hail King Felix!
On that note, let’s move on to the National League, shall we?
X-Atlanta: 30-27 | Part 2: 64-45 | Part 3: 97-65
Z-Washington: 24-33 | Part 2: 57-51 | Part 3: 93-69
NY Mets: 28-29 | Part 2: 52-55 | Part 3: 86-76
Philadelphia: 33-24 | Part 2: 56-51 | Part 3: 81-81
Miami: 19-36 | Part 2: 41-65 | Part 3: 57-105
State of the NL East:
-Atlanta, congratulations!! You signed Dallas Keuchel in June, you have blossoming young stars and a few true megastars and now have reached the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since the 2012 and 2013 seasons!!
I wasn’t sure how seriously I should take you coming into the year, but you deserve some kudos here, especially after locking up Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr., among others. Just as an observer, upgrade the bullpen this winter and retain Keuchel! If you do that, I can definitively say you will be a bigger threat to the Dodgers than just about anyone else in the National League.
-Nationals, thank you for not making me look dumb by picking you for a playoff spot last spring. The Nats overcame a lot to get here, and this team should scare the Dodgers in the NLDS. Going against Max Scherzer, Stephen Strausburg and Patrick Corbin three games in a row is one thing. Having a lineup featuring the soon-to-be-handsomely paid Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, wunderkind Juan Soto, a resurgent Howie Kendrick, Yan Gomes and a still-developing Victor Robles is another thing.
The fact that I have to say ‘still developing’ for Robles should be a scary thought for opposing pitchers. The defense is there. Once the bat catches up, he’ll be a nightly treat!
Now if only your bullpen could be better. Then this team could really make more noise in October.
-The fact I’m not separating the Mets and listing them after the Marlins means they’ve rectified some wrongs. Sure, trading for Robinson Cano was a horrible move but give Edwin Diaz another year, and I think you’ll see him bounce back. You made a good move in dealing for Marcus Stroman, and you still have him, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom in your rotation at least for next season.
The one thing I will criticize; the bullpen. Seth Lugo is the only reason it wasn’t even worse. Without Lugo, the stats for that bullpen would be too horrifying to display here.
-I know Phillies fans aren’t happy after spending all of that ‘stupid money’ on Bryce Harper and co. this winter. Heck, most of the relievers you signed went on the IL for the majority, if not the whole year, and Rhys Hoskins did not bounce back when he needed to. Aaron Nola is still an ace though, and there are pieces to build around here. But hey, you finished .500 for the first time since 2012!! Baby steps are sometimes needed before taking a giant leap.
-Nothing good to write home about the Marlins, but I want any fish fans to comment below on this team. I’m actually glad Derek Jeter is exercising some patience and giving Don Mattingly another year as the skipper. Honestly, I believe when given the right pieces, he can get the team to the playoffs. I’m pulling for them down the road to finally emerge from this quagmire of futility.
X-St. Louis: 28-28 | Part 2: 57-50 | Part 3: 91-71
Z-Milwaukee: 32-26 | Part 2: 57-52 | Part 3: 89-73
CHI Cubs: 31-24 | Part 2: 57-50 | Part 3: 84-78
Cincinnati: 27-30 | Part 2: 50-56 | Part 3: 75-87
Pittsburgh: 28-28 | Part 2: 47-61 | Part 3: 69-93
State of the NL Central:
-St. Louis is not a boring club Kris Bryant; they are the division champs, and they shoved your words right back down your throat! I know I picked the Cardinals as a wildcard, but I am very impressed that the midwestern version of the evil empire has risen to prominence again. Jack Flaherty is a monster, and this team is one worth watching to see how far they will go.
-Milwaukee, you made it back, and then proceeded to botch it! On a routine play, the ball skirting under the glove of an outfielder is a horrifying sight, but it was just one more piece of bad luck from this season. Of course, it stings having lost Christian Yelich early, but you still have the makings to be a contender for at least the next two to three years, and you made the wildcard without Yelich and with a pitching staff that came together at just the right time. I’m proud of you Brewers!
-Oh look, It’s a team I finally get to rip to shreds!! And it’s the Cubs!! Oh boy, you guys blew it! The blame shouldn’t have been all on Maddon, but on your unwillingness to spend and upgrade your flaws. Said flaws could not all be fixed by Maddon alone. Theo Epstein, if I were you, I’d duck and run to Boston in the night before things go further south.
In reality, this team imploded with several all-stars, an MVP in Kris Bryant and players that should have made this team a 95 plus game-winner in my eyes. You failed, and I will enjoy watching you wallow with us Cleveland fans in misery for what we both did wrong this year. However, between you and the Tribe, I’d have to say you messed up much worse, especially with the money at your disposal in a big market! You have no excuses for your failures this time.
– If I’m a Reds fan, I’m optimistic. You have players like Nick Senzel who have finally debuted, Eugenio Suarez is a superstar, and there can still be more positives found here. You have Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo fronting your rotation next year, and this team has some money that can get them a few good, but not great, pieces to supplement the roster.
This was in no way, in any shape or form, that my two uncles from one side of the family paid me off to say nice things about the Reds.
-Pittsburgh… I’m not even going into the Felipe Vazquez situation. All you need to know is that like Vazquez, this is a club with some talent but serious clubhouse issues.
Clint Hurdle did not survive this time and got booted out the door. I believe to some extent this sums up your year perfectly:
X-LA Dodgers: 39-19 | Part 2: 71-39 | Part 3: 106-56
Arizona: 28-30 | Part 2: 54-55 | Part 3: 85-77
San Francisco: 22-34 | Part 2: 55-53 | Part 3: 77-85
Colorado: 29-27 | Part 2: 50-59 | Part 3: 71-91
San Diego: 30-27 | Part 2: 50-57 | Part 3: 70-92
State of the NL West:
-The Dodgers won their seventh division crown in a row and will choke again in the World Series in my opinion. Congratulations! You must be so proud right now LA!
Nah, I’m just messing with you. The Dodgers haven’t been big spenders really in terms of free-agent contracts since Andrew Friedman took over. Most of the big money deals have gone toward retaining key players such as Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, et al. But what impresses me is the development of the younger pieces on this roster.
Cody Bellinger rocks and is one of my top three favorites for NL MVP. Max Muncy, while not particularly young, was found off the scrap heap. Then there are young guys brought through the system like Corey Seager, an All-Star already, and two very impressive prospects in pitcher Dustin May and infielder Gavin Lux.
Lux wasn’t even in the original plans to be up in September, but it speaks to how well this organization can develop its own talent. If it isn’t the Astros or Braves who win it all this year, then the Dodgers are my pick to finally get the crown.
-With Arizona, I didn’t really know what to write about them. They had some decent teams in the past few years, but they recently traded Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis and Zack Grienke to Houston (the salt mine from July coming from me is still running). I knew that the Astros got away with robbery here by securing Grienke as part of a three-headed monster, but he could have stayed in the desert if not for his contract weighing so heavily on the books. For now, Arizona is walking a fine line between contention and rebuilding.
-Bruce Bochy is gone. Maybe Madison Bumgarner too. I know they wanted one more run when they bought at the deadline, and they just couldn’t do it. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt will be around sure, but this season may be the last for third baseman Pablo Sandoval, aka, the Kung Fu Panda. I have nostalgic feelings for their earlier 2010 teams right now, and I can’t explain why. Maybe it was because they beat up on the former bullies of the AL Central in Detroit?
-I was hoping for better from you Rockies, but your pitching fell apart, and your bullpen investments the last few winters are blowing up. I hailed you for resigning Nolan Arenado, but it’s now plausible he could be moved for prospects, depth and cash relief. When the owner says there is a lack of payroll flexibility going into next year for the team, you know someone is on their way out the door, and it could be the man they signed to an extension this spring. I don’t want to see Arenado go, but that is more reason why baseball needs an official salary cap.
-The Padres disappointed YET AGAIN and are now 13 years without a postseason appearance. The price? Andy Green got the ax, and A.J. Preller is on the proverbial hot seat if this team doesn’t pull it together next year. You have Manny Machado and Fernado Tatis Jr. locking down the left side of the infield, some good outfielders in Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe, among others. However, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers have not played up to their contracts and Francisco Mejia is still learning.
At least they have a great young ace in Chris Paddack, and depending on how frustrated Ron Fowler is based on his recent comments made at the end of the season, he may open up the checkbook again and try to finally get the missing link to a title. That link: I have no clue as to who it could be. I am really tempted to pick them as a wildcard for next year, but I need a few months to see what they do.
If you want some more stuff to hold you over until 2020’s Part 1 Edition, Read my Where Things Stand: NFL Editions. The first one is already out! You can also read my other articles by clicking on my name at the top of the page to go to my archive, especially all of my other baseball content!! Until next time!!
Sean Fitzgerald is a member of the Black Squirrel Radio Sports Department and a Sports Coordinator. He co-hosts Past the Mic with Fitz & Enzo Thursdays from Noon-2 p.m. Follow him on Twitter @fitzonsportsbsr for insights and occasional livestreams.