2019 MLB predictions preview: AL West

A division that can easily have three teams competing for playoff spots at the end of the year, the AL West is full of intriguing story lines and tremendous talent to watch out for in 2019. From a perennial winner with the Astros, everyone’s favorite underdog in the Athletics, and a team that everyone is waiting for to finally hit their stride and prove to everyone they are a top team in the Angels, the AL West has the potential to be one of the most competitive divisions in the AL. Check out my breakdown and predictions on each team in the AL West for the 2019 season.

Astros at Orioles 9/29/18” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Houston Astros

Record: 103-59

Postseason Result: Lost in ALCS

Offseason Acquisitions: OF Michael Bradley, SP Wade Miley, IF Aledmys Diaz

Offseason Departures: SP Dallas Keuchel, C Evan Gattis, C Martin Maldanado, RP Charlie Sipp

 

2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

There is no doubt the Astros have one of the more complete rosters in all of the AL. 2B Altuve, OF Springer, 1B Bergman, SS Correra, SP Verlander and SP Cole are considered top talent at their respective positions in the league. With talent and veteran leadership, going into last year’s postseason, everyone thought the Red Sox were the team that would have to find a way to get passed the Astros, not the other way around. Houston was in the top five of the AL when it came to batting, pitching and in-fielding (Lead the AL in both Pitching and in-fielding), and it was evident through the ALDS. But they were just unable to keep it consistent enough to get past Boston.

With most pieces still intact from last year’s team and key additions like OF Michael Bradley, SP Wade Miley, and Utility Infielder Aledmys Diaz to add some depth, Houston is poised to make yet another run at a championship.

You look up and down their roster and you know they are going to score runs in a big way. Offense is not the worry for the Astros heading into the 2019 season. Keuchel is gone and now they are scrambling to see if they can find his replacement in the rotation. Though he had an off year, Keuchel can still hurl the ball at an elite level and will be missed by Houston. Look for Wade Miley to really step up along with Collin McHugh. If the Astros can keep that same consistency they had last year, then I do not see how getting back to at least the ALCS is an issue.

Heading into the 2019 season, for me, the biggest question is, can Houston get by Boston? Unless something catastrophic happens or another team comes out of nowhere, the road to the World Series is going through one of those two cities.

Prediction: 101-61, 1st in the West; World Series Champions.

 

2. Oakland Athletics

Record: 97-65 2nd in West

Postseason Result: Lost in Wildcard Round

Offseason Acquisitions: OF Robbie Grossman, INF Jurcikson Profar

Offseason Departures: 2B Jed Lowrie

 

2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

If baseball had a Cinderella team last year, then the Oakland A’s were wearing the crystal slippers. Coming of out of nowhere, the Athletics made an impressive run sliding into the wild card, only to lose to the Yankees.

All bets are showing that Oakland is ready to take a major step back, but I am here to say they are taking a big step forward. They have the bats to do so, and I think just enough pitching to get the job done. The likes of Khris Davis, Matt Chapman and Matt Olsen became some of the most unexpected big names in the Major Leagues last year. I am willing to bet they are going to follow it up with a big 2019 season. Oakland is a gritty team that knows how to get the job done no matter what it takes. When you look at the kind of season they had in 2018, you’d chalk it up to a fluke and expect a major downward slide in 2019. I just feel like they are something special over their in the bay area and will pick up where the left off.

The biggest question is, do they have the arms to continue their recent success? Oakland used an astonishing 15 starters last year. Injuries and inconsistent performance led to that and is still a huge question mark in 2019. I know it may sound cliche, but their success hurling the ball will be the difference from second in the AL West to fourth in the AL West. Can the likes of Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson withstand the pressure and put up consistent numbers?

Prediction: 99-63, Loses in the ALDS. I feel like they will end up just the same way last year, only because they cannot overthrow the Astros. This time it will not be as unexpected, and I think they will have a strong hold on that first wild card spot all year long.

 

3. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 80-82

Postseason Result: Missed Playoffs

Offseason Acquisitions: SP Matt Harvey, SP Trevor Cahill, 1B Justin Bour, INF Tommy La Stella

Offseason Departures: RHP Blake Parker, RHP Matt Shoemaker, RHP Alex Meyer

 

2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

The Washington Nationals of the AL. The Angles always seem to have good talent on the roster, but never are able to get the best out of them. New skipper Brad Ausmus will try to fix that and build a winning culture around a team that has not seen the playoffs now for five years. Good news is that the Angels took a major step in the right direction with the news that superstar Mike Trout signed on for the next 12 years, paying him a MLB record 430 million dollars over that span. Knowing now that Mike Trout is going no where may attract some talent to Los Angeles to bolster an already talented roster. 

The skill set of Trout still was not enough to keep the Angels from finishing fourth in the West and couldn’t finish .500 in 2018. Los Angeles did have some bright spots they can build off of from last season. Though pitching was very inconsistent last year, their defense played well when called upon. The league also knows that going into 2019, the Angels can change the course of a game with one swing of the bat. A solid hitting team with a lineup with names like Trout, Calhoun, Upton, Pujos, Bour and Luccroy for other teams to navigate through, not to mention Shobei Ohtani, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but no doubt will make a big difference in the batting order when he returns. The key to 2019 is to be more consistent when it comes to driving home runs, especially if their pitching needs to support.

Pitching though will be the question mark for the Angels, and if successful, will be the thing that will make them competitive with the Astros or Mariners. Finishing in the middle of the pack last year, the Angels need to see better results from Andrew Heaney(9-10, 4.15 ERA), Tyler Skaggs(8-10, 4.02 ERA) and Jaime Barria (10-9, 3.41 ERA). Noticing a need for talent in their starting rotation, the Angels did bring over Matt Harvey (7-9, 4.94 ERA) to see if he can rekindle past success with the Mets and Trevor Cahill (7-4, 3.76 ERA), who had a average season last year with the Phillies.

The big question for me heading into 2019 is, can they turn this talented roster in a winning roster? The Angles must put up runs consistently in order for that to happen and for me that will fall squarely on the performance and leadership of both Trout and manager Brad Ausmus. For me I cannot trust their inconsistencies in order to back them up this season because I truly think the Athletics are no fluke, but if it all clicks it wouldn’t surprise me if we hear they are making a run at the Astros towards the end of the season. 

Prediction: 90-72, misses playoffs.

 

4. Seattle Mariners

Record: 89-73

Postseason Result: Missed Playoffs

Offseason Acquisitions: SP Yusel Kikuchi, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, C Omar Narvaez, P Anthony Swarzak, OF Jay Bruce, OF Domingo Santiago, LHP Zac Rosscup

Offseason Departures: RHP Casey Lawerence, RHP Alex Colome, 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz, OF Ben Gamel, RHP Noah Zavalos

 

2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

The Mariners saw a ton of ups and downs in the 2018 season. In response to that, the Mariners have been wheeling and dealing this offseason, unloading some big names and productive players to totally rebuild the team.

Newcomers to the west coast like Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion and Yusel Kikcuhi are coming in with extremely high expectations. SP Kikcuhi has never pitched an inning in America, but was a star in Japan. Expect him to start opening day for Seattle and him to carry some very lofty expectations from Mariner fans all over the country. Seattle’s bats cooled off down the stretch last season. To prevent that happening this year, Seattle’s front office brought in OF Jay Bruce, who will most likely be the teams DH and 1B Edwin Encarnacion in hopes to prevent that in 2019.

Combine them with 3B Kyle Seager, who is looking for redemption after a injury plagued 2018, and the Mariners have a formidable lineup that could do some damage. Pitching though will be the biggest concern, specifically the relievers. Seattle made wholesale changes to their bullpen, which was one of the better bullpens in the AL last year.

The biggest question heading into the 2019 season for me is, can Seattle make a clear rebuilding season and turn it into a winning one? They have been turning over names left and right in hopes to build something that works. The Robinson Cano experiment didn’t really pan out the way they wanted it, and I think after last year’s failure to yet again make a post-season had something to do with them dealing Cano away.

Prediction: 78-84, misses playoffs 

 

5. Texas Rangers

Record: 67-95

Postseason Result: Missed playoffs

Offseason Acquisitions: SP Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shaun Kelly, Hunter Pence,

Offseason Departures: C Robinson Chirinos, LHP Matt Moore, 3B Adrian Beltre, INF Jurickson Profar, RHP Rollie Lacey

 

2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

Hard to find anything that went right last year for the Texas Rangers. Just a couple of years ago, the Rangers were a formidable foe in the West and now have found themselves in the basement of the division with a long way to go to the top.

With pitching that neared dead last in the Majors last year, Texas made moves, but ultimately put a bandaid on the issue.. Though bringing in four starters this past off season, with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor holding solid spots right now in the rotation, the Rangers brought in a ton of players, but on what looks like one, maybe two year deals. Just enough to get them through the 2019 season.. I honestly think this rotation will be a question mark for the Rangers all season.

Although the Rangers hold some talent in this department, they were unable to really get it on track. LF, Shin Soo-Choo, 2B Rougned Odor, SS Elvis Andrus RF Nomar Mazara, and OF Joey Gallo can make up a fearsome lineup and has a ton of potential. But can they gel together as a team and be productive as a team? I think the Rangers will see some major improvement in this department in 2019.

The biggest question for me in 2019 is, can the Rangers just get better? I honestly do not see them making a run like the Athletics did last season, but they are talented enough with the bats to be better than what they saw in 2018. Not a whole lot better, but something to build on for the next couple of years.

Prediction: 70-92, fifth in AL West, misses playoffs

2019 MLB predictions preview: Introduction

With less than two weeks until the 2019 MLB season begins, the Fourth Quarter Sports team is going to be analyzing each division. In addition to the divisions, we’ll take a look at award and playoff predictions.

Mike Trout” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A new article will be released each day until the season begins. Certainly, the offseason hasn’t been as interesting as the NFL offseason has been so far, but the contracts that have been signed were historic. Several big name players are on different teams and will make a huge impact for them throughout the upcoming season.

Boston will be trying to be the first to win back to back World Series titles since the Yankees in 1999 and 2000. Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Manny Machado need to prove they are worth all the money they are getting. We’ll get into those topics with more detail as we go along.

The first article will be on the AL West division, mainly because the Mariners and A’s open their season this week in Japan. Here’s the official schedule.

March 20th – AL West

March 21st – NL Central

March 22nd – AL Central

March 23rd – NL East

March 24th – NL West

March 25th – AL East

March 26th – Awards

March 27th – Playoffs

Stay tuned with us through our series of predictions to see who we’ve got going all the way!

AL West Mount Rushmore

Jose Altuve” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Houston Astros

  • Craig Biggio, 2B, C, OF, 1988-2007
  • Jeff Bagwell, 1B, 1991-2005
  • Jose Altuve, 2B, 2011-Present
  • Nolan Ryan, P, 1980-1988

When you think of the Houston Astros, one of the first names to come to mind is Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio. Biggio spent his entire 20-year career with the Astros and was almost like utility man for them. Biggio won five Silver Sluggers, four Gold Glove awards and managed to tally seven All-Star nods. He also leads the franchise in hits (3,060), doubles (668), runs scored (1844) and games played (2850).

If Biggio doesn’t lead the franchise in something, then there’s a good chance Jeff Bagwell does. Bagwell spent his entire 15-year career with the Astros. He won the 1991 Rookie of the Year award and the 1994 NL MVP award. He also tallied four All-Star selections and three Silver Slugger awards. Bagwell leads the Astros in Home Runs (449), Walks (1401) and RBIs (1529).

Jose Altuve has only been in the league eight years, but what an impact he’s made since entering. Altuve is already a 6x All-Star, 5x Silver Slugger, 2x ML PoY, a Gold Glove winner and has won three batting titles. To make his Astros legacy even better, he won the 2017 American League MVP and won the World Series that year. He led the league in hits from 2014-2017 and has made five straight All-Star teams. It may be to early to predict this, but it certainly looks like Altuve is on his way to Cooperstown.

Nine years in Houston, the most time spent with his team out of his 27-year career. Nolan Ryan was one of, if not the most, dominate pitchers of all-time, and some of his best years came while in Houston. Ryan leads the franchise in strikeouts and made two All-Star teams while with the team.

 

Rickey Henderson-8.jpg” by Larry Neuberger is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Oakland Athletics

  • Rickey Henderson, LF, 1979-1984, 1989-1993, 1994-1995, 1998
  • Reggie Jackson, RF, 1967-1975, 1987
  • Catfish Hunter, P, 1965-1974
  • Dennis Eckersley, P, 1987-1995

Rickey Henderson is without question the greatest position player in A’s history and the greatest base stealer in the history of the game. Henderson tallied an astonishing 1,406 stolen bases in his career. 876 of them came while wearing an Athletics jersey.

Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, was perhaps the most key part of the Athletics’ two world series in the 1970’s. His only MVP came with the Athletics during the 1973 season. Jackson also managed to rack up six All-Star selections with the franchise.

Catfish Hunter was the key pitcher that led the 1970’s Athletics to three world series titles. He also managed to win the Cy Young award in 1974, which was his last year with the team. Hunter leads the franchise in Wins (161), Strikeouts (1,520) and innings pitched (2,456.1).

It’s no question that Dennis Eckersley’s career was saved by becoming a reliever in Oakland. In 1992 he won the Cy Young award and MVP award after finishing the season with 51 saves. Eckersley became one of the most feared relivers in MLB history.

 

Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Seattle Mariners

  • Ken Griffey Jr, CF, 1989-1998, 2009-2010
  • Randy Johnson, P, 1989-1998
  • Ichiro Suzuki, RF, 2001-2012, 2018-Present
  • Edgar Martinez, DH, 3B, 1987-2004

The kid, Ken Griffey Jr., is one of the greatest baseball players to ever step on the diamond in the games storied history. Griffey played 13 years in Seattle, making the All-Star team 11 times throughout his tenure. Is there really anything more to say about Griffey? He’s the greatest player in Seattle Mariners history and has the second highest Hall of Fame voting in history behind only Mariano Rivera.

Randy Johnson is one of the most dominate pitchers in the history of the game. At 6’10” 225 lb’s, he was feared by many hitters every time he stepped on the mound. He made five All-Star teams and won the 1995 Cy young award. Johnson had a .637-win percentage while on the Mariners and will go down as probably their best pitcher in the franchise’s history.

Ichiro Suzuki could be considered the greatest hitter the game of baseball has ever seen. In 2001 he won the Rookie of the Year award and the MVP award. Seven times he led the league in hits and has a career .322 batting average with the Mariners. Suzuki is a surely on his way to Cooperstown whenever he decides to retire.

After ten years on the HoF ballot, Edgar Martinez is finally on his way to Cooperstown. You could say he is the first player to ever get inducted as a full time DH. Although he did play third base early on, he is more known for being a DH. In 18 seasons with the Mariners, Martinez was a 7x All-Star, a 5x Silver Slugger winner and won two batting titles. Martinez has certainly earned his spot on this list and in the Hall of Fame.

 

Mike Trout” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Los Angeles Angels

  • Nolan Ryan, P, 1972-1979
  • Garrett Anderson, LF, 1994-2008
  • Tim Salmon, RF, 1992-2004, 2006
  • Mike Trout, CF, 2011-Present

Nolan Ryan is not often associated with the Angels franchise when largely talking about his career, but the fact is that he is the best pitcher in the franchise’s history by a very big margin. He’s top five in wins, ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched, shutouts and complete games.

Garrett Anderson makes this list because of just how good a hitter he was throughout his 15 years with the organization. He recorded 2,368 and managed a .293 batting average. He also was a three-time all-star with the team and was a big part of the Angels 2002 World Series title.

Tim Salmon spent his entire 14-year career with the Angels. He still leads the franchise in home runs (299) and walks (970).

Mike Trout has only been in the league eight years, but has already cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players in Angels franchise history. Trout won the 2011 Rookie of the Year award, has made seven straight All-Star games and has won two MVP awards in his short career. Trout is surly on his way to Cooperstown as well, assuming he stays healthy. Being that he is only 27 years old, he seems to have a long career left and has given this franchise something to cheer about.

 

Adrian Beltre Texas Rangers” by Mike LaChance is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Texas Rangers

  • Ivan Rodriguez, C, 1991-2002, 2009
  • Juan Gonzalez, OF, 1989-1999, 2002-2003
  • Adrian Beltre, 3B, 2011-2018
  • Nolan Ryan, P, 1989-1993

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is the only positional player the Rangers have in the Hall of Fame (until Beltre enters). While it’s a tough race with Adrian Beltre, you can argue those two are two of the most popular players in the team’s history. Pudge played 13 seasons with the Rangers and made the All-Star team 10 straight years. He also won his lone MVP award while on the Rangers during the 1999 season.

Perhaps one of the most overshadowed players in MLB history, Juan Gonzalez has certainly earned himself a spot on this Mount Rushmore. Gonzalez spent 13 years with the franchise and is the only player to ever win two MVP awards while with the Rangers (1996, 1998). He still leads the franchise in home runs with 372 as a member of the Rangers.

After having just retired in 2018, you can be sure that once Adrian Beltre becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame, you will see him in Cooperstown at some point. Beltre will become only the second position player in Rangers history, alongside Ivan Rodriguez (some elite company). While on the Rangers, Beltre solidified himself as of the best defensive players at one of the hardest positions in baseball, third base. Beltre spent eight years with the team and had all four of his All-Star appearances with them. Beltre is also a 5x Gold Glove winner and a 4x Silver Slugger winner. He is without question one of the greatest players to wear a Rangers uniform.

He only spent five years with the team, but Nolan Ryan went into the Hall of Fame with a Rangers hat on. He’s one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history, so it’s hard to leave him off this Mount Rushmore. It helps that Ryan has been a huge part of the Rangers’ front office for some time now. He’s such an influential figure in their franchise.

The Fade Away: Witnessing the Sad, Slow Decline of Albert Pujols

17609367198_0f71db343d_o.jpg
Albert Pujols” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Cullen Jekel

Back on July 15, 2005, I attended my last St. Louis Cardinals game at the old Busch Stadium (or, if you remember Sportsman Park, Busch II).

The Cardinals, who in the previous year won the pennant for the first time in manager Tony La Russa‘s tenure, were battling the Houston Astros. Andy Pettitte, a future Hall of Famer, was on the mound for Houston against the Cardinals’ Mark Mulder.

This battle of southpaws went into the ninth inning with the Cardinals up 2-1. Closer Jason Isringhausen–like La Russa and Mulder, an ex-Athletic–promptly blew the save. On to extra innings.

And then for the first time in my life, I witnessed what is one of the most exciting plays in baseball: the walk-off home run.

In the 12th inning, suddenly down 3-2, against Chad Harville (I’ll forgive you if you don’t remember him), Cardinals 1B and resident superstar Albert Pujols came to bat with David Eckstein on first. Pujols launched a high fly ball to deep left-center. Houston’s left fielder, Orlando Palmeiro, and center fielder, Willy Taveras, converged on it. Taveras jumped, seemed to have snagged…

but came down empty.

Ball game. Cardinals win, 4-3.

***

Flash-forward a bit over four years. On August 28, 2009, I’m at the new Busch Stadium with my girlfriend, my father, my sister, and her husband.

Since that July 2005 game, the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, and Pujols has added to his lore. The man appears unstoppable (hence his nickname, The Machine), and is in the midst of his third MVP-year of his career, including his second straight.

Against the Washington Nationals that night, the Cardinals saved a solid outing by SP John Smoltz by tying the game at 2 apiece with a Khalil Greene solo home run in the 8th inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Pujols led off the inning against Nationals reliever Jason Bergmann.

And absolutely destroyed a pitch to left. Unlike in 2005, there was no doubt about this one.

Ball game. Cardinals win, 3-2.

***

Albert Pujols played eleven seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting 10 walk-off home runs, including the two described above. He won three Most Valuable Player Awards, made nine All-Star teams, won two Gold Gloves, won three pennants, and won two World Series championships.

The second of those World Series championships came in 2011 when the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games. After the series, La Russa announced his retirement.

And then Pujols left, signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

***

On August 29, 2018, the Angels announced that Pujols would miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his left leg. He still has three years left on his contact with the Angels, with $28 million due in 2019, $29 million in 2020, and $30 million in 2021, when Pujols will be 41 years old.

To say things have not gone according to plan since he joined the Angels would be an understatement. He’s made the All-Star team just once, and despite playing alongside the game’s best player, Mike Trout, has reached the playoffs just once. That was in 2014, when the Angels had the best record in baseball. They were promptly swept in the divisional round by the Kansas City Royals.

After slashing .328/.420/.617 for eleven years in St. Louis, he’s slashed a mere .260/.315/.453 with L.A.

Pujols missing the rest of the year is no big blow to the Angels. While not mathematically eliminated, they are well out of contention yet again, below .500 once more. Pujols finishes 2018 slashing .245/.289/.411 with 19 home runs and 64 runs batted in. For only the second time in his career (the first being 2013, his second year in L.A.), he’ll finish with below 500 plate appearances.

While undoubtedly a first-ballot, should-be-unanimous future Hall-of-Famer, he’s gone from superstar to below-average player. The Angels may be better off making him ride the pine.

***

That’s what happens when athletes age. It’s unnerving and uncomfortable to watch. Instead of gracefully exiting, they fade out–usually with a different team, usually not on their own terms.

With superstars/future Hall of Famers, it’s worse, because teams will keep giving these guys chances. This happens in all sports. It’s painful to watch a center fielder who can no longer field, a running back who lacks quickness, a quarterback with flailing arm strength or accuracy, or a basketball player with diminished skill.

Think of these guys:

Those guys had little-to-nothing left to give, but because of their statute, they didn’t go quietly in the night. Rather they went gradually, cruelly fading before fans’ eyes as they limped off into the sunset.

Heroes no more.

***

For me, Albert Pujols’ slow fade away out of greatness and into retirement hits closer to home than that of Smith, Mays, Unitas, or Shaq.

I didn’t grow up a Dallas Cowboys fan, so while seeing Smith suiting up for Arizona was shocking, it didn’t sadden me. Same goes with The Big Aristotle–rather a vagabond if you think about it–playing out his days with the Celtics.

Seeing pictures of The Say-Hey Kid worn down with the Mets is jolting, but he last played in 1973, well before I was born. Same with Unitas under center with the Chargers–that also took place in 1973.

With Pujols, it’s different, closer to home. He played for my favorite team. He debuted while I was in middle school. I watched him during my high school years, then college years, then post-graduate years, into adulthood.

It is saddening to watch old highlights of him with the Cardinals followed by current ones with him in a different shade of red.

It hurts watching him limp around the bases and being banished to a DH* role. After all, he started his career as a third baseman before moving to left field. He moved to first base full-time in his fourth season and won two Gold Gloves there. But that was all in St. Louis.

*This year he played more games at 1B than DH–this may have had something to do with his season-ending injury.

For whatever reason, Pujols has faded from the public eye. Overall, it’s disheartening watching him fade while he plays on a noncompetitive team. There is already talk that the Angels may notshould not–bring him back for an eighth season with the team.

If Pujols and the Angels agree to part ways, it would be best for him to hang it up, but there’s going to be some team that will want to bring him on. He’s no longer a threat to break the all-time home run record, yet he would provide leadership to a team and the threat of some pop off the bench.

And so, he’ll retire as an Angel, or a member of some other team–not a member of the team with which he is best known.

He’ll retire on his last legs, fading as we watch him–not a superstar, not the best player on his team. Probably not even a starter.

And he’ll retire, I’m guessing, not after an October playoff push, but rather on a team eliminated, or out of contention, by the beginning of September.

Worst of all, like Willie Mays with the Mets*, not a hero, but the shell of a former one.

*Though Mays indeed retired after playing in the World Series. His Mets lost in seven to the Athletics. Mays appeared in only three games, going 2-for-7.

***

The schedule for the 2019 MLB season was released a couple of weeks ago.

After not visiting St. Louis as a member of the Angels for the last seven years, Albert Pujols will make his return to the Gateway to the West for a series next June.

Here’s to the Cardinals organization properly recognizing him.

Here’s to the Cardinals fans warmly welcoming him back.

Here’s to Albert Pujols bucking the trend, defeating the odds, and gracefully exiting from Major League Baseball.