Expectations are always hard to follow through on, especially in professional sports. Injuries, flashes in the pan, players not developing on expected timelines, all of these aspects ring true in some shape during a typical MLB season.
In 2019, the league has seen offense overtake and dominant the gameplay, as players are using advanced stats and technology, as well as launch angles and plate approaches, as effective tools to better create their offensive attacks.
There will be teams that do not meet their expectations this season, which will make playoff contention and divisional races all that more exciting to follow. Here are three MLB teams likely to fall short of expectations during the 2019 MLB season.
After a resurgent couple of years, the 2018 season for the Chicago Cubs was quite a disappointment. Even though the franchise did make the playoffs, their quick exit was a product of being chased down by the Milwaukee Brewers to end the regular season, resulting in a tie for the regular-season crown.
Forcing a game 163 was not in the cards for the Cubs, as they were beaten in their own friendly confines by the Brewers, who had a fantastic traveling fan base that dominated the stands of Wrigley Field. This defeat pushed up the Cubs’ next game, forced to host the Colorado Rockies in the National League Wild Card round.
Losing that game in extra innings knocked the Cubs out of the playoffs, and their bad luck should consider into the 2019 season.
Plagued by a bloated money sheet that is showing no signs of looking any better, the Cubs go into 2019 with a mostly-arranged roster that mirrors last season, except for a few tweaks.
Losing Daniel Murphy in free agency to the Rockies will hurt, as he provided solid depth in their infield. They did add former Brewers arm Xavier Cedeno in the offseason, but he was brought in to stem the bleeding that the pen underwent last year and is not necessarily looking as dominant as he was in 2018.
The injuries have already hit the team, as bullpen members Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop are already on the shelf.
If this team is to compete, they need to manage their finances better and capitalize on any smaller pieces still on the market. With that most likely not happening, no playoffs are certainly in the cards for 2019.
Final projected record: 78-84
Even with having won the Manny Machado sweepstakes, this team is not built for a playoff run this summer. But do not tell the national pundits that.
With Machado in the fold at third base, this team has added a huge piece into eventually competing. But with their only other star player being Eric Hosmer, who suffered through an off year after also signing a massive deal, this team needs more pieces to help create its identity.
Its starting rotation is solid, at best, but needs at least one more piece to lock it down. Prospects wise, Fernando Tatis Jr and Francisco Mejia are two of their three best, helping lead the Padres to have the league’s number one ranked farm system. While minor league rankings are good and all, this does not directly affect the major league’s performance.
Both Tatis Jr. and Mejia should play big roles in the Padres plans for 2019, but are not seasoned enough to provide that huge of an impact, thus putting even more pressure on Machado, who has to shed his own pundits and demons that he stirred up with his lack of professional handling of running the bases in the playoffs against the Brewers.
While Machado is a godsend for this franchise and a great weapon to have in a hitters park, he will not be enough to push them over the edge in the first season. Give this team a year or two, and they absolutely can become the face of the league.
Final projected record: 76-86
An unlikely resurgent team last season, the Tampa Bay Rays put up a 90-win season, only to be left out of the playoffs due to the American League East providing two of the league’s highest winning totals in 2018 in the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
Even with not making the postseason, this team has a ton of promise coming into 2019… which they will have to wait another season to capitalize on.
Riding stud ace Blake Snell is a good move, but the rest of the staff needs further development and more pieces added, a tough ask of a franchise having funding issues for its own stadium. With fans not getting behind the team and the city where they currently play being very hesitant on committing future money to a new stadium, this team has more issues off the field than on it.
These off-field issues can come around and put a damper on the season, as players will start to feel like their performances and contributions have not been worth much to fans. Having never really earned the appreciation of any national news sources, the Rays have had to fight and claw for any appreciation they have received, but all of it has been very deserved.
However, this team, similar to the Padres, lacks a true identity. Snell is their present and future superstar but is on too small of a pedestal to bring potential help to town. The warm air and sea-faring opportunities are not enough to get players to the state, even though they are the best baseball team in the state, which is not hard to accomplish when your competition is the Miami Marlins.
With again putting too much pressure on one player, the AL version of the Padres, with a lower-tier superstar, will flounder in 2019 and not have as good of a season as 2018 was, setting the table for disappointment once again.
This team wants to be good so badly, and with an influx of fan interest and funds, they can again. But until then, this franchise will continue to have issues and may force the hand of its owners.
Final projected record: 80-82