The 2019 MLB season has been a difficult one for many of us around these parts. The Detroit Tigers are awful — again — and while having next year’s No. 1 overall pick will be nice, it doesn’t mask the fact that the Tigers are still a couple of years away (at least) from contention.
Sadly, there are many other fanbases in this boat, and more than usual, it seems. With more than two weeks remaining in the regular season, five of the six divisions in the game are all but decided. The Wild Card races in both leagues are similarly anti-climactic, with only three teams competing for two spots on both sides. The crazy tiebreaker scenarios that have seemed a bit more plausible in years past are all but impossible at this point.
The statistical revolution has also seemingly reached a critical mass. Between an increased emphasis on optimizing launch angle and hitting for power — not to mention a juiced baseball — home runs are at an all-time high. Strikeouts are also at an all-time high, with yet another team threatening to break the strikeout record (no, not the good one).
But while this makes everything sound terrible, baseball is also flush with a bumper crop of exciting young players who are just starting to enter their respective primes. We have Mike Trout, who is drawing comparisons to [insert past legend here] with every swing. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are also mega-stars who got paid mega dollars last year. There’s Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Alex Bregman, and a host of others. Pick a team, and they probably have someone young and exciting to talk about.
This brings us to our Question of the Day, something we haven’t done in a while.
What do you think of baseball in 2019?
My answer: While the growing chasm between contenders and pretenders is worrisome, I think the game is in a great place thanks to the aforementioned star talent. It seems like everyone has a young shortstop who can hit for power and play solid defense these days — something we saw when the Tigers were trying to offload Jose Iglesias in previous years — and pitchers are getting better than ever as well. These players are exciting, and the 2019 playoffs are shaping up to be an absolute slugfest in the best way possible.
The game could use a few tweaks, of course. Altering how draft picks are determined (to dissuade outright tanking) and fixing the salary structure would be welcome changes, not to mention the usual focus on pace of play.
That, and a couple of talented free agents moving to Detroit this offseason.