HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL in baseball—unless it doesn't. The game has lately become as stratified as the rest of society, with a third of the teams choosing not to compete and a handful of elites poised to lap the rest. So we've sorted clubs into three tiers (CONTENDERS, IN LIMBO AND TANKERS) and by league rather than by division. Some familiar names—the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers and Brewers—represent the top tier of the top tier, with other usual suspects (hello, Miami!) bringing up the unwatchable rear. As ever, it is the meaty middle of the pack that presents the most intrigue. Can the remade Mets hang with the remade Phillies? Are the A's and the Rays well-stocked enough to repeat their small-market magic? Will the Cubs and the Indians regret their offseason inaction? And ... the Reds? What is even going on there? We're about to find out.
A rival scout sizes up the competition.
THE PAYOFF PITCH
Entries by Joe Sheehan, who zeros in on the one thing to watch for each team. (Yes, even the Orioles.)
Win totals from Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook
Text by Jon Tayler
By Michael Beller and Kaelen Jones
Stats from the 2018 season