The 25 biggest stories from the 2019 MLB season

The 2019 MLB season has been a year filled with great baseball. These 25 stories were the biggest of the regular season. 1 of 25

Home runs galore

The “juiced ball” has impacted the game in recent seasons but not close to what we saw in 2019. MLB had a record number of home runs, and there were similar results at Triple-A, which also adopted the same juiced ball. More than half of MLB teams could set their own franchise records this season, and the Twins became the first team in history with five 30 home run hitters. 2 of 25

Continued strategic evolution

The game continues to change shape with more defensive shifts, bullpen moves and quick hooks for starting pitchers. More teams than ever are also employing “openers” and bullpen starts.  3 of 25

Christian Yelich’s encore

Yelich’s season ended in September due to a knee injury, but up to that point he proved his 2018 NL MVP season was no fluke. He raised his OPS by 100 points and had a career-high 44 home runs, 30 stolen bases and a .329 batting average in only 130 games. Yelich’s main competition for the MVP Award this year is Dodgers star Cody Bellinger. 4 of 25

Mike Trout’s excellence

Trout’s season ended early with a foot injury, but the Angels star is the clear favorite to win the AL MVP, which would be his third. He led the AL in on-base and slugging as of mid-September, with a 1.083 OPS and 45 home runs. 5 of 25

Injuries no problem for Yankees

The amount of star power the Yankees lost to injuries this season was remarkable, but even more remarkable was their response. The team lost stars Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, Miguel Andujar, Luis Severino and Dellin Betances for significant periods, but several role players and veteran minor leaguers emerged to help the team easily win the AL East. 6 of 25

Boston’s nosedive

The reigning World Champs had a season they’d like to forget. While they’re likely to finish above .500, the pitching staff held them back from returning to the playoffs in 2019. The starting rotation had a 4.88 ERA as of Sept. 17, 20th in MLB, and lost high-priced starters Chris Sale and David Price for significant portions of the season. Front office decision head Dave Dombrowski was fired in September, and the team could be set for big moves this offseason. 7 of 25

Tyler Skaggs’ tragic death

The beginning of July brought tragedy to MLB, as Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs passed away on July 1. The cause of death was later found to be opioids, and MLB is contemplating opioid drug testing, as a result. 8 of 25

No stopping Justin Verlander

Verlander has aged like a fine wine and is well on his way to winning his second Cy Young Award this year. At age 36, he leads the AL in wins (19), ERA (2.50) and innings pitched (212). Houston should feel good about the two years remaining on his contract. 9 of 25

New trade deadline rules

MLB ended the Aug. 31 waiver deadline this year, resulting in a wild July 31 trade deadline. Among the headliners were Zack Greinke getting traded to Houston and Nicholas Castellanos moving onto the Cubs. If the league wanted to create more buzz with a single deadline, it accomplished its goal. 10 of 25

Mets offseason moves backfire

New Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen was an unorthodox hire, and he had an unorthodox approach with the team in his first offseason while many were calling for a rebuild. Instead, the team took on money and traded some of its top prospects to Seattle for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. Both of those players floundered in 2019, and free agent acquisitions Wilson Ramos and Jed Lowrie were also major disappointments. 11 of 25

Youthful stars

Young players continue to drive the game, and 2019 saw another terrific rookie class. Among the stars to emerge were Pete Alonso, Fernando Tatis Jr., Yordan Alvarez, Bo Bichette, Bryan Reynolds and Chris Paddack. 12 of 25

Teams rebuilding

The recent success of the Astros and Cubs has driven many other teams to follow the same rebuild plan, which means stripping down to nothing at the major league level. That’s probably the smartest way to build a champion, but it’s been rough for fans of Baltimore, Detroit and Miami, among others. As a result, league attendance continues to decline with those teams being major culprits. 13 of 25

Injured stars

The injury bug is inescapable, but the numbers of stars lost this year was particularly disappointing. Identifiable players like Giancarlo Stanton, Corey Kluber and Carlos Correa missed large portions of the season, and September featured the losses of Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and Javier Baez. 14 of 25

More free agent drama

The 2017-18 offseason was a rough one for veteran free agents, and it was arguably worse this past offseason. For the second straight year, multiple second-tier stars were without contracts come opening day. Dallas Keuchel eventually found a one-year deal in Atlanta, and Craig Kimbrel signed a three-year agreement with the Cubs, but the recent issues are publicly impacting the relationship between the owners and players. 15 of 25

Bruce Bochy’s swan song

Giants manager Bruce Bochy is wrapping up his career this season, as he continues to be honored for his 25 years of service between the Padres and Giants. San Francisco’s season is ending in disappointment for the third straight year, but Bochy is rightfully getting plenty of recognition. 16 of 25

Dodgers dominance

Los Angeles claimed its seventh straight division title and is hoping that its last game of the year is a win for the first time in that stretch. The Dodgers are well on their way to another 100-win season, but anything short of a World Series win will be a disappointment. 17 of 25

Phillies can’t spend Into the playoffs

The Phillies were one of the winners of the offseason, signing Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson and trading for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto. An incredible string of bullpen injuries and a struggling starting rotation doomed them, however, and the team is all but eliminated from the playoffs for the eighth straight year. 18 of 25

Twins emerge again

Minnesota was a surprise wild-card team in 2017 before regression last year. A big offseason and the hiring of manager Rocco Baldelli has spurred the Twins to a likely AL Central title for the first time since 2010, with a record five 30-plus home run hitters. 19 of 25

Billy Beane outsmarts again

While Oakland lost in the wild-card game last year, not much was expected of the A’s this year with major losses in their starting rotation. Yet the team has a great shot to win a wild-card spot for the second straight season, getting great years out of the likes of Mike Fiers, Chris Bassitt and Brett Anderson, as well as breakouts from Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano. 20 of 25

Pirates collapse

Pittsburgh entered the All-Star break still contending in the NL Central, just one game under .500 and 2.5 games back in the division. The Pirates went 21-41 over their next 62 games and imploded in every way imaginable. Injuries, suspensions, clubhouse fights and theĀ arrest of closer Felipe Vazquez for statutory sexual assaultĀ mired a season that couldn’t end soon enough for the team. 21 of 25

Mariners making moves

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto earned a reputation as a willing trader before this season but took it to a new level this season. Through trades, transactions and promotions, the rebuilding squad used more players than any team in baseball history during 2019 as the M’s sit in the cellar of the AL West. 22 of 25

Cleveland withstands pitching setbacks

Cleveland entered the year with a scary rotation led by Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. The team got a combined 43 starts out of that trio, with Kluber suffering an arm injury, Carrasco missing time with leukemia and Bauer getting traded to Cincinnati at the deadline. Somehow, the team has still managed to pitch well, led by Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber, as it fights for a playoff spot in the final weeks of the season. 23 of 25

Rays continue doing it differently

ampa Bay continues to make revolutionary, strategic changes to the game as it fights in a high-powered division with minimal resources. After winning 90 games last season, the team is set to do even better this year and could win an AL wild-card spot despite losing Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow for significant portions of the season. Manager Kevin Cash continues to work wonders.

By: Seth Trachtman

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