By Jamie H. Vaught
It's that time again when spring fever is just around the corner with 2019 baseball yearbooks filling the shelves at your local retail store and spring training opening at sunny locations in Florida and Arizona.
Who are the favorite teams to win the American and National League crowns?
All three colorful yearbooks -- Athlon Sports, Lindy's Sports and Street & Smith's -- are unanimous in picking the Houston Astros to capture the AL title. For the National League, three different clubs are selected to win the title. They are the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Last season, Boston beat Los Angeles for the World Series championship in five games. The Red Sox, led by AL's MVP Mookie Betts, had the best record in the major leagues in 2018, posting a 108–54 mark.
Many Kentuckians follow the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta or St. Louis. The revamped Reds, who have finished last in the Central Division for four consecutive years, are expected to be more competitive with new additions such as Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Tanner Roark.
The Braves, coming off a 90-72 season with a divisional crown, are expected to contend again with 2018 Rookie of the Year and future superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. The Cardinals, meanwhile, will have a fresh start with manager Mike Shildt, who took over the struggling club in the middle of last summer, and a free agent superstar by the name of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
By the way, all three yearbooks, which also include college baseball reports, are excellent as usual as they are filled with interesting articles and team previews. They are also available online at AthlonSports, LindysSports.com and StreetandSmiths.com.
Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor and founder of KySportsStyle.com magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.