As a Yankee fan, I hear the Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling utter a phrase just about once a series (if not more.) And that phrase is “You can’t predict baseball.” Yet every year fans and analysts try to do that very thing. And here at the Laracuente Ledger are no different. So here are 19 predictions for the upcoming 2019 MLB season. (In no particular order.)
#1: 10 Players Will Hit 40+ Home Runs & 3 Players Hit 50+
The game of Major League Baseball has been trending towards being only about the three true outcomes, Walks, Strikeouts, and Home Runs. And this year that trend is likely to continue. And the increase in Homers will be punctuated by 10 players hitting 40 plus home runs in 2019. That presumptive list of 40+ homer players is
- Aaron Judge (See Prediction #12)
- Giancarlo Stanton (56)
- Bryce Harper (51)
- Khris Davis (48)
- JD Martinez (45)
- Nolan Arenado (43)
- Rhys Hoskins (42)
- Joey Gallo (42)
- Gary Sanchez (41)
- Mike Trout (41)
#2: Whit Merrifield Will Steal 50 Bases
The art of the stolen base has all but disappeared in today’s Major League Baseball style. But in the quietest way, Whit Merrifield has continued the once great asset. Last season, Whit ended up with 45 steals so it is not out of the realm of possibility for five more steals. And given the fact that the Royals are in a rebuilding type state, they will be overlooked by most clubs. And although teams will plan for Merrifield at the plate. On the bases, they will be burned for turning a blind eye fifty times this season.
#3: Madison Bumgarner Traded
Over the last few years the biggest game of “Will they, Won’t they?” have been played by the San Francisco Giants in regards to trading their ace Madison Bumgarner. This season, however, that game comes to an end with a definitive answer, YES. Madison Bumgarner will get moved to a contender and regain his dominant form in the playoffs.
#4: Mike Trout Goes 40/40
The greatest player of all time and certainly the best of this generation is Mike Trout. He is now valued at $430 million based on his next 12 years of service to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And how will Trout repay the Angels for giving him the most money in baseball history? Trout will have another phenomenal season end the season with over 40 steals and 40 home runs.
#5: Two-Way Player: Michael Lorenzen Hits 10+ Home Runs
The Cincinnati Reds are embarking on a fascinating journey with Michael Lorenzen. There was talk about making him a full-scale two-way player. But while that will need to be seen to be believed. It is very possible that Michael gets enough plate appearances to let his hitting ability shine through. And it’s that ability that will allow Lorenzen to hit 10+ homers for the Reds.
#6: Manny Machado Struggles to Keep San Diego Relevant After July
San Diego stepped up big and offered a $300 million, 10-year deal for Manny Machado. And while making big investments over the last few years with Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers the Padres don’t have enough behind them. And with the team not having any honest answers from the starting rotation, the Padres will struggle. Manny Machado will do his best with a 30/100 campaign. But it just won’t be enough. And Manny will merely have to take solace that San Diego is just a better weathered Baltimore paying him $300 million to stay home in October.
#7: Trade Magic
One deadline to end them all, to paraphrase the Lord of the Rings, is what we will have this season. Over the last few years, we have seen some meaningful trade take place courtesy of the August waiver trades season. Most notably the Justin Verlander deal at the 2017 August deadline. With having only one deadline, pretenders and contenders will flurry to the phones to make deals. And this deadline will see big names switching teams. And unlikely trade bedfellows becoming forever intertwined in the annals of trade deadline time.
#8: Joey Votto’s OBP over .500
If you’ve read The Prince Becoming King: A Joey Votto Story, you would know the admiration that I have for Joey Votto. And if you listen to Joey speak about hitting or watch his at-bats, it is brilliant to see his mind at work. If you ask Joey 2018 was a down season and he will be looking to rebound in a big way. None bigger than getting On Base more than 50% of the time. In 2019, Joey Votto will become the most difficult at-bat in the Major Leagues and pitchers will just give up.
#9: 5 Pitchers with 300+ Strikeouts
Much like the Home Run hitters, earlier the pitchers will also get in on the three true outcomes action and we will have 5 pitchers with 300+ Strikeouts in 2019.
- Max Scherzer (312)
- Justin Verlander (309)
- Aaron Nola (305)
- Gerrit Cole (304)
- Jacob deGrom (302)
#10: Also 7 Pitchers with 20 Wins
In advanced statistical analysis, the “Pitcher Win” has been devalued over the past several seasons. But amongst the general populous of baseball fans, it still resonates with the fan base. But one thing that even the most sabermetrically inclined can admit about the “20 Wins” plateau is that the starter is giving his team a chance during those games. The starter is going out there and competing in order to qualify to get the “Win.” So the 20 game winners will be the following players.
- Aaron Nola (27)
- Jose Berrios (25)
- Max Scherzer (24)
- Justin Verlander (24)
- Gerrit Cole (23)
- Jacob deGrom (22)
- Trevor Bauer (20)
#11: The Yankees Shatter the Team Home Run Record by Hitting 300
The 2018 New York Yankees put on an impressive home run barrage. They would end with 267 homers passing the previous record of 264 by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. But if this Spring Training season is any indication the 2019 Yankees are gonna go off. Last season the team saw slumps and injuries derail some potential power outcomes. This season the Bronx Bombers seem healthy and poised to put on a power display like never before seen.
#12: Aaron Judge Smash Single Season Home Run Record.
Once Babe Ruth’s 60 home run record was a record many thought would never be broken. Then we would have it passed and shattered twice in a three-year span (chemically aided.) And the record hasn’t been looked at the same way since that is until 2019. This may be the boldest prediction of all and deserved its own entry. I predict that Aaron Judge will surpass Barry Bonds’ single-season home run mark of 73 set in 2001. As crazy and outlandish as it may seem I will place the number of home runs Judge hits at 82.
#13: The Miami Marlins Average Game Attendance less than 5000 Fans
If you look at Baseball Reference’s attendance figures for Marlins Park in 2018 and the visuals from watching Marlins games during 2018 they don’t add up. However, Baseball Reference has the average game attendance listed at 10,014 for the 2018 season. I believe that those numbers are inflated, by I digress. So I will say that the Marlins average game attendance will be less than 5000 a game and for the entire season for a total of 400,000 at seasons end.
#14: The Yankees Bullpen has an ERA Under 2.00
The Bronx Bombers will also be known as the Bronx Blazers this season, as the Yankee bullpen will dominate nearly every team they come up against this season. Whether the ninth inning or the 4th the Yanks pen will strikeout and control the game from the moment that bullpen door swings open.
#15: Bruce Bochy Goes Out Winnest San Francisco Giants Manager
Bruce Bochy has already announced this will be his final campaign as skipper of the San Francisco Giants. But Bochy would love to go out in style and in history. In order to make that happen the Giants must have a winning season. And for his final season, the Giants will acquiesce to the public request for the legendary manager.
#16: Washington Nationals Win a “Playoff Series” Without Bryce Harper (NL Wildcard)
The best player the Nationals ever drafted has left the Nation’s Capitol and gone to a Division Rival. And yet it would be the first time that the Nationals franchise would win a playoff series. Albeit, the one game Wildcard play-in game but they would win a series in the playoffs without Bryce.
#17: Boston Red Sox Get Swept in the AL Division Series
The reigning defending World Series champions go out with a thud in 2019. And although an incredibly strong and formidable force against most teams they will run into a juggernaut. The lauded display of sheer overwhelming will of game 3 of the 2018 ALDS will pale in comparison to the 2019 Divisional Series against the rival Yankees.
#18: Bryce Harper Carries Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series
The $330 million man will be unlike most high priced free agents in their first year with their new ballclub. Bryce won’t struggle in Philly he will embrace the city (evidence of which we have already seen) and put the team on his back in September and October. Bryce’s best month is usually in April, and his 2019 April will be good. But this season his best month will be September/October where he will go off. He also knocks out his former club from the Divisional round of the playoffs.
#19: New York Yankees Win the World Series
Not much needs to be said about this prediction. The powerhouse Yankees will blast by the competition by force. A power-filled bullpen to accompany power-packed bats will give the Yankees a leg up on their opponents leading them to Championship Number 28.