I’m a few days late, but you know what they say.
Sitting down to write a bold predictions article is always an interesting experience. On one hand, the more predictions you get right, the more impressive. However, having your predictions be too likely to be correct is not the point of the exercise.
But anyway, here are my 2019 bold predictions.
1. Austin Bristow II gets better at introductions to his articles
As an Atlanta Braves fan, I am legitimately hoping that this one comes through. Julio Teheran has been the “ace” of the Braves throughout their rebuild. However, the time has come to compete with a significantly improved NL East, and posting a FIP over 4.80 just won’t cut it anymore. That said, Sean Newcomb hasn’t been much better, performing to a FIP over 4.10 in both of his first big league seasons. Now, with the likes of Touki Toussaint, Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara, Bryse Wilson, and seemingly 5-10 other young arms ready for a shot at the bigs, Teheran and Newcomb will have to perform up to their highest potential to avoid losing their spots in the rotation.
3. Edwin Diaz is not a top 10 closer
Edwin Diaz is coming off one of the best seasons for a reliever in recent history, during which he posted a 1.96 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and a ridiculous 44% strikeout rate. He was clearly the best closer in 2018, but will that still be the case at the end of 2019? Now a member of the New York Mets, Diaz is going into the year as the clear lockdown closer. That said, Jeurys Familia has plenty of experience in the closer’s role as well, giving the Mets a suitable replacement should something go wrong. Now, while it seems fairly unlikely that Diaz completely collapses, his track record is by no means extensive, nor pristine; he had an impressive rookie season, but a very inconsistent sophomore year prior to his 2018 breakout. As we’ve seen from guys like Ken Giles, relief pitchers are some of the most inconsistent and volatile players from year to year. While I’d be surprised to see this one come true, that’s what we’re here for!
4. All three finalists for NL MVP will be third basemen
This is one of my favorites.
I firmly believe the deepest position for fantasy in 2019 in third base, especially in the National League. While we may lose Jose Ramirez and Alex Bregman, the Senior Circuit still boasts standouts that have a legitimate shot at an MVP caliber season.
Nolan Arenado is always an MVP candidate, hitting near 40 homers and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense year after year. While he may be coming off an off-year, we’ve seen an MVP season from Kris Bryant, and I’m inclined to believe that 2018 was mostly a result of injury and we very well may see him perform closer to his 2016 numbers than those of last season. Often referred to as one of the most underrated players in baseball (which may disqualify him of the title in and of itself), Anthony Rendon has been extremely consistent, posting around 600 plate appearances over the past three seasons while batting near .300 and hitting 20+ home runs. If everything falls his way, a 30 homer season with a .320 batting average is not out of the question.
Dark horse NL MVP candidates at 3B include Matt Carpenter, now a full-time third baseman, 2018 breakout, Eugenio Suarez who is in a fantastic offense and could easily post 100+ RBI, and Justin Turner, who is seemingly always productive when he is healthy and on the field.
5. The Chicago Cubs win at least 100 games and win the World Series
Speaking of Bryant going back to his 2016 performance, I’ll throw the entire Chicago Cubs team into that boat as well! After the Cubs historic 2016 World Series victory they seemed like they were on track to be the World Series favorites for years to come. After a bit of age and injuries hit the North-Siders their 2018 record of 95-68 was seen as a disappointment, mainly because it wasn’t enough to win the National League Central division.
This year though, they put all of that behind them. Kris Bryant will return to MVP form with Anthony Rizzo following suit. Yu Darvish reminds the world that he’s still an ace while Kyle Hendricks and the rest of the Cubs aging starting rotation doing well enough behind a behemoth of an offense.
6. The Los Angeles Angels will boast three top 40 starting pitchers
This one is out there to be sure.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim added a few older arms to their rotation throughout the offseason, hoping that quantity might be able to bring a bit of quality to a rotation that has been debilitated by injuries over the past few seasons. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill have had their fair share of success throughout their career, and while they very well may be in the twilights of their major league stints, another solid year wouldn’t be out of the question.
Now, throw in trendy sleeper picks Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs and this seems like it may actually make a bit of sense. And, while I don’t have any reason to expect Chris Stratton or Felix Peña to be particularly effective starters, there is one more interesting name I’ll mention. Griffin Canning is a hard-throwing right-hander in the Angels farm system. While he may not have ace upside, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see Canning called up and make an impact for the big league club in 2019.
7. Nick Pollack is interviewed on one of ESPN, MLB Network, or CBS Sports
We all love Nick. He works harder than anyone in the industry, recapping every single starting pitching performance from the day before. His pitching analysis on Pitcher List and RotoGraphs is becoming more and more popular among the fantasy baseball community. Should one of the big networks be in need of a guest analyst, I’m of the opinion that they couldn’t find anyone better than Papa Pollack.
8. Justin Paradis produces over 160 images for Pitcher List between Opening Day and the beginning of the playoffs
Justin Paradis was a new addition to the Pitcher List staff over the offseason, and he’s made his presence known very quickly! One of the staff’s graphic designers, Justin creates a variety of high-quality images for featured photos at the top of our articles and graphics used to emphasize a point throughout some pieces.
My prediction is that the man throws himself into overdrive, creating images at a rate, nearly that of the Major League Baseball season itself. We’ll be watching your career with interest, Mr. Paradis.
This prediction is not meant to mean that Eloy Jinenez will not be successful in 2019, but instead that Daniel Palka will be better than everyone expects. Palka hit 27 home runs in 2018 while putting up a .240/.294/.484 slashline. He doesn’t walk and his contact isn’t great, but the man makes hard contact and frequently puts the ball in the seats. If he is able to raise his flyball percentage (38%) a bit more while continuing to strike the ball with authority, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Palka set a new career high in homers and slugging percentage in his sophomore campaign.
10. Christin Stewart and Randall Grichuk hit 64 homers combined
This one may be my favorite of the bunch.
Last year I predicted that “Randal Grichuk puts it all together, hitting .270 with 40 home runs.” So that didn’t happen, but I still like Grichuk. In 2018, the beginning of his season was hampered by a few different small injuries ranging from rib soreness to sprained knee. However, if we look at what he did from June 1 through the end of the season, we’ll see a .271/.319/.553 slashline with 23 home runs in just 96 games. Prorating that total out to 155 games would have given Grichuk 37 dingers. He’s got the power, he just needs to stay on the field.
On the other end of this prediction is Detroit Tigers rookie Christin Stewart. Stewart has been a notable -while not tremendous—prospect in the Tigers system for the past few years. Stewart’s calling card has been his raw power, hitting 30, 28, and 27 homers in the past three seasons respectively. Now, Stewart seems to have an opportunity to get consistent at-bats as the Tigers everyday left fielder.
All that we need to see this one come true is for the two of them to average 32 homers each. Maybe Grichuk comes out and hits 37, which would take a bit of pressure off of Stewart. It’s a fun pair that I’ll be watching closely throughout the season.
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)