LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019 – My Predictions for the Yankees (Position Players)
This is always a fun time of the year. In those days just before Opening Day, optimism and hope fill the air. It’s also the perfect time for me to share my predictions for the upcoming season.
Let me begin by saying that I believe the Yankees will be very competitive. We can worry about the playoffs in October, but I believe that the Yankees will, at the very worst, be the A.L. Wild Card, but I am optimistic that they could win the division. I think the Red Sox will be tough, but I think the Yankees might be better. Nevertheless, with so many teams looking to be non-competitive, the Yankees (and the Red Sox) will win a lot of games.
What follows are my predictions (sometimes voiced as hopes) for the 2019 Yankees. I’ll try to be realistic, but I’ll speak sincerely in how I see the year playing out for each player. Feel free to disagree with any or all of this. This is part of the fun of rooting for a team and looking forward. (This post will feature all the position players, my next prediction post will focus on the pitching staff.)
Let’s get to it:
Luke Voit – I am cautiously optimistic about Voit. On one hand, I don’t put much stock in a player’s performance in September. Voit came out of nowhere and amazed. Is he really that good? Can he be the real deal? Did Brian Cashman find another gem? Is that possible? Against my better logic, I am going to say YES! In 2019, Voit will hit .275/26/79 while playing in over 120 games at first base and as an occasional DH.
Greg Bird – Ditto. I am cautiously optimistic about Greg Bird after saying that I’d never let him fool me again. I think Bird will spend significant time in the minors but when he is in the Majors, playing strictly as a platoon bat, he’ll manage to hit .245/13/45 in limited playing time forcing everyone to ask in 2020 if he can be a true impact player.
Gleyber Torres – Torres is one of the essential pieces on the Yankees. I think he is the real deal and he’ll be a strong defensive player for the Yankees while putting up a similar batting line to his freshman year last year. Gleyber Torres will bat .279/24/91. Going forward, Torres will only get better.
D.J. LeMahieu – LeMahieu will play all over the infield and be a plus defender where he’s stationed. He’ll also surprise with his bat socking more than 12 homers and batting close to .300 for most of the season before finishing in the .280’s. He will become the starting shortstop in June and will hold the job until Didi Gregorius returns.
Troy Tulowitzki – Tulo will come out of the gate like a rocket. He will hit no fewer than three home runs in the first week of the season…before settling in as a .224/8/37 batter playing regularly until at least June 1. His defense will also be subpar making the left side of the Yankees infield an easy place for batters to find holes and lots of base hits. I would love for Tulowizki to defy the laws of aging, and of missing significant playing time, but it’s not to be.
Didi Gregorius – Gregorius will return later than everyone hoped. It will be mid-August, at the earliest, before he takes over the everyday shortstop duties. His range will be fine, but his arm will not be strong and plays that would have resulted in outs in 2019 and before will become hits this year. Gregorius will also not impress with the bat in his return. Over the last month and a half of the season, Gregorius will bat .212 with only three home runs. On the bright side, he will hit an important homer in a post season game giving everyone optimistic hopes for a return to form in 2020.
Miguel Andujar – Andujar’s defense will improve, but will still be below average. His strides defensively will also give hope for the future. His bat, on the other hand, will be stellar. Andujar will be an offensive force in 2019 batting .312/27/99 with 45+ doubles. It will be Andujar’s bat that helps carry this team throughout the season as he will be one of the team’s most reliable performers.
Bryce Harper – Had he been a Yankee, he would have batted .372/58/145. (Why not?)
Giancarlo Stanton – Stanton will have a better 2019 than 2018. Due to injuries to others, he’ll play more than 120 games in the outfield. This is fine because he’s a good defender. His bat will be awe inspiring. I see a .281/51/124 season. Yeah, he’ll be that good. Stanton will be on the short list of MVP candidates. (He will also strike out over 200 times which will drive me crazy and force me to write sentences like this – “Between his two homers and four runs batted in, Stanton struck out three times looking worse and worse each time up…” In short, he’ll drive me crazy as he’ll look both great and terrible multiple times in almost every game. In the end, we’ll look at his numbers and just say, “He’s great!”
Aaron Hicks – I love Aron Hicks, but I am not sold on him as a guy who can stay healthy. I think he plays fewer than 125 games in 2019. His .249/14/54 numbers will be nice enough considering the fact that he’ll be in and out of the line-up.
Brett Gardner – Like most years, and like Tulowitzki, he’ll come out of the gate strong, but it won’t last. He’s just not an everyday player any longer. I don’t see a batting average for Gardner higher than .250. I also predict fewer than 8 home runs. Gardy will still play good defense, but he’s now a shell of his former self. Because of Hicks’ injuries and the fact that Gardner isn’t an everyday player (even though he’ll have to be one for long stretches), the Yankees will have to acquire an outfielder during the season.
Mike Tauchman – After an uninspiring start as a Yankee, Tauchman, who was just acquired on Saturday, will return to the minor leagues. He will return mid-season, have an amazing two week period where he hits five homers, steals a few bases, makes a few diving catches, and then returns to the minor leagues. That will be his only Major League action in 2019 until September when he performs only slightly worse, but in limited duty.
Clint Frazier – Frazier will bat no higher than .245 and will not hit many homers. To my great disappointment, he’ll be traded for a starting pitcher in July.
Aaron Judge – Judge will be the AL MVP. 2019 will the the most magical year that Stanton and Judge have together. Judge will strikeout fewer times than Stanton, but will still drive me crazy sometimes as he flails at pitches 45 feet off the plate. Still, he will surpass Stanton’s overall numbers by hitting .279/56/130. It’s going to be a fun season for Aaron Judge. This will be his greatest season.
Gary Sanchez – I hope, hope, hope that Gary Sanchez is great in 2019. Realistically, I think he’ll hit .234/22/78. Nice. Good, not great.
Austin Romine – Not even as good as Sanchez. .225/4/21
Kyle Higashioka – Remember all the homers he hit last year? Good. He won’t hit any in 2019. Too bad, I really like to root for this guy!
Tyler Wade – Once he finally makes it back to the Yankees, Tyler Wade finally shows that he can hit in the big leagues. Due to various injuries to players like Tulowitzki, Aaron Hicks, and Brett Gardner, Wade plays more than anyone expects. He will bat over .280 and will lead the 2019 Yankees in stolen bases.