The Dynasty Guru’s Prediction Week: What We’re Watching in 2019
Hello, and welcome to the last day of Prediction Week at The Dynasty Guru! Because Opening Day was yesterday–praise the Baseball Gods–we’re taking this last opportunity to set some of our most pressing last second takes in stone. We have been featuring a different topic each day this week, and a band of our finest Dynasty Gurus have done their best prognosticating in anticipation of what will surely be another terrific baseball season. Here is a quick look at the week behind us. You can click on the title of each article to check out the work we’ve done:
Monday- My Guy for 2019
Tuesday- 2019 Fantasy Predictions
Wednesday- MLB Season Predictions
Thursday- Prospect Risers and Fallers
Friday- What We’re Watching in 2019
Today we’re stepping back to examine the macro landscape of baseball. We’re talking about trends we’re excited to watch in 2019. Each of us has highlighted a trend or change to the game of baseball that we’re interested to cover because we expect each of these developments to have an impact on the game we love. Without further ado, here is what we’ll be watching in 2019.
Bob Osgood – Revamped Rookie Deals, Drafts, and the NL East
First, with the unknowns of the current collective bargaining agreement ending in 2021, how many more young players will be willing to give up a year or two on the back-end of their rookie deals to guarantee their money now? This trend seems to be increasing by the year, with players such as Eloy Jimenez, Alex Bregman, and Blake Snell being examples just in the last couple of days. The more time that the likes of Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel sit through the season as free agents, the more likely it seems that these players are to take the guaranteed money now.
I’m also curious to see where can value be had in late-March drafts. As certain players shoot up draft boards as spring training progresses, such as Garrett Hampson, Chris Paddack, Byron Buxton (eyeroll emoji), which reliable guys will fall in return? With a couple of auctions left, I plan to nominate these players to see how far the love can go. Also, I’ll be looking to see how much people are willing to pay for the two games in Japan – How much are two Hunter Strickland saves worth on a team that will likely continue to be sellers? What’s the price of a Domingo Santana grand slam when he’s already being hyped?
Finally, the NL Central will likely qualify as well, but I think the NL East will be the most interesting division with so many storylines this year. Can the Braves, who reached their window a year earlier than expected last year, repeat as division champs, or even take things to another level with the addition of Josh Donaldson, a full year of Ronald Acuna, and a couple of new young arms in the rotation? How will Bryce Harper fit into Philadelphia in the first year? Will the Mets score two runs in a Jacob deGrom start this year? The Nationals should compete with a young core, and the Marlins should take a step up from 63 wins last year.
Jake Devereaux – July 31st Trade Deadline
What baseball has lacked this offseason is sustained action. Signings have taken days, weeks, and months to happen and for some (Kimbrel and Keuchel) they still haven’t. In the NBA and NFL, guys are signing day one and it drums up massive excitement for their leagues. MLB is trying to address their lack of action issue by having one single trade deadline on July 31st.
I can’t wait to see how this new calculus forces teams to decide to become either buyers or sellers earlier in the season. I think it will cause more teams that start hot to go for it leading to a more active deadline, something the sport desperately needs. As we have seen in years past with acquisitions like Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox, trade deadline moves can have major postseason rewards. We need a bang at the deadline and I think we are about to get one.
Jordan Rosenblum – The Rise of Two Young Phenoms, the CBA, and Continued Innovation
I’m most excited to see how Vlad and Soto progress in their careers, as these guys put up the best age 19 performances in many years—Vlad’s minor league performance was pretty similar to Soto’s minor league performance, and both had major league equivalent statistics that suggested generational greatness.
I’m also interested to see the power dynamic between the MLB clubs and the Players Association as the 2021 collective bargaining agreement expiration date approaches. As my colleague Jonathan Merkel highlighted this off-season, the MLB is proposing some changes that could really destroy the value of pitchers, changes that I suspect the Players Association will not stand for.
Finally, I enjoy following the avant-garde teams, like the Rays and Brewers, as they experiment with new strategies and potential competitive advantages. In particular, it’ll be interesting to see how heavily both teams rely on their bullpens relative to their starters, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. More often than not, other teams tend to follow these cutting-edge clubs eventually, so focusing on the analytical teams can offer insight on the future of the game.
Nick Doran – Early Breakouts and Potential Pitching Values
At the beginning of each season, I like to focus my attention on potential breakout players, especially pitchers. Draft day is just Step 1 in the process of winning your fantasy league. You can’t win your league on draft day. You need to spend every day digging for those unheralded gems that emerge throughout the season. In early April you should pay particular attention to pitchers with high strikeout rates and/or higher velocity than they’ve displayed in the past. Don’t be afraid to look in unexpected places.
The Marlins are likely to suck this year but they have some intriguing starting pitchers that I am eager to watch — Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez and Caleb Smith are all poised to open some eyes this year. Don’t miss out. Another team to watch is the Phillies. Aaron Nola is not their only stud. Retreads like Nick Pivetta, Victor Velasquez, Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff are all talented guys who’ve been screwed by the pathetic Phillies’ defense in prior seasons. They may come into their own this year.
Ross Jensen – So. Many. Questions!
Are sportscasters going to continue talking about launch angle every inning in every game? Just kidding, but I do have multiple burning questions about the upcoming season. Will we will continue to see teams prioritizing the long ball over other offensive skills? Will stolen bases continue to trend down? What will league-wide walk and strikeout rates look like in 2019 compared to their trends? Will the shift continue to play a prominent role in defense? Will we see more relief pitchers starting games or fewer, particularly after MLB’s recent rule change requiring 3 batters faced?
Matt Meiselman – Baseball’s New Wave of Legalized Gambling
I’m fairly anxious to see how a full season of legalized baseball betting impacts the game. We’ve already seen a rule passed in early March that will require managers to submit their lineups to the league office, rather than to the media, for the purpose of allowing sportsbooks to have the upper hand in setting their odds. As sports betting continues its trend towards national legalization, it’ll be interesting to see how the MLB and MLB broadcasts continue to react. Baseball is unlike other major sports, in that there’s no point spread for announcers to potentially harp on, so there’s more ambiguity regarding potential changes and adaptations to baseball as a product. Perhaps I’m simply just curious about what might happen.
Jonathan Merkel – Phase Two of Pitching Innovations
I’m excited to watch ‘Phase Two’ of the Opener and Bullpen Day strategies. Tampa opened Pandora’s Box, and their success showed the league that the novelty can work. While other teams began experimenting with the approach, I’m expecting these strategies to find their way into many more rotations across the league. And soon. All wins matter, but affordable wins matter the most in today’s game. You think it’s hard to find a workhorse starter now? Talent and necessity will keep the 200 IP starter alive, but barely. Openers are the new RBBC. I’ll be looking for players who can capitalize on baseball’s new reality.