The MLB offseason is heating up and there are still some moves that need to be made. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will be on new teams. Just there, we have two major names that could change the landscape of the MLB but fans have to wonder if a new environment will hurt their production or enhance it.
Let's face the facts; for MLB fans, home runs are what get people to want to get to the ballpark every single night. Imagine even going before the game and watching batting practice which, then, could turn into somebody like Mookie Betts or Mike Trout hitting a home run that you end up grabbing as a souvenir. Also, imagine watching a walk-off home run in the playoffs! The point is that fans love to see the long ball more often than not. So it makes you question who will be the premier home run hitters in 2019 and who might fall a little bit short of expectations.
Some MLB hitters, like J.D. Martinez, went above and beyond what was expected of him. Others, like Aaron Judge, fell a little bit back in the pack because of injuries, underproduction, etc. So, why not take a glimpse into the future to see who will be hitting home run after home run and who might suffer a bit of a power outage? Let's look at 10 MLB players who will hit 30 home runs and 10 who will fall short.
One of the most feared hitters in the AL during the 2017 season was Aaron Judge. Judge almost took the New York Yankees to the World Series in 2017 by himself. 2018 was a little bit of a rough one for him as a fracture to his wrist cost him about a month and a half of his 2018 season. He still was able to hit 27 home runs this season despite missing a good amount of time. With his wrist better and the Yankees hungry to knock the Red Sox off of their quest for back to back World Series wins, expect Aaron Judge to surpass the 30-home run mark next season with ease.
The Minnesota Twins made a big move this offseason so far with the signing of designated hitter Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $14 million deal. But that doesn't mean that C.J. Cron is going to repeat the power performance he had in 2018. Cron had a 30 home run season for the Twins, so naturally, things would be looking up. But actually, the signing of Cruz might make it tougher for Cron, depending on what kind of streak he is going on. It's very simple; Cron might get pitched around more this year than last year, which will have him falling short of the 30-home run mark.
On the flip side, the New York Mets are going all in this offseason. They recently completed a trade that brought in slugging second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz. The person who benefits the most with Cano coming aboard is Michael Conforto. Conforto hit 28 home runs in the 2018 season and looks to add onto that total in 2019. When Conforto is fully healthy, he is one of the most underrated left-handed hitters in the MLB. The Mets are looking to take the next step forward next year in the NL East. If they are going to do it, Michael Conforto will have to hit a few more home runs. We think he definitely will.
The Arizona Diamondbacks took a giant step backwards when they traded Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Goldschmidt for years was one of their big power hitters that made Diamondback fans excited. One person that will suffer greatly because of the Goldschmidt departure is David Peralta. Peralta had a very good season home run wise for the Diamondbacks as he was able to pick 30 on the 2018 campaign. He, however, will have a very difficult time without Goldschmidt to get back to that 30-homer threshold in 2019. Peralta will probably get about 25 on the season because he is a good hitter in general. But, he will fall just short of that 30-home run mark.
One of the most feared right-handed hitters in the AL has been Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion just has that powerful swing that makes opposing pitchers afraid of him every time he steps in the box. Encarnacion was tied with two others last year at 21st overall with 32 home runs. He is now a part of the Seattle Mariners as the Cleveland Indians let him walk.
Seattle got their power hitter to replace Nelson Cruz and he, for sure, will be able to surpass the 30-home run mark again. With the swing that Edwin has, he will surpass 30 homers, even in a big AL West ballpark.
The Milwaukee Brewers had a very surprising year, coming within one game of the World Series. The Brewers relied heavily on Christian Yelich in the second half of the season. One guy that will not be relying on much next season is utility player Travis Shaw. Shaw had some okay power numbers, he hit 32 home runs to his credit. But next year, things will be a little bit different. Teams are going to be careful with Yelich and Jesus Aguilar next season. That means that Shaw will be the guy that pitchers will be more aggressive with. It's hard to see Shaw eclipsing 30 home runs in 2019.
Miguel Andujar was one of the main reasons that the Yankees were right in postseason contention all year long. Andujar was so impressive, that he was on as one of the finalists for the American League Rookie of the Year. In fact, some thought he got hosed on the award when Shohei Otani took home the award. The Yankees current third baseman hit 27 home runs last season and looks like he will be a candidate to hit over 30 home runs next season. The Yankees could use Andujar increasing his power numbers in 2019, especially if Manny Machado decides to sign with the Phillies or the Chicago White Sox.
Alex Bregman was a big part of the Houston Astros success in the regular season of 2018 as well as their World Series title in 2017. Bregman had a bit of a power surge in 2018, hitting 31 home runs, which was good for 24th in the MLB. Unfortunately, Bregman will not be eclipsing the 30-home run mark this next season. The Astros still have the surge of Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. They also recently signed Michael Brantley in the offseason, who can be one of the better hitters in the league when fully healthy. Bregman will probably flirt with the 30 home run line, but will fall just short.
The Philadelphia Phillies are one of those teams to look out for in the National League East. They signed David Robertson to close and they are aggressively pursuing Manny Machado. One guy they already have that they will rely on in the middle of their lineup again is Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins had 34 home runs in the 2018 campaign and he looks like a clear favorite to repeat the 30-home run mark come 2019. Hoskins has a lot of work to do to help the Phillies get back to the playoffs and relive the days of 2008. To do that, hitting over 30 dingers again would be a good first step forward for the Phillies.
Javier Baez was one of the main reasons that the Cubs were right in the thick of things for the postseason in 2018. The Cubs fell a little bit short, losing to the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card game. But, Baez had an unreal season and was getting serious consideration for the N.L. MVP award. He hit 34 home runs last season, but I can't see him doing it again 2019. He is more of a contact hitter and he probably will fall slightly short of the 30-home run mark in 2019 after some surprising power numbers during 2018.
Charlie Blackmon is one of the more underrated outfielders in the National League and honestly, in the whole MLB as well. He plays with the Colorado Rockies who continue to push for postseason excellence, making it to the NLDS this past year. Blackmon is a part of the Rockies middle of the lineup along with Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado. Blackmon hit 29 home runs in the 2018 campaign, which should give Rockies fans a ton of confidence that he will hit 30 home runs at least during the 2019 season. Plus, having Story and Arenado with you gives you more pitches to hit; which will serve well for Charlie Blackmon.
Jesus Aguilar was taking the MLB by storm in the first half of 2018, as he was one of the most dominant power hitters in those first 81 or so games. The second half of the season was when Aguilar cooled off and finished with 35 home runs on the season. Despite the good power numbers overall, Aguilar will probably not go over 30 home runs next season. Aguilar showed his true colors in the second half, as he never really showed in the past that he could consistently hit for power. Aguilar will probably fall significantly short of the 30-home run mark as the Brewers look to get to the World Series when 2019 is all over.
The Oakland Athletics had 97 wins for the season in 2018. The only problem was that the Athletics were in the same division as the juggernaut Houston Astros. The A's had a corner infielder in Matt Olson, who opened up a lot of MLB fan's eyes this season. He also could be somebody to keep an eye on in fantasy baseball. He hit 29 home runs in 2018 and will look to improve upon that in 2019. With another year batting on an underrated Oakland club, Olson should surpass his 2018 numbers very easily. He has a nice left-handed swing that is serving him well in Oakland. If he surpasses the 30-home run mark, good things could be coming to the Oakland Athletics.
Mike Moustakas spent his season in both leagues, starting the season with the Royals before finishing with the Brewers because of a trade deadline deal to bring veteran presence to the Brewers. He hit 28 home runs combined with both teams and it doesn't look like he will be surpassing the 30-home run mark next season. Moustakas is starting to decline from his World Series-winning days with the Kansas City Royals. He will take a decline with his power and will probably only hit about 20 home runs next season. "Moose" will bring a good glove and good average bat to the Brewers, but the power? That's another story!
Ronald Acuna Jr. was the clear-cut best rookie to play in the National League last season. That is why he was awarded the Rookie of the Year award in the National League after the 2018 season was completed. Acuna had 26 home runs on the season and it looks like he will be improving upon those numbers next season. When Acuna has guys like Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and others to protect him after he leads off, it's very clear he will get a lot of good pitches to hit. Look for Acuna's power numbers to increase during the 2019 regular season.
Kyle Schwarber is one of the Cubs' best options for left-handed hitters. But, his power numbers were not exactly where they should have been in 2018. He had 26 home runs, tying him with the likes of guys like Ronald Acuna Jr., but it feels like he should have had more. Schwarber has had some bad luck in the past with injuries and staying healthy.
Based on his career trajectory so far, there just isn't enough evidence to suggest that Schwarber can stay healthy for an entire season and hit the mark. For somebody with the presence and powerful swing of Schwarber, it'll be a shame that he doesn't get to the 30-home run mark in 2019.
Cody Bellinger will be entering his third season in the MLB with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019. He had a big year in 2017 with 39 home runs. He took a step back from his Rookie of the Year power in 2017 and only hit for 25 home runs in 2018, when he played in 30 more games. Bellinger has so much raw power in his swing that it seems very unlikely that he misses the 30-home run mark again. Plus, with Manny Machado all but gone from Los Angeles because he was a rental piece, he will need to pick up the slack that much more during 2019 for the Dodgers.
Anthony Rizzo makes up one half of the corner infielders for the Cubs, along with Kris Bryant, that causes concern throughout the rest of the NL Central division. Rizzo's power numbers were not evident this past season as he only hit for 25 home runs. The funny part about this is that Rizzo hit for at least 30 home runs in his four prior seasons. Something tells me that is the beginning of the potential decline for Rizzo. He has helped the Cubs a lot, especially when they won the World Series in 2016. But, his power numbers could be just a distant memory.
The Cleveland Indians have had a lot of people suggesting that they could be in a rebuilding mood. They have had Corey Kluber made available in trades and have traded other pieces away. One piece that will continue to soar is shortstop Francisco Lindor. Lindor is arguably the best shortstop in the MLB and he has some power that people might not have expected. He was tied for sixth in home runs with 38 total. Lindor is one of the best in the game and his power has showed in the most unlikely of scenarios. So, it is only fitting to say the Lindor will clear the 30-home run mark again in the 2019 season for the Tribe.
Justin Upton was tied for 25th in all of the MLB with precisely 30 home runs in the 2018 season. Upton is going to have a lot of competition to try to keep up his power numbers in 2019. Personally, I don't think he gets there. He has to compete with Mike Trout, who is a superstar (and a bigger one) in his own right. He also has Shohei Otani to deal with who will be focusing primarily on hitting in the 2019 season while his shoulder recovers from Tommy John surgery, eliminating any possibilities of him pitching. Upton is due for a down season and a decrease in home run totals may be the primary aspect of his game that regresses.