Baseball is back!! And here at GBD that can only mean one thing, PREVIEW BLOGS! Yes, we are coming back at you this year with 9 lists of the best position players in baseball heading into the 2019 season, a season preview of all 30 teams as well as division previews around the league. We start our journey at what some call the most exciting position in sports, shortstop. With so much talent at the shortstop position entering the 2019 season, it was almost impossible to narrow down the list to just 5 names. But we did, and kicking off our list, is a guy who is a thief on the base paths and a menace in the box.
5. Trea Turner – Washington Nationals
Trea Turner is the fastest thing to come out of our nations capital since William Henry Harrison’s presidency. Turner is the type of baseball player you could talk about for hours, and not find one negative thing to say. The 25-year-old SS is fast, athletic, extremely disciplined at the plate and has some sneaky pop that could surprise some in 2019. Turner is coming off a successful 2018 campaign in which he hit for a .271 average, collected 180 hits and swiped 43 bags which was good enough for second best in the majors. Turner was also only one of seven guys in the majors to play all 162 in 2018 and was only one of two at the SS position, with the other being Manny Machado. The thing that attracts me the most to Turner, is his pop, and how underrated it is. We all know how fast Trea Turner is and we all know that he is very good with his glove, but few know that Turner hit 19 homers in 2018 to go along with 73 RBIs and 27 doubles. Now, are these numbers the type of numbers that will blow you away? No. But with that being said, Turner’s power numbers have improved every year since being called up to the majors in 2015. I would not be shocked at all if Turner finished the year with 25 homers, 80 RBIs, 100+ runs scored and 30+ doubles. This kid is special and the scary thing is, he is no where close to reaching his full potential. Buckle up DC, cause you have a star in the making.
4. Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
Carlos Correa is the cheeseburger of shortstops. Most of the time, it is really damn good, but every once in a while you get a bad one that leaves a dirty taste in your mouth. That was Carlos Correa in 2018. However, he was injured throughout spurts of the season so that did play a part, but it seemed when big spots were presented to Correa in 2018, he came up short. During the 2018 postseason, Correa batted a lousy .241 and gathered only 7 total hits. In 110 regular season games played last season, Correa hit for an abysmal .239 average, hit 15 HR and drove in just 65 runs. So why is Correa number 4 on our list? Well he is an extremely gifted baseball player with a huge upside. I want to establish that Correa was never truly 100 percent healthy last season. In the games he was playing, he was still being bothered by little injuries here and there and this effected his offensive numbers drastically. When he does finally become 100% healthy, he can be as dangerous of a bat as you will find in a major league lineup. In his sophomore season in 2016, Correa drove in 96 runs to go along with a .361 OBP, and he was barely over the age of 20 at that time. So for everyone who is going to bitch and moan about Correa cracking the list this season, my advice for you would be to watch highlights of him when he’s at 100 percent. Watch him field a ground ball. Watch him swing a bat and hit a ball into oblivion. The man is gifted and I expect him to have a HUGE comeback season in 2019.
3. Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs
JAVY, OH MY SWEET JAVY. Javier Baez is not only the king of the flashy play but after last years breakout season, is an ELITE baseball player. Baez is the type of guy who when asked to do something, does it 10 times bigger and better. “Javy, hit a ball to right center in the gap.” Javy hits the ball 500 feet into the Chicago sky. “Make a routine play Javy.” Javy makes a diving play that leaves your jaw dropped for 2 months. Baez has been and always will be the type of ballplayer that loves to go far and above and will surprise you with everything he does. Last year, Baez had the best season of his career in which he hit for a .290 average, scored 101 runs, clocked 34 homers and drove in 111 runs. As a result of this break out season, Baez finished second in the NL MVP voting behind Christian Yelich along with earning his first Silver Slugger award. As we approach the 2019 season, the expectations have shifted for Baez as he is no longer expected to be a role player, but rather is expected to be a star who shines bright, night in and night out. Baez was born to be in the spotlight however, and has shown thus far in his 5 year carrer, that no spotlight is too big for him. I expect Baez to have another huge season and see him finishing the year somewhere in the 30-100-100 range. You can expect to see him at the all-star game in Cleveland this summer and who knows, we may be looking at our 2019 NL MVP.
2. Manny Machado – FA
When the time came for us to write these articles, we thought FOR SURE Manny Machado and Bryce Harper would be signed to a team by now. But here we are, in the midst of spring training, with both guys still without a team. I could very well sit here and preach how stubborn I think Manny Machado is or how I think he has an awful attitude, but numbers never lie. This dude is a stud. Machado finished his 2018 season in style, finishing the year with a .297 batting average, a .367 OBP to all go along with 107 runs batted in. And without even saying, he was as reliable of a shortstop in the field as you will ever find. Machado has this smoothness to him when he plays that is extremely appeasing and makes him one of the most fun players to watch in baseball. The thing that I like most about Machado, is that he makes everything he does look like a walk in the park. Whether it is an impossible throw in the deep hole or a home run that leaves the stadium, Manny makes it look like a hobby. You truly have to understand how difficult it all is, before you can appreciate just how amazing and effortlessly he makes it look. I don’t know where Machado is going to land in 2019 but I do know wherever he goes, he will put up big time numbers. He is one of those players where you can just expect a 30 and 100 season on a year in and year out basis. He is just that special of a player and that is why he is landing at #2 on our list.
1. Francisco Lindor – Cleveland Indians
Francisco Lindor is not only my favorite shortstop in baseball, but is also my favorite baseball player in the entire game. Something about him just brings me an immense amount of joy. I watch highlights of him on a nightly basis and never fail to be amazed. Don’t just think I’m putting him #1 on this list because he’s my favorite player. Lindor is the most talented shortstop this game has seen in a long time. Last season, Lindor had one of the better power hitting seasons we have seen at the SS position in quite some time. He finished the year with 38 homers to his name, hit for a .277 average and drove in 92 runs. He was also tied for the major league lead in runs scored with 129 along with having a scorching slugging percentage of .519. If Lindor’s bat isn’t enough to make you smile, the Puerto Rican sensation can flash the leather like you’ve never seen before. Back hands, running stops, diving plays, you name it, Lindor does it all and does it with ease. The thing I like most about Lindor is that he plays the game like it’s supposed to be played. You never see Lindor without a smile on his face and throughout the years, Lindor has actually earned the nickname of Smiles. This game can be very stressful at times, so for Lindor to play the game with such ease while at the same time such skill, is truly spectacular. Although Lindor is expected to miss most of spring training with an injury, I expect him to have an even better season then he did last year and predict that he will hit 40 homers to go along with 130 runs scored and 100 runs batted in. On top of that, I think he will win the silver slugger award, make his 4th all-star game and win AL MVP. You heard it here first, book it.