The 2019 MLB season opens today with a full slate of games. Baseball fans are already versed on the common storylines, from the possibility of a Red Sox repeat to rule changes and the anticipated performances of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Both superstars signed $300 million contracts with rebuilding squads.
Culturally speaking… these are 5 things that I wish would occur during the 2019 season.
1. A Black MLB catcher of significance emerges
MLB hasn’t had a black catcher that was worth spit since Charles Johnson retired in 2005. The Top 10 MLB catching prospects the past two years have been white or Hispanic. The only Black catcher of note is the Dodgers’ 13-year-veteran Russell Martin and he’s 35 years old.
Charles Johnson talks about Andre “The Hawk” Dawson and their time playing together with the Marlins. About Major League Baseball: Major League Baseball (MLB) is the most historic professional sports league in the United States and consists of 30 member clubs in the U.S. and Canada, representing the highest level of professional baseball.
It would be great to see a brother behind the dish for some team before the season is over, but first we need more Black catchers in the minor leagues. In 2017, the total number of African-American minor-league catchers in all of baseball was five, or one for every six clubs.
2. Giancarlo Stanton hits 50 bombs and shuts up spoiled Yankees fans who complained that his 38 bombs and 100 RBI in 2018 wasn’t good enough.
With Aaron Judge out at crucial points last season, Stanton had to carry the Yankees at times. He got booed way too often for a guy that almost hit 40 jacks. This offseason, Yankees fans were whining about how the Stanton contract stopped them from getting Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Stanton will have a better season than both.
Highlight video I created for Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees. All videos are owned solely by Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball or their original owners. I do not own the rights to any music in this video. No copyright infringement is intended. – Giancarlo Stanton Highlights
3. Another Black manager
The fact that Dave Roberts is the only Black manager in the sport is problematic and troubling. MLB has plenty of Black managerial candidates — some with experience and others waiting for the same opportunity that white rookie managers are getting.
There are many black coaches who want to be managers and get overlooked. Of the six new managers, only the Angels’ Brad Ausmus has managed in the majors. The rest are new: David Bell (Reds), Rocco Baldelli (Twins), Chris Woodward (Rangers), Brandon Hyde (Orioles) and Charlie Montoyo (Blue Jays).
Just one more Black manager would be cool. At least a number that’s more reflective of the nearly 8 percent Black players that comprise MLB rosters.
4. Two-way wonder Shohei Ohtani returns healthy, wins Cy Young and contends for MVP.
Ohtani is slowly but surely working his way back from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last October. Before he got injured, the two-way Japanese phenom was the story in baseball, accomplishing feats that we have never seen in our lifetimes.
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Ohtani went 4-2 in 10 starts as a pitcher and posted a 3.31 ERA. As a hitter he was equally effective, slugging .564 and producing a .285 batting average with 22 homers and 61 RBI in just 326 at-bats. He ran away with the AL Rookie of the Year voting with 91 percent share of the votes.
Hopefully the Angels will reconsider their decision to make him strictly a DH. He’d be an MVP candidate because he’s the only guy in MLB that can do what he does. He’s solid, but far less remarkable as just a hitter.
5. Baseball’s two most celebrated prospects, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr., live up to the hype.
Vlad is the namesake of his Hall of Fame dad and is recognized as the premiere prospect in the American League. The 20-year-old phenom’s projected rookie stats rank with the all-time greats.
Vlad’s 90th percentile PECOTA projection: .349/.412/.588 161 DRC+ It’s one of the craziest projections I’ve ever seen written down. I mean, Ichiro’s rookie season – when he was AL MVP – was .350/.381/.457 Ted Williams rookie season: .327/.436./.609 154 DRC+
He’s the cornerstone of the Toronto Blue Jays rebuild and one of four top prospects that will get significant playing time this season.
For the first time in 25 years, 3 of #MLB’s top 4 prospects will start the season in @MLB: #Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 2) #WhiteSox Eloy Jimenez (No. 3) #Nats’ Victor Robles (No. 4) How many of this year’s Top 100 will be on #OpeningDay rosters https://t.co/GHKO6yYsIe
Tatis is the son of an MLB journeyman. The Padres shortstop is expected to dwarf his dad in career accomplishments and be a young spark for the Padres. Manny Machado has agreed to return to third base to make room for Tatis. Enough said.