2018 RECORD: 12-6
PROJECTED 2019 RECORD: 9-8-1, 5th place. This is certainly the most fun team to project to miss the playoffs but UNFORTUNATELY I think they have some nice little hitters and a very very solid pitching staff. Fortunately even that last sentence will offend Slugs ownership due to being not quite complimentary enough…..
BEAR MINIMUM BLOVIATION: The Banana Slugs of Barnegat return with largely the same roster as last year’s squad, a roster that went an impressive 12-6 before being bested YET AGAIN by their BYB Nemesis the Bad Dudes. What’s in the cards for the Slugs this year? I dunno maybe just hoping I’m right about the Bad Dudes missing the playoffs for starters. That might not be a bad start. Apart from that I could have some fun here raising concerns about Luis Severino‘s health or Josh Donaldson‘s health or Jesus Aguilar‘s ability to DO IT AGAIN in 2019 but I’m not going to do that. Not cuz those aren’t legit concerns and not cuz it isn’t a lot of fun to start throwing around dirty R words like “regression” but because I’m working on a real limiting word count in these things. Brevity Is The Brother Of Brilliance. I invented that saying. But yea the Slugs are probably gonna be okay, probably.
PROJECTED BACKYARD SURPRISE STUD HITTER: CF Ramon Laureano – Obviously I had no idea who the hell Laureano was prior to his call up last season but now that I’ve looked him over a bit I have no idea why the Astros would trade him. Only played 48 games last year, and started out 2-10 with 5 Ks in that Japan shenanigans, bu the Slugs may have a legit 20/20 threat here if not 20/30 if not 15/30 you get the idea he’s got a decent bit of pop and good speed. Nice lil player.
PROJECTED BACKYARD SURPRISE DUD HITTER: 1B Luke Voit – Look who really knows what the hell Luke Voit actually is at this point. Will he continue to have 40% of his fly balls clear the fences? No he will not, he should be happy with half that number. But I’m not necessarily projecting he’s gonna crater and turn into the Luke Voit of old, I am just projecting that Greg Bird has made it a competition over there at 1B and the Yanks just can’t quit him and it’s entirely possible Voit gets option to AAA a week or two into the season once NYY gets some players back. Just puttin’ it out there.
PROJECTED BACKYARD SURPRISE STUD PITCHER: SP Jon Gray – Who knows what the fuck to do with Rockies pitchers, I for one avoid them like the plague, but Gray is only 27 and at least had the cute distinction last season of being worse on the road than he was at Coors. Not sure what that’s aboot (eh) nor do I think that helps my case at all but I put it in here anyway. One also sees he ended up with an xFIP of 3.47 last season despite that blehhhh 5.08 ERA, this means long balls were a bit of an issue and indeed they were. Get that HR/9 back around 1.00 or slightly below, get a little bit of luck, and you’re looking at a guy that will strike out a batter an inning and perhaps keeps the ERA around 3.60-3.90. Which would be a SURPRISE if you just look at last year’s ERA and assume he sucks can already tell these selections are going to get kinda hairy but FORTUNATELY didn’t really happen here, as we think Mitch Keller is going to be up by early June and contributing. HELPIN SHANE FOR THE PLAYOFF PUSH that he could then shove in my face (note: playoffs remain likely not to happen).
PROJECTED BACKYARD SURPRISE DUD PITCHER: SP Luis Severino – Just gonna take the easy way out of analysis here and suggest Sevvy unfortunately has a bit of a lost season due to injury. Lil setback here lil setback there you’re not debuting until June or July, another injury pops up a few starts in BOOM season over. Would be sad (for the Yankees or for fans of exciting young pitching or whatever, would probably chuckle about it in terms of the Backyard storyline).