Marcel Ozuna- Get myself paid.
Contract years are always a great way to inspire a player to be his best. He is not only playing for his team but he is playing for himself and his future. Ozuna wasn’t the player the Cardinals traded for in the winter of 2018. He wasn’t the power hitting impact bat that would make the Cardinals lineup a force to be reckoned with.
Ozuna spent most of the season injured, putting together a respectable season but not one that is going to get him the contract he will be looking for. Fans won’t be excited to see a player that will clearly be inspired by the all mighty dollar, but that will be the story for Ozuna in 2019. I expect Marcel to return to MVP level performance, 35 homers will be a guarantee.
Paul DeJong- Play 150 games
Paul DeJong will enter the 2019 season as one of the most intriguing candidates for a breakout season. At just 25 years old, DeJong is still developing a major league shortstop. A broken hand on a wild pitch as well as a few different prolonged slumps caused his stats to take a bit of a dive. Still finishing with an impressive 3.8 WAR DeJong will now have the luxury of a stronger lineup around him.
DeJong does not have any logical replacements on the bench outside of the versatile Yairo Munoz, who would be a preferred utility player. DeJong will not only need to continue his progression as a player but he must also find his way into the lineup on a daily basis. The more he plays the better the Cardinals will be.
Carlos Martinez- Become the Ace I think I am
The time for development is done for Carlos Martinez. As he enters 2019 he will be looking to take over the role of rotation leader. Adam Wainwright has signed on for another season but it is time for Carlos to be the best pitcher in the rotation or if needed in the bullpen.
Martinez is entering his 7th season for the Cardinals, he is still just 27 years old! The attitude he brings out to the mound is one of dominance. He believes that he is the best player on the field and now it is time for him to prove it. Two straight season Carlos has been the opening day starter for the Cardinals, it would be safe to assume that he and Miles Mikolas will be dueling for that honor in spring training.
Martinez’s mediocore season accompanied with him now history of injuries has put him in a place where he has to prove himself. That will be his goal in 2019, he will prove he is an ace.
Harrison Bader- Win the Gold Glove
Asking a second-year player to go out and win a prestigious award is not like asking your coworker to make sure they up their sales. Bader showed the ability to take over games defensively. He will now have the chance to play every day and showed the world that he is that good.
Bader finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year Ballot in 2018 and should have won a Gold Glove. In 2019 Bader will take his next step forcing the baseball world to take notice and give him the award.
Jordan Hicks- Establish my slider
Since his first pitch in the majors Jordan Hicks has been a force in the league. Hick’s first pitched was 100.8 MPH sinker that immediately grabbed the attention of players, media and fans. While Hicks was showing he could throw the hardest fastballs in the league, he was still not getting the strikeout numbers that a player of his caliber should be.
Averaging just an 8.1 so/9 in 2018. Hicks has a rocket for an arm, but has still now established a secondary pitch that is effective enough to make him an elite level reliever. In April, 175 pitchers threw at least 50 sliders, and only four got fewer swings than Hicks’ 28.6 percent. It was worse outside the zone, which is where you really want sliders to induce swings and misses. Only two pitchers got fewer chases then Hicks did.
Then all of a sudden in June, Hicks began to establish his slider. Hicks was able to go from a 30% swing and miss rate to a 60% swing and miss rate, doubling his strikeouts from the month before in three less innings. When Hicks has a slider working he is a pitching that can be a potential closer. Start the season dominating with a slider.
Mike Schildt- Don’t be Mike Matheny
This one is easy. Don’t be Mike Matheny. Trust your young players and make changes when you need to. Don’t be like Matheny.