Miami is expected to compete in the NL East this season. What can we expect?
1. Derek Dietrich will lead Marlins' infielders in home runs
This basically depends on one thing, and that is Justin Bour. Bour is a strong kid, but his swing has some holes in it. He has some dip of his hands on occasion, and there is a chance he struggles. If Bour struggles and maybe falls out of a job, Dietrich will not be battling with anyone of very impressive clout. It seems like he has been on the Marlins forever (spoiler alert: he has), and he has always shown a tantalizing glimpse of power and speed. He will have to find his way into at least semi-regular playing time to achieve this, but he can likely hit 20 home runs in partial playing time, and if someone gets hurt and he plays more full time, he can have a run at 30.
2. J.T. Realmuto will be second on the Marlins in steals
It's pretty tough to put someone ahead of Dee Gordon for steals; however, even after him, a catcher would not be your best bet. Seriously though, who doesn't love a catcher who runs?! He gets behind the plate and grinds every day, yet he can go out there and steal bases? Sweet! To do this, he will have to finish ahead of a sometimes playing Ichiro, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Adeiny Hechavarria, not to mention the aforementioned Dietrich. The magic number for Realmuto is 20, and he can likely get there, as he has showed good on-base skills. If his body doesn't wear down too much and he gets off to a hot start before the dog days of summer, there's a chance. It'd probably take an injury or a trade to do it, but he has the talent and base running instincts to pull it off.
3. Jarred Cosart will be second on the Marlins in wins
Don't ask who is first. Wei-Yin Chen is consistent, while Jose Fernandez just needs to stay healthy. One of them will fail to do that. Cosart has always had an enticing mix of velocity and sink on his fastball, and with a solid infield defense, all he needs to do is get ground balls. If he can put it all together, he can put together a 15 win season and cement his place in the Marlins rotation.
4. Edwin Jackson will become a key contributor
I know a lot of baseball fans who think of Edwin Jackson and instantly want to go lie down because they are sick. It seems that he will have one good outing followed by like 80 terrible ones. I think that expectations for him are finally so low that he can exceed them. His stuff is explosive enough to still be a dominant reliever, and if he needs to make starts for this team, I think he can put it all together. Many people around the game have learned it is never a good idea to put too many eggs into Edwin's basket, but hey, it might work one of these times.
5. The Marlins will win the NL East
I predicted this last year to anyone and everyone who would listen to me even after I mentioned the Marlins. We all know how that turned out. Even I wouldn't be crazy enough to predict that the Marlins do it this year... Oh wait, there's a definite contradictory flaw to everything I just wrote. Hey, it's a bold prediction article, so here it is. If everything clicks, this is an uber-talented team. They have solid glove work up the middle of the diamond. The staff has a strong top-end and enough options that some should stick. The 'pen will be good enough, even without Carter Capps. The mighty Giancarlo Stanton and his outfield mate Marcell Ozuna need to stay healthy and hit to their potential, Yelich and Dee need to set the table, and one or two other hitters, maybe J.T. and Dietrich, need to step up. If this all happens, the Marlins can win a game on any given day.
That's it for this year's bold predictions. I'll try to check back in on them at some point midseason, then again at the end. That's all for now, and I'm happy to be bringing my thoughts on Marlins' baseball to all of you!