Rick Zamperin: Going big with these bold 2019 baseball predictions

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman throws a bullpen session at spring training baseball in Dunedin, Fla. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Play ball!

The 2019 Major League Baseball season officially got underway early Wednesday morning when the Seattle Mariners outslugged the Oakland Athletics 9-7 at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

Forty-five-year-old Ichiro Suzuki received a rousing ovation from fans in his homeland in what turned out to be his final series in a big league uniform.

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Ichiro, who entered this season with 3,089 career hits, kicks off my list of bold baseball predictions for 2019.

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There will not be another player to reach 3,000 career hits until 2029 when Houston Astros star second baseman Jose Altuve reaches the plateau. How’s that for bold?

As for this year, the Toronto Blue Jays will struggle to a fourth-place finish in the A.L. East once again and will win no more than 70 games — their lowest output since the team won 67 games in 2004.

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Staying in the A.L. East, New York Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will combine to smash 100 home runs in 2019.

Dig the longball? Who doesn’t? Bryce Harper will impress his new teammates in Philadelphia by beating Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado for the National League’s home run crown.

I can’t ignore the pitchers. But sadly, not one will win 20 games this season and we won’t see a 300 strikeout man. We haven’t seen that combo since 2009.

The boldest prediction that I can make is this year’s World Series, where the Houston Astros will beat the Washington Nationals.

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