With pitchers and catchers reporting in a short time, spring training can officially get under way soon. The Giants, fresh off their third World Series title in five years, have some questions to answer this offseason, as do every team.
The following are twenty-five predictions I have for the upcoming baseball season: rational, crazy, or otherwise. Let me preface this by saying I am by no means an expert, nor a prognosticator. I largely expect to eat crow come October.
With that said, 25 things I think should or will happen:
1. The Philadelphia Phillies will finish with the worst record in the Majors (predicted record: 59-103).
2. Related to #1- it’s likely that Cole Hamels will be traded. The question is when an where? San Diego was thought to be a likely option for Hamels, but with James Shields signing a multi-year contract, I don’t know if it’s so clear-cut. I think he could actually switch leagues. Where do I think he has a good chance to wind up and be successful? Baltimore.
3. The Chicago Cubs will finish at .500 or better, but the World Series drought will go to 107 years.
4. The Boston Red Sox will be better than last year, albeit with a very thin pitching staff. Clay Buchholz is their real “ace,” but he’s never been anything aside from a #3 or #4 starter in his career. The offense could carry them to a Wild Card berth, but they’ll need better pitching to carry them further into October.
5. Eight pitchers will win 20 games, five in the NL and three in the NL. In alphabetical order by league, they are: Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, and Justin Verlander in the AL; Madison Bumgarner, Jon Lester, Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, and Jordan Zimmermann in the NL. I think Wainwright will lead the Majors in wins with 22.
6. Clayton Kershaw will not win 20, but should still be in the 16-18 win range. Others who will win at least 16 games but not quite 20 are: American League, Chris Sale (19), David Price (17), Yordano Ventura (17); National League- Clayton Kershaw (18), Max Scherzer (17), Gerrit Cole (16), Johnny Cueto (16).
7. Oakland will slide backwards- losing Lester and Jeff Samardzija will hurt them, and I don’t know if Sonny Gray has enough to keep them in the hunt.
8. Although the Washington Nationals have the best pitching staff in the Majors, their offense leaves something to be desired. Two of the last three years, they have been the top seed in the NL and lost in the NLDS both years. Their pitching should be enough to get them in, but if their lineup goes cold, it could be another short October for them.
9. The largely improved San Diego Padres will contend for a playoff spot.
10. Both of last year’s World Series participants will miss the playoffs. Both lost a key piece in their lineup, and part of it isn’t their fault- other teams are slowly creeping up. San Diego and Cleveland both are dark horse teams, and the Dodgers and Tigers look to threaten as well.
11. Returning to the playoffs after a 14-year absence: the Seattle Mariners. Adding Nelson Cruz was huge.
12. Although many favor the Red Sox in a surprisingly weak AL East this year, I have to give it to the Baltimore Orioles. They did it last year with a lot of injuries and lack of big name stars, and made it all the way to the ALCS. Don’t count them out yet.
13. The New York Yankees will finish below .500, albeit not by much (predicted: 78-84).
14. Walt Weiss will not finish the year in Colorado.
15. Troy Tulowitzki probably will, albeit largely because of the structuring of his contract.
16. The St. Louis Cardinals are still the team to beat in the NL Central.
17. Milwaukee could be a dark horse team in the NL, albeit in a very tough division.
18. The easiest division is probably the AL West; I feel that only Seattle and Los Angeles really have a good shot.
19. David Price leaves Detroit after this year.
20. Tampa Bay will finish in last again, based on who they lost.
21. There will between three and six no-hitters this year.
22. Offense will be up, but not by much.
23. One team with fewer than 90 wins will make the LCS.
24. The NL will win the All-Star Game, and have home-field advantage in the World Series.
25. The Cardinals and Cubs will open at Wrigley to begin the season.
Yes, that last one was obvious, but it’s still true.
Awards and postseason predictions:
MVP: Nelson Cruz (Seattle)
Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez (Seattle)
Manager of the Year: Brad Ausmus (Detroit)
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Baltimore Orioles
WC. Boston Red Sox/Cleveland Indians
MVP: Matt Carpenter (St. Louis)
Cy Young Award: Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco)
Manager of the Year: Bud Black (San Diego)
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Washington Nationals
3. San Diego Padres
WC. Los Angeles Dodgers/Milwaukee Brewers
Boston over Cleveland for Wild Card
Detroit over Boston, 3-2
Seattle over Baltimore, 3-1
Detroit over Seattle, 4-3
Milwaukee over Los Angeles for Wild Card
St. Louis over Milwaukee, 3-1
San Diego over Washington, 3-2
St. Louis over San Diego, 4-1
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers
World Series Champion: Detroit Tigers, 4-2