Everybody’s doing this lately. They typically use words weightier than “random,” usually “bold,” but it’s all the same thing — think up a bunch of things that probably won’t happen, but you think just might, and make a blog post out of them.
Jim Bowden did it — he thinks (well, doesn’t think, but thinks maybe) Neftali Feliz will move back to closer and Justin Morneau will be traded. This site called Crave Online did it — David Freese, MVP candidate! This site did it too, and I actually really like them all, until you get to the end — doesn’t get any more bold than “Yankees will win the Series” on a site called New York State of Sports! The Sporting News actually did it twice. Et cetera.
And I’m going to do it! I feel compelled. I did it in 2010, and 2011, and I’m sure a ton of people were doing the same thing then, too, but it sure seemed like fewer. For each of the past two years, I’ve named eleven random things I thought might happen that year, and I’m pretty sure in the blogging world, two in a row makes an unbreakable tradition, so here it is again (for the record, I was actually really good in 2010, and really bad in 2011).
1. C.J. Wilson will post a lower ERA and better rWAR than Yu Darvish, but Darvish will post more “wins.” I feel like I like Wilson (as a pitcher, certainly not as a twitter user or practical joker) more than most do; he’s been legitimately really, really good ever since he stepped into the rotation two years ago, and I think he’ll be really, really good again. I just don’t think the Angels are a great team, and I think Darvish will be very good himself and pile up the Ws on a team that probably wins the most games in the AL.
2. B.J. Upton will hit 30 home runs and top 6.0 WAR. I called a big breakout for Justin Upton two years in a row, and it happened last year (mostly), so now it’s big brother’s turn. Incredibly talented dude in a contract year, and his age-27 season. The time is ripe.
3. The Astros will lose 96 games or fewer. That’s not the kind of thing that should ever be a bold prediction, but the Astros really look about that bad. And I think they will be really very bad, now and for a good long time. I just get the feeling they’re going to find a way to be less terrible than most expect.
4. Adam Dunn will hit 37 home runs. Not 36, not 38, not 11. 37.
5. Andrew McCutchen will lead the NL in one of the three variations of WAR[P]. He’s going to cut the strikeouts back down, keep the power up, steal like 35 bases, and grade out brilliantly on defense. We’re going to do our usual our-awards-picks thing and I’m going to list him either first or second for MVP, though he’ll have zero chance of actually winning the real thing.
6. Dee Gordon will be demoted — to the bench, or to the minors — by June 15. This is a side effect of my waiting to write this until games had already started, because Gordon looked terrible at the plate last night, completely lost, which doesn’t really change my opinion of him, but it put him in the front of my mind. A hitter who swings at everything (like Delmon Young) can really be a drag on a lineup; one who swings at everything with essentially no power is a black hole. I don’t think they’ll fall out of it far enough fast enough that the Dodgers are comfortable continuing to run him out there, and I think there’s a chance he’s so hopeless they send him down.
7. The Red Sox will win 93 games and the #1 AL Wildcard. Maybe it goes Yankees-Sox-Rays (that’s how I saw it at BPro), maybe Rays-Sox-Yankees. Who knows? They’ll just be a lot better than most people seem to expect.
8. Joe Mauer will, once again, tower over all other catchers. Santana’s good and everything, but TCM is wrong. Mauer is all the way back, stays healthy, and ends up arguably deserving his fourth AL MVP award (though he’ll still be stuck having won just one of them).
9. The Phillies will sneak in to the playoffs as the #2 NL Wildcard. Ragging on the Phillies is popular this year…but I’m on board. Still good, but not that good.
10. Exactly one player in the Major Leagues will hit 40 homers. I don’t know who, I just know it’ll be one guy. We know it won’t be Dunn (37). I think both Giancarlo Stanton and Prince Fielder will be dragged down by their new parks. I’ll say the one and only is Albert Pujols, who hits 44, with Jose Bautista clocking in at 39.
11. Ichiro will bat over .300 and top 200 hits again. I think he has it in him, one last time. And I wanted to end on a happy note. Wouldn’t feel right about ending on “less than 30 games remain in Manny Ramirez’s career.” I mean, I just did, but at least it’s not in bold.