15 Bold Predictions for 2013 MLB Season
Looking Into the Crystal Ball...
The 2012 MLB season was filled with surprises and drama. The Los Angeles Angels looked like World Series favorites heading into the season but they didn’t even make the playoffs despite signing Albert Pujols and acquiring Zack Greinke at the trade deadline. Nobody could have predicted Pujols would go the entire month of April without a home run or that he would hit .217 over his first 92 at-bats.
Nobody predicted the Baltimore Orioles or Oakland Athletics to each win more than 90 games and both make the playoffs. It was also a bit of a surprise that the Detroit Tigers, a team that won 88 games, fewer than every other American League playoff team, would make it to the World Series.
The San Francisco Giants might have been the biggest surprise of all, winning the World Series despite their ace, Tim Lincecum leading the league in losses, earned runs, and wild pitches and was relegated to relief duty in the playoffs.
There was intrigue off the field as well as Ozzie Guillen did his best to insult the city of Miami and the large population of Cuban-Americans as his team was self-destructing on the field leading to the purge this winter.
Yes, 2012 was filled with excellent storylines, surprises and drama. However, with the Houston Astros moving over to the American League and interleague games now being spread out over the entire season we could see many more interesting stories and perhaps an even greater surprise than last year. It might be impossible to predict the future but that isn’t going to stop me from making 15 bold predictions for the 2013 MLB season.
The Washington Nationals Will Win 103 Games
The Washington Nationals won an MLB-best 98 games last season but were knocked out in five games in the NLDS. However, this year Stephen Strasburg should have no restrictions and Bryce Harper should improve after playing almost all year in the Majors last season. The Nationals bullpen should also be improved after signing Rafael Soriano to close games. Denard Span batting leadoff should also help the offense. Dan Haren could be one of the best bargain free agent signings of the off-season as well.
Brett Gardner Will Lead the AL in Steals with 70
Brett Gardner led the AL in steals with 49 in 2011 and had two stolen bases last year in 16 games before his season basically ended with arm trouble. I expect the New York Yankees to hit and run more often with guys like Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Derek Jeter in the lineup. Mike Trout will finish in second with 68.
The Boston Red Sox Will Win 73 Games
The Boston Red Sox will show a slight improvement over last season but not by much. They haven’t addressed their pitching needs and imported Joel Hanrahan and Ryan Dempster from the National League. I don’t have much faith in NL pitchers coming over to the AL and having much success. They are also putting a lot of faith in Mike Napoli to be a major part of the offense. Injuries will continue to be a problem for this team this season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Will Have a Winning Record
The Pittsburgh Pirates came close to a winning record last season, falling just two games short of .500. This year they will accomplish that goal but still fall short of the playoffs, ending up with 85 wins and making September baseball in Pittsburgh mean something for the first time since Barry Bonds’ cap size was human-like. They will feature the exciting duo of Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, giving Pirates fans reason to be excited once again.
Alfonso Soriano Will Finally be Traded
Before Chicago Cubs fans get too excited, the return won’t be much and the Cubs will eat quite a bit of salary. Alfonso Soriano will most likely end up on an AL East team not named the New York Yankees with the Baltimore Orioles being a likely destination but I won’t count out the Boston Red Sox or Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox are not quite as likely as the Blue Jays who have admitted they believe they have a short window of competition and they plan on taking advantage of that. I think it is the Orioles Soriano ends up on though.
Jose Bautista Will Hit 56 Home Runs
Jose Bautista hit 27 home runs last season in only 332 at-bats and without the protection in the lineup that he will have this year. Bautista should be healthy and if Edwin Encarnacion is able to produce like he did last year and Jose Reyes can set the table there should be plenty of offense in Toronto this season.
R.A. Dickey Won’t Win 20 Games but He Will Strike Out 240 Batters
R.A. Dickey might be the best knuckleballer since Phil Niekro, maybe even better considering he throws it faster than any knuckleballer ever has. The movement and speed keep hitters off balance and Dickey parlayed that into 230 strikeouts to lead the National League last year and was good for third overall in baseball. Now he will get to face some free-swinging mashers like Curtis Granderson, Chris Davis, Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds in the American League. Oh, and Dickey will win 18 games if you were wondering.
The San Francisco Giants Will Miss the Playoffs
I know what you are thinking, how can the defending World Series champions miss the playoffs? Well, the San Francisco Giants needed an offensive upgrade and didn’t really get that this off-season. Right now I am concerned about Tim Lincecum and wondering if last year was an aberration or a sign of things to come. He did fairly well in the playoffs but how will he fair as a starter again? I also think there will be some regression from Ryan Vogelsong.
There Will be 4 No-Hitters or Perfect Games
David Price, R.A. Dickey and Madison Bumgarner will obtain no-hitters. The one perfect game will belong to Jordan Zimmermann. A few others will come close including C.C. Sabathia and Matt Harrison but only four will obtain the ultimate pitching prize this season.
Matt Harvey Will Win 15 Games for the New York Mets
Matt Harvey might be one of the best pitching prospects the New York Mets have had since the 1980s, even better than Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, and Paul Wilson and the promise they showed in the 1990s. Harvey pitched very well in his first action last season, posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Harvey will emerge as a future ace and this year will be his coming out party.
The Houston Astros Will Lose 120 Games
Not since the 2003 Detroit Tigers has a team been this futile and the 2013 Houston Astros will be one game worse than those hapless Tigers. The Astros are making the jump to the American League after losing 107 games in the National League last season. The Astros roster isn’t exactly studded with stars. Jose Altuve is a good ballplayer but he has no help. Their big power threat comes from Carlos Pena who hit .197 last year and managed only 19 home runs and Justin Maxwell who hit 18 homers last year but hit only .229 and struck out 114 times in 315 at-bats. To make matters worse, one of their best prospects, Jonathan Singleton, is suspended for the first 50 games for testing positive for marijuana so he won’t be an option if Pena and Brett Wallace falter.
Kevin Youkilis Will Hit .318
Kevin Youkilis was once an imposing hitter who has been a shell of his former self in recent seasons. However, New York Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has been working with Youkilis on changing his swing to make up for a loss in bat speed. Youkilis has had one of the more unique batting stances in baseball with his hands wiggling high over his head. If Youkilis can adapt well, something I think he will do, then he should see a return to his numbers from a few seasons ago. Besides, isn’t there some history of former Boston Red Sox coming to the Yankees and having a lot of success?
Johan Santana Will be Traded Before the Trade Deadline
Johan Santana didn’t live up to the hopes that came with him when he was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the New York Mets. He did pitch well in his first couple of seasons but injuries have derailed him lately. Santana will stay healthy enough to become a trade chip for the Mets who will deal him to a contender in the American League. I could see the Texas Rangers being a potential landing spot for Santana as the Rangers make another attempt to win a World Series.
And the MVP and Cy Young Go To…
Robinson Cano will win the AL MVP, hitting .332 with 36 home runs and driving in 118 runs. Joey Votto will win the NL MVP after hitting .342 with 27 home runs and 116 RBI. Justin Verlander will win the AL Cy Young going 22-6 with a 2.87 ERA and recording 236 strikeouts. The National League Cy Young will be won by Stephen Strasburg who will go 21-4 with a 2.23 ERA and 246 strikeouts.
The Washington Nationals Will Defeat the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
The Washington Nationals will feature one of the best rotations in baseball. The Los Angeles Angels will feature on of the best lineups in the game. It’s destiny, right? Another possibility, call it my plan B, is the New York Yankees defeating the Atlanta Braves because it is always smart to have a back-up plan isn’t it? Josh Hamilton will make the final out in case you were wondering.