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2012 MLB Bold Predictions

March 30, 2012

1. The Philadelphia Phillies miss the playoffs

I’ll start off with quite a bold prediction. The Phillies missing the playoffs? Crazy, right? The Phils have made the postseason five years in a row and have three stud pitchers who are all capable of winning 20 games and posting stellar numbers. They also have a great lineup with hitters like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Wait – No they don’t. Their runs scored total has dropped over the past two years, from 820 to 772 to 713. Howard’s hurt and will probably miss at least the first two months of the season. Utley’s also hurt and no one knows when he’ll be back. Even when both players come back, they’re on the wrong side of their peak years and the wrong side of 30. Howard’s OBP and OPS have dropped each of the past two years and he can’t hit lefties. Utley’s missed 106 games the past two years and his rate stats have also dropped.

The Phillies lineup the first two months will probably include Placido Polanco, Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry Jr., and Freddy Galvis. That’s half their lineup! Their pitching should keep them in contention throughout the year, but what if one of their big three gets hurt? It’s possible. But my prediction is focused more on what the Marlins and Nationals did this offseason. Both of those teams have better lineups than the Phillies will, and both teams should have better pitching this season compared to their pitching last season, due to trades/free agent signings and returning veterans who were injured.

2. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have a combined ERA of less than 3.02

That 3.02 was the Phillies’ ERA last year, a good .18 ahead of the next lowest number. The Angels’ ERA last year was 3.57 and that included 25 starts and a 4.75 ERA from Tyler Chatwood and 24 starts and a 5.13 ERA from Joel Pineiro. The Angels already had two studs, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, in their rotation, and Ervin Santana isn’t elite but he’s just a level below. All three of those guys pitched over 228 innings last year, and now they’ll welcome C.J. Wilson, who put up a 3.13 ERA the past two years pitching half his games in homer-happy Arlington. The last two years Wilson has put up ERAs on the road of 2.91 and 2.31. I wasn’t totally sold on Wilson’s breakout 2010 season, but by improving his numbers last year I think he’s the real deal and he’ll help the Angels put up a league-best ERA mark.

3. B.J. Upton goes 30/30

Predicting Upton to get 30 stolen bases isn’t bold. But projecting him to go 30/30 is because he’s never hit 30 homers in a season. However, his homer total has been trending up each of the past three years, and he’ll be 27 for most of this season – an age a lot of guys finally break out. Upton put together a great September last year, belting five homers, stealing nine bags and hitting .333/.432/.606. It’s possible Upton could be this year’s Jose Bautista or Curtis Granderson – a guy who never fully broke through until changing his swing late in a season and then finally putting it all together the next full season.

4. Shin-Soo Choo is this year’s Matt Kemp

Now I don’t think Choo is going to hit 39 homers or steal 40 bases. But a 30/30 season isn’t out of the question, and neither is 25/25. By “this year’s Matt Kemp” I mean someone who came off a disappointing season for numerous reasons – injuries and a DUI arrest, mainly – like Kemp did last year but otherwise had been a stellar and consistent performer in previous years. Choo, 29, has a career line of .291/.384/.473 and was coming off back-to-back 30+ doubles, 20+ home runs, 75+ walks and 20+ steals seasons when he just couldn’t get it going last year. The guy is really good and knows how to hit for power and be selective at the plate. He never had a chance to get going last year, but should be able to pick up this year where he left off in ’10.

5. Madison Bumgarner finishes in the top three of NL Cy Young voting

If I could I’d probably marry Bumgarner I love him that much. He improved in a lot of ways last year from his stellar rookie season, but a lot of people don’t realize how good he actually was last year. He got off to a horrendous start in his first five starts, posting a 6.17 ERA. But from May on he posted a 2.83 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 175 strikeouts to only 35 walks in 181.1 innings. Take out a disastrous start against the Twins in which he allowed eight earned runs in .1 innings and you get an even-better 2.43 ERA in 27 starts. He basically posted a K or more per inning in each month from June through September. Lincecum and Cain get a lot of (deserved) attention, but this year Bumgarner will be the best of the three.

6. Tyler Greene goes 20/20

This is one of the picks I have the least confidence in. Some of you will laugh, but if Greene gets playing time he can do this. Last year with the Cardinals he stole 11 bases after 121 plate appearances and didn’t get caught once. His OBP has always been good, relative to his average, in the majors. I don’t put too much stock into spring training stats, but look at his this year and he’s having a better year this year than he has the past two years. He’s got two homers and five steals to go along with a .350 OBP and a 10/7 K/BB. This prediction could look silly as early as May, because he might flop and be waived. But the second base job is his to lose, especially now that Skip Schumaker is hurt. If Greene gets consistent playing time – and he should – he could very well put up those numbers.

7. Justin Verlander finishes out of the top five of AL Cy Young voting

I was surprised to see so many ESPN analysts give their vote to Verlander for Cy Young this year due to a lot of analysts’ love of “regression.” Verlander had a monster year last year, leading the league in a ton of categories, which he surely can’t do again, can he? Just two years ago he finished 11th in Cy Young voting, even though he posted 19 wins, ratios of 3.37/1.16, and 219 Ks and other good numbers. Now, I don’t think Verlander will go back to his poor 2008 numbers, but regressing to 2009/’10 numbers – and by even regressing he’s still going to be good – is probably a safe bet. But guys like Price, Sabathia, Felix and Lester should have better years than last year. Haren and Weaver will again be really good. C.J. Wilson should be really good, too. Verlander probably will finish in the top five, but I can see how he couldn’t.

8. Mark Reynolds leads the majors in home runs

Reynolds has hit at least 28 homers a season the past four years. He’s averaging 31 per year. He hit 44 in 2009. His move to Baltimore last year didn’t slow him down any, as he hit 37. I’m really just taking a wild guess on this as I know he can hit 40 and maybe he’ll luck into four or five more and end up with 45, which could be just enough to win the homer title.

9. Prince Fielder hits fewer than 30 home runs

Now I’m not meaning to bash the Tigers in this article, but apparently Comerica Park – Prince’s new home – is tough on lefties. Prince is a lefty. I just read this article that said Prince’s home run totals should decrease from 33 in 600 plate appearances to 30 in the same amount of PAs by going to Detroit. I’m not going to link to it because it’s long and boring and I really didn’t read it all I just skimmed through it and found that stat, but it was on Fangraphs if you want to find it. Prince loves to alternate up and down homer/SLG years, and last year was an up year. This year should be a down year, even with his move. I’ll say 29 homers and 104 RBIs.

10. Albert Pujols will set a new career-high in RBIs

Pujols’ career-high RBI total is 137, and he’s reached 130 or more three times. That was with the pitcher batting ninth, usually. This year he should have Peter Bourjos batting ninth, Erick Aybar leading off and Howie Kendrick second. Those are three guys who should be in their primes this year. Again, spring training stats yada yada yada but Aybar and Kendrick are hitting over .400 and Bourjos has a .379 OBP. All those guys can steal bases and hit for extra bases so Albert’ll have plenty of guys on base to hit in. It pains me that this would happen in Anaheim, but whatever. I think he’ll do it.



From → Fantasy Baseball, MLB

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