With the beginning of baseball season only a few days away, it’s time for me to put down some predictions for the upcoming season. I’m typically not very good at these, so this may be pretty funny to come back and read in the fall. Full disclosure: I tend to be a pessimist when it comes to the Braves. I think it’s some sort of defense mechanism I’ve developed thanks to (and feel free to watch all these clips if you’re a Braves fan and want to torture yourself) Jack Morris, Kirby Puckett, Jim Leyritz, Eric Gregg/Livan Hernandez, Brooks Conrad, September 2011, and Sam Holbrook. So if some of these Braves predictions seem pessimistic, I guess it’s just because I’d rather be pleasantly surprised then have high hopes dashed… again. Because I just got super depressed watching all those clips above, I’m going to post some positive clips to try and cheer myself up: Otis, Sid’s Slide, ‘95, Andruw in the field, Chipper, Walk-off clincher) I’ll break down these predictions into three categories: Braves, Playoffs, and Other.
- The Braves will finish with a record of 84-78 and tie for second in the NL East with the Phillies. Inconsistent starting pitching and offense will plague the team throughout the season and keep them from gaining any ground on the Nationals after they post a double-digit lead in the division by the All-Star break.
- Jonny Venters will pitch less than 25.0 Innings this season. The title of this article is almost always bad news for any athlete. Venters appeared in 230 games over the past three seasons and struggled with both control and velocity this spring. At best, the attrition on his arm will severely limit his appearances this season. At worst, he won’t pitch at all.
- The Braves will lead the majors in strikeouts. B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton will all strike out over 140 times each. Some have questioned how much worse a strikeout is compared to any other out, but I will curse this article every time a Brave strikes out with a runner at third and less than two out and then they fail to get the runner home. This will happen in the first week of the season.
- Chip Caray and Joe Simpson will be so bad that I will have to watch the game on mute. Obviously we were spoiled to get to listen to Pete Van Wieren and Skip Caray every night for a couple decades, but do they really have to remind us this on a nightly basis by being so terrible?
- Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman will both hit over .275 with over 30 home runs. They can’t all be negative, that’s just exhausting.
- Craig Kimbrel will strike out 4 batters in an inning. And hopefully it will be in his first appearance so that his K/9 IP for the season will be 36.00.
- The Braves will have both a winning streak and a losing streak of at least 8 games this season. It will be both awesome and infuriating to watch, respectively.
- In the National League, I have the Nationals winning the East at 94-68, St. Louis winning the Central at 89-73, and the Giants winning the West at 90-72. Cincinnati will be the first Wild Card at 87-75, and the Braves and Phils will tie for the 2nd Wild Card, requiring a play-in to the play-in game. Everyone will continue to think Bud Selig’s an idiot. The Braves will beat the Phils and then lose to Cincinnati to continue their playoff series victory draught that dates back to 2001. Cincy and St. Louis will advance to the NLCS, and St. Louis will go back to another World Series. I will hate everything about this.
- In the American league, the Rays will finish with the best record in baseball at 99-63, the Tigers will win the Central at 92-70, and the Angels will win the West at 95-67. The A’s and Royals (yes, you read that right) will be the two Wild Card teams, and the Royals will advance. The Rays and Angels will advance to the ALCS and the Rays will win in 5.
- The Rays will beat St. Louis in the World Series in six games. Desmond Jennings will win Series MVP, and I will pretend I don’t care about any of this because we will be several weeks into football season by this point. This is going to be really funny to read in a few months when the Rays are 74-74 and Desmond Jennings is hitting .218.
- Someone is going to hit 50 home runs this season. I know it’s only happened once in the past five years, but I feel like someone’s going to do it this year and it won’t be one of the usual suspects. Cabrera and Fielder play in too big a ballpark, Stanton is in a huge ballpark with no protection in the lineup, and Encarnacion (and his testosterone levels) will come back to earth this season. Bautista would probably be the smart money to hit 50 if anybody does it, but I’m going to predict that Jay Bruce has a huge breakout year and hits 51. I will admit the primary motivation for this pick is that I had him on my fantasy team the last two years and now I don’t. I’m not saying it’s a valid reason.
- Madison Bumgarner will win the NL Cy Young. Big ballpark, big arm, should be just now hitting his prime. Justin Verlander will win the AL Cy Young. He’s been the best pitcher in the league the past three years, no real reason to think he won’t be again.
- Tim McCarver has announced he’s retiring at the end of the season. He will say something dumb at least once or twice in every game he’s covering that will make us wish he retired last season. This is admittedly the safest of all my predictions.
- Joe Girardi will be on the hot seat by July when the Yankees are under .500 and all their overpaid stars continue to be old and hurt. Don Mattingly will be on the hot seat in August for the same reason.
- Ryan Braun will emerge from the most recent PED scandal unscathed and will again put up MVP numbers, and will again be shunned because of MLB’s growing enmity for him. Bruce’s 51 home runs (and sub .270 average) will get him the award instead of Braun.
- Melky Cabrera will get suspended for PED’s… again. Just hoping for some poetic justice here. I still remember the .255 hitter he was in Atlanta a few years back, a far cry from the monster who was hitting opposite field home runs in the All-Star game last year.
- Miguel Cabrera will win his second consecutive MVP award. Trout will not hit .320+ with 30+ HR’s again. Cabrera will, and too many voters still only pay attention to the Triple Crown categories.
- I will consistently mention the one or two of these predictions that came true in future posts and try to deny I ever made the others.