Spring training is full swing, teams are starting to set their lineups and the predictions are being made on who will win the World Series or who will lead the League in Home runs. Well here are seven bold predictions that may change the entire league…
1. Chicago misses the playoffs
[the_ad id=”567″]Many writers and fans are predicting the Cubs can win a second straight World Series. They have the same team returning, minus their closer Aroldis Chapman (signed with Yankees) and catcher David Ross (retired). They have many young stars who can only get better like Javier Beaz or Willson Contreras. Their veterans are not that old and near the prime of their careers. Having said all that what happens if things don’t go that way, let’s say, Hector Rondon who was replaced by Chapman at the trade deadline loses his confidence because of the trade and struggles to create saves. The young guns Beaz and Contreras can’t handle a full-time load and struggle at the plate or in the field. Age starts getting to John Lackey which slows his fastball and John Lester or Jake Arrieta have major injuries or off seasons and by the all-star break, the Cubs are a .500 team all this leads to the Cubs fighting for a Wild Card spot and missing out.
2. Yulieski Gurriel wins Rookie of the Year
With most eyes being on Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox this year, people may forget about this 32-year-old Cuban defector who in 2016 played just 36 games for the Houston Astros hitting 3 home runs and 15 RBIs with a .677 OPS. That may not seem like much, but if you take into consideration his stats playing in Cuba and Japan where he had a .997 OPS with 1585 hits, 250 HRs, 1018 RBIs, and 121 stolen bases all in only 925 games, people may want to start taking a second look at this Astros third baseman. Especially when he wins the ROY.
3. New York Yankees win the East
[the_ad id=”384″]The Yankees have been one of the best teams in spring training, now that usually doesn’t mean a whole lot due to the fact that most of the games are not against an MLB lineup. Brian Cashman the Yankees GM has done an incredible job rebuilding the minor system with quality top 100 prospects like Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, and Justus Sheffield, Torres and Frazier look like they could probably make the team now. They have also added some veteran presence by signing free agents Chris Carter and Matt Holliday. Carter lead the NL last year with 41 homers and could see that total again in the hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium while Holliday has been struggling with injuries as of late moving to an AL team where he can DH will benefit him greatly. Add Gary Sanchez and his 20 HR in 209 ABs, Greg Bird one year removed from shoulder surgery and possible ROY candidate Aaron Judge, to along with Yankee mainstays Starling Castro, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headly, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury the Yankees have a very well round lineup of speed, power, and defence. The pitching for the Yankees will be what makes or breaks them after Masahiro Tanaka they have a hit or miss rotation, but a solid bullpen with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman anchoring it. If the rotation is more hit then miss the Yankees can surprise everyone and win the Division.
4. Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff falls apart
Some would say the Blue Jays have one of the best pitching staff in the Majors, headlined by Aaron Sanchez who lead the league in ERA with 3.00 and J.A Happ who won 20 games. Both pitchers were considered for the Cy Young last year eventually losing to Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox. The rest of the rotation isn’t so shabby either with Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, and fifth starter Francisco Liriano. This does seem like a potent rotation, but if you peel back the layers it may not be what its all cracked up to be. Happ was stellar last year with his 20 wins and ERA of 3.18, but before last year he never won more than 12 games and has a career ERA of almost four. Sanchez was all the Jays could hope for in his first year as a starter with 15 wins but he only struck out 7.5 batters per nine innings which don’t put him anywhere close to the top ten in that category and leaves a lot of balls in play. Stroman may have hit his peak, he looked nothing like the pitcher he was in 2014 and for four games in 2015, maybe his knee injury slowed him down but he finished 9-10 with an ERA above four and surrendered 21 HRs in 32 games. This leaves us with Estrada and Liriano, Estrada became a much-improved pitcher with the Jays but has a nagging back injury that limited him last year and could affect him again this year. Liriano is probably a better fifth starter than what most have but still sported a 4.69 EAR and walked an average almost five batters a game. If numbers don’t lie then Toronto’s rotation could be in trouble.
5. Bryce Harper is worse than last season
[the_ad id=”384″]Bryce Harper is by all accounts one of the stars of the game, in 2015 we saw him lead the NL in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS on his way to winning a silver slugger award and the NL MVP, one year later he barely hit .250 with only 24 HRs. However, these stats from the last year are not far off of his usual seasonal totals, before his breakout 2015 season, Harper never hit over .276, never had more than 22 HRs. He also has never had a 100 RBI season, even in his MVP season he only hit 99 RBIs, so could this 2015 season be just a one off great season? There is nothing to suggest in his history statistically that he is capable of hitting like he did in that MVP season, of course, he has never played as many games as he did in 2015, but he did only have 27 less at bats last year then he did the year before. He has also been nagged by injuries since he missed 62 games in 2014. With nagging injuries and pressure mounting up look to see Harper falter and have his worse season ever.
6. The Los Angeles Dodgers will win the National league Pennant
Some would say this isn’t a very bold prediction considering the fact LA has one of the top teams in the NL, but take into consideration that this team does have one of the tops teams with one of, if not the best rotation in the entire league, but has yet to get past the NL Championship Series. Since winning the World Series in 1988 the Dodgers have made it to the NLCS three times 2008, 09 and 13 losing all three and winning a total of only four games, they also have lost 6 of 9 division series. Even with a managerial change they still couldn’t get the job done, but this year could be the year that changes all that.
7. Tim Tebow Plays in the Majors
This will probably be my boldest pick ever, but I figured why not throw it out there, there is a very slim chance if any this would happen or even could happen. after all, he was 3 for 14 in spring with an OPS of .481, that’s not great but I’ve seen worse and really this is the only evidence I have to support my case. The odds are high this won’t happen but hey, I’ll look like a genius if does!!