With two full days off before baseball starts up again on Friday, we figured it was a good time to check back in on our fifth annual preseason bold predictions. As always, they were made with the whole year in mind, so many of them can’t properly be evaluated yet. A bit under half of them are already nearly certain to fail, but hey, you can’t predict baseball. Without further ado:
Boston Red Sox: Pablo Sandoval hits fewer homers than he hit last year.
Sandoval hit 16 home runs last year, and has had a generally disappointing first half in Boston, hitting .265/.307/.384 with seven home runs and at least one post liked on Instagram while in the bathroom. This prediction was based on Fenway Park being more hitter friendly than AT&T, and so far it’s on track.
Tampa Bay Rays: They will have a 16-game winner.
A little background: Jake Odorizzi was tied for the team lead in wins last year with just 11. He was tied with David Price, who was shipped to Detroit at the end of July. As for this prediction, wait and see. Chris Archer has been fantastic and Erasmo Ramirez has shown surprising success since moving into the rotation in mid-May, but they have only 9 and 8 wins, respectively.
Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis qualifies for the batting title with an .850+ OPS, and the Orioles win fewer than 96 games.
The Orioles are 44-44, so it would take a tremendous second half for them to win 96, a number that was chosen because they won that many games last year. Davis needs to pick it up too, as he is hitting .235/.318/.469/.787. This is a likely bust.
New York Yankees: CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka combine to throw 350+ innings.
So far, they have thrown 167.1 innings. Tanaka missed some time due to injury, and Sabathia has been so bad that the Yankees pushed back his last start. This one is looking busted as well.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion account for less than 30% of their total dingers.
Toronto’s high-powered offense has clubbed 115 home runs, which is actually third in the AL. Bautista and Encarnacion have hit 35 of those, or…30.4%. Let’s wait on this one.
Cleveland Indians: Michael Bourn steals 40 bases.
Bourn has stolen just seven bases. Nope.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander posts a 4+ bWAR.
Verlander is sitting at -0.1 bWAR. This is another one that seems impossible.
Minnesota Twins: Phil Hughes has a K/BB over 10 again.
Hughes set a major league record last year with an amazing 11.63 K/BB. His walk rate is more or less what it was last year, but his strikeout rate has fallen off dramatically. His K/BB is a still excellent 6.1, but he’s got a long way to go to make us right about this.
Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale throws 200 innings.
Sale has thrown 112.1 innings, averaging 7 innings per start. So far, so good, but performance has never been the issue for Sale.
Kansas City Royals: They finish under .500.
Technically possible but extremely unlikely. The Royals are 52-34 at the break, so they’d have to lose 48 of their remaining 76 games to finish under .500.
Oakland Athletics: They will have the best rotation ERA in the AL West.
Oakland boasts the best rotation ERA in not just the AL West but the entire AL at 3.01. The second-place Rays have a rotation ERA of 3.33, so this prediction is looking good so far.
Houston Astros: Dallas Keuchel wins 15 games.
Keuchel leads the AL with 11 wins, and Houston is unexpectedly quite good this year. This one seems likely.
Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz leads the majors in home runs again.
Cruz has hit 21 homers, tied for 9th in the league, and six behind leader Giancarlo Stanton. He could do it with a big second half.
Texas Rangers: Neftali Feliz finishes in the top 5 in the AL in saves.
Feliz threw 19.2 mostly bad innings before being DFAed and signing with the Tigers. He will not finish in the top 5 in the AL in saves.
Los Angeles Angels–the infielders (C included) hit more homers than the outfielders.
Their infielders have hit 43 home runs, while the outfielders have hit 42. They also have 11 home runs from the DH slot. This one is certainly possible.
Philadelphia Phillies: They win 75 or more games.
The Phillies are 29-62. To win 75 games, they would need to go 46-25 for the rest of the season. It’s mathematically possible, but considering the way they’ve played this season, it seems extremely unlikely.
New York Mets: Matt Harvey doesn’t lead the team in wins, ERA, or strikeouts.
Thank you, Jacob deGrom. deGrom leads the Mets in all three of those categories, though Harvey is only three strikeouts behind him.
Washington Nationals: Their starters win fewer games than they did in 2014.
Washington starters won 70 games last year. So far this year, they have 37 of Washington’s 48 wins, and 43% of their total games. They are on pace for just about 70 on the year, so we’ll have to wait and see where they end up.
Miami Marlins: Henderson Alvarez strikes out 150+.
Henderson Alvarez hasn’t pitched since May and has nine strikeouts all season. This one is looking all but impossible.
Atlanta Braves: Melvin Upton has an OBP over .300.
We made this prediction a day or two before Upton was traded to the Padres. His OBP with San Diego, in very limited playing time, is .294. Let’s wait and see on this prediction, though it won’t be with Atlanta either way.
Chicago Cubs: They will finish with a top-2 record in the National League.
The Cubs are certainly within striking distance of finishing with a top-2 NL record, and they could get there with a hot second half. But they’ve got a lot of competition, not least of all in their own division with the Cardinals and Pirates, who are two of the top three teams by record in all of baseball.
Cincinnati Reds: Aroldis Chapman will set a new career high in saves while having his worst season since he became full time closer in 2012.
Chapman has 18 saves, a tick less than half his career high (38, in both 2012 and 2013) in a bit over half the season. This is mostly because the Reds just haven’t been very good, sitting at 39-47. Chapman himself has a 1.69 ERA with strikeout and walk rates more or less in line with the rest of his career. This is a likely bust.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen goes 30/30.
McCutchen has hit 12 homers and stolen just five bases. 30/30 seems unlikely.
Milwaukee Brewers: By OPS+, they have a top-three offense in the NL.
With a team OPS+ of 91, they are not particularly close to the top three.
St. Louis Cardinals: They will miss the playoffs as Wainwright puts up an ERA over 3.
The Cardinals currently have the best record in all of baseball, and save a collapse they don’t look likely to miss the playoffs. Adam Wainwright is probably done for the season, and his ERA was only 1.44 at the time he went on the DL with an Achilles injury in mid-April. Neither of these looks like it will be true, but wait and see.
San Diego Padres: No one hits 25 homers.
Justin Upton leads the team with 14 home runs, and Derek Norris has 11. Wait and see on this one.
San Francisco Giants: Madison Bumgarner posts a 3.50+ ERA for the first time.
Bumgarner has a 3.33 ERA. Stay tuned.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw isn’t their winningest pitcher.
Zack Greinke has eight wins to Kershaw’s six. He also has a 1.39 ERA.
Arizona Diamondbacks: They finish with an above league average team ERA.
Current ERA+: 94. They’d have to have an excellent second half.
Colorado Rockies: They have a team ERA under 4.50.
Their current team ERA is 4.82, but fun fact: only three Colorado teams have ever had a sub-4.50 ERA. Drop that down to 4.20 and it’s just Ubaldo’s career year 2010 team.
1995 (Coors Field opens): 4.97
1999: 6.01 (!)
2000: 5.26 (and a 110 ERA+)
A good number of these have a real chance of happening. As always, we’ll update again at the end of the season.