The Yankees won't finish above 4th place is just one of my nutty predictions for the 2013 major league baseball season.
N.L. Cy Young:
3. One team out of the Cubs, Indians and Diamondbacks will make the playoffs.
2. The Yankees won't finish above 4th place
1. The Rays and A's Will Win the A.L. East and West
3. The Dodgers won't score runs like they're supposed to
2. R.A. Dickey will be a top-10 pitcher and continue to be the most interesting man in the baseball world
1. The Reds and Giants will win the N.L. Central & West
3. No one will get suspended due to the "Biogenesis scandal"
2. The Washington Nationals Will Win the N.L. East
1. The Detroit Tigers Will Win the A.L. Central
Take These To The Bank
Baseball! It leaves me too excited for verbs. And with the coming of the baseball season, it's also the season for making predictions, and with those predictions comes a predicament: go bold or go safe? Both. Here are my shockingly accurate predictions for the 2013 baseball season in order of increasing insanity:
. The Tigers, American League champs last year, have their flaws. Their defense is mostly lousy. Their bullpen has almost as many question marks as
the guy with the question mark suit
. That said, their lineup and rotation are among the best, and they can sustain some injury and underperformance (especially if Victor Martinez needs time to remember how baseball works). Also, no one in that division exactly jumps out at you as a team that could explode for 90+ wins. Cleveland could be good, the White Sox are always better than I think they will be and the Royals could threaten if their pitching holds up. Still, this one is as safe as you can get without dipping into "predictions" like "the Yankees will be overpaid."
. The Nationals have some scary competition in the form of the Braves and maybe the Phillies. Still, this team was probably the best in baseball before they got better over the offseason by adding Denard Span and Rafael Soriano. Stephen Strasburg might be the best pitcher in baseball and Bryce Harper might be ready to turn into a baseball monster a la Mike Trout last year.
Starting to dip my toes into the slightly bold category here, but the evidence will never transcend the circumstantial, the players will keep denying and they have a very strong union. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will speak of "ongoing investigations," but he won't have the evidence or the leverage to give out an actual suspension. Even though all of those guys probably juiced.
Both teams will have tough competition, especially the Giants, who will have to contend with the Dodgers beaming them with lasers made of pure money, and the Diamondbacks, who aren't bad either. The Reds will have to fend off the Cardinals, who can look like one of the best teams in baseball on some nights, depending on whether their old and very talented outfield is feeling more old or very talented. Still, both these teams are great (this isn't profound, but they complement each other really well, and would be amazing if they formed one super team), they won their divisions last year and they are both a good bet to repeat.
Much has been written about how R.A. Dickey is old, had a flukish season and is moving to the tougher league. I reply that he is young at heart, his season wasn't as flukish as it looked (you can draw a smooth, not too steep line of improvement over his last three seasons), and a league that hasn't seen Dickey yet will be at a disadvantage, not the other way around. As for him being the most interesting man in baseball, that's not bold at all. It's an objective fact.
The L.A. Dodgers are supposed to score runs like one of the top offenses in baseball. Adrian Gonzalez will hit for a good average with sporadic power, Carl Crawford will mix brilliance with meh, Hanley Ramirez is an injured question mark, and Matt Kemp, might be due for a dip from otherworldly to merely awesome. They will still be good, but like the Traveling Wilburys, less than the sum of their parts.
Whoa there, what? The Blue Jays go berserk, the Angels sign Hamilton and the Rangers are still tough as nails, and I'm picking these low-budget feelgood stories? Yup. The A's might have been the best story of last year, and Cespedes could be even better this year. Their young pitching is a year smarter and stronger, and they are still lovable and underrated. As for the Rays, they are the most solid team in a great but flawed division. The Yankees are beat up, but they are still the Yankees, the Blue Jays loaded up like the Mayans were one year off, the Orioles are still sneaky good and the Red Sox have a weird but good team. The Rays always get surplus value from their roster, and it's a pretty great roster: Price, Longoria, Zobrist, Moore, Jennings...they don't have a lot of weaknesses.
Even though they are injured, they were still the best offensive team and one of the best pitching teams last year, and their pitching should be about as good this year. Plus, Ichiro and Youkilis will probably be the next oldie-but-goodie players who kind of stop aging because they are Yankees. Still, the Red Sox could beat them out, the Rays take the division, and the Orioles and Jays could be the ones battling for second and the Wild Card. The Yanks and Sox could be 4th and 5th. Strange times.
It probably won't be the Cubs, but these are my sneak attack candidates. After the A's and Orioles did what they did last year, I can actually believe that one of these squads, who look destined for 3rd in their divisions, give or take, will at least pick off a wild card. If the Tigers fall apart or the Giants or Dodgers don't pull it together, the Snakes or Spiders (which, long story, is a better name for the Cleveland Indians) could take their division.
Nats, Reds and Giants win their divisions, Cardinals and Diamondbacks take the wild card, D-Backs win the play-in despite a home run by Oscar Tavares.
Rays, Tigers, A's win their divisions, Blue Jays and Angels take the wild cards, Dickey one-hits the Angels in the play-in game.
Blue Jays over Nats. Canada rediscovers its love of baseball. Dickey is W.S. M.V.P.
Oh, and how about a few awards picks.
A.L. MVP: Yoenis Cespedes
A.L. Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
N.L. Rookie: Oscar Tavares
A.L. Rookie: Dylan Bundy