After a long winter of MEGADEALS, a massive PED scandal, and a pretty disappointing return to the Shire, a new season of baseball is finally upon us.
Baseball is a game steeped in tradition, and so as to not offend the gods of the diamond as the 2013 regular season kicks off, we here at MLB Daily Dish have decided to partake in the long-standing practice of playing fortune teller.
We don't possess ESP or any time-travel devices (that I'm aware of), but we do write about baseball every day, so that pretty much makes us experts, right? (Not right.)
We've lined up 10 predictions -- five bold, five not-so-bold -- about 2013 that we feel pretty dang confident about. Be sure to let us know how ridiculous (or awesome!) our prophecies are in the comments.
To the future!:
1. The Yankees will finish last in the AL East
- Predictor: Blaine Blontz
Every single Yankee over the age of 30 (i.e. pretty much all of them) will hit the disabled list over the course of the year. New York will attempt to stop the bleeding by acquiring Alfonso Soriano (more outfielders!) and Elvis Andrus at the trade deadline, but it'll be too little too late. The Yankees will occupy the AL East cellar for the first time since 1990, causing Derek Jeter to retire in shame rather than exercise his option for 2014. New Yorkers will send the Captain scores of gift baskets to tempt him out of retirement, but their efforts will prove fruitless (as will the baskets).
2. Albert Pujols will learn how to walk again
- Augur: Nathan Aderhold
Albert Pujols didn't get off to a great start in Anaheim, but by the end of 2012 his numbers had climbed up to almost Pujolsian levels. The one major red flag that remained when the season concluded was that the Machine's walk rate declined for the third consecutive season, dropping all the way to 7.8 percent (below league-average). Because he is a robot, I am a staunch believer that the reason Pujols' walk rate has declined is that he is simply unaware of the fact he is walking less. Joe Blanton will sit down with Pujols over a steak dinner some time in April and show him his B-Ref page, after which Pujols will reprogram himself to walk at a 16 percent rate.
3. Eric Hosmer will be sent back to the minors
- Oracle: Justin Bopp
Dayton Moore has gone all-in on 2013, likely with his job in the balance. The tea leaves are looking none too kindly on GMDM, however. First baseman Eric Hosmer took a huge step backwards in 2012, and this season will only be worse for the former top prospect. After a terrible first half of the season -- we're talking .221/.284/.340 -- Kansas City will be forced to send Hosmer back to Triple-A and Miguel Tejada will man first for the remainder of 2013. Jeff Francoeur will do his best to pick up the slack by putting up MVP numbers, but the Royals will still finish under .500 and Moore will be fired.
4. The Dodgers will miss the playoffs
- Seer: Justin Bopp
Los Angeles's new owners have done their best to erase the Frank McCourt era from fans' memories, but the club's big-spending ways won't be enough for them to fight off an upstart San Diego Padres (!) squad for the
AL NL West crown. Hyun-Jin Ryu will bust completely, Zack Greinke's elbow woes will force him into a fateful meeting with Dr. James Andrews, and Clayton Kershaw's hip will prove to be much worse off than expected. Even wunderkind Yasiel Puig -- called up at midseason when Carl Crawford fails to pan out -- will be unable to push the Dodgers back into the playoff hunt, though he will set a record by going 350 plate appearances without drawing a walk.
5. The Nationals will win 120 games
- Diviner: Nathan Aderhold
The Nats had the best regular-season record in baseball last year, and while history suggests that they'll take a step back towards the mean in 2013, it's simply not in the cards. Led by an otherworldly season from Bryce Harper -- making Mike Trout's age-20 season look pedestrian by comparison -- Washington will shatter the Seattle Mariners' record for victories in the regular season, finishing the year with a .740 winning percentage. The Nats' stellar play will create a ripple effect across the capital, leading to the most productive session of Congress in our nation's history. Washington will still manage to lose in the first round of the playoffs, just because.
1. Mike Trout will still be really good
- Soothsayer: Nathan Aderhold
As much as Angels' fans may hope for Mike Trout to duplicate his historic rookie season, it's simply not going to happen. Trout will still be in the hunt for AL MVP when all is said and done in 2013, but the Halos' phenom will definitely take a small step back in his overall production. His surprising power numbers will stick around, and he'll take at least four home runs away in Anaheim's short left-field corner.
2. The Royals will reach the playoffs
- Haruspex: Justin Bopp
While the darkest timeline (see: above) spells another year of doom and gloom for Kansas City, the more reasonable reality has the Royals reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1985. Dayton Moore's big gamble of sending Wil Myers to Tampa Bay will pay off big, as James Shields and Wade Davis will pave the way to the postseason. Rebound years from Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur (!) -- along with a midseason call-up of second baseman Johnny Giavotella that finally sends Miguel Tejada into oblivion -- will allow KC to sneak their way past the Tigers in the AL Central.
3. Justin Verlander will win another Cy Young
- Prophet: Blaine Blontz
Justin Verlander has been really good at this pitching thing over the last few years. Even though he's now reached age 30, he'll continue to be really good in 2013, putting up numbers comparable to his 2011 MVP season. David Price and rookie Dylan Bundy will give Verlander a run for his money, but another 20+ win season from the flame-throwing right-hander will prove to be too much for the BBWAA voters to overlook. His second Cy Young will convince the Tigers' brass to make him baseball's first $200 million pitcher, keeping him in Detroit for the rest of his career.
4. The Mariners will finish above .500
- Herald: Nathan Aderhold
Many have spoken ill of Seattle's decision to horde 1B/DH types this winter, but the additions of Mike Morse, Kendrys Morales, et. al will end up paying big dividends for the AL West squad in 2013. Largely brought on by Safeco Field's new, more hitter-friendly dimensions, Morse and company will put together strong first halves, which will allow the M's to deal a few of them at the trade deadline for rotation help and some promising young prospects. Seattle will still finish behind the Angels and Rangers in the West, but their first winning season since 2007 will foretell better things to come for 2014 and beyond.
5. The Pirates will finish below .500 (again)
- Visionary: Nathan Aderhold
Pittsburgh has had a terrible string of luck over the last two decades, and 2013 isn't going to get much better for the Bucs. While the last two seasons have been a tale of second-half heartbreak, this year's crew will at least save fans the grief of looking like they have a chance at the postseason. A.J. Burnett will regress, Francisco Liriano will be volatile as ever, Jonathan Sanchez will do Jonathan Sanchez things, and Andrew McCutchen will again demonstrate that he can't carry the offense by himself. Midseason call-ups Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon will give fans a glimpse at a brighter future, but 2013 will ultimately be another year of losing.
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