50 Ways to Predict a Season

April 3, 2015
Your articles are getting stale, Bill said to me,
The writing should arise more organically.
If you want some help I could advise you how to see,
There must be fifty ways to predict the season.
He said it’s really not that hard to look ahead successfully.
All it takes is a little less guess work and a bit more factuality.
You should embrace a more optimistic mentality.
There must be fifty ways to predict the season.
1. They’re in for some turmoil, Royals. The clock strikes midnight for last year’s Cinderella darlings, who won’t finish above .500 in 2015.
2. But we’re liking the vets, Mets. For reasons detailed in an earlier article, we’ll take the Mets as one of the NL Wild Card teams.  
3. Out of the race, (Pa)Dres. Continuing the trend of big off-season movers having less-than-stellar regular seasons, I’ll peg the Padres to finish under .500 this year.
4. And thanks for the bribe, Tribe. We’ll give the AL Central to Cleveland. This isn’t too bold, so we’ll add that they will win at least 92 games this year. I love this team irrationally.
5. Looking to club, Cubs. The Cubs will have at least three players with 30+ homeruns this year. We’re guessing it’s Rizzo, Bryant, and Soler, though they have plenty of players capable of cranking 30 homers into the bleachers. That’s assuming that Wrigley has bleachers this year. 
6. And finding the floor-io, Orioles. Two straight playoff appearances be damned: the Orioles will finally play to our math-y projections and finish out of the race.  
7. The Rox will surprise, guys. Though we’re not going to give them the NL West, we’ll picking Colorado to win at least 85 games this year.
8. The A’s in the cellar, dweller. The A’s will continue last year’s decline and wind up in the basement of the AL West.
9. No longer least, in the East. The Red Sox and Rays, who finished 5th and 4th in the AL East last season, will flip that over and finish 1st and 2nd in the division.
10. The Giants will fland-ah, sans Panda. Last year’s champs will experience the biggest decline among NL teams. This will set up their 2016 championship run. Also, I might be stretching these rhymes a bit.     
Tango said these should be riskier than years before.
Otherwise the readers will take you to the floor.
And Bill will have start another war on WAR.
So please make sure these predictions have some teeth.
11. The future’s still stout, Trout. Trout will be the first play in baseball history to lead his league in runs scored for four consecutive seasons. Here, for reference, are all of the players who went three-in-a-row: King Kelly, Ty Cobb, George Ruth, Ted Williams, Duke Snider, Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, and Albert Pujols. Good company.
12. But looking even sharper, Harper. As good as Trout will be, we’re guessing that Bryce Harper out-homers his cross-coast rival in the coming season.
13. Liking the Wall, Sandoval. As twenty-three of the last eighty batting titles have gone to Boston hitters, we’ll go ahead and give the AL batting title to the great Pablo Sandoval, who will be the twelfth Red Sox to collect the trophy.
14. He’s due to regress, Les(ter). Meanwhile, former Red Sox hurler Jon Lester will struggle in Wrigley, posting an ERA north of 3.50.
15. Now lithe as an arrow, Montero. Mariners malcontent Jesus Montero will be a valuable hitter for Seattle this year, posting an OPS+ of at least 125 with at least 300 plate appearances. Have you seen picture of him this spring? For once, the phrase ‘best shape of his life’ seems earned.
16. Doesn’t expect a fade-a, Pineda. The guy the Yankees got in exchange for Formerly Fat Jesus will get Cy Young votes this year. 
17. Avoid a fiasco, Carassco. The Cleveland hurler will be one of the ten best pitchers in the AL, by at least one of the version of WAR. I am not the only person whose raved about the Cleveland reliever-turned-starter.
18. Doesn’t wanna lob, Cobb. Tampa Bay’s talented righty will make a similar leap this season, finishing in the Top-15 among AL starters.
19. No longer blotto, Votto. Joey Votto will return to doing what he does best, and lead the majors in on-base percentage.
20. Just run for fun, Hamilton. We’ll hazard that Billy Hamilton steals 80 bases this year. Against my better judgement, I’m still optimistic that Hamilton will turn into a good baseball player.
21. Cash in that dowry, Lawrie. Newest Oakland 3B Brett Lawrie will have a breakout year, posting a WAR of at least 5.0 while wrestling a Fielding Bible from the guy he was traded for. I think ‘Lawrie’ goes with ‘dowry.’ 
22. Ain’t Gonna Wheeze, Ortiz. David Ortiz will continue to defy Father Time, and finish with a top-ten in batting average in the AL. He hit .263 last year, so this seems sufficiently bold.
23. Roll of the dice, Price. David Price will be the best pitcher in baseball this season.
24. And now for some hatin’, Clayton. The Dodgers (and baseball’s) ace will pitch fewer than 140 innings this year.
25. Showing some brawn, Braun. Ryan Braun will return to his pre-P.R. disaster levels of production, posting a Triple Crown line in the neighborhood of .310/30/110. 
I said to myself, why don’t we stop right here.
I’m no good at this prediction game, that much is clear.
I could go to and crack myself a beer.
It’s the only way to save these picks.
26. Out-playing the vets, Betts. Mookie Betts will be the most valuable player on the Red Sox in 2015. And yes, I realize this is the second time I’ve used ‘vets’ to rhyme something. Also: I am ready to love Mookie with my entire soul.
27. Hitting some dingers, Springer. Curious George will hit at least 40 homeruns this season, and strike out 200 times. Does he have a nickname yet? Can we please come up with one? How about ‘Spronger’? Or the Connecticut Comet? The New Britain Whaler?
28. K-ing a ton, Houston. Six hitters in baseball history have had 200+ strikeouts in a single seasons. This year’s Astros will have two players crossing the mark: Spronger and Chris Carter. And to increase the difficulty of this prediction, one of them will break Mark Reynold’s single-season mark.
29. Hitting off a tee, J.D. Last year’s breakout slugger J.D. Martinez will continue his torrid hitting in 2015, and post the best OPS on the Tigers, a team that, last I checked, still employs Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
30. Prepare for the fall, Rosenthal. The Cardinals committed to their young fireballer last year, enduring an up-and-down season. This year the leash is shorter: someone else will be closing games for the Cards by the All-Star break.
31. Put down the gin, Nathan. Meanwhile, the Tigers closer/open-can-of-gasoline Joe Nathan will turn in an impressively good season in 2015, holding on to the closer’s gig for the entire season. Closers are weird.
32. Have no pity, committee. The Red Sox will see three pitchers collect at least ten saves apiece this season. It’ll work better than last time. I promise.
33. Shot in the dark, Mark. D’Backs slugger Mark Trumbo will lead the NL in homeruns this year. I think this is my only D’Backs pick. They’re sort of dull, eh?  
34. Refusing to melt, Belt. The Giants first-baseman/infant camelopard will be the best first baseman in the National League this year. He’s having a terrific spring.
35. Look at it go far-io, Rosario. Wilin Rosario will manage to hit at least 30 homeruns this season, splitting time between catching, first base, the outfield, and shortstop (when Tulo’s out). 
36. Not so blue-o, Tulo. Speaking of the Rox shortstop, we’re guessing that this is the year he stays healthy, and finishes as the best player in the National League.
37. Count him a lock, Joc. Dodgers centerfielder Joc Pederson, second banana this spring to the monster performance of Kris Bryant, is going to be the better player this year, winning the ROY easily.
38. Strong as a horse, Morse. Michael Morse will out-homer his Marlins teammate Giancarlo Stanton. He’s another player who should have a good nickname but doesn’t. Apparently some people call him ‘The Beast’, which is pretty dull. We live in an age of dull nicknames.
39. Having a day, Pompey. The Toronto centerfielder will lead all AL rookies in WAR, and win a flashy trophy at the end of the year.
40. Other than thee, Dee. A middle infielder will lead one of the major leagues in stolen bases. And it won’t be either Dee Gordon or Jose Altuve, last year’s keystone burners. It’ll be…someone else.
My wife said it’s time you posted these to the site.  
Forty predictions is a lot; it’s late at night.
And if you keep going you might even get one right.
One out of fifty: that’s what I’d guess.
41. Drive in a run, Hamilton. Josh Hamilton will play less than 50 games this year, but he’ll hit at least 15 home runs over that time, with a batting average well over .300. I’m rooting for him.
42. Throws like a bee, Venditte. I think bees are ambidexeterous. Are they? Do bees have hands? Are they, like, bugs? Anyway....we’re predicting that not only will switch-pitcher Pat Venditte appear in the majors this year, he’ll be successful at it. I think he gets at least 30 innings this year, and posts an ERA under 3.00. He is my favorite player ever.
43. That’s a sick burn, Jos-Fern. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez will throw a no-hitter this year. He’ll also homer during the game. I would sell my soul to the devil if this happened against the Braves.
44. No longer a fraud, A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez will hit 30 homeruns this year and drive in 100 RBI’s. And Derek Jeter will stay retired.
45. Looking to void-ols, Pujols. At some point during the season, it will be revealed that Albert Pujols is older than everyone thinks he is. When this happens, the Angels will look to get out from under their large contract with the slugger. Things will get messy.
46. Coming out….someone. Baseball now has an openly gay umpire: here’s hoping a few active players follow Dale Scott’s lead.
47. Hitting a dandy, Grandy. Curtis Granderson will hit at least 32 homeruns this year, and win Comeback Player of the Year.
48. In the know, Gyorko. The Padres middle infielder will lead his team in homeruns, outpacing Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers.
49. Going further, (Box)berger. The Rays reliever will posted the best strikeout rate of any relief pitcher this year. He’ll outpace Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Bettances, and Andrew Miller, who are all pretty good at making batters miss.
50. Mike Trout hits .400. I’m not going to rhyme this one.
Bill said: I hope a few of these picks come true.
Especially number nine and double-two. 
I shrugged my shoulders and said I done what I could do.
There must be fifty ways to predict the season.
David Fleming is a writer living in Wellington, New Zealand. He welcomes comments, questions, and suggestions here and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com. 

COMMENTS (12 Comments, most recent shown first)

I'm putting a follow-up on Reader Posts, because probably nobody looks at articles' "Comments" after a while.....
10:59 PM Jun 8th
Ten games in, Dave. Trout, .444.
3:39 AM Apr 18th
Just thought I would share this:

Fifty Ways to Cook a Chicken

Music by Paul Simon

Lyrics by Joe Aro and Neil in Rockville

Performed by Joe Aro as heard on the Tony Kornheiser Show


The problem is all inside your grill he said to me
The answers are easy if you take them logically
I’d like to help you in your struggles with poultry
There must be fifty ways to cook a chicken

He said it's really not my habit to intrude
But I hope my recipes can put you in a better mood
So I’ll repeat myself, since it involves your favorite food
There must be fifty ways To cook a chicken
Fifty ways to cook your chicken

You just put it on the grill, Phil
Use a fry pan, Stan
You don't need to use sage, Page
Just don't over salt
400 on bake, Jake
You don't need to season much
Just stuff it with cheese, please
and make the skin crispy

It's better off the bone, Joan
Eat whatever's left, Jeff
You don't need to reheat, Pete
Just listen to me
Roast yourself a thigh, Guy
Or you could even fry!
but I like it with cheese, please
and make that skin crispy!
10:42 AM Apr 17th
The O's are pretty solid. I'm sending Dave's prediction (number 6) to their clubhouse for placement on the bulletin board. Their starting rotation is deep; they play solid defense, they have Machado back, and they're getting Wieters back soon. And, if Ubaldo is really back, that's an added bonus.
1:56 PM Apr 16th
32. Have no pity, committee. The Red Sox will see three pitchers collect at least ten saves apiece this season. It’ll work better than last time. I promise.

Didn't work too well in tonight's 9th inning! :-)
9:14 PM Apr 10th
Screw the actual predictions, they don't matter. This is great writing. :-)

I think that if Pat Venditte does ever appear in the majors, it'll be because somebody thinks he's good enough one way or the other, and he'll pitch just that one way, whichever it is. Baseball has long been way too specialized for a mediocre prospect who pitches mediocrely both ways to pitch like that in the major leagues.

And finally, not everyone has thought that Pujols isn't older than everyone thinks he is. :-)
2:51 PM Apr 10th
Dave -
Enjoyed your 50 bold predictions, particularly the two concerning young Mr Trout. I remain puzzled by the radical changes in Trout's numbers over the last two seasons - homers and strikeouts way up; batting average, walks, OBP, and stolen bases way down. It was almost as if Trout were trying to decide what kind of (great) hitter he wanted to be - the slugging RBI machine or the speedy on-base threat. Is he really good enough to indulge in that kind of tinkering with the bat? I gather from your prediction that he will hit .400 this year that you do indeed believe he is that good - and then some. Am I right?
That aside, why in the world did he stop stealing bases last year? Saving his legs? Direct order from the manager?
Thanks for your work.
1:06 AM Apr 6th
Sorry, Bucs fans...I usually try to make sure I get one or two for every team, but I missed 'em this year. They're my favorite NL team, and Andrew McCutchen is one of my favorite players.

Here's a couple predictions:
51. Gerrit Cole leads the the NL in wins, and is in the top-3 in the CY vote.
52. Neil Walker outpaces Cutch and Alverez, and leads the Pirates in homeruns.
2:32 PM Apr 4th
Pirates win 95...........not one mention of the Bucs here? Alavarez hits 38 HR, Marte emerges as one of the five best all around outfielders in the game with close to .500 slugging pct. NL central is the best race with all teams in it till sept.
2:11 PM Apr 4th
This was fun. :-)
11:03 AM Apr 4th
Wrong Paul Simon song. Mr. Fleming. Try, "American Tune." "Many's the time I've been mistake, And many times confused, Yes, and I've often felt forsaken, And certainly misused, Oh, but I'm allright, I'm allright, I'm just weary to my bones, Still you don't expect to be, Bright and bon vivant, So far away from home, So far away from home." Now to the important stuff. Trout will hit .400. Josh Hamilton, will put up nice numbers. Albert, will defy, whatever age he is and the Angels will win the WS. Beating the Cubs in six games. After taking care of the Indians and Red Sox. The Red Sox are one Portugee short.
1:55 AM Apr 4th
The Orioles don't have two straight playoff appearances. They have 2012 and 2014. They finished third in 2013.
12:48 PM Apr 3rd
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