Thursday Lunch: 30 Bold Predictions for the 2011 MLB season

Posted: March 31, 2011 in mlb
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Nick Gallaudet

With the Major League Baseball season kicking off today, it’s my last chance to make outrageous predictions before the season starts, so here we go: 30 bold predictions about the 2011 MLB season, one for each team.

1. ANGELS – Vernon Wells will earn every penny of the $21 million he’s owed this year. I have been very critical of Wells in the past, but I think he’ll be rejuvenated by the change of scenery and inspired by how bad he’s been beaten up recently by both fans and the media. I think this offseason put a charge into him, and he’ll be able to come to Southern California, forget about his last couple years, and have fun again.

2. ASTROS – Carlos Lee will not hit more than 15 homeruns in an Astros uniform. There are two ways this prediction can play out: he’ll either be traded for the deadline and proceed to go on a tear for a contender, or play with the lowly Astros, with absolutely no protection in the lineup, and no incentive to try. Basically, what I’m saying is don’t take him in your fantasy league until he’s traded.

3. ATHLETICS – The A’s will have two starting pitchers finish in the top seven in ERA in the AL. The A’s led the AL in ERA last year, and their starters were a big part of that. Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson all posted ERAs of 3.50 or better and could all improve on their 2010 numbers. If I wasn’t sure the voters have already given the AL Cy Young to Jon Lester, I would get even more bold and say Gonzalez would win the Cy Young, but unfortunately, I just don’t think the voters know baseball happens West of the Mississippi.

4. BLUE JAYS – The Blue Jays will leapfrog the Rays and compete for the Wild Card. The Blue Jays are very talented and can hit the poo out of the ball. They have some young studs in the rotation and should be able to keep up with the other AL East offenses. I don’t know if they will be able to unseat two of the three powerhouses in the East and win the Wild Card, but they will definitely make a run at it.

5. BRAVES – Fredi Gonzalez will be named NL Manager of the Year. Chipper Jones is in love with his new manager and that’s saying something. Jones has only played for one manager his entire career, and now that Bobby Cox is retired, there was speculation that no one could possibly fill his shoes. Gonzalez looks comfortable as the new manager and will be a big reason why the Braves will be playing for a playoff spot come September.

6. BREWERS – Prince Fielder will hit 50 homeruns. The Slugger Currently Known as Prince is in a contract year, coming off a relatively poor performance last season. Prince has something to prove and the Brewers will be in the middle of a pennant race all season; I think Fielder will really thrive. I don’t really have any reasoning for this prediction, it’s more a gut feeling, and I feel like Prince’s gut is going to drop some bombs.

7. CARDINALS – Matt Holliday will be the Cardinals’ MVP. I feel like Albert Pujols’ season can go one of two ways: he’ll either hit 60 homeruns to spite Cardinals management, or let this contract rigmarole get to him and have his first subpar season. I don’t think it’s going to be a bad season, but I think it could be along the lines of .300 avg, 25 homeruns, and 100 RBI, which leaves the door open for Matt Holliday (who I do think will have a monster year) to step up and take charge of this team.

8. CUBS – Matt Garza will have a sub-.500 record. Matt Garza strikes me as somewhat of a head case, and Chicago is the last place a head case can thrive. Talk of the Curse and having to pitch in the launching pad that is Wrigley Field, I think Garza’s emotions will get the best of him and he’ll go Carlos Zambrano on a water cooler or two en route to a 4.50 ERA.

9. DIAMONDBACKS – Russell Branyan will hit 30 homeruns. I am higher on Branyan than most people, but it seems like every time I watch him play, he hits a homerun. I think he’ll be a good veteran presence in Arizona and he has shown he is capable of decent power numbers in the past.

10. DODGERS – Jonathan Broxton will not be the closer come June. Don Mattingly has already stated that Broxton has a short leash as the closer and I don’t think Broxton will do well enough to hold that spot for long. Broxton had a poor year last year and I expect him to pick up where he left off, blow some early saves, and relinquish the closer role.

11. GIANTS – Brandon Belt will challenge Freddie Freeman for Rookie of the Year. Just like last year, the Rookie of the Year race will come down to a Brave and a Giant.  Belt broke camp as the Giants starting first baseman and should hang on to that job all year.  He has the potential to put up crazy numbers and it should be fun to watch Freeman and Belt trade blows all season long.

12. INDIANS – Grady Sizemore plays the entire season and is on another team come April 2012. Sizemore has missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, but I think he comes back this year and plays at least 145 games, puts up big numbers and gets traded in the offseason. Everybody knows what Sizemore is capable of, and after two years of killing his value, he comes back strong this year.

13. MARINERS – King Felix is traded by the deadline. I don’t know exactly how bold this is, but the only real bold thing I could say about this team is that Ichiro won’t hit .300 or they’ll make the playoffs and I don’t believe either of those things. It’s going to be tough for Seattle to get rid of Hernandez, but he’s the only player on their team who’s any good, his trade value has never been higher, and he’ll be gone when he becomes a free agent, so it’s almost Seattle’s only option, other than win…which they won’t.

14. MARLINS – Mike Stanton will hit 35 homeruns. Everybody knows Mike Stanton has big time power, but I think he’s going to show it this season. Stanton hit the ball pretty well this spring and I think he’s in for a big year, and he’s going to put on a couple fireworks displays in Miami.

15. METS – Jason Bay hits more than six homeruns, but less than 15. Bay had a horrendous 2010 campaign in which he hit a measly 6 homeruns, and while I expect him to fare better this year, it won’t be much better. Brought over from the Red Sox to assuage some of their power issues, Bay has been a complete bust up to this point and I don’t think he’s going to turn it around this year.

16. NATIONALS – Bryce Harper, Steven Strasburg, and Jayson Werth will all have minimal impact for the Nationals this year. Strasburg’s out this year, Harper won’t sniff the Bigs this year, and Werth is going to have a poor season. The Nationals headliners this year will not have any major impact, I don’t think Werth will hit over .275, hit more than 20 homeruns, or drive in more than 80. The real show is coming in 2012.

17. ORIOLES – Vladimir Guerrero will hit 40 homeruns. I think Guerrero has one more monster year in him and what better team to do it with than the rag-tag Orioles. This team looks like a weird version of the Miami Heat, a bunch of over-the-hill free agents got together and said, “let’s all play together,” and they ended up with the Orioles. This team is going to be fun to watch, Buck Showalter seems like a candidate for AL Manager of the Year and I think Vlad is going to turn it on and put on one last show.

18. PADRES – Mat Latos will win ten games or fewer. Latos looked like the ace-of-the-future for this Padres rotation last year, but towards the end of the year, he faltered, kept running his mouth, and proved he’s not as good as he thinks he is. I think he’s in for a letdown this season and the lack of run support won’t help much.

19. PHILLIES – Chase Utley will not play regularly until September. Utley is stricken with tendonitis in his knee, and it’s not a problem that looks like it’s going to go away any time soon. There is no timetable for his return, and I think that he’s going to re-aggravate this injury midway through the season. It doesn’t look good for the perennial MVP candidate, and all the Phillies can hope is that he’s healthy for the playoffs.

20. PIRATES – Garrett Jones will not make the All-Star team, even though he’ll put up better first half numbers than Andrew McCutcheon. McCutcheon is a virtual lock to be the Pirates only representative on the All-Star team this year, but I think first baseman Garrett Jones will put up monster numbers in the first half of the season. He could have 20 homeruns by the All-Star break and he still won’t make the team.

21. RANGERS – Brandon Webb will continue his miraculous run of not playing baseball. The Rangers are looking at Brandon Webb to regain his Cy Young form and help them replace Cliff Lee and make it back to the World Series, but it just isn’t going to happen. Webb is too fragile and will not make any significant contributions to this Rangers team.

22. RAYS – Neither Manny Ramirez nor Johnny Damon will hit over .250. Ramirez and Damon are making last ditch efforts to be relevant in Major League Baseball, and unfortunately, it’s not going to pay off. I think this is Ramirez’s last season in the Bigs, and Damon is not far behind, both players will have poor years, and it’s possible that neither will have a job next year.

large_061009bard23. RED SOX – Daniel Bard will finish with more saves than Jonathan Papelbon. It’s only a matter of time until flame throwing youngster Daniel Bard dethrones Papelbon as the Red Sox closer, and it’s going to happen sooner than later. Papelbon had a rough year last year, and I don’t think he’ll show signs of improvement this year, and I think Bard has all the makings of a superstar closer, so look for manager Terry Francona to make the move soon.

24. REDS – Whatever Aroldis Chapman does, he will be the best on the Reds at it. Dusty Baker still isn’t sure what he’s going to do with Cuban fireballer, Aroldis Chapman, but whatever role Baker gives him, he’s going to be the best on the Reds. If they use him as a closer, he will post about a gazillion saves, and if they use him as a starter, he’s going to be their ace. Chapman has electric stuff and will be a vital piece to this Reds team repeating in the AL Central.

25. ROCKIES – Todd Helton retires at the end of the season. First baseman Todd Helton has meant more to the Rockies franchise than any other player in its short history, and this will be his final year. Helton, the consummate professional, will not be happy with his lack of production or being benched, which he will be halfway through the season. After handling his misfortune with class, and hanging with the Rockies for one more playoff run, he’s going to hang up his spikes during the offseason.

26. ROYALS – The Royals will lose well over 100 games. Despite the fact that the Royals have countless minor league prospects capable of making an impact soon, only Mike Moustakas will contribute this year, and that won’t be enough for this team to be any good. The Royals are clearly one of the two worst teams in the AL, followed closely by the Mariners, but they just won’t be able to put a decent season together and will finish in dead last.

27. TIGERS – Austin Jackson will strikeout 200 times. Jackson has the dubious honor of starting his Major League career with the most consecutive games with a strikeout with 19. He also struck out a total of 170 times last year in 151 games. Barring injury, I think that number will increase, and Jackson will push Mark Reynolds for the league lead, although no one will pass Reynolds; he’s the Babe Ruth of strikeouts. (I just want to point out, I have the Tigers game on in the background, and right after I typed this paragraph, Austin Jackson struck out for the second time today).

28. TWINS – Jim Thome will not have an average higher than .215. Jim Thome had a great season last year as the Twins’ DH, but I think the magic he was able to find last year will wear off a little bit. He will still put up decent homerun numbers, but I think this season will be the beginning of the end for Thome and he’ll be relegated to the role of late-inning pinch hitter on a National League contender in the near future, a la Matt Stairs.

29. WHITE SOX – Adam Dunn will lead the AL in homeruns. Mr. Dunn is a country-strong farm boy born to be a designated hitter, and in his first year in the American League, Dunn is going to go bananas. Without silly old defense to worry about I think Dunn could put up as many as 50 homeruns and take down the homerun crown.

30. YANKEES – Bartolo Colon will win 13 games as a starter. Although he may be relegated to the bullpen to start the season, it’s only a matter of time before the Yankees realize Freddy Garcia is not the guy, and Colon, who was lights out in the spring, is much better suited for that last rotation spot. I think Colon will make good use of the run support he’ll receive and put up decent numbers as a starter for the Yankees this season.

  1. Davis says:

    >There's an old man in sports at The Davis Enterprise. He needs to be replaced. You seem about ready.

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