By Glen McKee, angelswin.com Junior Prognosticator -
One of my favorite parts of spring training is looking to the season ahead and seeing how many predictions I can make that will totally miss the mark. It’s a hallowed tradition that ranks right up there with giving up on the season after a two-game skid in the second week of April. There are as many different methods of prediction as there are people making predictions. Some use statistics to project future performance. Some rely on instinct. Still others, like me, just pull stuff out of their Puig and hope it comes true. Each method, I might add, is equally valuable. My predictions are no worse or better than what you get from Fangraphs, or from the homers for any other team. Here is what I think will happen for the Angels and the rest of baseball in 2015.
I don’t know who will be the starting 2B on opening day. However, I do know that the starting 2B after the All-Star break won’t be the same player. Scioscia loves platoons and 2B is the most ripe platoon situation the Angels have had since Napoli and Mathis were “tastes great!” and “less filling!” In other words, nobody will run away with the job.
Albert Pujols will hit fewer than 25 HR. I’ve gone back-and-forth on this prediction a few times. It’s so hard to say what we’ll get from Pujols this year. His stats from last year seem OK, but when compared to his first year here – which was widely considered to be a disappointment – they’re down almost across the board. Some decline is to be expected as he continues to get Dominican older, but how much is normal for him? I think this year is gonna be the year we really feel the weight of his contract as his numbers continue to decline. I hope I’m wrong.
Something will happen with Josh Hamilton. He might be suspended for the season, or it might be 20 games. He might return in the middle of the season and go on an absolute tear, or he might suck like a jet engine. I don’t know what it will be, but by God something will happen with him. Mark my words.
Trout will steal more bases than he did last year. Without a doubt. He’ll steal way more than last year’s paltry 16, and he’ll continue to steal my heart. How can you steal what is already stolen?
Mike Scioscia will spend a lot of time looking vaguely confused. This one is too easy.
Kole Calhoun will have a breakout year. The ginger is gonna kick ass like he’s wearing butt-seeking boots. This will be the year that everybody learns his name. He’ll be so good that he’ll get two promotions in 2016. Kole Calhoun “Ginger Hair Dye Night” and Kole Calhoun Something Something Night.” I hope the second give-away comes in my size.
The starting pitching will be a strength throughout the year. I know that Heaney and Tropeano have yet to show us anything in ST, and Wilson is already looking sorta like end-of-last-season Wilson. However, Shoe is rounding into form, Richards is close to being back, and Weaver will continues to lose speed on his fastball but pitch well (in Anaheim). That’s a nice 1-2-3. Wilson will bounce back to be a good #4 starter and somebody (Drew, I’m lookin’ at you) will eventually lock down the #5 spot. Next year looks even better, when we have Duke Newcomb competing for a spot and that dude who had TJ surgery – you know, Skaggs, lives upstairs – back in the fold as well.
Our defense will be bad. Losing Howie is a big part of this. Nobody scheduled to replace him can match his fielding, and for the first time in about 25 years Aybar will have somebody different to start the double-play with. Aybar will continue to be awesome, but Freese will be Freese, LF will be average, Trout will pick up a bit from last year (I hope), and Calhoun will be solid. Catcher, from a defensive aspect (i.e. throwing out attempted base-stealers and framing pitches) will continue to be a weak spot. Get ready for some errors and quite a few unearned runs.
Mike Trout will be somewhat forgotten by casual baseball fans this year. Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant are gonna be the new shiny objects for MLB and as Pederson is a Dodger, look out. Bryant will be a large part of the story of the resurgence of the Cubs, along with Joe Maddon, so he’ll get a lot of attention too (and rightfully so, if his spring training is any indication).
Predictions for the rest of the league
Surprisingly good team: Miami Marlins. They’ve been putting together some pieces for a while now and will make the big jump to the playoffs this year. It’s their reward for that god-awful sculpture that may or may not still be in their stadium; I’m a bit afraid to check to see if it’s still there.
Surprisingly bad team: The Boston Red Sox. This is also karma because of all the slobbering over them right now, and forever in the past. Forget last-to-first-to-last-to-first; they’re gonna go last-to-first-to-last-to-last and I will enjoy every last game of their continued suckitude. Runner up: The Oakland As. Billy Beane’s temper-tantrum will doom them to finish below the Astros (but still above the decimated Rangers). More karma.
Surprisingly good player (non-Angels edition): Matt Kemp. Yes, I know he’s playing in Petco. I also know he was on fire at the end of last season and he has a lot to prove. Plus, fuck the Dodgers. Matty K is gonna challenge for MVP this year.
Surprisingly bad player (non-Angels edition): Jayson Werth. Dude is gonna tank this year, because the Nats will need somebody to blame for not living up to expectations.
Who will win the divisions and wild cards? Division winners: Blue Jays, Tigers, Angels, Marlins, Pirates, Dodgers. Wild cards: White Sox, Mariners, Cubs, Padres.
Self-serving World Series prediction? Marlins versus Angels. Angels in six. Hell yeah.