M-SABR 2017 Season Preview: Bold Predictions

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(Credit: AP Photo)

As part of our season preview, we decided to gather some bold predictions to post! Various members of the club have sent in some predictions for the 2017 season, some bolder than others. We’ll check in around the All-Star Break to see how far off (or spot on) everybody is!

  1. The Los Angeles Angels will make the playoffs.
  2. The Chicago Cubs will not repeat.
  3. Noah Syndergaard will win the NL Cy Young.
  4. Travis Jankowski takes a leap forward from last season and finishes with 65 steals, good enough to lead the MLB, slightly edging out Jonathan Villar, Dee Gordon, and Billy Hamilton. While Jankowski will compete for playing time with Dickerson, Margot, and Renfroe, if he can bring down his K-rate (which is drastically higher than it was throughout his minor-league career), he should force himself into the lineup, steal a lot of bases, and score a lot of runs. His 11% walk rate also bodes well as a base-stealer and leadoff man.
  5. Jose Bautista bounces back and hits 40+ home runs. Bautista has every incentive to go all-in this year and land a two or three-year deal that should carry him off into retirement. After a down/injury plagued year, he certainly has a lot to prove, but the fact that he hit the ball harder at a higher rate than he did in 2015 when he hit 40 homers suggests he’s got some gas left in the tank, even if he is getting older.
  6. Taijuan Walker finishes 2017 with a top 10 ERA in the MLB. After a solid first half of 2016 with a 3.66 ERA, Walker fell off in the second half with an ERA of 5.21. Rumor has it that Walker has been experimenting with his slider in Spring training, throwing it on 40% of pitches (inducing whiffs 19% of the time!). For reference, he threw a fastball or splitter on 80% of pitches last season. Adding a 3rd high-grade pitch to his repertoire, the 24-year-old could very well be in for a breakout year in his new Arizona home.
  7. Bumgarner’s six consecutive seasons of 200+ innings pitched finally catches up to him. After seeing his four-seamer and two-seamer lose 1.3 and 1.2 mph respectively last year, in addition to a bump in BB/9 of over .5, Bumgarner comes down to earth in 2017, finishing with a career-high ERA of 3.40. Certainly not bad, just not what we would expect out of the ace in his age 27 season.
  8. Marcus Stroman will finish Top 3 in AL Cy Young voting, following his dominant WBC appearance with a strong season.
  9. Nicholas Castellanos will hit for a career high HR (at least 25) following a season in which he would have reached the mark without injury.
  10. Giancarlo Stanton will win NL MVP after a down year.
  11. Defensive wizard Brandon Crawford will win another Gold Glove.
  12. San Francisco Giants will have the best bullpen ERA.
  13. Trea Turner will join Rickey Henderson (1985, 1986, 1990), Eric Davis (1986), Joe Morgan (1973, 1976) as the fourth member of the 20 HR and 60 SB club.
  14. The Orioles will have their fifth straight MLB Home Run Leader as Manny Machado finds his power stroke en route to a 46 HR, .320/.410/.580 season.
  15. Andrew Benintendi will become the first non-Ichiro Rookie to win a league Batting Title since Tony Olivia in 1964, hitting .336 for the AL East-winning Boston Red Sox.
  16. Giancarlo Stanton will stay healthy long enough to lead the league in home runs.
  17. Rick Porcello will regress to a 4.50 ERA, finishing fourth among Red Sox starters.
  18. Mike Trout is traded to the Yankees.
  19. Seattle wins the AL west but Houston goes to the ALCS as a wild card team.
  20. Mike Trout will join the 40/40 club and win his second consecutive MVP
  21. Atlanta will push for a wild card spot before falling just short; because there is no way they will actually make the playoffs.
  22. Bartolo Colon will hit another home run!
  23. Tigers win the World Series to honor Mr. I! – Big dreams, bold predictions.
  24. Tigers will get a combined 2.0 WAR from the center field spot.
  25. Alex Rodriguez is named manager of the New York Yankees.
  26. The Colorado Rockies win the NL West.
  27. There will be a debate about who should be AL MVP. But there won’t be any debate about who the real MVP is. (Not Kevin Durant’s mom.) But people will make up a debate about AL MVP, because it can’t be him, not again. But yes, he’ll be MVP. Mike Trout is the AL MVP.
  28. The White Sox will win 45 games in 2017.
  29. The Cubs will win 45 games… before June 1. But the Mets will win the NL pennant.
  30. Daniel Norris finishes the year with an rWAR of 5.0, +/- 0.5. Norris put up a 1.5 rWAR in under 70 innings last year while seeing his K% rise drastically on his fastball.
  31. Continuing in the Tigers rotation, Matt Boyd surprises Tigers fans with an rWAR of 3.0 in the fifth rotation spot. Boyd has posted an ERA of 2.49 in Spring Training. (I haven’t even mentioned Justin Verlander, who will win the Cy Young. That’s not in a separate prediction because it isn’t bold whatsoever.)
  32. Greg Bird hits 30 HR for the Yankees in his rookie season.
  33. Every starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers hits 15+ HRs in 2017, with six hitting 20+. Rotochamp projects for seven of the starters to hit above 15 and for five to hit 20+, with every single starter having a projected OBP of .329 or above (!!)
  34. The Cubs magic wears off a little bit. The rotation regresses greatly from 2016 to 2017, especially as batters bunt more often on Jon Lester. Jake Arrieta continues to regress, John Lackey pitches like he’s close to 40, and Kyle Hendricks is not a Cy Young-like pitcher any longer.
  35. The Red Sox rotation doesn’t live up to the hype. David Price’s injury hinders his play all year, Chris Sale does not adjust to Fenway after a year of giving up long fly balls on the South Side, and Rick Porcello shows that 2016 was an anomaly and that he is more of a #3 pitcher in the rotation than an ace.

The people to hold accountable:

1-3. Nicholas Pastore

4-7. Griffin Murphy

8-12. Matthew Kikkert

13-15. Max Smith

16-18. Joshua Kremers

19-24. Josh Rusgo

25-29. Billy Stampfl

30-35. Zane Harding

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