Every year at this time I make a bunch of predictions about the baseball season as it gets underway. I focus on things that will impact the betting side of things, of course. I suppose that it is only fair to disclose that I am wrong more than I am right – predicting what will happen over 162 games is tricky stuff. Regardless, here I go fearlessly plunging into my view of how this season, which is currently in the midst of its third and final opening day of the year.
1. The Tigers will live up to expectations – The hopes are ridiculously high in the eyes of many for Detroit, but they can meet them. They have a stunning amount of power at the plate, more than acceptable fielding, and a very solid rotation. Justin Verlander is going to tear it up this year and has to be the runaway early pick for AL Cy Young.
2. Johan Santana will be all that – A lot of pitchers struggle as they move from one league to another, but Santana is not just any guy. He is an uber-freak, and he has a good team behind him (as long as they don’t face many injuries), so I expect him to pick up right where he left off. Even better, really – he’ll get the wins in solid outings that his teammates couldn’t deliver for him last year.
3. I’m not as excited about the Cubs as many are – I think that they are a solid team, but the rotation doesn’t do it for me, and the bats, though good, don’t have the long history of success that make me feel confident in their virtually certain success. They will certainly contend in their division, and the playoffs are a real possibility, but I’m not ready to give them the World Series yet like some seem to be.
4. Baltimore will be even worse than you think – They have absolutely no pitching, not much hitting, and no reason to be optimistic. Frankly, anything less than 105 losses would have to be seen as a serious victory.
5. I like Cincinnati – They would need some breaks and some quick maturity from their rotation, but they are packed with a staggering amount of talent both on the field and the mound. The upside of their rotation is as good as any in the league. Add Dusty Baker to that and you have a team that could surprise those who expect to see the same old Reds.
6. Sorry Tampa Bay, not this year – I understand the arguments that people are making about why this is finally the year for this pathetic team, but I think that it is still a year or so premature. They have some good pitchers, but they are short on depth. On top of that, their division hasn’t got any easier, and they are too young to stay strong all year. They will be better, but they won’t yet be good.
7. Seattle, Seattle, Seattle – I love this team. I loved them last year and they came through in a big way – they were the second most profitable team in the league. Many seem to think that they will take a step back, but the addition of Erik Berard and the maturity of King Felix makes me believe that the AL West is fully in their sights.
8. I still hate the Yankees and the Red Sox – Nothing short of an apocalypse will change that. I do enjoy watching Papelbon and Chamberlain pitch, though.
9. Prince Fielder may explode – I am watching the Cubs and the Brewers as I write this, and it is perfectly clear that Fielder did not spend a lot of his offseason at the gym or with Jenny Craig. Dude is enormous. I am not a tiny guy, but my wife and I could live fairly comfortably in his pants.
10. Barry Bonds will be somewhere by the end of April – He may be the worst kind of scum, but he still has a very legitimate bat and he’ll sell tickets like crazy, so someone is going to make a deal with the devil. Frankly, I don’t think that it would be a bad move.