You read the title right. In fact, we went over the first five in Part I right here. Are you ready for the last five, plus a bonus uno mas section? The answer is yes, by the way. So… I guess I might have some splainin’ to do at the end of the year, but I’m proud to throw out the wildest, aka BOLDEST predictions out there. Trust me, these will all be two-drink minimum statements I’ll be laying down. But we ain’t calling this bold because I have a grudge against italics. And I’m not just spouting crazy for crazy’s sake… which I know, brace yourselves, is much different than you’re used to. I’m also going to be sharing evidence to support my claims. And everyone does 10-list’s, so I’m going to be one better, cause that’s how I roll. Right down that hill over there. Hey, you want to steal 10 VCR’s? Here I am, pushing you out of the way to steal 11. Before I ask you why we’re stealing a dead media format, I’m quickly running, cause those be sirens I hear. So, you’re going to eat 10 of those Cool Ranch Doritos Loco Taco’s? Well then, challenge accepted. Actually, wait, no. I take that back. You’ve found something I don’t want 10 of, much less 11. Anyhow, let us continue with the six-spot.
6. Jered Weaver will have an ERA over 4.50.
This one was actually easy to peg. Originally, I was going to predict an ERA over 3.75 for Jered Weaver, but, after pondering for a while, I realized that might be Times New Roman underlined and italicized, but that ain’t bold. Thusly, I changed it to 4.50. Now, as you may recall, since it was just a sentence ago, I stated that this one was easy to peg. Let’s go over why. The most visually pleasing way to attempt this is to post pictures of hot nekked chicks. But there are two reasons I can’t do that. First, you are probably in a NSFW area while reading this. Second, that really doesn’t show any Weaver warning signs. Actually, there would be no warning signs at all. Only two pointy signs. So, instead, let’s have a super duper chart session.
Unless you’re blind, the chart is pretty self-explanatory. And if you are blind, chances are close to zero that you’ll be reading this. What we see here is an erosion of Weaver’s fastball velocity, adding to the downward trend lines. Whether it’s a result of hidden shoulder or elbow issues, or just a plain pitcher aging curve issue, the signs are troubling. Despite this, it has been 648.2 innings since Weaver last posted a seasonal ERA north of 3.02, so his demise could be overstated. But I’m not betting on it. In fact, I’m doubling down that rocky roads are coming. We all scream for ice cream. I do at least. Like a little girl.
7. Matt Wieters will hit 30+ homeruns.
Yes, I know we’ve all been waiting half a decade for the Wheat-splosion to happen. While I could argue that he’s quite a valuable catcher already, I think everyone was expecting 300/350/475 rather than 260/330/430 at this point. So why am I still the only one left standing, still touting that Matt Wieters is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Well, mainly since these are two-minimum drink statements, and we’re on what now? Threeve? Eleventy? Seven? That’s all we’ve done? Seven? If my math mode doesn’t betray me, we are 14 drinks in, so that could be part of the problem. For what its worth, I actually think 14 drinks is always part of the solution. What I see is a walk rate that’s improving, along with the fact that his HR/FB was a career high last season at 15.5%. Wieter’s ISO was also solid at .186. Combine all of that with the fact that most catchers usually have their offensive peaks later in their careers, albeit, with a shorter period of peakness, of which, I should mention, is a word I just made up. I’m going to assume that there is still projection left, and that Wieters is certainly capable of hitting eight more bombs than last year.
8. Will Venable will have a 20/40 season.
I covered my bullish thoughts on Will Venable in the preseason Deep Impact series, so I’ll just shortly touch upon that now. And you know me and touching, so shortly is a real sacrifice here. Longly whenever possible! But yeah, fences are coming in where it most matters in terms of where his power is. Wow, there’s gotta be an easier sentence structure. Fences closer where he hurt ball. There, that’s measurably better, ahem, for a three-year-old… His ISO went from .149 in 2011 to .165 in 2012. The BB/9 and K/9 are trending in the right directions, and he’s on the right side of the platoon, which is a strange phrase to use, since technically he’s left-handed. Venable’s already put up a ‘close to’ 15/30 year, along with two ‘close to’ 10/25 years. So let’s add some bold spice, and kick it up a notch. BAM!
9. Jeff Samardzija will have a lower ERA and WHIP and have more strikeouts than Justin Verlander.
Whoooo, things are getting crazy up in here. You knew I was high on the Shark, but you must be thinking that I’m high in general with what I just put down. Look, this really doesn’t have anything to do with Justin Verlander. I still think he’s the bees knees. This is more about what I see Jeff Samardzija turning into, and that’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. I only picked Verlander because he was tails, and Clayton Kershaw was heads. (I chose tails, for those of you who aren’t following.) It just so happens that Samardzija’s fastball averaged 95.0 MPH in 2012, second only behind Verlander. Just to make an excuse to bring some GIF magic into this post, let’s discuss the Shark’s out-pitch, a devastating splitter.
Note, that as a hitter, when you swing and miss in such a manner…
You will most likely do this immediately afterwards:
His wSF (split-fingered fastball runs above average) was 11.6 last season. That’s a fancy way of showing how effective a particular pitch is. To give context, Roy Halladay, who is known for throwing one of the best splitters in the game, has a career wSF of 11.2. In general, Samardzija had a better K/9, but worse BB/9 and HR/9 than Verlander. But they aren’t far off from each other. I think this year, another step forward is taken by the Chi-town pitcher, whose name I’m tired of typing, while a little bit regression hits the Tigers ace.
10. Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Colby Rasmus will combine to hit more homeruns than the San Francisco Giants.
To set this up really quick, let’s go over the 2012 homerun totals of all parties involved. Edwin Encarnacion (42), Jose Bautista (27), and Colby Rasmus (23) combined to hit 92 homeruns. The San Francisco Giants, as a team, managed only 103 homeruns, good for last in the league. Now, this prediction may count as one, but I’m really saying four different things here. First, I believe that E5 will not regress heavily. His homerun distance and speed off the bat have both been trending upwards the last four years. I’m still expecting 35+ dingers. Second, I think JoeyBats will come back fully healthy, and put up a typical season that we’re all used to and drops a 40+ spot. I believe, as stated in Deep Impact: Undervalued, that he’s back and proper. Then thirdly, and this is where this ride gets a bit rocky… I’m officially stating that Colby Rasmus, the fantasy village bike that every team has ridden, will have enough power to be fantasy relevant as a 4/5 outfielder. Yes, he disappeared for about two-thirds of the 2012 season, but I still have no problem pegging him for 25+ homeruns, albeit, with lousy rate stats, and will guesstimate that he hits 30+ bombs this year. Which basically makes him Josh Reddick. So, for the sake of math, I have the Toronto Triumvirate (that’s mine, no touchy) at a total of 105+ homeruns. Fourth, and lastly, I’m expecting the Giants to be themselves. It’s no mistake that they finished last in homeruns in 2012. Buster Posey was the team leader at 24, and the next nearest player was Pablo Sandoval, coming in with 12 dingers and introducing hamate into our vernacular. Combine that with the fact that AT&T has a park factor of -74, which, in long ball terms, equates to only 67 homeruns being produced for every 100 hit in an average ballpark, well, its not really a stretch to see the power outage continue. Especially since the Giants don’t have a premier power hitter, and haven’t since Barry Bonds. But this is still bold. In today’s run environment, its hard to imagine enough power coming from three guys, on the same team no less, of which a lot of people have concerns with, to eclipse the total of an entire Major League roster. I came to play. And dance. Yes, I dance. Not well, but we’re drinking. So I’ll do a lot of things not well.
Did you want uno mas mi hermano? Of course you do.
11. Yonder Alonso will hit more homeruns than Adrian Gonzalez.
You might be asking, “Is the intro to this bonus area in terrible Spanish because it involves Spanish players?” No, because that would be raycess. I think. Regardless, I like the juxtaposition because one guy is the first baseman for the Padres, and the other used to be the first baseman for the Padres. On top of that, or below that, depending on your skills with altitude, one (supposedly) has no power, and the other is your proto-typical corner slugger. Now, I already went over Yonder Alonso and his power prospects in the last Under the Greydar of the off-season. Quick recap, he has more power coming, and I have projected 24 homeruns for 2013. So let’s go over Adrian Gonzalez. I’m concerned about his plummeting BB%, down 4.2% from 2011. In the same time frame, his ISO also plummeted from .210 to .164. Some would say it was just a down year, but if you include the year previously, in 2010, you’ll see there is now a three year trend of power drainage. While there might be a rebound in his HR/FB of 9.6% closer to his career 16.4%, that might only account for five to six more homeruns. There’s a history of slugging first baseman that have struggled to stay relevant past their age 30 season, and we might be seeing the beginning of the end. Even if I’m wrong, I think Alonso and Gonzalez are a lot closer, talent wise, then people like to admit. Or I’m just blackout drunk at this point. In that case, put on some Wang Chung and grab/caress any body part that moves in your general sphere of influence.
So that does it for my 11 Bold Predictions for 2013. Join me at the end of the year where we will revisit this post and see how well I did. I’m sure I’ll be eating plenty of crow, and since I’ll most likely be hung over still, just make sure you deep fry that sucker.