What can I say? It’s been a while since I dished out the bold. The beautiful? Full time job baby. Now, whether it’s obvious or not, this season’s iteration of “Bold Predictions” will be quite different. First, there won’t be any predictions based on that stupid next door virus everyone hates. I can’t tell ya how easy my job would be if my first bold prediction would be that the season is completed with zero issues from COVID. Bold to me! (And already void, thanks Juan Soto!) But still, who wants to be the negative Nancy? I don’t even look like a Nancy. So there will be caveats, such as, we’re just going to assume that the entire season is played with minimal issues related to Won’t-you-not-be-my-neighbor-Corona. Now, also add in the fact that these are bold predictions… every season, someone points out how crazy these things are. My response? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. (The non-Bush version.) But now that we have just 60 games on the docket, everything’s awkward. A normal 160-180 inning season? Yeah, we’re talking like 40-60 now. AB’s? Eesh, 20 HR’s is Bonds like. So quite honestly, I have no idea what is considered bold, so we’ll travel this journey together, with masks and social distancing, and discover what the 10 Bold Predictions during COVID actually looks like…
1. Yu Darvish will throw 100+ strikeouts.
Truth be told, I actually had Justin Verlander here in my preliminary drafts of this post. I’m not a huge Verlander guy this season, but it’s hard to deny the season he’s coming off of, all without mentioning the Astros’ elephant in the room. However, a couple things forced me to consider Darvish for this bold call. First, I’m not entirely sure what an Astros team looks like without cheating, but I’m sure they won’t be better. How this affects Verlander’s overall production is a mystery, and then you add the rest of the mix, age, some groin issues (tell me about it), regression, etc. However, the shortened season helps negate some of these things… but the truth of it is, I view Verlander as either plateuing or falling back this year while Darvish’s stock seems to be somewhat on the rise. The injuries are concerning, of course, but 2019 was a great “show-me” season, maintaining a 11.54 K/9, though the walks and HR/FB were a bit higher than one would like. The xFIP of 3.39 is encouraging, and if he’s building off last season, I expect more of the old Yu than the new Yu.
2. Hyun-Jin Ryu will throw less than 5 walks the entire season.
The Asian Sensation (my own personal nick out of love and unhealthy stalking), Hyun-Jin Ryu has had quite the fun pitching profile since hitting the majors. And since I had a strickout prediction, I’d be remiss not to have one involving walks. Now, we all know he has equisite control. He’s obviously no circa-early-90’s Greg Maddux, but sporting BB/9’s of 1.64 in 2018 and 1.18 in 2019 is quite the feat. Just to translate that to raw numbers, that’s 15 and 24 walks, respectively. That 15 number was in just 82.1 innings, so while I would have rather made this prediction set at 10, that’s just not bold enough people. In fact, we’re not just going down to five walks, we’re italicizing it baby.
3. Mike Minor will allow more than 20 homeruns.
This prediction was a bit more difficult than I realized. It’s not just about finding pitchers who really relish giving up the longball. It’s about finding pitchers who not just suck, it’s about finding pitchers who suck, but who doesn’t suck so much that they lose starts and innings. So while this is pretty much shade being thrown on Minor, I hope he appreciates how long it took me to debate taking him with his 1.30 HR/9 in 2020 over Mike Leake (1.89).
4. Trea Turner will win the Triple Crown.
I’m not sure how bold it is to call for a Triple Crown during a shortened season, but as you’ll see a little later, if this one doesn’t float your boat, we’re also getting the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams. Now, it would have been easier to put other names on this list, but I’m personally of the opinion that in such a shortened season, there will be a certain factor of WTF. Turner can obviously hit, he can obviously steal, and if there’s a streak of power, this call becomes less crazy. Still pretty crazy. But manageable crazy. Like your mother-in-law.
5. Nelson Cruz will finish the season with 30+ homeruns.
This is a bit related to the strikeouts prediction above. We all know that Cruz has power, that he can hit homeruns, and that those aspects might dull the bold. But he old man. Dude was playing baseball with Moses. And what exactly is possible, power-wise, in 60 games? I’d say a player who’s on fire heading into the All-Star vote would have around 20 HR? I think 30 is near impossible than improbable, which is perfect for this exercise. (This exercise involves no cardio, so win-win.)
Okay, so my profound need to make bold predictions and my profound disappointment in the Astros… call this killing two birds with one stone, and boy did I wish birds didn’t have to die to make this work.
I realize that some of these predictions are purely fantasy-based, so I wanted to get this one in for your full fantasy pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, Ronald Acuña Jr. is amazing and deserves every bit of hype, but don’t forget that Ozuna does everything Acuña does, but worse! While you could actually say the same thing about me, I do want to add that Ozuna has a slightly better chance than me, especially in a shortened season, to provide the same or better value than what is the tantamount number one pick. Still bold, I do think that this prediction has the best chance to come true…
8. Tim Anderson will end the season with a batting average higher than .400.
Honestly, not too much to say here. When trying to narrow down what player profiles could hit .400, I kinda went with a Tony Gwynn filtered-approach. That is basically: a guy who doesn’t really walk all the much, provides a solid BABIP, and is happy to just make contact and put the ball into play. Trust me, one look at what Tim Anderson does, he was my guy. Granted, his career-high .399 BABIP last year is primed for regression, but it wouldn’t be bold without these caveats.
9. Khris Davis will return to normal and once again end the season hitting .247.
I mean, come on man. It was a failure you even managed to stop hitting .247! Get back on track. Be the guy you were supposed to be. (More homeruns would be nice too, while you’re at it. Also, create a COVID vaccine too. Thanks!)
10. The San Diego Padres will win the World Series. Such as it is.
Just to give you the full context, I actually was weighing this bold prediction with the idea of the Padres not winning one game this year, going 0-60. But I’m an optimist (lol), so here I am, bringing you what you knew was already going to happen, a Padres prediction that not only shows what a wreck they’ve made me, but how much I enjoy it.
Well there it is, be sure to give me some of your bold predictions in the comments below!
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong, or read his rarely (like never) updated blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow.