With 2013 upon us I figured I would list 13 (mostly) baseball related predictions for the year 2013:
1.) Someone will predict the world is going to end. Again. The Mayans were either wrong or we were silly to assume they wouldn't just restart their calendar. I say both and since the Maya civilization is long gone, someone or some group will claim 2013 is the end. Let's hope they're wrong, or are at least mildly amusing fodder as we wait for the subway train to arrive.
3.) The Orioles will finish last in the AL East. Although they won 93 games, the Orioles finished with just the third best run differential in the division last year and something tells me that the Blue Jays are going to be better this year and that the Red Sox won't be that bad again. For lack of a better word, the Orioles were pretty lucky to win as many games as they did last season and they haven't done anything this offseason to improve the squad. Their biggest strength last year was the bullpen, and we all know that those things can be pretty fickle year-to-year. The worst team in the AL East might be better than some division winners, I'm not suggesting that the Orioles are a bad team, but I don't think their magic will return in 2013.
3.) The Blue Jays will be good, but depth might be an issue. 162 games is a long time and while I don't doubt that the Blue Jays have the best starting roster on paper in the division at the moment, I wonder if the Jays will have the ability to weather a bad case of the injury bug if one were to occur. I'm looking at you Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson.
4.) 2013 Breakouts:
- John Jaso: In a way Jaso already broke out last year when he it .276/.394/.456 with a 143 wRC+ in 108 games for the Mariners but 2013 will be the year where people notice. It will be a little tough since Jaso can't hit lefties and won't receive 500+ PA, but Jaso might be the most underrated catcher in baseball when facing right handed pitching.
- Matt Wieters: Over the last two seasons Wieters has been worth over 9 wins, so he's definitely doing something right, but 2013 will be his true breakout. Wieters is a solid fielder behind the dish, can hit for power, can hit a ball the other way, takes a walk and doesn't strike out much. I don't think the Orioles will have a great season in 2013, but I do think Matt Wieters will.
- Starlin Castro: Although Castro increased his power output (.147 ISO) he still had a disappointing year at the plate. However, Castro won't turn 23 until March of this year and there is a lot to like about an every day SS who is an above average hitter at such a young age. Castro has proven that he has a solid floor (3+ WAR) and with a slight increase in production at the plate and/or the field Castro could be an all-star.
- Jean Segura: Segura's real life value will largely be dependent on how well he plays SS for the Brewers. I'm not necessarily qualified to predict how he will do with the glove so consider this breakout mostly fantasy baseball related. Segura has an above average hit tool and great speed and with consistent playing time as the everyday SS for the Brewers, Segura has a chance to mimic Elvis Andrus at half the cost.
5.) 2013 Busts:
- Mark Trumbo: 30 home runs is always nice but horrible plate discipline isn't too sexy. Kendrys Morales was traded to ensure playing time for Trumbo, but without a real position on the Angels and a propensity to make a lot of outs I don't predict 2013 will be Trumbo's finest season. There is also this: Mark Trumbo 2012: .268/.317/.491, 6.1 % BB%, 26.1 % K%, 122 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR. Chris Davis 2012: .270/.326/.501, 6.6% BB%, 30.1% K%, 120 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR.
- Jered Weaver: Weaver's ERA has consistently out performed his peripherals and he is certainly one of the best pitchers in the game but last year his strike out rate was the lowest since 2007. He also spent time on the DL for the first time since 2007. Weaver is an excellent pitcher, and has been for quite a while but I have a feeling in 2013 the peripheral stats carry more weight.
- Aroldis Chapman: It's not that I feel Chapman will be a bust but I don't believe he'll necessarily have a 1.50 FIP again. I also don't trust Dusty Baker with pitchers still, and considering the Reds and/or Dusty can't fully make up their mind on having him in the rotation or the bullpen, 2013 might be a let down for Chapman.
6.) The Mets on the field future will look bright but ownership will not. David Wright had a resurgent 2012 and is locked in for the future. Jon Niese and Matt Harvey are both young, cheap and have shown success in the major leagues. Zack Wheeler is one of the best pitching prospects in the league and he should take the mound in Flushing in 2013. However, with all of that said I don't trust the Wilpon's ability to continue to own the team. They will likely retain ownership for now but change in ownership whispers will continue to grow louder.
7.) Ben's Baseball Bias will take the next step. I've been talking to you guys for a little while now, here's to talking to a few more of you in 2013!
8.) Jacoby Ellsbury will have a MVP type season. Again. Color me skeptical about Ellsbury's chances of hitting 30 home runs again but he won't need to do that to have an excellent season. Ellsbury has premier speed, good baserunning ability and makes consistent contact in a hitters park. Those are all good things. So long as Jacoby is healthy, and that is a big if, I think he'll have a rebound year.
9.) Sabermetrics will reach a broader audience while the old guard continues its assault. The Good: People are increasingly more receptible to statistics other than batting average, ERA and RBI. The Bad: We are still a few years away from Murray Chass, Mitch Albom and co. putting down their pens. The Ugly: Murray Chass, Mitch Albom and co. continue to write about baseball.
10.) Giancarlo "Mike" Stanton will hit 50 home runs. Giancarlo Stanton is 23 years old and over the last and his first three seasons he's averaged 31 home runs. Giancarlo Stanton's 162 game pace last year would have given him 48 home runs. His strike outs are worrisome, but if Giancarlo puts a few more balls in play and stays healthy all year he's as good a bet as anyone to knock 50 out of the park.
11.) Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum and Josh Beckett will have bounceback years. While all three pitchers were largely disappointing last year, their performance wasn't as bad as the peripheral numbers would suggest. Regression to the mean in this case would indicate solid performances all around out of these former aces, even if they don't return to their previous level of dominance.
12.) The Miami Heat will win the NBA championship. Most teams don't have the ability to flip the switch whenever they would like but most teams don't have LeBron James. The East is as bad as it's been in a decade, so the Heat's path to the finals will be relatively easy and once they get their I trust LeBron, Wade and Bosh will hoist the trophy again.
13.) The Miami Marlins will have the lowest attendance in baseball. While it might be smart business to not spend money if you aren't going to win, the Marlins have lost any ounce of respect they might have gained with their publicly funded B-grade Disney World baseball park.