Alex’s Eleven Bold Predictions for 2014
It’s my first time publishing bold predictions at The Dynasty Guru, but it’s my third time doing it for the Internet. My bold predictions range from “not very bold” to “stupid Cubs prediction” to “ludicrous speed,” so don’t take all of these bolded words to the bank.
1. Anthony Rizzo leads the NL Central in home runs.
Last year’s home run king in the NL Central was Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez, who blasted 36 home runs, tied for the most in the Senior Circuit with Paul Goldschmidt. I certainly believe Pedro’s power is legit, but I’m also a believer in Rizzo’s potential to hit 30 home runs. His minor league numbers reveal massive power, and Wrigley Field is the perfect complement for a home-run hitter like Rizzo. He may not hit too many with runners on (because come on, it’s the Cubs), but he’ll find plenty of empty bleacher in 2014.
2. Hunter Pence scores 100 runs and drives in 100 more.
Pence nearly made the grade in 2013, scoring 91 runs and knocking in 99. The Giants are a pretty boring team on the offensive side of things, but Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt are all capable of taking a step forward. Pence has only reached 100 RBI once (2012), but he’s been north of 90 RBI for four years running (like a doofus).
3. Scott Kazmir finishes the season as a top-25 starting pitcher.
Oakland’s starting pitching took a huge hit this spring, losing Jarrod Parker to his second Tommy John surgery and A.J. Griffin to elbow tendinitis. A’s fans received another scare when Kazmir was a late scratch from a spring start; thankfully, it was precautionary. We all know that Kazmir has a long history of not being healthy, but the former first rounder (circa 2002) showed us last year that he still has something left. You can’t ask for better home cooking than O.co Coliseum. (But you can ask for a better name.)
4. Max Scherzer wins the AL Cy Young award (again).
Scherzer has handled the recent contract negotiations like a champ, while the Tigers organization has come across looking like a chump. Not that he needs any more motivation, Scherzer will quietly go about his business and improve upon his 2013 numbers, earning him the second-highest contract for a pitcher in major league history. Adios Detroit, hello South Beach!
5. Logan Morrison hits 20 home runs and drives in 75.
Maybe it’s because I ended up with him in #TDGX, but reports on Morrison in the spring have been positive. Corey Hart will see the majority of playing time at DH, but he’s not even 100 percent healthy and the last I checked he was leading the spring in strikeouts. I guess what I’m getting at here is I don’t think Hart will be a big factor in 2014, leading to the re-emergence of Morrison, who has a 23-home run campaign on his resume. He’s still relatively young (26), and he’s even become less of an annoyance on Twitter.
6. Rougned Odor is called up in mid-May and holds onto the starting job, forcing Jurickson Profar into a part-time role permanently.
I’ve never been a big Profar guy. He’s always struck me as someone who will be more valuable in real life than in the fake game we play. I see average power at best with a questionable batting average, while Odor’s hit tool is capable of producing multiple major-league seasons with a .300 BA. In the end, I think Odor will be the player that many of us expected Profar to become.
7. Jason Kipnis falls outside the top-five second basemen.
Full disclosure: I traded a cost-friendly Kipnis in a keeper league for Carlos Gomez and Homer Bailey, so I’m ready for the second baseman to stop being good at baseball now. I’ve enjoyed the ride, but it’s come with some slow starts and even slower endings. As we get closer to the season, I can’t help but think we’ve seen Kipnis’ best. Can he continue to steal 30 bases? Is he ever going to reach 20 home runs? His all-around game is awesome at the end of the day, but I don’t think he’s this good going forward.
8. Matt Moore loses control and is banished to the Rays Tank bullpen.
Spring stats don’t matter for most, but in the case of Moore I’ll make an exception. A year after walking 4.55 batters per nine innings, the left-hander has allowed 15 free passes in 14 1/3 innings in the spring. At this point, I can’t believe the Rays are even confident in Moore’s immediate future. Sure, he’s as talented as any pitcher in baseball, but that hasn’t translated to consistent results on the field. Take his ERA from the first three months of 2013, for example: 1.13, 3.30, and 8.39. If he doesn’t figure things out quickly, the Rays will have a tough decision to make.
9. Pedro Strop earns more saves than Jose Veras.
The Cubs signed Veras to a one-year, $3.85 million contract with a team option for 2015, but the team has some intriguing options for ninth-inning duties in the long-term, including Strop and Arodys Vizcaino. Strop came over in the trade that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore, and the hard-throwing right-hander sported a 42:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 innings of work in Chicago. I don’t think the Cubs will be any good this year (*BONUS PREDICTION*), and the team should give Strop an extended look at some point.
10. Jeff Samardzija finishes the season as a top-35 starter.
My third Cubs prediction (and my last, I swear). I’ve written about Samardzija many, many times before, and I’m not changing my tune. He’s stubborn about an extension so I’m allowed to be stubborn about my love for a third-year starter entering his age-29 season. Last year I said he would be a top-25 starter, so this time around I’ve re-adjusted my expectations just a little. I can’t blame you for not loving Samardzija, but at the very least you should take him before Moore.
11. No Padres pitching prospects are harmed and Carlos Quentin plays in 140 games.
Alex Kantecki also writes for Fake Teams. You can poke him on Twitter at @rotodealer.