Predictions are tough in a sport that relies so much on luck to measure out an accurate end point to a team’s destination. Almost no one picked the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series, much less make the playoffs.
There are safe picks. The Tampa Bay Rays remain the head of its class in the American League East. The Yankees are talented but old. Seattle may have spent too much money and will endure its existing holes through, uh, moxie.
It’s almost been impossible to forecast pitching. They’re dropping like flies, and while I suspect that Clayton Kershaw’s DL stint is precautionary, it’s still concerning. CC Sabathia will throw no harder than 87 mph on average. Justin Verlander is coming off core surgery, and was somewhat more like Jack Morris than Nolan Ryan for much of last season, including the playoff appearance-slash-brilliance. There’s a moment of silence for Matt Harvey, who’s lost for the season. There are open prayers to spare Jose Fernandez of the same fate.
You just don’t know with pitching, but I’ll try.
Let’s try to take the outrageous side of the crystal ball.
- Albert Pujols will have a bounceback year.
How does 28 home runs, a .280/.360 OBP / .510 SLG year sound? The days of Pujols pulling in 7-WAR a season are mostly long gone. He’s no longer a machine. At times Angels fans have seen him confused, hurt, or both.
Pujols has battled foot injuries and has never really settled into a groove in Anaheim. He played like an all star his first year — though a borderline one. He’s long ceded the game’s best hitter championship belt to Miguel Cabrera. He’s making too much money, has won too many World Series rings.
A select few do arrest their declines. David Ortiz is proof. Carlos Beltran is proof. He won’t win the MVP award, but he’ll finish fourth or fifth.
Are the Angels going to make the playoffs with Trout being Trout and Albert scratching his way out of mediocrity? Hold that thought.