Predictions are dumb, at least when you take them as things that will happen. These particular predictions aren't going to happen, that much I can assure you, for if I could assure you, I'd be making enough bank off of them to not be wasting my time hammering them into a keyboard for you to read.
That isn't to say that predictions aren't some semi-logical collision between should and could. That's exactly what they are, almost-assertions that have both nothing riding on them and just enough of a boozy backing to be interesting enough to maybe remember down the line. And, of course, these are dumb predictions, the misanthropic younger sibling of educated guesses, something right up the alley of our specific baseball bloghole world.
We've done them before. Last year, I was just close enough for you to look back later and say, "none of these were really right at all, but at least he finally learned not to type with caps-lock on." Not to be defeated, I'm at it again, attempting to lob out wide swaths of nebulous ideas for the 2016 season that just might almost happen.
With Opening Day just two sunrises away, here are Five Dumb Predictions for the MLB season.
1) The New York Mets will miss the playoffs altogether
The Mets just finished playing in the World Series, just brought back the free agent that would've crushed them had he left (Yoenis Cespedes), return the entirety of their devastatingly good rotation (plus will add back Zack Wheeler), and here I am saying they'll be on the couch for the 2016 playoffs. Dumb? Certainly, but not quite dumb enough to be unfathomable.
Cespedes' 6.3 bWAR 2015 marked more than he'd posted in the three seasons prior to that combined (5.6), and now he's 30 and being asked to play CF (which he can't really do well). That's just one smidgen of the entire indictment of the Mets' offseason, bringing in older guys whose offense won't be peaking while sacrificing defensive prowess in the process. That's true of both Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, and at 35 years old I don't see Curtis Granderson (-1.6 dWAR combined since 2011) bucking that trend, either.
They'll be good, no doubt, but in case you haven't noticed, so will a pile of teams in the NL. So even with their nearly unmatched pitching dominance, I think they'll be one of the very talented NL squads to get the squeeze come postseason time.
2) Manny Machado continues on his freakishly good career arc, wins AL MVP
I don't have the Baltimore Orioles making the playoffs this year, but this dumb prediction isn't really about them as a team. It's about their brilliant young 3B, the guy who probably should be a SS and looks like a mirror image of Roberto Alomar at the plate while calling a bandbox of a park his home. (Alomar was a switch hitter, I know, but he hit better as a lefty. Machado just hits righty. This is getting off-topic. Just go with it.)
Machado's 22 year old season in 2015 saw him hit 35 dingers as part of a stellar .286/.359/.502 campaign, and he added 20 stolen bases and a huge increase in his walk rate to boot - all with just a very predictable .297 BABIP. All that from a guy who already can claim a 50 double season and a pair of Top 10 AL MVP appearances.
This is dumb, but I'm calling for his 2016 season to be even better. He's yet to hit lefties (.744 OPS) as well as righties (.805) for his career, which I find odd for a sweet-swinging righty like him who plays in Camden Yards. That's what I think he masters this season, and paired with his righty-smashing and plus-plus defense, that's a 8-9 bWAR season and a legitimate superstar. The Orioles will win juuuust enough to keep him afloat in that AL MVP race, too, and this is me saying that he wins it.
3) The Los Angeles Dodgers miss the playoffs, too
Another prediction of something that won't happen, not something that will. I apologize, but these are dumb predictions...don't you know what you signed up for?
Yes, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher of his generation and one of the two or three best anyone within a decade of my age has ever seen. Yes, they have a billion paper bills of every currency ever created, with which they've built a 22 story paper mâché middle finger that they keep their billion tons of gold stored in. But that's been the same story each of the past few seasons, and they still have no World Series appearances to show for it.
Now, they have no Zack Greinke, a rookie manager, and a pitching staff consisting of
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brett Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, Brandon Beachy, you, oh god do they even have a pitching staff, Brandon McCarthy, no they don't actually have a pitching staff. They've got Chase Utley as an option at 3B for Opening Day, and Chase Utley hit .212 with a .286 OBP last year at age 36 and has played exactly 3 games in his career at 3B. Howie Kendrick is hurt, Carl Crawford will be, Andre Ethier has a mildly broken leg, and I've already mentioned what a juggernaut the National League will be in 2016. This is not good for the Dodgers. This is quite bad for the Dodgers.
Yes, they'll get healthier, and they've got a farm system that'll make you drool, but that's a recipe for why they'll be good in 2017, not 2016. Oh, right...2016 is an even year, as the division rival of the San Francisco Giants knows far too well. Maybe your front office will give you a core worthy of a World Series run in your next otherworldly prime, Clayton, but it won't be this year.
4) The Texas Rangers will represent the AL in the World Series
When you try to climb a tree, make it about half way up, hear a snap, tumble down, and find a big pile of stuff all over your bruised self, what is it you've done? You've gone out on a limb and had it laugh at you for being dumb. This, folks, is my "Texas Rangers will represent the AL in the World Series" section of dumb predicting.
The Texas Rangers - if all goes amazingly correct - could have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish fronting their starting rotation by mid year, and that's enough to be frickin' frightened about. Yes, Prince Fielder may or may not have a neck that's held together by paperclips and zubaz pants, and yes, Elvis Andrus is a perennial 1.5 bWAR player with at least 7 years and $113 million left on his contract, but ignore that for a minute. Ignore Adrian Beltre's Hall of Fame age, too. The reigning AL West champs have a certain je ne se quoi about them that is - in a descriptive way that contradicts the previously used French phrase altogether - talent, speed, and great defense up the middle.
I'm buying the hype surrounding Rougned Odor breaking out, I'm amazingly intrigued by Joey Gallo's earth-shattering power, and I'm still a believer that the end of Jurickson Profar - remember him? - has been largely overestimated. It all adds up to: Texas Rangers, ALCS Champs.
I already hate this prediction. If I now predict that it'll be wrong, will that make it half-right in hindsight?
5) The Washington Nationals will win the World Series in 2016
Imagine the scenario if your remote disappeared and the power button on your TV suddenly broke. FOX News is the channel you're stuck watching. For 4 months. Then, after 4 arduous months of brain-bending wrongness being spewed at you in the name of truth, your asshole younger brother comes home from college and won't stop flicking you in the ear.
These were your 2015 Washington Nationals.
I'm willing to think they both fixed the power button (by canning Matt Williams) and found their remote (by hiring Dusty Baker), and the result will be a change of channel from a powerful, veritable horror show to a display of amazing baseball for, oh, up to 181 games this year. Yes, the asshole brother is still in town (Jonathan Papelbon), but so too is an arms-race caliber crop of talent.
Bryce Harper was the best hitter on the planet last year, and he's still there. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez have the potential to form a cerberus of hell for hitters in both leagues alike, with Strasburg in the enviable position of having a super-arm in a contract year with Scott Boras pulling the strings. Lose Ian Desmond? Have Trea Turner set and ready to come up when Danny Espinosa fails. Lose Jordan Zimmermann? Have Lucas Giolito ready to break out in a very Noah Syndergaard-y way mid year. Oh, and they'll get a healthy full season of Anthony Rendon - the 5th place finisher in the 2014 NL MVP Award - who's going to pair with Harper to form the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball by bWAR this year.
But, whatever. Screw those guys. This is about Dusty Baker, who's going to win his first World Series, pour a nice tall glass of 1981 Glenmorangie, and laugh his ass off at season's end (not while reading this article, of course).
Y'know, I'm not even going to call that dumb.