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, the 162 game thunderstorm that was Major League Baseball smashed into my predictions with full-force, and while it managed to hurl a tree into their garage and knock out the power for a few days, their roof held up and the foundation stayed set. That is to say, I didn’t completely fall on my face with those predictions, and at least the dumbness I displayed showed reasonable enough thought so that maybe, just maybe, you’ll read this year’s edition, too.
Today is Opening Day - the real version. Today, the Cincinnati Reds will pick up the pieces from the previous rough seasons and attempt to both win a few games and provide us with enough tangible substance so we can again be optimistic about them going forward. With that in mind, here are Five Dumb Predictions about the upcoming Reds’ season.
1) Jose Peraza out-WARs Todd Frazier in 2017
Last year, Todd Frazier posted a 2.4 fWAR, 3.4 bWAR season.
Last year, Jose Peraza posted a 0.7 fWAR, 0.1 bWAR season.
Last year, I didn't really step too far out on any limbs with any of my Five Dumb Predictions, and it's high time I rectified that situation for the benefit of all of us.
My theory has some roots, however. Frazier's defensive marks were largely the worst he'd posted in any full season since becoming a full-time player back in 2012, and at age 31 there's at least a half-decent chance that he's not the solid 3B he was during his peak, 5 WAR days with the Cincinnati Reds. Peraza, meanwhile, was limited to barely 1/3rd of a full-season's worth of PAs, and got those while moving around the field so often that his defensive metrics took a beating despite the eye-test showing he's got the chops to be a plus defender in the middle infield.
Well, with Brandon Phillips gone, Peraza won't just be getting a full-season of PAs, he'll also be getting them primarily at 2B, a position where his plus defensive ability won't get discounted by LF starts just to get his bat in the lineup. I don't think a 3+ WAR season is out of the cards with a solid defensive showing by Peraza as the everyday 2B, and that coupled with the trade rumors surrounding Frazier with the Chicago White Sox just might make this here prediction rather undumbly come November.
2) Raisel Iglesias is front page news come the July 31st trade deadline
There will be at least two to eleven of you who will comment on this Facebook post that yore done with the Reds and that they should fire Walt Jokerty while not even opening and reading the article. There will be an additional two to nine of you who will actually read this particular prediction...and then make the same comment.
However, if Day Before Actual Opening Day was any indication, the necessity for teams to add impact bullpen arms will remain as insatiable this year as it has ever been, and the Reds have one of the absolute best in the game in Iglesias.
Francisco Rodney looked awful, and is (old)^old. Mark Melancon continued the curse of last year's San Francisco Giants bullpen with a botch-job in his first outing after signing a $62 million deal. Greg Holland is a completely nebulous elbow entity at the moment, Seung-hwan Oh blew a primetime lead, and Pedro Strop was again shaky.
This prediction is less about Iglesias being an obvious talent, however, and is more rooted in him being fully healthy and dominant as a full-time reliever, and that'll have teams in contention drooling over adding him come July.
I think we tend to overlook that he's already 27 years old and while his contract isn't outlandish, he's still owed nearly $21 million over the next four seasons (with team control over his 2021 season, too). Since teams who aren't currently winning aren't necessarily 'in-need' of traditional 'closers,' Iglesias is a luxury to any rebuilding team, and four months of dominance, good health, and a spotlight while in the same role everyday will have him on everyone's radar, and if the Reds can coax a deal like the ones used to acquire, say, Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman (the other one, damnit), it'll be worth kicking around.
3) Joey Votto wins his first career Silver Slugger Award
Joey Votto has never won a Silver Slugger Award.
According to Wikipedia:
The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Joey Votto is the best gawdamn 1B on the planet, much less in the NL. That he's gone 10 years of being Joey Votto without winning one should be a larger surprise than this prediction being correct.
4) Jesse Winker steals Adam Duvall's OF job, not Scott Schebler's
Winker posted a .402 OBP in the minors in 2016, with a complete evaporation of his power numbers the only thing you could knock about a season spent largely with AAA Louisville. If you're inclined to believe the power outage was a direct byproduct of the wrist injury he'd been battling, his mere .402 slugging percentage becomes that much less worrisome.
I'm in that camp, and am both convinced his bat is ready for the big leagues and am convinced his defense will ultimately make him a LF, not a RF. That's only half of this prediction, however.
Last year, it was Duvall's hot start that coincided with Schebler's cold beginning to the year when the two were, in essence, battling for the corner OF spot not occupied by Jay Bruce. It was Schebler's finish to the season, however, that looked far more impressive than Duvall's, and when push comes to shove in 2017, I think it'll be Schebler who shows the more well-rounded OF repertoire - both for now and going forward.
What that means for Duvall, I do not know. Do not call me now for your free Tarot readings. All I know is that when Winker knocks down that door - and I'm saying that I believe he will - I think it'll be Duvall who will ultimately cede playing time, either to an IF/OF utility role or to the trade market.
5) Amir Garrett wins the National League Rookie of the Year Award
A quick glance at the picks to win the NL ROY from around the baseball media yields a pile of recognizable, yet not star-studded names. Dansby Swanson pops up often, but behind him come a series of solid names that don't exactly carry the reputation of future franchise carriers on their shoulders.
The point? There's no Kris Bryant or Corey Seager as the clear ROY waiting in the wings this year, and historically, ROY awards have gone to not just talented rookies, but to ones who have the clear path to full-time playing time. Garrett has them both, and since his 2017 season will be his age 25 season, I don't suspect the Reds will get tricky with his service time if he takes the job he's been given on Opening Day and runs with it.
That also assumes his performance will be good enough, and it's there where I jump on board. I think he'll take the opportunity given to him from the outset of the season in a similar way to how Brandon Finnegan did in 2016, except I think he'll end up with a bit better overall results.
His comfortable delivery is what every GM looks for, his stuff has been there to match through the minors since he dropped basketball to focus on baseball full-time, and the reality is that I make these Dumb Predictions based on the beers in my gut in times like these.
Garrett's going to shine this year, and a full year of big league starts will be enough for all eyes to see it happen. The votes will follow suit.