I have done Five Dumb Predictions here at Red Reporter at the dawn of Opening Day for almost a decade now. Maybe even a full decade, I’m not certain - and the last two years have seemed like eons, anyway. Last season, for whatever reason, my prognosticating apparatus was apparently well tuned, and my picks for the Milwaukee Brewers to swing a major deal for a shortstop en route to an NL Central title, for Juan Soto to post a .472 OBP, and for Atlanta to win the World Series all ended up being roughly on the nose.
I’m going to hammer my keyboard in support of last year and last year, only, since the success rate of these predictions rarely approaches that stratosphere. These are supposed to be dumb, anyway - reaches that I may not have reached hard enough in pursuit of last year. So, we’re going to reach harder this year, our success rate be damned, lest the unthinkable actually materializes. Mind you, these are Five Dumb Predictions for the entire MLB season, and that I’ll have Reds-centric ones in a standalone post tomorrow.
To the dumb predicting we go!
George Springer socks 40 dingers, wins AL MVP
Matt Chapman has back to back 7.5+ bWAR seasons to his name, Vlad Guerrero, Jr. finished 2nd in last year’s AL MVP voting, there’s a Toronto Blue Jay ranked 3rd overall in Yahoo’s Fantasy Baseball rankings for 2022, and none of those guys are who I’m picking to win the AL MVP off the same team. Dear lord, what a fun time to be a fan of the Jays!
Springer, entering his age-32 season, was the kind of signing we Reds fans should recognize - a veteran cog that was brought in to augment a burgeoning youth movement, a steady head to guide the youngsters while also bringing his own elite talents into the equation. The Reds did something similar, for eleven seconds, and then tore it down before giving it a puncher’s chance, while the Jays have instead doubled-down to make it a reality.
All that has stood in Springer’s way of late has been staying on the field, but I think he logs 140+ games again this year and, in the process, socks dongs at a rate commiserate with the 22 he popped in just 78 games last year. On that team, in that lineup, a .285/.375/.570 line with 41 homers and plus CF defense will have him atop the AL MVP race as the Jays roar into the playoffs.
Noah Syndergaard finishes 2nd in AL Cy Young race, IP his only fault
It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Thor at his finest. He’s logged just 2.0 IP at the big league level since the end of the 2019 season, hasn’t so much as picked up a down-ballot CYA vote since 2016, and owns a respectable (but hardly earth-shattering) 3.70 ERA in 384.1 IP dating all the way back to the start of the 2017 season.
Add-in elbow surgery and a move to the Los Angeles Angels, where should-be good pitchers so often go to disappear, and perhaps this is a limb onto which I shan’t have ventured.
That’s two short paragraphs, though, and that’s too much to delete at this point, so I’ll just say that the now 29 year old has looked healthy again in Cactus League play and, at 29, is poised to resurrect his career alongside Shohei and Trout. Plus, he’s on a pillow contract for 2022, and a berserk season could set him up for a gargantuan contract, and I think he’ll perform incredibly while still on something of an innings cap, the only thing that’ll keep him from taking home some hardware at season’s end.
I’ll say 27 starts, 158.2 IP of 2.75 FIP, 2.86 ERA ball, with a K/BB over 5.0.
Seattle Mariners slugger Jesse Winker hits .299/.399/.499
In the spirit of Sean Casey and his perennial quest to end seasons just shy of more glorious round numbers, Jesse posts a brilliant, yet visibly cringe-inducing first season in Seattle, anchoring their lineup and helping them back to the playoffs for the first time since Erik Thorvaldsson set up camp on Greenland.
Max Scherzer goes 19-1, wins NL Cy Young
Pitcher wins are as dopey as no ragerts tattoos. Statistical anomalies, though, are cool regardless of how telling they truly are.
Max Scherzer rolled into the AAV history books with his short-term signing with the big money New York Mets, and while a) I’m convinced the Mets will ultimately Met things up this year and fall short of a title and b) Max’s peripherals will show he truly did have an amazing season, it’ll be his win/loss % in over 190 IP that’ll send him deeper into the annals of baseball history.
For my money, Connie Rector (18-1, 188.0 IP in 1929 for the New York Lincoln Giants) and Ray Brown (14-0, 129.0 IP in 1938 for the Homestead Grays) are, in my estimation, the two true owners of the best single-season win/loss percentages in pro baseball history. There have been other ‘undefeated’ seasons, mind you, but Brown’s IP total is by far and away the highest of that group (with 98.0 IP a distant second); Rector, meanwhile, is one of just two players to win 18 out of 19 decisions, with Roy Face’s 93.1 IP a distant second.
I think Scherzer, the best pitcher of his generation, posts a simply remarkable (and statistically lucky) 2022 that earns him win after win, leading the Mets to a 94 win regular season and postseason collapse in an otherwise history season - one that nets him yet another Cy Young Award.
The Chicago White Sox win the World Series
Tony La Russa can kick rocks, for all I care. Unfortunately, he stands to benefit from again managing a team of uber-talented superstars in the making.
Luis Robert is going to be this season’s breakout star, and he’ll do so finishing 2nd in the AL MVP voting to Springer. Alongside a healthy Eloy Jimenez, a healthy Yas Grandal, the consistently brilliant Tim Anderson, and a pitching staff boasting AL Cy Young winner Lucas Giolito, the Sox breeze through the AL Central and into the playoffs off a 101 win regular season, and take out the Blue Jays in an epic ALCS to pit them against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who dispatched Atlanta in a 6-game NLCS.
Liam Hendriks picks up 4 saves in 4.0 perfect IP to take home World Series MVP honors, and that’s that.