Man, were these ever off-piste last year. They were so off that I’m not going to bother runningi back through them, as I’ll let the Googles take you there if need be.
Bookmark, save, and return to criticize me when they all go belly-up!
Mike Trout hits 50 homers, wins AL MVP
This should really be Mike Trout stays healthy, wins another AL MVP, since him staying on the field has been pretty much the only thing standing in the way of taking home more hardwear. Well, that and the presence of his otherworldly teammate Shohei Ohtani, I should add.
From 2013-2016, Trout played in 157, 157, 159, and 159 games, respectively, and won a pair of AL MVPs while finishing 2nd in the other two seasons. On the back of a rejuvinating World Baseball Classic performance, I think Trout logs another 150+ game season in 2023, and in doing so socks his way to 50 dingers.
That round number is extra special, too, since he’s currently sitting on 350 for his career, to date. A 50 dinger season gets him across the 400 threshold, and I think he gets it this season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers miss the playoffs
The Dodgers won 111 games during the 2022 regular season, and while they unexpectedly fell in the NLDS to the San Diego Padres, it marked the 10th consecutive season in which they’d made the postseason. That streak included a World Series title in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and a pair of other World Series appearances, a remarkable run of performance that’s worthy of accolades in the annals of baseball history.
They’ve also said goodbye to Trea Turner, Justin Turner, and Corey Seager in recent offseasons, have Walker Buehler and Gavin Lux on the shelf for the year, and the inimitable Clayton Kershaw ain’t getting any younger. While there’s still ample talent on the club - I do predict the best individual season from Mookie Betts since his 10+ WAR MVP season with Boston in 2018 - I think they end up falling just shy of the playoffs in 2023 due in many ways to the robust NL East taking three playoff positions.
They’ll still be good - like, 88-74 good - but that won’t cut it this year. Rest assured, it’ll feel that much better as a Dodger fan when they sign Ohtani this winter, though.
Jesse Winker hits 37 homers, leads Milwaukee to NLCS
The Brewers boast an envious top of their rotation with Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta, with Eric Lauer and old friend Wade Miley tremendous complements. That alone should put them firmly in the mix for a spot in the playoffs, but they’re going to need some pop to emerge from somewhere within their lineup to replace Hunter Renfroe and Kolten Wong, as well as to cover for a likely regression from Rowdy Tellez.
Enter Jesse Winker, who stumbled to a .688 OPS and 103 OPS+ in his lone season with Seattle after being dealt by the Cincinnati Reds. Returning to an environment where he’s absolutely crushed the ball in his career (.344/.440/.591 in 109 career PA in whatever they call Miller Park these days), I think Winker gets back on-course offensively, especially since he managed to begin to figure out LHP last season, too (.244/.357/.437, far better than the .211/.339/.312 mark he posted against RHP).
37 homers and the rest of that potent offense should back the pitching as Milwaukee not only returns to the playoffs, but advances, too.
George Kirby posts highest fWAR of any MLB pitcher
In all the wheelings and dealings between the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners over the last year plus, my initial reaction each and every time a deal was on its cusp was holy crap, did the Reds land George Kirby?!
[SPOILER ALERT: The Reds did not land George Kirby.]
Kirby, the 1st round draftee of the Mariners from back in 2019, put up an enviable 130.0 IP of 2.99 FIP ball during the 2022 season, and I think he’s poised to continue that excellence in even more quantity this year. So much so that he’ll end up leading all of baseball in fWAR by a pitcher just like the subtitle above this section dictated.
Most projections see him as roughly a ~3.0 fWAR hurler that would match exactly his output during his rookie year in 2022, but I think he ends up logging more IP than they anticipate as the Mariners make a push for a deep playoff run. In the process, it’ll end up being former Red Luis Castillo playing the role of 1A to Kirby, and not vice versa.
The Toronto Blue Jays win the World Series
They’ll do so without Joey Votto as their 1B, but they’ll do so, bonking out the San Diego Padres in an epic 6 game series. Armed with a lineup that features no fewer than five players who could post 5 WAR seasons and a rotation led by former Red Kevin Gausman, I think they’ll not only have an excellent regular season in the run-up to this prediction, but that they’ll be the most aggressive team at the trade deadline, too.
I think that nets them another elite SP, whether it’s acquiring Ohtani once the Angels inevitably fall out of the AL West race or raiding the Chicago White Sox for a resurgent Lucas Giolito or the usual rock-solid Lance Lynn. That’ll put them over the top and bring them their first title since Joe Carter touched ‘em all 30 years ago.