Dan Wade’s 10 Bold Predictions

These aren’t so much predictions as foretellings. I’m not guessing here, I’m cluing you in on what’s to come for the immediate future. Ignore these warnings at your own peril!

1. Josh Johnson will make fewer starts than Johan Santana

There’s a temptation to put Johnson in a category with Adam Wainwright as guys who missed a lot of last season, but shoulder injuries tend to be far more insidious than elbow injuries do. Just ask Chien-Ming Wang. Santana’s on an upward trend, but I fear Johnson won’t be nearly so lucky in 2012.

2. Bryan LaHair will hit 25 or more home runs

ZiPS has him down for 24, but I think he tops that out, especially if spring is as warm in Chicago as our “winter” has been. LaHair may have played in the PCL, but his numbers aren’t as park-inflated as, say, his new teammate Ian Stewart; his power is for real and he’ll soon be a fan favorite in Wrigleyville.

3. Michael Cuddyer will set a career high in OPS

Cuddyer has been relatively healthy over the last few seasons, he’s moving to Denver, and more importantly, he’s moving out of the cavernous Target Field. All of these combined to get Cuddyer close to a career year all around, but I don’t think he quite challenges the 32 HR he hit in 2009. I foresee a lot of doubles bouncing up against the wall in Coors Field for Cuddyer.

4. J.J. Hardy will hit 30 HR again

Similar to Cuddyer, health is a big key for Hardy. The logic is pretty simple: If he’s healthy, he’ll be on the field; if he’s on the field, he’ll hit balls out of it. The Orioles may not be in a position to compete, even with the expanded Wild Cards, but Hardy and Adam Jones will both challenge for the Gold Glove/Silver Slugger combination.

5. Denard Span will hit at least .280 and steal at least 15 bases

Before his concussion last year, Span was quietly putting on a show for the foundering Twins. He racked up 2.2 wins in just 70 games last year and that includes the games after he came back, when he was far less effective. The Twins believe he’s healthy, and if that’s the case, he’ll have a very productive year at the top of their lineup.

6.Yu Darvish will have a strong year — sub 4.00 ERA, sub 1.25 WHIP — but see a huge home/road split

Darvish will face some transition issues, but his fastball and slider are good enough to play in any circumstance, even some Space Jam-style battle against extraterrestrials. However, there aren’t many parks in Japan that play nearly as hitter-friendly as The Ballpark in Arlington does. He’ll give up some long home runs early, but settle in to become the prohibitive AL Rookie of the Year pick.

7.Bryce Harper will hit at least 10 major league home runs in 2012

If he breaks camp with the team, it’ll be even more than 10, but there’s no way Harper languishes in Triple-A as the Nationals start their first year of high expectations. He’ll be up with the team no later than the All-Star break, will put on an absolute show in batting practice, and won’t have the adjustment problems that some think he will, as he puts up solid power numbers for the Nats.

8. Alfonso Soriano will be traded by August 1

The Cubs may have to eat a large portion of his salary, but with an effective LaHair at first and top prospect Anthony Rizzo champing at the bit to get up with the big club, there’s an incentive for the Cubs to clear Soriano’s spot and get both of the younger players into their lineup. Soriano will almost certainly land in the AL, but his exact home is tough to guess this early in the season. An injury to some team’s DH will make the road clearer.

9. The Pirates won’t break .500 this season

They were close last year before fading at the end of the season, but they won’t break the streak this year either. Pedro Alvarez will struggle again this year, the pitching is a right mess even after A.J. Burnett comes back, and Andrew McCutchen can’t will the team to 83 wins alone. 2013 will be the year the curse comes to an end in Pittsburgh.

10. The extra wild card will actually do what it’s supposed to and generate a lot of excitement

It’s en vogue right now to hate on the extra Wild Card, and I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of it, but for at least this first year, it’ll be a compelling match up. The AL and NL East races will be extremely tight, but with baseball’s middle class better than ever across the board, the play-in game will be one that a lot of people look forward to.

Bonus! The winner of one of the expanded Wild Card games will go on to win at least one playoff series.

Bud Selig will look like a genius for the moment, people will grumble, but September will be a great month of baseball from coast-to-coast and a worthy successor to 2011’s astounding stretch run.

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Dan enjoys black tea, imperial IPAs, and any competition that can be loosely judged a sport. Follow him on Twitter.

24 Responses to “Dan Wade’s 10 Bold Predictions”

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  1. Dan Greer says:

    These are some pretty tame predictions, IMO.

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  2. Brad Johnson says:

    fwiw, McCutchen only needs to will the team to 82 wins. That’s much more manageable…

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    • Dan Wade says:

      I know that would technically break the streak, but wouldn’t it feel a little cheap to do it by one game? If you’re going to have the greatest individual season of all time, why not go for 83 wins instead of a paltry 82!

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  3. King Damian says:

    The only bold prediction I see is the Pirates will finish over .500 in 2013.

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  4. Harley says:

    In #8, who goes to LF for the Cubs…LaHair or Rizzo?

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    • Dan Wade says:

      LaHair. The Cubs have already had him working out there and I’ve never heard anything about moving Rizzo from 1B whether he was with the Red Sox, Padres, or Cubs, so I’m guessing he’s pretty much locked in there.

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  5. SecondHandStore says:

    Here’s bold: Aramis Ramirez will have a better year in Milwaukee than Prince will have in Detroit.

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    • Dan Wade says:

      Also bold would be predicting that President Obama will pitch game one of the world series for the Astros, but I’d give that and Aramis outhitting Prince an equal chance of happening.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    These predictions are as bold as saying “The Sun will set tonight”

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  7. cfg720 says:

    Wow, way to take risk with these predictions, haha. You do realize Span stole 25 bases per year in 09 & 10 and hit over .300 in 09. .280 & 15=normal projection.
    Also, by saying Darvish will have a sub 4.00 Era and 1.25 WHIP all you’re saying is he will be a top 55 SP this year, whoa quite a stretch.

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  8. jon says:

    I think most of these are actually the likeliest of outcomes. When these are reassessed at the end of the year, this one will likely be the “rightest” but what we really should do is vote on if we agree with all these picks of everyone and see the weighted value of who was the best bold-picker out there (i.e., you get the same credit for 9 picks that 90% agreed on as you do for 1 pick correct that only 10% agreed on.)

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  9. Anonymity says:

    Is this an attempt and Fantasy Fantasy Baseball? Let’s draft teams of analysts to see who can predict the best predictions.

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  10. Eric Radom says:

    Interesting pick of Johan Santana as the guy who will start more games than Josh Johnson, considering he also had a shoulder injury that was much worse.

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  11. Young Whipper-snapper says:

    These comments are way bolder than the predictions

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  12. Josefmcpike says:

    These comments are all pretty funny and fairly gracious considering none of Dannys predictions are bold. But, if you read his subtitle, he’s just saying it like it is.

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