On the eve of the second half of the 2014 season, after looking over my horrid preseason predictions, it is time for take two. Here are 10 bold predictions for the second half of the 2014 season, likely to be horribly, horribly wrong…once again:
1. The Baltimore Orioles run away with the AL East: Chris Davis‘ numbers scream a return to his 2013 first half numbers (.315/.392/.717)…ok, so maybe not THAT drastic, but he is much better than the .199/.309/.391 line that he has posted to this point. Add in a healthy, productive Manny Machado to Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz, and the offense could be scary. Buck Showalter can finally break the chains off of Kevin Gausman, arguably the club’s best starter this season, plugging him into the rotation for the rest of the year instead of shuttling him back-and-forth between Baltimore and Norfolk. With Dylan Bundy returning from Tommy John surgery and, likely, taking over an important relief role late in the season to help put the team over the hump. With injuries to the Yankees’ rotation and the Blue Jays needing an arm to maintain contention due to possible innings limits on Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman late this season, the O’s have what it takes to get back on top.
2. The Pirates will come back to win the NL Central. Sure, they’re in 4th place right now, but they are the only healthy team in the division. The Reds are missing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips for the next several weeks, the Cardinals could be without Michael Wacha for some time, and the Brewers have lost 11 of their last 13 games. With Andrew McCutchen heating up and Gregory Polanco continuing to adjust, the Bucs will prove that last year was just the beginning of a long, competitive run.
3. Bryce Harper will stay healthy and hit 20 home runs over the next 69 games.
5. Todd Frazier will continue his productive season, ending the season with over 30 home runs and 100-RBI. While the Reds lose the division behind the Pirates and injuries to Votto and Phillips, they still win a Wild Card.
6. Alex Guerrero will take over the third base job in Los Angeles and put up numbers that rival those of Yasiel Puig in his first month last season (.436/.467/.713 in 107 plate appearances). While that seems unreasonable, Guerrero has a .380/.423/.729 line in 37 minor league games, including some time off after getting part of his ear bitten off by a teammate.
7. Mike Trout continues running away with the AL MVP, finally winning the award that he should have won at least once over the last two seasons. He will finish the season with a WAR over 10.0, and McCutchen will win the MVP in the NL with a tremendous second half.
8. The Rays will keep David Price, riding a hot streak on their way to barely missing the final Wild Card spot. They will try to move him in the offseason, while getting all that they can out of their star left-hander, as he was worth more to them than a package that didn’t meet the demands of Andrew Friedman and Company.
9. The Colorado Rockies trade Carlos Gonzalez, opening up a full-time job for both Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon on the outfield corners, with Drew Stubbs in center. The injuries are too much for ownership, while CarGo’s contract is friendly enough (three-years, $53 million between 2015 and 2017) to warrant a team taking on the deal and his skill-set. Seattle, seeking a return to glory, can offer Taijuan Walker, Gabby Guerrero, and Erasmo Ramirez for the slugging outfielder, instantly upgrading their offense.
10. The San Diego Padres will trade Huston Street to the Baltimore Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez, solidifying the back-end of the bullpen that was patched together and healed by breakout closer Zach Britton.