I know others on the site have done this and I know I'm late with a few games in already, but I've had some strong thoughts coming into this season and I thought I'd share them. All my predictions have some basis in fact and they wouldn't be bold if I wasn't making some stretches (some much more plausible than others). I'm usually fairly rational about things, but I feel like our team is being severely underrated, both from our fans and from sportswriters. Here goes:
- Pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong for our starting staff last year, with the exception of Corbin's brilliance. Miley and McCarthy will battle for best pitcher on the staff and Cahill will also rebound to be above 2 fWAR. Arroyo doesn't suck and holds down the 4 spot while Delgado/Bradley combine for a quietly good finish to our rotation.
2) The Diamondbacks offense posts a wRC+ over 100 and finishes among the top 3 offenses in the NL (last season = 93 wRC+).
- For the first time in what seems like forever, the Diamondbacks have a lineup that seems pretty set in place. With the likely exception of Pollock, we'll have above-average offensive production, including Owings at SS. Prado may not be as good as the second-half as last year, but he'll be a solid contributor. Montero will rebound to be more like 2012. Goldy, Hill, and Trumbo keep on doing what they do. And Owings shows us why he won the SS battle over Didi.
3) Despite the additions of Trumbo at LF and Owings at SS, the Diamondbacks will again lead the NL in defense (last season, led NL in both UZR and DRS).
- Pretty self-explanatory.
4) Despite all the talent, the Dodgers do not win the NL West.
- Injuries keep Crawford, Kemp, or Hanley from playing more than 100 games each. Puig comes back down to earth from his .383 BABIP. The Dodgers realize they can't score with Scott Van Slyke, Dee Gordon, Juan Uribe, and AJ Ellis being mainstays in the lineup. Their defense is atrocious (Ethier in CF!) and they don't survive Kershaw missing a month to start the season. The icing on the cake is the mid-season Puig imploision.
5) Despite being every hipster's favorite team and the fad pick for many sportswriters to take a wild card, the Giants actually suck and finish fourth or fifth in the NL West.
- In a stunning twist, offseason acquisition Mike Morse is actually Mike Morse and does not improve the team at all. Tim Hudson is an upgrade over Zito, but Cain continues to regress to more of a league-average pitcher and Lincecum 2.0 doesn't pan out. Their bullpen is worse and they cannot keep up with the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and the surprising Padres.
6) The Padres and the Phillies are the surprise teams of the NL, with one taking a wild card.
- The Phillies have an elite top 3 in their rotation and their lineup of old vets is enough to remain competitive in the extremely weak NL East. The Padres see Tyson Ross turn into a very good pitcher to complement Andrew Cashner and their surprisingly solid lineup keeps them competitive throughout the season.
7) The Braves cannot overcome all their injuries and struggle to a third place finish in the NL East.
- The Braves offense is way too top-heavy, Chris Johnson will regress negatively more than BJ Upton + Uggla regress positively, and people will quickly learn that Gattis is not an everyday catcher. Freeman, Heyward, and Upton will have good years, but not enough to overcome their weak-from-injuries pitching staff.
8) But it's even worse for the Reds, who finish fourth in the NL Central.
- The Reds offense takes a huge hit losing Choo and Hamilton does not have the batting or on-base skills to make his speed work. After Bruce and Votto, the Reds offense is exceptionally poor and only scores more runs than the Cubs for the season. Latos will miss too much time, Cueto will have his annual injury problems, and Bailey just isn't quite enough of an ace to carry the Reds. The Brewers finish third, thanks to a strong offense and a competent staff.
9) An MVP needs to have a good average, lots of home runs, lots of RBIs, and make the playoffs... that man, is Paul Goldschmidt.
- I have no problems with McCutchen taking the MVP last year, but with the Diamondbacks in the playoffs this year and the narrative of being written off as a contender, Goldy's monster season carries him to an easy NL MVP selection.
10) The Diamondbacks win the World Series.
- Sorry, I can't help myself.