Five Bold Predictions: Alex Williamson

The season has started so it’s time to overreact to everything that has happened thus far. It really is a great time to make bold and outlandish predictions that will make me look stupid in late September. So let’s get into these, and make them increasingly bold as we go down. Bear in mind I’m a Giants fan and will be putting that delusion to good use.

1. NL Wildcard

Let’s annoy the NL West early, shall we? I’d be stupid to not have the Braves, Phillies, Dodgers and a token Central team make the playoffs. However, that’s where things get interesting. The Arizona Diamondbacks are not making the playoffs. The reason for this is simple… they’ll lose more games than the Giants and Padres.

Honestly though, the Diamondbacks have a lot of players whose offence I really like, and a rotation that challenges every team in this league. I just think 84-85 wins might not be enough this year. People haven’t been high at all on the Padres and Giants so why not both of them sneak their way in? Both have exceptional rotations. Padres are looking for a bounce-back year from many players, and the Giants were a .500 team with a truly awful offence.

Only some of this is due to a few Diamondbacks fans saying the Giants are contesting the Rockies for the wooden spoon… okay I lie, a lot of it is.

2. Cy Young Award winners

After that (not so) tame start, I’ve set the bar high for number two. So let’s guess the two Cy Young Award winners shall we?

The bias in me has made me choose a Giant for the NL, Logan Webb seems like the best pick here, but why not put Kyle Harrison? He’s a big-time strikeout guy and pitching in an exceptional rotation, and so he will be the ROTY and the NL Cy Young winner.

If this feels a tad too extreme for your liking, please do make sure to catch him pitch. His stuff is nasty and he misses bats constantly. If he can stay healthy, I can see him pitching 150-160 innings which is plenty to get you an award these days.

For the American League, I’m really drawn to the Central. Pablo Lopez, Tarik Skubal and Shane Bieber are three serious aces, but I’ll take Tanner Bibee to win it and be even better than he was last year. I think the Central is way stronger than people give it credit for. Furthermore, the Guardians have some serious pitching in that rotation, so I would be surprised to see the award go anywhere else this year.

3. The AL West

The division seen as the best by so many is going to disappoint. For a start, only one team will make it into the playoffs, and that team will be the Texas Rangers. The Astros are going to be average – they were outplayed by a decent Yankee side, but more worryingly, they were out-clutched – something at which they usually excel.

Furthermore, the Astros are an ageing team with a worse bullpen despite the addition of Josh Hader. I just don’t like them, but maybe that’s because I’m a sucker for a prospect, or maybe because I’ve got someone telling me what’s coming next, two can play that game Houston.

Seattle will be the same; that lineup inspires little confidence in me and the Red Sox series proved my worries somewhat true. I love Julio Rodriguez and he’s due a big-time bounce back, but despite the rebuild I don’t trust the lineup. Furthermore, will this pitching lineup be as good again? A couple of injuries, and I worry for them. Even the Rangers will only be mid-to-high 80s; an average rotation and worse bullpen will be saved again by some good batting.

I’m very high on Wyatt Langford and Evan Carter, so that persuaded me to put them top. Especially considering the talent Corey Seager and Marcus Semien have. What great signings they look like now. Ultimately, the Orioles, Yankees and Rays come out of the East as well as two Central teams: the Tigers and the Guardians. Although, if I could trust Royce Lewis and Byron Buxton to stay healthy, I’d be picking the Twins.

4. San Francisco Giants will win the World Series

Here, I’ll have to put my disclaimer that I DO NOT THINK THIS IS THE MOST LIKELY OUTCOME. I’m delusional, but not this delusional. However, tell me a reason why not?

A mid-to-high 80s team is pretty normal to be the World Series champion with the new wildcard format, and the Giants have a good chance of being the second or third wildcard team. This is especially true when you consider the upgrades made on the 79-win team last year, Jung Hoo Lee, Jorge Soler and Matt Chapman just to name three. Once they squeak into the playoffs though, it’s all about that rotation. Webb and Blake Snell were first and second in Cy Young voting last year. Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray will be back with fresher arms than those who’ve pitched all year. Furthermore, if one of these two struggles, you have one of the top left-handed prospects in baseball. The bullpen looks good too: Camilo Doval, Jordan Hicks (probably in the pen in the playoffs), the Roger twins, potential starters Tristan Beck and Keaton Winn, Ryan Walker, as well as an electric group of rookies who will be seen this year such as Landen Roupp, Mason Black, Carson Whisenhunt, Hayden Birdsong and a couple more a little further away perhaps. Who says no? Well, everyone but Giant’s fans, I’d say.

5. The MLB expansion and Cities will be officially announced this year

Now THIS is the dream. Yeah, I’m a few years early, but this is a list of bold predictions, so why not hope for the early excitement?

It stems from two main reasons for me. Number one is the Oakland fiasco going down right now; the city has expressed massive interest in hosting an expansion team if they are to lose the Athletics and why not? It’s a win for everyone, Mr Fisher gets the move he so badly wanted, plus the city of Oakland and their people get a team they can be loyal to. One that may try to provide a competitive team and not blame its fans for any of the team’s future issues (looking at you Mr Fisher). Furthermore, this ink blot of a news story being over with helps the MLB. This being all over the press doesn’t look good on them, let’s be honest.

The other reason is the weird off-season we just saw. There is enough talent for a 32-team league, without a doubt. Guys like Brandon Belt and Tommy Pham unsigned is crazy, add that into many players who had far less interest than predicted (much to the benefit of my Giants), it’s time to get another two teams in the league. The players’ association would certainly appreciate it, that’s for sure, so why wouldn’t the MLB want to help keep them quiet after what was a tough few months that could have ruffled some feathers, including poor J.D. Davis. As for where they are? Personally, it won’t make a difference to me, unless we get a London franchise, but I could see Oakland and Nashville being the two announced if it were to happen.

So that’s it, five bold predictions that will hang over my head all year. Things change quickly in baseball however, in the course of writing this the Astros threw a no-hitter, Josh Jung broke his wrist and the Giants got battered back-to-back by the Padres and Dodgers. In that case I better start writing my apologies now…

Article by Alex Williamson. You can follow Alex on Twitter X @sf_giants_uk

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