On Wednesday, we dropped our divisional, playoff, and award predictions for this coming season (it's so close, yet oh so far away). There were some hints at boldness therein, yet few seemed to stray terribly far from the pack. Today, however, we offer some predictions that are truly bold - or, at the very least, different enough to solicit a questionable look or two (and maybe a laugh). Without further ado:
Starlin Castro will thrive in his new environment and new role, put together the best season of his career to date, and be the American League's starting second baseman in the All-Star Game.
Thanks to some surprisingly good collective health from the starting 3 and a breakout season from Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge will not make his MLB debut until September call-ups and will get less than 25 big league at-bats this year.
CC Sabathia will be the best starting pitcher on the staff for a 2-3 week period during the early summer, then have to go on the DL for a stint to drain and treat his knee. This will allow Ivan Nova to make a few spot starts and the Yankees will parlay that into a trade deadline move that re-opens the rotation spot when Sabathia is ready to return.
Ivan Nova is moved into the bullpen and thrives there, much like Phil Hughes in '09, but not exactly in the same role.
Mark Teixeira stays healthy all year. No DL stints.
Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius have such a great first half that they both make the AL All-Star team.
CC Sabathia will earn himself a spot in middle relief by the all-star break, yet continues to be surprised by the way things are (not) working.
Michael Pineda will make the leap we all were hoping to see when he was acquired. Sub-4 ERA and excellent control, leading to 16 wins while making 30 starts.
Brian McCann ends up making 20 starts at 1B.
Didi and Starlin provide at least one "did ya see that?" play per game, either together or by themselves.
On the other hand, Chase Headley's decent into sub-replacement level continues unabated. Defense worsens and his offensive woes continue.
Joe Girardi will continue to annoyingly add an "-ey" to everyone's name for a nickname and unrelentingly praise effort in the face of productivity. "Nate-ey threw the ball really well and the velo was there" (after Eovaldi gives up 9 hits and 5 runs in 4 IP).
Aaron Hicks will be the Yankees best outfielder on a rate basis. This is based equally on my longstanding prospect crush, and the injury histories and ages of Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran. There's an outside shot that he'll produce the most WAR, as well, given that he's filling a role that saw 356 PA last year - and he's a better defender than Chris Young.
James Kaprielian will be this year's Luis Severino, rocketing through the minors and starting ten-plus games with the Yankees. With the Yankees in the midst of a playoff chase, many will be touting his merits for the team's post-season rotation.
The Angels will have one of the ten best rotations in the Majors (despite using eight or more starters over the course of the season), and will cruise to the AL West crown by six-plus games.
Chris Archer will have a stellar all-around season, cementing himself as the best pitcher in the American League and one of the three best in the game.
A-Rod will hit more homers that Big Poopi.
Michael Pineda will be the best starter on the staff.
I agree that Castro will be an All Star.
I also agree that Hicks will be more valuable than Ellsbury.