It’s that time of year when bats are hitting balls and balls are hitting gloves , but the games still don’t quite count yet (except for the WBC). What better way to feed our anticipation of the season than to start dreaming about the possibilities?
So our TCB staff writers were asked to make some bold predictions for the upcoming season, and what ensued was... well... pretty entertaining. Check it out and let us know YOUR bold predictions below!
Question: What is your bold prediction for the 2017 Astros? Let it hang out. No playing it safe here. Go big or go home.
Lance McCullers is winning the Cy Young award. Book it. Look, honestly, that's not even that bold, it just sounds like it.
There were just 11 guys in the league with ERAs under 3.50 last season. Aaron Sanchez led the league. Rick Porcello won the award. I'm not saying the competition is bad, but some guys are getting old, some guys can't seem to break out, and that Kershaw guy is in the other league, no to mention Syndergaard, Scherzer, and others.
Again, keep in mind that no one in the AL, none of the aces, not King Felix, not Sale, not Archer, not anyone, managed an ERA below 3.00. Meanwhile, McCullers, at 22 years old, posted a 3.00 FIP and a 3.06 xFIP while injured and with a walk rate of five batters per nine innings.
The "Wolverine" just gets better and better; he was literally out there like "yeah, my shoulder is kind of on fire right now, but here you go, curve ball, go sit back down." The only AL starter who posted a higher strike out rate than him last year (minimum just 40 innings) was Yu Darvish, by 0.06 K/9.
He could literally match the performance level he showed last year while injured and legitimately compete for the award; a modest improvement, and he might run away with it.
My bold prediction? Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers all stay reasonably healthy this season and our rotation is one of the five or six best in the American League, if not better.
Astros set the record for most players with 20+ HR with 8.
I think almost everyone would agree (if healthy) that Springer, Correa, and Gattis are definite locks to hit 20+. Altuve already proved he can do it with 24 HR last season. Bregman had 8 HR last season in 49 games, equivalent to 26 HR in 162 games. McCann has hit 20+ HR in nine straight seasons, though last year he had just 20. Beltran is almost another lock after hitting 29 last year. That would give the Astros seven, which would tie the record.
The next one could come down to Reddick (who has hit 20+ twice), Gurriel (who had just 3 HR in 130 AB in 2016) and maybe A.J. Reed if he finds his way onto roster and has a breakout. So the bold part here is that all of the seven guys up top hit 20+ and one of these three (I will go with Reddick) hits another 20+ giving the Astros 8 guys with 20+ HR.
Five teams have had 7 guys hit 20+ with the 2010 Blue Jays being the most recent. The Astros will break that record in 2017.
An Astro wins the triple crown. The Astros lead the league in manager ejections. Seven Astros make the all star game.
Bold Prediction: Yulieski Gurriel will be in the 2017 All-Star game.
Ridiculously Bold Prediction: Yulieski Gurriel will be the starting first baseman in the 2017 All-Star game.
I feel like Gurriel gets forgotten in conversations about the 2017 Astros, and it's easy to see why. The Astros made some high profile acquisitions in the off-season (McCann, Reddick, and Beltran), have an MVP-caliber player in Altuve, and an exciting group of young talent in Springer, Correa, and Bregman. Still, let's not forgot about one of the most decorated players in Cuban baseball history.
Gurriel got off to a hot start with the Astros after joining the team in late August, but cooled off down the stretch. Let's recall though, that Gurriel had been through quite a bit last year as he finalized the move to the US, rushed to get his bat speed back after signing with the Astros, got shipped around from location to location in the minors, and then finally started playing games in the MLB.
He even recently admitted that he felt fatigued at the end of last season, since the schedule in Cuba doesn't require players to take the field every day. He has now had a full off-season to get settled in a new country and prepare for the grind of an MLB season.
Derek Fisher will be filling in nicely in LF by August.
This is supported by Jake Marisnick and Nori Aoki not being able to hold a spot in any outfield the last couple of years. Last year Fisher continued his trend of hitting well at every minor league level. My favorite part of him is his very encouraging K-BB numbers, which I think will help nicely in the majors.
I expect him to get a call up after hitting well in AAA. With his combination of power and speed, I can envision him being the LF of an Astros playoff run.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Correa will be the 2017 AL MVP. MVP is driven to a large extent by offensive production. I have previously provided an analysis to show that Correa is right up there as the most productive shortstop on the offensive side--even though Carlos, himself, considered it a "down" year.
With Carlos Beltran helping Correa out as a mentor, and the natural development and improvement (on both the offensive and defensive side) of a 22 year old shortstop, I can foresee the possibility that Correa will be that good, enabling him to beat out what is always an outstanding group of MVP quality players at all positions (including his teammate Altuve).
Bold Prediction: Alex Bregman will win the AL batting title.
Dude is a straight-up hitter, will have plenty of lineup protection and I can see a friendly rivalry developing between him an Altuve. I think Bregman is poised to break out in a big way.
Wildly Bold: Joe Musgrove will be the Astros best pitcher, and will finish no worse than 3rd in the Cy Young voting.
Ridiculously bold: Charlie Morton will receive Cy Young votes.
Very bold: George Springer will be a 40/20 player.
Bold: Ken Giles will be the best reliever in baseball.
Not bold: Jose Altuve will hit well.
Bold prediction... Fan fiction... Who cares.
Odor gets hit by a pitch and decides to charge the mound only to be wrapped up from behind and suplexed by Brian McCann. It becomes this year’s "Odor-Bautista" punch on social media and at least half of Astros fans change their Facebook profile picture to a mid suplexed Odor.
Somewhat Bold: The Astros make a mid-season trade for Jose Quintana.
Bold: The Astros and Rangers will be involved in at least one bench-clearing kerfluffle this year. The Astros will be involved in more bench-clearing kerfluffles than in year's past.
Very Bold: Charlie Morton makes the A.L. All-Star team
Pretty Bold: Jose Altuve wins the 2017 AL MVP
That is MASSIVELY bold, David, since Jose Altuve still plays in the same league as Mike Trout.
I'll add another bold one: AJ Reed hits 20 or more home runs in the MLB this year.
Lance McCullers will establish himself as a bonafide ace (top 10 pitcher in the league), and ascends to the top of our rotation.
"Because he's the hero Houston deserves, but not the one it needs right now."
What the hell, that quote doesn't apply at all. We need an ace right now. We really, really need one. Please!?!
Bold: Carlos Beltran will help the Astros win their first World Series title, bookending the Scott Boras/New York Mets free agency saga from 2005.
Very Bold: Beltran will have the winning hit in the World Series, swinging at a pitch instead of watching it come in for a called third strike.
Ridiculously Bold: The game 7 winning home run will be hit by Carlos Beltran and bounce off the head of Scott Boras.
Kyle Tucker will record a major league plate appearance in 2017.
Tucker showed an almost big-league level approach and hitting skills in 2016 and will most likely begin the season in the upper minors. Ridiculously polished, and with some uncertainty in the Astros' outfield, Tucker has a real chance to get some playing time down the stretch if he continues to progress at the same rate. The only part of his profile that is yet to develop is power, and he should take a step forward in that department this season.
Bold prediction: Alex Bregman will finish in the top three of MVP voting this year.
Very bold prediction: Dean Deetz, Future Superstar™, will record his first MLB strikeout this September.
Extremely bold prediction: Ken Giles will be the first RP since Eric Gagne to win the Cy Young.
Bold: Lance McCullers will pitch over 180 innings this season.
Bolder: Joe Musgrove will have the second lowest ERA on the pitching staff in the postseason.
Boldest: The Astros win the World Series, sweeping the New York Mets off the bat of World Series MVP AJ Reed, who hits 10 home runs during the four game set.
A fan will run onto the field in a game against the rangers. The fan starts to dance with Carlos Gomez. Gomez doesn't mind so he obliges.
The security ignores it because Odor and Altuve are fighting over the fact that Odor started over Altuve in a game in the WBC. The fans don't care about the fight, because they want to see how awkward Gomez, the former Astro looks dancing.
Altuve and Odor are thrown out of the game. Marwin Gonzales replaces him. Gomez and the fan waltz out of the stadium. The Astros win the game in the 16th inning off a balk. Gomez quits major league baseball and joins the host of Dancing with the stars as a sideline reporter.
Alright, let's see. Sticking with my ever-present Cuba theme, I'm gonna say my bold prediction is that Yuli will bat .300 in his first full season in the majors. I'm not sure he still has the bat speed and strength in him, but I'm hopeful he can have at least one solid season in the big leagues before all those years catch up with him.