Just one thing stands between the Nationals ace and extraordinary dominance.
When he pitched for San Diego State, the media hyped Stephen Strasburg as a potential superstar, largely on the strength of his awe-inspiring triple-digit fastball as a starter. He was drafted a year before Aroldis Chapman came to the United States and started making triple-digit fastballs seem routine. His major-league debut in 2010 was must-watch television, much in the same way that Noah Syndergaard demands national attention when he takes the bump for the Mets.
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George and J.J. share their bold predictions, featuring two starter sliding into the elite and a potential well-kept secret star on the left side of the infield.
Forecasting the future is notoriously difficult. Just ask PECOTA. One of the most compelling reasons we watch baseball is that it serves as a daily reminder that reality is infinitely complex and nothing is ever certain. Mike Trout’s greatness is the lone constant in the baseball universe. This week at Baseball Prospectus, we're giving a new look and feel to the bold predictions pieces that generally are written in the second half of March. Yes, those are written to help you with drafts, but those drafts are ancient history at this point. What we're aiming at here is what we still believe to be true after two weeks of games are in the books. So, call them bold predictions if you will, but these are some things that we believe.
Some 2016 predictions that may surprise you. And some that probably won't.
As the countdown to Opening Day trickles ever-so-close to the holiday to top all holidays, the Baseballholic in me is compelled to predict what will happen in the 2016 baseball season. Most of the predictions will turn out to be wrong, which is a tribute to the volatility inherent in a sport that we spend way too much time trying to predict (not that it will stop me from trying). We release our BP staff predictions for the season on Monday, and those who want a sneak peak can tune into the latest Baseballholics podcast to see who I have tabbed for this year's awards and division winners.
The Indians third baseman cements his breakout with three homers, plus much more from Monday and previews for Tuesday.
The Monday Takeaway Lonnie Chisenhall has been teasing a breakout, as he entered Monday’s contest with a .365/.413/.538 slash line in 176 plate appearances this season. But nobody could have expected the show the former first-round pick put on during Cleveland’s 17-7 blowout of the Rangers. When the Indians walked off the field, Chisenhall had accomplished a stat line that no other player in history had ever recorded.
Tampa Bay's skid reaches nine games and Garrett Richards notches an immaculate inning, plus more from Wednesday and previews for Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
On the eve of the 2014 MLB amateur draft, two former no. 1 overall picks took the hill, with Stephen Strasburg facing the scuffling Phillies and David Price seeking to end the Rays’ eight-game losing streak.
Out at Tropicana Field, the home team jumped to an early 3-1 lead in the first inning after back-to-back jacks by Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, marking the first time in seven games that the Rays scored more than two runs.
Let’s go back to 2012, when the Washington Nationals made one of the most controversial decisions in recent memory by shutting down pitcher Stephen Strasburg late in the season, even though it meant that Strasburg, though not injured at the time, would not pitch for the Nationals in their Division Series. The Nationals lost that series to the St. Louis Cardinals three games to two, and Lana del Rey wrote “Summertime Sadness” as a result (no, not really). The Nationals justified that decision by saying that they wanted to keep Strasburg below 160 innings pitched for the season to prevent him from further injury. In 2011, Strasburg only pitched in five games, spending most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was healthy through most of 2013 and has been so far through 2014.
The Diamondbacks' rotation problems, plus other action from Tuesday and what to watch on Wednesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towersspent the offseason looking for a frontline starter. The man upstairs, CEO Derrick Hall, was on board with the plan. “We feel like we need that horse,” Hall told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick in advance of the Winter Meetings, and Towers felt he had “the players to get any available pitcher out there on the market.”
Contact between a runner and catcher stirs confusion, plus Pineda, Salazar, Strasburg, and what to watch this weekend.
The Thursday Takeaway
Update: The original version of the Takeaway indicated that the new ban on catchers blocking the plate resulted in Starlin Castro being called safe. That was not the case, and this portion is now revised to reflect the umpire’s comments after the game.
All of the great holidays are marked by high levels of anticipation. But Opening Day stands out among the more traditional observances because it is merely the beginning of the celebration to follow: seven months of 6-4-3 double plays, exploding sliders, and that sweet sound when lumber meets horsehide. It’s easy to fall pretty to the trap of overweighting observations made at the start of the regular season, and the rational observer will maintain perspective while enjoying the day's festivities. But that doesn't mean that there’s nothing to be learned from the first round of games. Early in the season, many pitchers are making real adjustments to elements of their mechanics, approach, and repertoire, and these alterations can be put under the microscope in order to get an idea of the player's developmental patterns.
What does Doug see ahead for selected pitchers in 2014?
Along with the rest of the BP staff, I’ve submitted my pre-season predictions for division standings and end-of-season award winners. I tend to stay in the neighborhood of likely outcomes for these picks, resulting in easy answers such as “Mike Trout for AL MVP” or “Tigers win the AL Central,” but I’m more intrigued by the long-shot stories that emerge once the season starts.