After subjecting myself to face the sad-trombone music that was the response to my bold predictions for 2014, I figured it was about time to climb back on the horse. These predictions are always a relatively difficult exercise, as I try to walk the line between pie-in-the-sky and realistically achievable.
In many cases, pundits and talking heads will throw a bunch of stuff out there and later trumpet those few instances in which they actually hit. I’ll probably do that too, but I’m also going to own my mistakes, of which there are sure to be several.
Jon Lester will win 20 games
The Cubs’ new ace has never won more than 19 games in season but has surpassed the 15-win mark four separate times. Anyone care to take a guess at the last 20-game winner for the Cubs? It’s been a while, that’s for sure.
Starlin Castro will hit .300
This is a carry-over from last year, but I felt the need to recycle it because it’s good for the environment. Plus, Castro’s late-season injury forced him to miss the last month or so of the season, which resulted in a push on the prediction.
The starting infield will combine for 115 home runs
Rizzo – 36, Baez – 25, Castro – 20, Valbuena – 18, Montero – 16. Taken in a vacuum, these might not be very bombastic. But inherent in this prediction are the ideas that, A) Baez plays a full season; B) Castro is not traded and isn’t implicated in any more shootings; C) Valbuena stays at 3rd and Kris Bryant takes over in LF.
Kris Bryant will win Rookie of the Year
Last year it was Baez, who didn’t even get much service time. Bryant figures to be up pretty early in the season and I fully believe he will be able to hit the ground running and instantly become a star in the majors.
Bryant will slash .285/.345/.550 with 24 home runs
What this lacks in crazy prognosticatory hoo-hah, it makes up for in specificity. I suppose this is sort of a handcuff piece with the prior prediction, as hitting these numbers means winning the ROY.
Jason Motte will be a shut-down set-up man
No numbers here, but I believe that Motte will recapture at least some of the form that made him one of the game’s most-feared relievers in 2012. While 2015 will be his second post-Tommy John season, improved performance is far from guaranteed though.
The Cubs will win 85 games and grab the 2nd Wild Card spot
Not much to say about this, really. I suppose it’s not very bold when viewed relative to what Pollyanna thinks they’ll do, but it’d represent a gigantic step forward for the franchise.
Hector Rondon will notch 40 saves
After emerging as the Cubs closer and notching 29 saves last season, Rondon will continue to lead the pack of power arms from the ‘pen.
Javier Baez will set the single-season K record
On one hand, this might seem like a bad thing. After all, most people don’t look at futility as a positive sign of a player’s improvement. But in order for Baez to eclipse Mark Reynolds’ lofty total of 223, he’ll have to be in Chicago all season. That means he’s got to be doing something right in terms of the glove and the long-ball.
Edwin Jackson will be an effective member of the bullpen
Just saying that E-Jax will still be on the roster come April 5th might be enough of a stretch, but I believe he can at least partially resurrect his career as a reliever. Among other things, some of Jackson’s issues stemmed from a drop in velocity. Going all-out for shorter stretches may help him add a couple ticks back and be more effective.
So there you have it: my 10 bold predictions for 2015. What do you think, am I nuts? On second thought, don’t answer that. I would, however, like to see what your personal predictions are. If you’re willing to etch them into the semi-permanent digital tablet of the Cubs Insider comment board, please do so below.
Just know that I plan on doing some follow-up posts to these predictions, and that may mean culling some of your predictions for review as well.
For more, see Ryan Davis’s 10 Probable Predictions for the Cubs in 2015.