So I have the Phillies finishing in third place with an 85-77 record. Oh well. That doesn’t mean the Phillies won’t have a successful season from a player-to-player standpoint.
I’ve pulled out some (note: positive) things I think could happen this year for Phillies players.
Ryan Howard will win NL MVP
Though the Phils might miss out on the playoffs, Howard will certainly grab the gold ring for a second time in three years. Voters will be unable to disregard 61 HR, 139 RBI and a .317 AVG from the big fellow, who will drop his career-best season. Watch him get out to an early lead in the dingers category, then heat back up around mid-summer. In the end, another $10MM raise wouldn’t be out of the question.
Shane Victorino will steal 50 bases
I would say he would win the stolen base title, but that’s if Jose Reyes injures himself this season. Vic is a smart runner, and with or without Davy Lopes at first base (get well soon, Davey), he’ll swipe 53 bags while being caught 11 times.
Pat Burrell will hit 40 home runs
Not far fetched by any means. It’s Burrell’s contract year, which means he’ll be on the warpath for a fat contract from an AL team seeking a DH. He hit 37 back in 2002, probably the last time he was completely healthy. Supposedly he’s healthy now, and he can see better. Ring it up, kids: Burrell is joining the Big Man in the Phillie Forty Club.
Pedro Feliz will not make the most outs in baseball
Juan Pierre will. Feliz will have his most patient year yet (not really patient, but for him it’ll be a feat) as he bats in the safer, more luxurious No. 6 or 7 hole throughout the season. The pressure put on him to be a power source in San Francisco is gone. Now that he can mostly concentrate on defense and getting on base, he’ll have a good season. Not great. Good.
Cole Hamels will win 20 games and record 200 strikeouts
Again, not far fetched by any means. Is he a Cy Young? Maybe. But a lot of great candidates abound in the NL, so the race will be tough. Hamels has the offense to get him 20 wins, so hopefully they don’t slack off during his starts (because they know they don’t need to score a lot). The strikeouts â€” if he stays healthy all year, he’s a lock.
Brett Myers will make the All-Star team and record 17 wins
Finally, I believe this is Myers’ career year. If it is, this team may not be an 85-win team, but a 90-win team. The pressure is off him to be The Man, and he’ll smoothly end losing streaks and light fuses as the No. 2 guy posing as ace. His dirty-dog style and intensity is necessary for a top-flight pitcher â€” if he doesn’t have finesse. Myers is ready for the spotlight.
James Happ will win 10 games
A mid-season call-up, Happ will win a string of games in the summer months to make his name known. He’ll be an integral part of the Phillies success. Of course, that’s if Adam Eaton and Kris Benson don’t work out, Chad Durbin doesn’t offer solace, and Kyle Kendrick comes unglued. That can easily all happen.
Brad Lidge will save 40 games and be Rolaids Relief Man of the Year
I don’t know if anyone has ever made the Rolaids prediction, but I will. Lidge could be an atomic bomb for the Phils … or he could be a pot of gold. I’ll hope for the latter and say he provides the boost the Phils need to win the NL East. (Of course, in my 85-win land, he struggles to remain healthy and effective all season, leading to a situation where Fabio Castro is closing games.)
Yes, anything can happen this year.