Let’s go out on a limb. With all of us out there together, it may snap. But it’ll be fun to see if any of our bold predictions pan out.
Each of our contributors makes one bold prediction for the 2012 season. It can be related to anything baseball, not just Phillies. This could get ugly.
Nick Staskin: The Miami Marlins struggle after a Jose Reyes injury and are never within playoff contention despite opening the piggybank this offseason. Hanley Ramirez and Ozzie Guillen have numerous altercations that Logan Morrison can’t help but tweet about.
Don McGettigan: Everyone’s current favorite, the Detroit Tigers, will not make the playoffs this season. The Tigers have a great lineup, but poor defense, and a starting rotation that leaves a lot to be desired after Justin Verlander. The AL East has four teams that can contend (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays), and the AL West has two (Rangers, Angels). So the easily winnable AL Central seems to only have a spot for one playoff team- the division winner. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the Tigers fail to live up to their lofty expectations.
Jay Floyd: Carlos Ruiz makes his first All-Star team. The man known as “Chooch” will roll his scorching hot spring (.479 average in 18 Grapefruit League games) right into an outstanding first half, helping the Phillies when they lack the offensive presence of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who are missing time due to injuries. Don’t be surprised if the man who finished 8th on the team in RBI in 2011, Ruiz, is among the top 3 on the team this year as June rings in and the All-Star voting races heat up.
Amanda Orr: My bold prediction is that Phillies fans will be screaming “Chooooooooch” more than usual. Carlos Ruiz will have a career year. As always, he will be stellar behind the plate, but I also see his numbers taking a jump offensively. His average will approach .300 and he will have about five to seven more homers than what he usually averages per year. I’m calling a big year for Chooch.
Jon Nisula: Carlos Ruiz will be the best hitter on the Phillies by the end of the year. Ruiz has always been a mediocre offensive player. His career OPS of .752 ranks ninth among active, qualified, Phillies hitters. However, with the injuries to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to go along with the decline of Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco, Ruiz could find himself as the best hitter in 2012 if he picks it up a little bit–something he is sure capable of doing. On Opening Day, he went 3-3, including the game’s only RBI with a sacrifice fly. He won’t go 3-3 every game, but he is showing us that he is capable of being a middle of the lineup hitter. Maybe Charlie should take notice.
Ian Riccaboni: Jonathan Papelbon racks up 50 saves. He has never racked up more than 41 saves in a season despite being on a World Series Winner and consistent contender. This year? Dominant starting pitching and a light offense should provide him plenty of opportunities to rapidly approach and reach 50 saves. While I agree the save metric is flawed, 50 saves would be quite the accomplishment. The 50 mark has only reached or exceeded 11 times and by a variety of players on teams of all shapes and sizes. The good news of reaching the 50 saves mark? 7 out of the 11 players to do it saw their teams reach the postseason. If Opening Day was any indication, Papelbon should have no problem getting more than 50 chances.
Corey Seidman: Mets score more runs than the Nationals. Washington just simply doesn’t have enough on-base percentage and lacks the big-time power to make up for it. Mike Morse is on the DL and there is a good chance he isn’t the same player he was last season. Jayson Werth should improve, sure, but keep in mind that Ryan Zimmerman has missed an average of 36 games per season the last three years. And the Nats’ 1-2 batters are Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, players with respective .304 and .316 career on-base percentages. The Mets, meanwhile, should perform better in the shortened dimensions of Citi Field (fences were brought in and lowered) and if they have a full season of David Wright and Ike Davis there is no way they score fewer runs than the Nationals.
Brian Michael: The Phillies get off to a slow start and are out of contention by July. They decide to trade Cole Hamels before the deadline for some young talent after realizing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will require permanent replacements.
Pat Gallen: Cole Hamels will sign an extension in-season. Call this one a hunch – I have no insider information – but if the Phillies are willing to extend Ryan Howard in the middle of the year, then why not Hamels? I have a feeling the Phillies understand the gravity of the situation. If Hamels gets to free agency, he’s good as gone. They’d be wise to do something as soon as possible, but a deal WILL get done. They really have no choice. They can’t let their youngest ace go.