MLB Insider: More misses than hits for 2013 baseball predictions

Posted Saturday, Apr. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Top five Rangers: Majors’ best pitching staff? It’s true. It’s true. Braves: Justin Upton with 12 homers. That’s pretty gritty, D’backs. Red Sox: Mike Napoli hip-checking opposing pitchers. Giants: Nothing new. Plenty of pitching, just enough offense. Rockies: Somehow staying hot despite chilly April in Denver. Bottom five Padres: They weren’t going to be good, but not this bad. Marlins: Miami is already 101/2 games out of first place entering Saturday. Cubs: Let Julio Borbon play. It couldn’t possibly hurt anything. Astros: 4-2 vs. Seattle, 3-14 vs. everyone else entering Saturday. Mariners: 2-4 record vs. Houston is grounds for contraction.

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Making baseball preseason predictions is no way to go through life.

But, without fail or fear of repercussion, countless sportswriters, broadcasters, bloggers and radio talking heads put their best guesses on the record each year, and wait for those best guesses to sink or swim.

They usually sink.

The 2013 baseball season wraps up its first month this week, and much of what was predicted before the season has already taken shape.

Houston and Miami are awful. San Francisco can pitch. Detroit can hit. Kansas City won’t be a last-place team. Bryce Harper is very good.

But the early returns show that prognosticators are heading toward more misses than hits. Some sure-fire storylines are already being put out.

• The can’t-miss Dodgers have way too much pitching.

Remember back in spring training when Los Angeles had eight big-league starters and didn’t know what to do with the excess arms.

How’s that working out now?

The Dodgers’ rotation is only slightly more stable than Kobe Bryant’s Achilles tendon. They have Clayton Kershaw, which should prevent any long losing streaks, but they saw Zack Greinke’s collarbone snapped and Chad Billingsley’s elbow torn up.

Chris Capuano, one of those extra starters, went on the disabled list after his first start. Another, Aaron Harang, is pitching poorly for Seattle now. The Dodgers are pinning their wildly high hopes on Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Meanwhile, Magic Johnson is looking for a refund.

• Josh Hamilton is the piece that will get the Angels back on top.

The former Rangers outfielder could very well end up having a big season in the first year of his five-year, $125 million contract.

He has some catching up to do after the first 22 games in which he hit .227 with two homers and eight RBIs. That sure feels like September.

But Hamilton isn’t the biggest problem facing the Angels, nor is the broken left arm that has right-hander Jered Weaver on the disabled list, nor is the plantar fasciitis that has turned Albert Pujols into a sure out on any infield grounder.

The Angels’ bullpen is a disaster, and their starting rotation after Weaver, when he’s healthy, isn’t much better. C.J. Wilson continues to drive manager Mike Scioscia crazy, and Joe Blanton and Jason Vargas have not been upgrades over Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

The Angels could very well end up winning the AL West, but they won’t do it with hitting alone. They should know that after so many years in the same division with the Rangers.

• The Nationals will easily win the National League East and maybe the whole thing.

Just about everyone who picked Washington as its World Series winner is tapping the brakes, though those who pegged Bryce Harper as the NL MVP should be feeling pretty good.

The biggest early-season roadblock is the Atlanta Braves, who have shot out to a 15-8 record thanks to a powerful lineup and a rock-solid pitching staff. The poster boy has been Justin Upton, an off-season trade target of the Rangers who has hit 12 home runs.

Washington, of course, is hardly finished. But the Nationals haven’t received as much as they did last year from Gio Gonzalez or a bullpen that was billed as one of the best in baseball. The rest of the lineup besides Harper hasn’t been very good either.

But that guy is terrific.

• The Yankees are going to be dreadful, horrible and dead last.

That’s still entirely possible, but New York isn’t nearly as bad as many thought after the black plague swept through the roster.

The lineup is being held together by many past-their-prime former stars. The rotation is surviving behind 93-year-old Andy Pettitte while getting mixed results from the velocity-deprived CC Sabathia.

Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter are going to come back at some point this season. If the Yankees can stay afloat, they could very well be a factor down the stretch. Seriously.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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