We’ve got less than one week until Opening Day, and there isn’t much left to say/write about the meaningless Cardinals spring training games. Instead, we’ll take a peek at the future and make some predictions that will likely look ridiculous in about a month.
10.) Aledmys Diaz wins National League Silver Slugger at Shortstop
It’s a crowded position, with Corey Seager, Addison Russell, and Trevor Story also contending for the award, but expect Diaz to take a step forward offensively for the Cardinals and take home the hardware.
9.) Jedd Gyorko hits less than 15 home runs
Gyorko’s 30 bombs in 2016 came as a surprise for pretty much everybody. The numbers show he might have benefitted from a great deal of luck, and it’s no guarantee that the playing time is going to be there for him on a consistent basis.
8.) Dexter Fowler goes 20-20 for the first time
This one’s a gut call, as Fowler has consistently been posting HR and SB totals in the teens for the past few years. Sitting atop the Cardinals lineup, it’s possible that Fowler will feel a bit more pressure to make things happen than he did in Chicago.
7.) Kolten Wong makes another trip to the minors
Many people are calling 2017 a make-or-break year for Wong, and as much as it pains me to say this, it’s going to be a “break” year for him. Nothing about the 2016 season was all that encouraging for Wong, and it seems like he lacks a tool that grades out as above average.
6.) Adam Wainwright posts an ERA above 5.00
Sorry to double down on the bleak predictions, but if you’ve tuned in at all to (admittedly unimportant) spring training games, you’ve likely seen Uncle Charlie get lit up at least a few times. That’s not what we were hoping to see out of Wainwright, who was hoping to bounce back from a concerning 2016 season.
5.) Seung-hwan Oh leads the National League in saves
Oh was already one of the best closers in the game last year, but he didn’t get a hold of the closer’s role until Trevor Rosenthal went down with an injury. This year, he’s primed to keep the 9th locked down from start to finish, and the Cards will likely give him lots of opportunities to do just that.
4.) Lance Lynn wins 15 games with a ~3.25 ERA
As bad as Wainwright has looked this spring, Lance Lynn has looked that good. Aside from a brief injury scare in his last start, he looks like he’s going to return to form after undergoing Tommy John surgery. At only 29 years old, look for a big season out of Lynn.
3.) Trevor Rosenthal becomes a right-handed Andrew Miller
Rosenthal is still without a real role, having been ruled out for the rotation and deferring to Oh for save opportunities. His velocity is still there, though, and he’s proven successful in longer outings, so he’s a prime candidate for the “fireman” role made fashionable by Andrew Miller in last year’s postseason.
2.) Matt Carpenter finished Top Five in the National League MVP voting
Carpenter has a great shot to put it all together this season, and he won’t have to contend with Mike Trout in the AL to win the NL award.
If he can maintain his 1st half pace, which was later slowed by injury, he’ll at least be in the conversation. If he manages to take a step forward for the Cardinals, you could see his name towards the top of a lot of ballots.
1.) Carlos Martinez wins the National League Cy Young
I wanted to make a bold prediction about Carlos Martinez, and while lots of people feel he’s already a Cy Young contender as is, I didn’t really know how to get much bolder.
Something like “Martinez posts a sub-1.00 ERA? Let’s not get carried away. We all know Martinez is a special talent, and he has a great chance to put it all together in his age-25 season and bring home some hardware.
Photo by © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports