Sometimes the bold predictions are the most fun. Even if they're the least likely to come true, and often based more on emotion than reason, when they do come to fruition, the vindication is unmatched. In this edition, the DRaysBay staff shares our "bold" predictions for the season.
Preet: Although I'm tempted to make my bold prediction be that Longoria actually manages to avoid the DL for a season, I'm going to have to go with a tremendous offensive upsurge from Desmond Jennings. In particular, an on-base percentage above .350.
Steve S.: My bold prediction is that Alex Cobb will step into the gap left by James Shields and become the Rays next underrated change-up stud. I'm hoping for an Earned Run Average below four from him, and four Wins Above Replacement. He's going into his age 25 season, so in other words, I'm looking for him to approximate Shields' age-25 season.
Michael: My bold prediction is that Matt Moore and David Price will combine for over ten Wins Above Replacement, with both strong candidates (but neither a winner) for the Cy Young award. David Price will maintain an edge in Innings Pitched, but Moore will surpass him in quality, posting a lower Earned Run Average/Fielding Independent Pitching measures. Rays fans will be left wondering how amazing a Price and Moore duo at the front of the rotation for a couple of more years could have looked after Price is shipped out next off-season for prospects.
Stephanie: My bold prediction is a record of 91-71. I think that this is the last year that we will see David Price in a Rays uniform and he will have another 20 win season and get the Cy Young again. I also see this as being a breakout year for Alex Cobb with him earning 15 wins.
Steve K.: Desmond Jennings will steal over 50 bases in 2013 and score over 100 runs.
Ian: No starters will get traded this year, and all of our "sixth" starters (Niemann, Fausto, Archer, Odorizzi) will get playing time (4+ starts).
Jonathan: My bold prediction is that Matt Moore not only develops into a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter, but that he is worth at least six Wins Above Replacement, and wins the American League Cy Young Award.
Heath: Cole Figueroa will play himself into the majors and not look back.
Daniel: Jeremy Hellickson will continue to defy the baseball gods with an outrageously low Earned Run Average, despite a 4.40 Fielding Independent Pitching Average. He will quickly step into the role left behind by James Shields as the Rays workhorse.
Pumping his fastball more this season, Hellickson's four-seamer will average a tick higher at 93 miles per hour, and will develop into a decent outpitch. Hellboy will finish the season with twelve complete games, one of those coming in the playoffs against the Tigers
Allie: Price, Cobb, and Hellickson will each get 10+ wins, with each member of the rotation (be it the current five or anyone added in later on) having a complete game. Price will continue to dominate and be a Cy Young contender, Cobb will fill the workhorse role left vacant by Shields, and all starters will post an Earned Run Average below four.
Scott: My bold prediction is that the organization will make a trade to improve the roster on or just before the trade deadline. For a consistently competitive team, the Rays have hardly made an effort to do so in recent years, but this will be the year they use their minor league depth to give the team a boost for the stretch run. A number of non-contending teams have first basemen set to become free agents, so if the Rays decide they can do better than James Loney or Luke Scott, that could be an area to target.
: My prediction is that the Rays
will win the AL East.
I believe that the pitching can be at least close to as great as it was in 2012, the offense won't regress (assuming that they won't have to deal with so many injuries this season), and the defense will definitely be better. I also think that Wil Myers's contributions in the second half of the season will be the difference between a Wild Card spot and a division title for the Rays.
Robbie: I'll say that Jeremy Hellickson has a huge season that even sabermetricians can agree is good, going over 200 Innings and getting his K/9 up to 7.0, his BB/9 down to 2.8, and his HR/9 to 0.9 as his Earned Run Average comes in at 2.98, leading to several Cy Young votes. The key will be his curveball, which showed flashes as his third pitch at the end of last season.
Other than that, I'll predict that Brandon Guyer, finally healthy, breaks into the big leagues for his first extended stretch and plays well enough that he begins taking away starts from Matt Joyce and Kelly Johnson and allows the Rays to keep Wil Myers in the minors until July.
Gareth: Evan Longoria will avoid significant DL time this season and hit 40 home runs and drive in 110+. For his efforts the Rays will win the AL East and Longo will receive MVP votes. Meanwhile, Matt Moore will make significant strides, but the real breakout pitcher will be Alex Cobb, who takes Shields's workhorse innings eater role, accumulating 200 IP. BOOJ IT!