We are officially done with one week of MLB baseball. Even though some teams haven’t played seven games or even six in some cases, we are technically a week into the season. That means it is time to make predictions that are loosely based on what has happened in this first week. I am going to make five bold(ish) predictions for the rest of the 2022 MLB season, none of which I would have thought about before the season started. Feel free to check back in with these predictions after another 150 games have been played by each team and see just how right I was.
Wander Franco leads the MLB in hits
This is probably the least bold of all the predictions I will make which is why I have attached the “ish” in parentheses to my claim that these predictions are truly bold. But Franco is just a second-year player that didn’t even log a full season last year so him making the leap to one of the best hitters in the game would be pretty surprising. Even though he was ranked as the number one overall prospect in the game last year, there is usually still some sort of learning curve at the professional level. Franco seems to have already passed whatever that learning curve was. If there is one thing that Franco can do with the best of them it is hit. He has 11 hits so far this season, which is good for second in the majors, and last year he went on a historical 43-game on-base streak. There will be plenty of awards and accolades collected by Franco over the course of his career but leading the MLB in hits in 2022 will be his first.
Jordan Romano leads the MLB in saves
This is also a bit reactionary based on what has transpired over the brief beginning of this season, but Romano looks like he could certainly pull this off. It helps that he is on the Blue Jays who many project (including myself) to be the best team in baseball this year. When a team wins a ton of games it is a good bet that the closer for that team also racks up a lot of saves. That has been the case already with Romano saving all four of Toronto’s wins in its first seven games. There was a bit of uncertainty surrounding the closer role in Toronto heading into the season but Romano has locked it down by now. He pitched well for the Blue Jays last year, notching 23 saves and compiling a 2.14 ERA, but this will be the true breakout year for Romano as he tops the league in saves.
The Miami Marlins win the NL East
This prediction is all kinds of bold for several different reasons, not the least of which is that the Marlins have never won a division title. They also happen to play in the same division as the reigning World Series champions (the Braves) and two teams that spent a bunch of money in free agency (the Mets and Phillies). Oh yeah, Miami is also currently in last place in the division with a 2-4 record. But something about this team makes me think they have the possibility to shock everybody. That something is the starting pitching rotation. Before the season, the starters were perceived to be the strength of this team because of a three-headed monster of Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, and Pablo Lopez, all of which are established good to great pitchers in the majors But that monster might have grown another head this season with Jesus Luzardo. The once highly regarded prospect in the Oakland Athletics’ farm system might have finally figured out what it takes to succeed at this level. Luzardo pitched incredibly well in his first outing of the season, going five innings and allowing one run while striking out 12 batters. He only recorded 15 outs in that start so something was definitely going right with his pitches that day. Luzardo doesn’t have to keep up that same level of play but if he can one more solid starter the Marlins’ pitching staff might be able to make up for whatever the offense lacks.
Byron Buxton finishes second in the AL MVP
I’m sorry Byron, I really do believe in you, just not enough to predict you to win the actual award though. This prediction could also read “Byron Buxton stays healthy for most of a season” and would be just as bold. But that is basically what I am predicting here. His talent has never been in question when it comes to Buxton, it has been his ability to stay on the field that has held him back. He started out very hot last year before ultimately missing a ton of games due to injury so that is highly likely to happen again. But I think Buxton stays healthy this year and we get to see what a player of his caliber can do over the course of an entire season. Buxton has already hit three home runs this season, which is one behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the league lead, and he seems to be playing up to his potential. Maybe it will be due to luck finally siding with Buxton this year instead of against him, but this season seems like the season where we finally get to see him stick around and play his way into a finish near the top of the MVP ballots.
Logan Gilbert wins the AL Cy Young Award
I just had to fit one homer pick in here, although it isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. Gilbert has looked really good in his two starts this season so projecting this type of jump from the 24-year-old isn’t the craziest prediction I could make (see the Marlins pick I made earlier). Gilbert has excelled so far in run prevention, allowing just one earned run in his ten innings of work. He has also allowed fewer hits (seven) than innings pitched and has struck out 11 batters while walking one. Those starts came against the Twins and White Sox, which both have formidable offenses so it could actually mean something. This could be the case of a young pitcher building on a promising rookie year and putting together a solid season, but it could also be a pitcher that was regarded as a top prospect making a leap to superstardom. I prefer to believe in the latter in which case Gilbert winning the AL Cy Young Award would be a very plausible outcome.