There are three days I really look forward to every year. One is my wife’s birthday. Another is the last day of the academic year, which brings about the start of my summer. And of course, there’s Opening Day.
There was a time before 2005 when Opening Day was all about the Red Sox for me. The renewal of hope. This might be the year! But after Doug Mientkiewicz caught that toss from Keith Foulke, Opening Day changed. It became about the game and the numbers and the records even more than about the Red Sox.
A-Rod is going to get to 3000 hits and 2000 ribbies this year, and he has a tiny shot of reaching 2000 runs. With a load of luck, Ichiro could get to 3000 too. Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera will reach 400 homers. Mark Buehrle will get his 200th win. Fun stuff!
Then there’s Bruce Bochy. He’s going to move into 16th place on the all-time wins list for managers. He’s only 60 and has three rings. He’s going to the Hall of Fame one day. Somehow that snuck up on me.
If you care for predictions, I’ll take Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Washington, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. The Nats will beat the Indians in the World Series. Trout wins another MVP and Kershaw another Cy. I’ll take long shots Carlos Carrasco and Jason Heyward to win the other two awards. Why not? It’s fun. It’s supposed to be fun.
For more fun I look at the top-100 active players in WAR at BBREF to prepare for every Opening Day.
Here are a few who I’m interested in seeing this year.
Alex Rodriguez (#1, 116.0 WAR): I’ve never hated A-Rod. I think the guy’s misunderstood. And even more I think that he misunderstands. There’s a lot of stuff I misunderstand, and I always wish people understood what I misunderstood so they might not misunderstand me. I hope you’re thoroughly confused. And I hope A-Rod puts up a .370 OBP with about 20 homers and fades away into obscurity.
Chase Utley (#5, 61.5 WAR): Utley may be the most underrated player of this generation. From 2005-2009 he put up at least 7.0 WAR each season. While the Phillies will be awful and should unload anything they have that has the least bit of value, I hope they hold Utley. I really like him in a Phillie uniform.
Tim Hudson (#8, 58.1 WAR): Betcha you didn’t know he leads active pitchers in WAR.
David Wright (#13, 49.6 WAR): Wright is just 32 this year, but he feels so much older. Maybe it’s just me, but 5.8 WAR of 2013 seems so far gone. If Wright wants to fulfill his Hall of Fame potential, I think this is a big year. Right now I rank him 25th in history, right behind Ron Cey and just ahead of the likes of Bob Elliott, Toby Harrah, and Robin Ventura. Wright has to keep working.
Felix Hernandez (#19, 45.7 WAR): On one hand I want to call him the best pitcher in baseball. On the other, Clayton Kershaw has won four straight ERA titles and has five consecutive years of 5.5+ WAR. Felix has only three such years in his career. He’ll only be 29 this year, so the hurler who leads all pitchers in WAR over the last decade should still have plenty more greatness in front of him.
Justin Verlander (#25, 41.4 WAR): Is he done? He followed his MVP campaign of 2011 with another great year. But then a 4.6 WAR year and a 1.1 WAR year have fans worried. His innings have dropped every year since his MVP season, and now he’s starting the year on the DL.
Andrew McCutchen (#43, 33.2 WAR): In his prime and averaging nearly seven wins per year over his last four, Cutch is already the 55th best CF ever for my money. Give him six more years like his last six and he shoots all of the way up to tenth best ever. He has a chance to enter some pretty elite territory.
Mike Trout (#58, 28.2 WAR): Speaking of elite territory! Trout is only 66th on my CF list, but we’re talking about only three seasons and a cup of coffee. Let’s say he repeats all four of those seasons two more times. He’d be Joe DiMaggio. Joe freakin’ DiMaggio! And that’s with two more seasons equivalent to his inaugural 40-game campaign.
Sadly, I won’t be home to watch the Jays take on the Yanks, but I will be able to see the Mets and Nats, the Indians and ‘stros, and the Giants and D’backs later today.
Bring on the season!