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My Super-Official 2023 Predictions
Brett Baty, David Peterson, Francisco Lindor, Danny Mendick, and...Buddy Carlyle?
Look: I’m no statistician. I did once run into a classmate from an introductory stats course at a movie theater who called me a “stats god,” but…still. I don’t pretend to be able to dig into the numbers and project exactly how many opposite-field hits Omar Narváez will get on 1-2 counts. If I could, I would probably do more investing.
What I can do, though, is understand the basics. And the vibes. Sometimes both. And that’s what I’ll be doing as I unveil my official predictions for 2023.
There are some predictions that I won’t bother to make; what’s the use in saying “Justin Verlander will be good”? So I’m focused on areas of more uncertainty. That necessarily means that more of my predictions will turn out to be wrong, but it’s also just more interesting.
So here we go.
Brett Baty will either bat .280 or hit 20 home runs, or both
I’ve said this before, and I’ll continue saying it: Baty’s 11-game stint last season was so, so much better than it looked. He batted .184, but his expected batting average was .287. Even in 11 games, his max exit velocity of 113 mph ranked in the 89th percentile among all batters. He’s looked just as strong this spring. And the eye test agrees: his swing is like a van Gogh.
That said, there’s a major caveat: This prediction only applies if he plays close to a full season, which, at this point, is possible but nowhere near guaranteed. I absolutely don’t expect him to hit 20 home runs if he’s called up in July.
David Peterson will be…good
This is pretty much a vibes-based prediction. Peterson’s underlying data is okay, but definitely not great. He’s good at striking batters out, but also gives up a lot of walks and hard-hit balls. But with that really solid changeup/slider combo, he’s always just seemed like someone who will end up being a solid starter. It’s sort of like how Jeff McNeil doesn’t actually hit the ball that hard, but you can still just tell that he’s a great hitter.
Francisco Lindor will hit 30 home runs
Lindor cleared the 30 home-run mark each year from 2017 to 2019, hitting as many as 38. But then, of course, there was the shortened 2020 season, and then Lindor slumped through 2021. He picked it up in 2022, of course, and had a great year.
What’s easy to forget, though, is that Lindor went through some pretty sustained struggles in the first half before exploding in the second. As late as July 7 – July 7! – Lindor was batting .241/.319/.411. After July 7, he batted .299/.358/.487.
That doesn’t mean he’s going to continue to hit like that forever; the way baseball works is that players have good stretches and bad stretches, and they come together into a statline that’s pretty average. Indeed, his power numbers didn’t even improve in the second half. But Lindor did seem to decisively shake off his 2021 struggles around the midpoint of 2022, and if he can go a full year without slipping back into an extended slump, there’s no reason he can’t clear 30 homers again.
And yes, I will remind you – I predicted something like this.
Danny Mendick will have one incredible three-week stretch
Doesn’t he just seem like the type?
Kodai Senga will underwhelm in the first half, but redeem himself in the second
This one is really simple: Senga clearly has the stuff to dominate, but he also very clearly is still adjusting to the specifics of MLB (mound slope, baseball size, pitch clock, etc). It’s just a pretty easy thing to say, to the point where it almost feels like a cop-out. “He’ll have an adjustment period, then pitch to his full potential.” Groundbreaking stuff.
One Buddy Carlyle-type reliever will emerge
The real ones remember: in 2014, Buddy Carlyle, aged 36, having not pitched in the big leagues since 7 2/3 innings in 2011, came to the Mets and pitched to a 1.45 ERA in 27 appearances. Relievers like that are the best: they show up out of nowhere, dominate for a year, then, usually, you never hear from them again. And here’s what’s happening this year: the Mets have lots and lots of candidates to be the next Buddy Carlyle.
I’ve got my eye on Jimmy Yacabonis. He’s never pitched a full MLB season, and his slider could be absolutely devastating; he’s pitched to a career 3.25 ERA in the Minors. But there are lots of other candidates too. Simply put, the Mets have so many high-potential relievers that one of them seems likely to turn out to be really good.
James McCann will make Mets fans angry
Hear me out. I’ve already explained in detail why James McCann is due for a major rebound, and been mocked unmercifully for it. But it’s still true. He’ll make the Orioles very happy. Let’s just check back on this one in a few months and see how it turns out.