By Sam Cowan
Welcome to a new recurring feature on my blog, Bold Predictions, where I will predict the future of the sports landscape based on what I know and what I can guess. Expect to see more of these types of columns as the weeks and months roll along.
Today, I will be covering my predictions for the second half of the 2015 MLB season and looking at why I think these things will happen.
The Giants will make the playoffs
Over the previous five seasons, the San Francisco Giants have built a dynasty that has seen championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014. However, the years in-between have seen the Giants fail to even make the playoffs.
I think that streak will end this season as the Giants edge out the Dodgers for the NL West division title with the Dodgers settling for a wild-card spot.
The Giants have a great mix of hitting, pitching and experience to make another run in October.
However, I don’t think the Giants will repeat as champions this year- more on that at the end.
Mike Trout will win his second straight MVP and Bryce Harper will win his first MVP
As of Sunday, Trout is sixth in the American League in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, first in home runs and tied for eighth in RBIs. Harper is third in the National League in batting average, first in OBP, tied for first in home runs, and fourth in RBIs.
Trout was a unanimous selection for AL MVP last year and I expect him to be a near-unanimous choice this year with Josh Donaldson or his teammate Albert Pujols stealing some votes.
Harper is the clear choice for MVP and I expect him to be the unanimous choice unless his numbers fall off dramatically in the second half. If so, Harper would be the fourth-youngest player ever to win the MVP award in either league.
At least one more no-hitter will be thrown this season
We’ve already seen two no-hitters this season, one by an established veteran and the other by a relatively-unknown rookie. It feels like every week a pitcher takes a no-no into the sixth or seventh inning.
I’m not brazen enough to declare when or where it will happen, but I do think it is bound to happen at least once before we head into the postseason.
Ichiro will retire after this season
Ichiro has had a remarkable career to this point. A career.316 hitter, Ichiro has recorded almost 3,000 hits in the majors and that doesn’t include the almost 1,300 hits that he got in Japan.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think Ichiro is a Hall of Famer and it is simply a matter of when he wants to retire from the game.
While it is possible Ichiro may try to reach an even 3,000 hits for his MLB career, I think this season will be the last in his storied career.
Your new world champions are…
In the AL, I have the Angels, Blue Jays and Royals as division winners with the Twins and Astros as wild-card teams. In the NL, I have the Cardinals, Nationals and Giants as winning their divisions with the Pirates and Dodgers claiming the last two playoff spots.
From that group, there is one team that I think stands out based on their combination of hitting and pitching and that team is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
24-year old Gerrit Cole has been impressive as the team’s ace and A.J. Burnett is having a career year at the age of 38. Francisco Liriano has also done well the last couple years and is a viable third-man in their postseason pitching rotation. The Pirate’s team ERA of 2.92 is second in the majors.
On offense, Andrew McCutchen leads a core of solid bats that, while not overwhelming, does well enough to keep the team winning.
I predict the Pirates to ride their pitching staff and some key offensive plays to the World Series to play the Angels. My final prediction is that the Pirates beat the Angels in six games for the team’s first championship since 1979.