It is not uncommon for multiple outlets to predict who will win each division, the World Series or the major individual awards for any given Major League Baseball season. In fact, it is quite common and even writers here at Sports Unbiased do the same. But what about the short term and dare I say fun predictions.
Who will hit the first home run on Opening Day? Who will be the first player ejected from a game? When will expanded instant replay be used the first time? These are all great questions that are near term and come with a level of fun and excitement. Fans do not have to wait until September or even July to resolve these predictions. Here at Sports Unbiased, a few of our baseball writers got together with the intention of predicting those things. Some predictions will be off the cuff, others might be tongue and cheek but at the end of the day it will be fun, informational and exciting for baseball fans to imagine.
Without any delay we present the 2014 Major League Baseball unique predictions and statistical firsts created and compiled by MLB writers Adam Solowiei, Jen Rainwater and Brain Reese. Let the fun begin as we looked into historical trends, statistics, programs and even a magic eight ball or two.
Who will hit the first home run?
Brian – Bryce Harper: I was originally leaning towards going with Mike Trout, but considering he is facing King Felix in the late game opening night I predict that Harper will start the season with a big hit off of Mets starter Dillon Gee. Harper has 42 home runs in his first two major league seasons.
Jen – Miguel Cabrera: For two reasons, the first is that his name is Miguel Cabrera and the second he’s playing in an early game against James Shields and the Royals. Shields has given up 20 hits in 24.2 innings in spring training, plus someone has to score so Verlander can get the first shut out!
Adam – Andrew McCutchen: He has been on absolute fire during spring training already hitting five home runs. He is also playing in the first game and is scheduled to face Jeff Samardzija who gave up two spring home runs and 25 last season.
Who will hit the first triple?
Brian – Billy Hamilton: This guy can flat out fly. And with the Reds hosting division rival St. Louis I think Hamilton, who is slated to hit lead-off, will get his first triple in the majors at his second at-bat against Adam Wainwright.
Jen – Starling Marte: It may be difficult against Samardzija who can rack up strikeouts but he’s a happy camper after getting his six year extension so if he hits one far he’ll probably try for third.
Adam – Denard Span: There are two reasons that lead me to back Span as the first triple of the year. First, he managed 11 of them in 2013 and two he is starting the season at Citi Field and its expansive outfield. Speed and space spell triple to me.
Who will steal the first base?
Brian – Andrew McCutchen: The Cubs and Pirates will be the first game on Opening Day and I predict that McCutchen will pick up right where he left off. Last season he stole 27 bags in rout to his first Most Valuable Player Award.
Jen – Billy Hamilton: Only if Billy Burns is not on the A’s opening day roster which is highly likely. But if Burns plays somehow he will steal the first base. Billy Hamilton might be the fastest guy in the Majors right now but not for long.
Adam – Jean Segura: Assuming the Brewers table setter is healed by the 31st I like his chances. In his first extended time at the MLB level he stole 44 bases. He is flat out fast and has a good jump off the pitchers motion. He has a better chance than most.
Who will be caught stealing first?
Brian – Hunter Pence: He has 89 stolen bags in his career and with the Giants opening up against the Diamondbacks, I predict Pence will try to pull a fast one on Brandon McCarthy but be denied by the quick arm of Arizona’s catcher Miguel Montero.
Jen – Billy Hamilton: It could also be Billy Hamilton because the Cards will have Yadier Molina behind the plate.
Adam – Gerardo Parra: I was tempted to pick Segura again but just had to find someone else. Parra is as good as any and since he stole and was caught stealing the same number is bases last year he earns my nod. He only attempted 20 but only succeeded 50 percent of the time.
Who will throw the first shutout?
Brian – C.C Sabathia: Big C had a rough year in 2013 by having arguably his worst season in his 13 year career. I see Sabathia, and the new look Yankees, getting off to a fast start against an Astro’s team that will continue to underachieve in 2014.
Jen – Justin Verlander: The easy reason is I seriously think this guy is super human. I know my team can’t hit him (I think “shutting out the A’s” is his favorite activity on his facebook profile). Plus, he has had very dominate spring. His ERA is 0.00 and he struck out 17 batters in 20 innings.
Adam – Chris Sale: I wanted to take any pitcher facing the Marlins but I would be remiss if I did not back my pick for the American League Cy Young. Especially, when he starts the season against the Twins. Four complete games and a shutout last help his cause.