Does anyone really put that much stock into Spring Training performance? I used to say no, but I’ve recently changed my thought process. I felt that Domonic Brown would have a big year based on what I saw in spring, and I felt the same way last year with Cody Ross. Players need to develop a comfort level early on, especially if they are those notorious “slow starters.”
Boston’s Clay Buchholz is an interesting case. He’s always had ace-like talent, so his ridiculous numbers this year (9-0, 1.71 ERA) shouldn’t be all that surprising. But I just laughed when I saw every so-called “expert’s” Cy Young picks in the AL: the usual suspects – Verlander, Sabathia, Price, Dickey. Come on, no dark horses?
Then there was Buchholz, the oft-injured enigma having a downright dominant spring. The Red Sox were poised to have better success with their starting staff with the return of old friend John Farrell and lowered expectations coming off a 69-93 season, their worst year since 1965.
I know, the race isn’t over, and Buchholz is currently idling on the DL with a stiff neck while Max Scherzer rewrites the history books at 12-0. But if Buchholz returns to form after the All-Star break, the award is still his to lose, and I still get to be smug about it (I won’t be though, because I have to remember that on my website, I also misfired on a few picks, like Ryan Howard for NL MVP.)
Sometimes, you have to go outside the box to find those who are ready to have big-time success. Chris Davis, for one. How about Buchholz’s teammate, John Lackey. Did anyone see this coming? Maybe not even me, even though Lackey had Tommy John surgery and showed up for Spring Training much slimmer and in the best shape of his career.
I prayed I’d be wrong when I picked my hometown Orioles to finish last and the Red Sox to win the World Series. The former should be a safe bet, but the Red Sox winning the World Series coming off their worst season in 47 years? Again, I saw something most didn’t. In fact, I vividly recall the Baltimore Sun’s season preview writing the words, “There’s no way Boston finishes first.” Really?
Clay Buchholz might have something to say about that.
For my official preseason picks (some great, some not so much, check out http://www.draftamerica.com/spotlight/2013-mlb-predictions)