Mark “Wisco” Whelan Predictions
It’s that time of year again, when we all get to emulate Punxatawny Phil, the prognosticating groundhog who lets us know if there will be six weeks more of Winter. Our job, however, carries a significantly worse than 50-50 chance of being right. As FOB Editor Daryll Dorman puts it, here’s our chance to be either sages or idiots. That’s right, it’s time to make our predictions for the 2016 San Diego Padres. Here goes nothing…
Team MVP: Let’s start off with one that will certainly have people calling me an idiot. This year’s Most Valuable Padre will be Center Fielder Jon Jay. Jay brings something to San Diego that the Padres haven’t seen in almost a decade – an ability to hit .300. (Any guesses who the last Padres regular to hit .300 was? Answer below.)
Manager Andy Green planted Jay as the starting Center Fielder and leadoff man early in Spring Training, and Jay has responded with a .327 BA and .383 OBP, as of this writing. Green looks likely to give the veteran every chance to succeed. The career .287 hitter is coming off a season marred by a wrist injury, but has had ample time to heal. He’s going from the fishbowl that is Cardinals baseball to the relative obscurity of San Diego. The low-pressure situation, combined with this being his walk year, make Jay a good candidate for a strong comeback. Look for Jay to hit over .300 and score 100+ runs.
Runner-up: Wil Myers
Team Cy Young: Here’s a tricky one. With every entrenched Padres starter being the subject of trade rumors, any one of them might be gone by the time you read this prediction. But if he remains a Padre all year, Tyson Ross will be the team’s top starter. Green named Ross as the Opening Day starter early in Spring Training, an unusual move. But Ross has clearly been the Padres most effective starter the last two seasons. One concern is his walk rate, which regressed last year after he eliminated the four-seamer from his arsenal. But Ross is smart, as is Darren Balsley. Expect them and Green to figure out the most effective approach for Ross. Add a much better defense behind him, and a sub-3.00 ERA looks like a possibility again.
Runner-up: Robbie Erlin
A few other predictions….
Team leader in HR: Myers with 28
Rookie of the Year: Colin Rea
Rule 5 guy who sticks with the team all year: Jabari Blash. That kind of power is too special to let go too soon.
Team record: 81-81
Next: Daryll Dorman Predictions