1. Roy Halladay will turn in the best season by a Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton's 27-win campaign of 1972. The former Blue Jays ace has turned in two 20-win seasons in Toronto. Imagine what he will do in Philly with seven All-Stars hitting for him.
I could see him winning 22, losing just 6, and posting an ERA around 2.50. And yes, that would be enough for Halladay to become the fifth pitcher in MLB history to win the Cy Young award in both leagues.
2. Cole Hamels will not regain his 2008 form (3.09 ERA), but he'll be much better than he was in 2009 (4.32 ERA). Look for 14 wins, close to 200 innings pitched, and an ERA in the high 3.00's. But don't expect Halladay and Hamels to turn into the best one-two punch in baseball. That honor still belongs to the Giants' tandem of Lincecum and Cain.
3. The rest of the baseball world will finally realize that Ryan Howard , and not Chase Utley, is the most valuable player on the team. So Howard strikes out a lot and doesn't play great defense. He has never had a full season that wasn't fantastic.
He's won a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, and finished second, third, and fifth. He is one of the best power hitters in the history of baseball, and he has a batting average (.279) much better than most have realized. Look for a typical Howard season: 52 homers, 138 RBIs, .268 average.
4. Brad Lidge will not be as terrible as he was in 2009, simply because that's not possible. But if you have dreams of Lidge posting another perfect season, think again.
I expect an ERA around 3.30 with 33 saves in 39 opportunities, meaning Lidge would be a good but not great closer. I also wouldn't be surprised if he spent a significant portion of the season on the disabled list.
5. The Phillies will let Shane Victorino run wild, and the Flyin' Hawaiian' will respond with 54 stolen bases. With the bat, expect a typical season from the consistent center fielder: a batting average around .280 with about 100 runs scored.
6. Jimmy Rollins will not make any predictions. At all. In 2007, the fiery shortstop correctly predicted that the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East, which he backed up with an MVP season, while leading the Phillies to the postseason for the first time 14 years.
In 2008, he predicted that the Phillies would defend their division title, while winning 100 games. Not only did the Phillies defend their title, but they won the World Series, and including the postseason, won 103 games.
And before the 2009 World Series, Rollins predicted that the Phillies would win in six games, maybe even five. We all know what happened there. So I think it's time for a prediction-free season by Rollins.
7. And with the bat, I think Jimmy Rollins will turn in a slightly disappointing season. He'll led the league in at-bats, like usual, and maybe triples or stolen bases, and I expect at least 100 runs. But I think he'll hit around .265 with an on base percentage in the low .300's, which would be one of the worst in baseball.
8. After two seasons of poor regular season play followed by fantastic hitting in October, Carlos Ruiz will do the opposite this year. I expect him to hit around .280 with double-digit homers and 60 RBIs in the regular season, but I think he'll be an embarrassment in the postseason, hitting below the Mendoza Line.
9. Jayson Werth will turn in a season better than anything Bobby Abreu ever did for the Phillies. Werth turned in an All-Star season last year, setting career highs in almost every statistical category.
I see no reason why he shouldn't continue to get better. Look for the first 30-30 season by a Phillie since Jimmy Rollins in 2007, a batting average close to .300, and a top 10 finish in the MVP voting.
10. Raul Ibanez is going to be a disappointment. The soon to be 38-year-old has been remarkably consistent over his career, but I think age will take a toll on the left fielder.
Whether he is injured, loses playing time to Ben Francisco, or just doesn't play well, I don't think he is going to hit more than about 18 homers, with a batting average around .250.
11. Ryan Madson will convert all 14 save opportunities during Brad Lidge's two stints on the disabled list, leading many Phillies fans to call for his conversion to full-time closer. But Lidge will keep the job, despite Madson's success.
12. Jamie Moyer is going to show his age. Big time. I expect the 47-year-old to win about five or six games all season. I think he'll spend some time on the disabled list, and may lose his spot in the rotation.
If his ERA is under 5.00, I'll be pleased. And I think he will call it quits after the conclusion of his 25th season in the major leagues.
13. Don't expect a lot of pinch-hits from the Phillies. The Phillies have their seven All-Stars and Ruiz, and that's about it. Ben Francisco hit just .231 as a pinch-hitter last season. Greg Dobbs was one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball in 2007 and 2008, but hit just .247 last season.
I expect a little better from him this year, but I just don't see the old Greg Dobbs returning. Wilson Valdez and Juan Castro are terrible hitters, and Ross Gload is decent, although he has declined over each of the last four seasons.
14. Do expect to see some late-inning defensive replacements. If DeWayne Wise ever reaches the majors, the Phillies will remember his catch in the ninth inning to save Mark Buehrle's perfect game last year, and he'll see some time on defense in the outfield.
Ben Francisco is a solid defender, and Philly fans still remember his fantastic catch in the NLDS last year. Castro and Valdez are above average defenders and Gload is pretty good with the glove at first.
15. I just don't see how this team can miss the postseason. They're completely stacked on offense, boasting an All-Star outfield, and one of the best infields in the last 50 years. They can hit for power, leading the National League in home runs each of the past two seasons.
They have speed, ranking in the top three in the National League in steals each of the last three seasons. They have an above average pitching staff, with arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball.
They have a closer who could rank among the best in the game if he regains his form. And they have a manager who knows how to discipline his players, while at the same time keeping them happy.
Don't be surprised to see this team win its second World Series in three seasons, which would solidify this squad as one of baseball's dynasties.
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