Predictions are not easy. Especially when you are dealing with a Division 3 baseball league. They inherently have a cockiness to them that says ‘I know what I am talking about’, when really I don’t. I follow box scores incessantly and hear about players secondhand, but I don’t have access to in-depth scouting reports or any type of video for me to use. This is all a way of saying that if none of these predictions come true, it doesn’t mean that I suffered from lack of trying, but lack of information. But boy are predictions FUN! Here are seven I am willing to bet my honor on.
1. Tufts will finish with less than eight losses
Sure, Tufts is 14-1 right now, so you look at this and think I am not being too bold after all. However, the last time a Tufts team lost fewer than eight games was 2010 when the Jumbos finished 34-7. They still have 20 regular season games left as well as the NESCAC playoffs and then potentially the NCAA tournament. For this prediction to come true, Tufts probably needs to go 10-2 in conference play. The key for that is having deep pitching which is something Tufts has in spades. Their staff also has some great names. Kyle Slinger ’15 is ironic because… well you get it, Andrew David ’16 and Tom Ryan ’15 are trying to disprove the notion you can’t trust a man with two first names, and Tim Superko ’17 is really a Paul Konerko and Superman mashup.
2. Joe Jensen ’15 (Hamilton) Will Lead The League in Stolen Bases
Of all my predictions this is the one that is the safest considering Jensen led the league last year with 11 more than anybody else. So far Alex Hero ’14 has bested Jensen by one steal, 10 to nine on the season. Despite this, I remain supremely confident that Jensen will beat out Hero and all other competitors. Besides Jensen’s obvious natural ability as evidenced by his track accomplishments, Hamilton is not a very deep offense capable of huge innings. While Amherst can be content with leaving Hero on first and letting other hitters drive him in, Hamilton needs Jensen to run every time he gets on. Even if he doesn’t repeat as stolen base leader, he already has this.
Joe takes 2nd place!! Jensen is national runner up in he 400m!! Congrats Joe. All-American honors and school record!
— Hamilton XC & Track (@HamCollXC_TF) March 15, 2014
3. The Home Run Race Will Actually Be Exciting to Follow
Nobody is going to confuse this thing for the Summer of ’98 with McGwire and Sosa, but I think a couple of players will hit a good amount this season (Like at least six. You have to believe me when I say that’s a lot.) I am not ready to predict who the eventual winner will be, but Griffin Tewksbury ’14 (Bates), Mike Odenwaelder ’16 (Amherst), and Jason Buco ’15 (Colby) are the frontrunners. Of course it is so impossible to guess that I would be impressed with myself if one of those three won. I think a home run in the final weekend of the season will be the deciding one, but I have no idea where or by whom it will be hit.
4. Williams Will Lose a Game Despite Scoring at Least 15 Runs
If I was going to put a bet on which specific weekend it was going to be, I would choose the Wesleyan series next weekend. Both teams are much better at hitting than pitching especially once you get into the second or third game of a series. Williams has mashed almost everything put over the plate so far, but their opponents have done a fair amount themselves. They already lost a game to Oberlin 19-11 so 15 runs in a loss is not too far away. Their offense also makes them a dangerous team to play every game even if their weak pitching is likely to keep them from making too serious a run this season.
5. The Final Weekend of Conference Play is Going to Be Awesome
The NESCAC is saving the best for last as Amherst-Wesleyan and Tufts-Bowdoin are both the final series both teams will play. The winners of both series are likely to win their divisions, but what will be interesting is the relative position of the other teams. I fully expect these four to occupy the top four spots going into the weekend, but it is possible one of them gets swept opening the door for another team to sneak into the playoffs. Besides those implications, the games should just be a lot of fun to watch in weather that has hopefully warmed up to reasonably temperatures by then.
6. Team Wins and Team Strikeouts Will Be the Most Correlated Statistics
The ability to get strikeouts isn’t crucial for pitching success, but in the NESCAC if you strike out a lot of people you greatly improve your chances of preventing wins because not too many players will hurt you with the longball. Teams that strikeout a lot of their opponents have a huge advantage. A peak at the standings shows that far and away the three top teams in strikeouts are Wesleyan, Amherst, and Tufts. While you would expect ERA or OBP to have the most correlation to wins, strikeouts denote dominance and the team that gets more of them will usually win in this conference.
7. A Baseball Game Will Be Played in Maine This Season
It hasn’t happened yet so who is to say it will happen at all? Just think about that a little.