The World Series is over, a little prematurely for some and with a surprise result, and it's officially the offseason. Free agents look for new homes, trades are discussed and perhaps completed, and fantasy owners count down the days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February. As of today, Nov. 8, we're roughly 100 days away. Can you feel it?
I miss baseball already, so let's start looking ahead to 2013. This will be the first of two "bold predictions" blogs. We tried this a year ago, and in some cases, the bold was beautiful. In other cases, it was not. But it's way too easy to say Ryan Braun will have another 30-homer/30-steal season or that you don't want any part of Danny Valencia or Clint Barmes. Let's get bold with the hitters, team by team, division by division!
New York Yankees: New leadoff hitter and center fielder Brett Gardner hits .300 and steals 52 bases, making him a draft-day steal. Meanwhile, Eduardo Nunez finds his way to 400 at-bats at various positions and steals 34 bags.
Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado takes over at shortstop when J.J. Hardy is dealt to the Cardinals for pitching, and he hits 22 home runs, steals 12 bases and scores many runs hitting directly in front of expensive acquisition Josh Hamilton!
Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria takes home AL MVP honors. Finally. Longtime minor leaguer Brandon Guyer secures the left-field job and flirts with a 20/20 season, as does Ben Zobrist, who finally reaches those plateaus.
Toronto Blue Jays: Speaking of left field, speedster Anthony Gose wins the job and posts a Rajai Davis-type season, with 40 stolen bases but a .305 OBP. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud wins the catcher job and puts up Matt Wieters-type numbers, taking home top rookie honors.
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz hits .320 with 37 home runs, 121 RBIs in 150 games, but somehow gets drafted 10 rounds later than Miguel Cabrera, who does about the same. Jerry Sands and Daniel Nava form an effective, inexpensive, fantasy-worthy left-field platoon.
Detroit Tigers: Victor Martinez, still catcher-eligible, returns from his major knee injury to bat fifth, hit .310 and knock in 116 runs. Youngster Avisail Garcia secures right field and hits 19 home runs and steals 14 bases.
Chicago White Sox: Outfielder Alejandro De Aza finishes as the top White Sox player on the ESPN Player Rater, with 12 home runs and 34 steals. Alex Rios struggles to hit .240 and decides he doesn't feel like stealing bases anymore. Rookie Carlos Sanchez usurps the second-base job from Gordon Beckham and hits .290. Adam Dunn hits .238.
Cleveland Indians: Catcher Carlos Santana finally does it all, hitting .280 with 31 home runs, and doing so while seeing more time at first base. Russ Canzler wins an Opening Day job and quietly hits 20 home runs.
Minnesota Twins: I called Trevor Plouffe the next Mike Morse a year ago. Well, Plouffe outperforms Morse in 2013, hitting 30 home runs, and is joined in the club by a rejuvenated, healthy Justin Morneau.
Oakland Athletics: Scott Sizemore comes back from his knee injury and hits 20 home runs at second base. Sorry, Jemile Weeks, good luck after you're traded to the Mets. Yoenis Cespedes is the lone Athletic to hit 25 home runs. Sorry, Josh Reddick and Chris Young.
Texas Rangers: The new right side of the infield, with first baseman Mike Olt and second baseman Jurickson Profar, combines for 44 home runs and a .280 batting average. Yeah, I like them quite a bit. Meanwhile, Ian Kinsler capably handles left field.
Los Angeles Angels: Center fielder Peter Bourjos gets back on track with a .275 season, 16 home runs and 31 steals. Mike Trout hits "only" .301, but his 22 home runs, 134 runs and 68 steals are enough to put him No. 1 on the Player Rater again.
Seattle Mariners: Catcher Mike Zunino makes the team and hits 18 home runs. Full-time designated hitter Jesus Montero does the same. Nick Franklin takes over at second base in June and finishes higher than both of them on the Player Rater.
Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper takes over the No. 3 lineup slot from the injured Ryan Zimmerman (sorry, Ryan) and smacks 33 home runs. Tyler Moore becomes the team's everyday left fielder and swats 22 home runs. Ian Desmond is replaced at shortstop by Danny Espinosa.
Atlanta Braves: Gold Glove-winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons becomes the team's new leadoff hitter and hits .280 with 20 steals and 80 runs. Martin Prado becomes the regular second baseman after Dan Uggla is traded for a catcher. You don't want Brian McCann in 2013. He hits only seven home runs.
New York Mets: New center fielder B.J. Upton registers his first 30/30 season, though he hits .240 in the process. Ike Davis is traded to make room at first base for Lucas Duda, who bounces back from a broken wrist to hit 24 home runs.
Cincinnati Reds: Catcher Devin Mesoraco blossoms, hitting 17 home runs. While everyone is still talking about prospect Billy Hamilton, Drew Stubbs holds on to the center-field job and hits .250 with 25 home runs and 35 steals. Hamilton plays left field in September and steals 10 bags.
St. Louis Cardinals: Outfielder Oscar Taveras is ready to hit big league pitching, and he'll get the chance in July to do so, hitting 14 home runs over 250 at-bats. You'll really want him in 2014. You'll want second baseman Kolten Wong now. He wins the starting job and hits leadoff, stealing 25 bases.
Milwaukee Brewers: Don't give up on Mat Gamel yet! He hits well in spring training and Corey Hart moves back to right field. Gamel, Hart, Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez all settle in around 23 home runs. Carlos Gomez struggles, and ends up sharing center field with Norichika Aoki.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Starling Marte wins the left-field job and hacks his way to 16 home runs and 28 steals, but with 30 walks and 170 strikeouts. Travis Snider hits a hollow 20 home runs in right field. Jose Tabata is sent to Cleveland.
Chicago Cubs: Speaking of bad walk/strikeout rates, Brett Jackson will not make the Cubs in April, but by July he's starting in center field. He'll hit 11 home runs and steal 18 bases. Anthony Rizzo becomes a top-10 first baseman. Alfonso Soriano becomes a Yankee again, and still hits 30 homers.
Houston Astros: Prospects Jonathan Singleton and George Springer are called up in July. Singleton is easily the better bet. And who leads the 2013 Astros, now in the AL West, in home runs? Third baseman Matt Dominguez hits 19, but also hits just .230, fueling Brandon Inge comparisons.
San Francisco Giants: A year later than expected, Brandon Belt has that breakout season, hitting .280 with 20 home runs. Nick Swisher signs with the champs but falls short of reaching .280, hitting 20 home runs.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Adrian Gonzalez leads the team with 28 home runs. Sorry, Matt Kemp owners. Dee Gordon manages to get his OBP and slugging percentage over .300, barely, but he still swipes 50 bases. Andre Ethier is dealt for rotation help.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton, MVP. Discuss among yourselves. The D-backs are nuts to consider trading a 25-year-old talent like this. They will have one of the best outfields in the game when leadoff center fielder Adam Eaton hits .300 with 11 home runs and 39 steals and Jason Kubel hits 25 home runs.