Just like that, September's over, and the regular season only has so much left. Why does it feel like I was just writing this post for August? Jeez.
Anyway, as we wrap up September, let's look at some of the predictions I made last month for September:
1. The division leaders as they are will not stand pat, and one or more division will flip before the season's up. That's what we're looking at with the NL East. I had a dream the Twins won 11 straight games and catapulted themselves back into the playoff race, but that didn't happen. The AL Central flipped as well, but I forget if the Guardians were on top at the beginning of the month.
2. Judge will reach 60. That much I am sure of. AND THAT HE DID.
3. One of the playoff droughts, like the Mariners or Phillies, will end. Perhaps not both. The Mariners' drought is definitely ending, they're in for sure. The Phils...well, they're really making it a difficult waltz to that last spot.
4. Pujols will hit 700. THAT HE DID.
5. We haven't had a no-hitter in a while, I think we get one more. Nah, like usual this season they all got broken up right when everybody started watching. I'm not sure why but I feel like Rob Manfred is to blame.
Pretty solid run of it, I guess. So let's do 5 Things No One Could Predict About September 2022:
1. Jesus, I guess the Dodgers are an all-timer. And let me clarify this. People knew going into this year that the team would be good. They got Freddie Freeman, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney and Chris Martin, and they've all been great for them. They've gotten excellent seasons out of Mookie Betts, Julio Urias, Trea Turner, Tony Gonsolin, Freeman, and Will Smith. They had enough rotation depth to rely on people like Heaney, Michael Grove and I suppose Ryan Pepiot, who I'm still not sure why he got as many chances as he did. There's even enough room for Craig Kimbrel to fail without ruining the team. The team has 109 wins. I don't exactly think they're reaching 116 wins, which is what the Mariners hit in 2001, but it's the kind of full-team dominance that I doubt anybody's gonna be able to stop.
2. The Orioles pitching is gonna be alright. Yes, I'm not gonna put 'The Orioles don't make the playoffs' here, because I think we all saw that coming, as good as they got in the last few months. The Rays, Jays and Ms weren't gonna let anybody else in, even if the O's were still hot. And the lineup has continued to be strong, with Gunnar Henderson swapping out for Rougned Odor and Stowers and Vavra supplementing, but the pitching has somehow gotten better. This month like 2 or 3 guys went either for complete games or near-complete games in the span of a week. Jordan Lyles pitched a complete game where he only allowed one run, Dean Kremer pitched a complete game shutout, and Kyle Bradish got one batter away from a CG before handing it to the bullpen. Not only are these guys good, and Kremer and Bradish have been excellent this year, but they can go far into the game. I thought the O's rotation would need a few more years to develop, but they could be alright as soon as next year.
3. 'The Twins don't make the playoffs', on the other hand, does go here. Because the Twins powered the AL Central narrative for most of the year, had a great story with Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton powering the team, and once again, the second Buxton landed on the IL the team was powerless and Cleveland took over. This is the sort of 'stay strong and duck out in September' strategy the Brewers had in the mid-2010s, but it's a little more heartbreaking with the Twins solely because of how much clicked midyear, and how many things it looked like they'd mastered. Ultimately, when it's down to Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy and a host of rookies to save the team, it's not gonna go well.
4. Of the two imports from International league teams to come to the Cubs this year, Adrian Sampson had more of an impact than Seiya Suzuki. I feel so bad for the Cubs because Seiya Suzuki looked so good in April and did so well, and he just couldn't put it together for the rest of the season. Now they've all gotta be worried that it's gonna be Kosuke Fukudome 2.0. Meanwhile, Sampson emerged midway through the year to help the rotation and has become one of the team's surest bets, with a 3.10 ERA and 78 Ks in 20 games. Sampson has been eerily dominant his last few starts, and was a big asset in the team's rip-roaring sweep of the Phillies. I sincerely hope Suzuki has a better 2023.
5. The Cardinals are gonna walk away from this season with 3 guys with a WAR of 6.0 or higher, and two of them are gonna be going for an MVP. There's been so much 'Arenado's cooked' or 'Goldy's rounding out his years with a paycheck' talk that I actually believed it. Of the two, I think Goldschmidt is the better pick for an MVP, though I'm fine with either, they both deserve one. For Goldy to hit 35 home runs and 114 RBIs in his age 34 season is pretty awesome.
And, the inverse of that, 5 Things Pretty Much Anyone Could Have Predicted About September 2022:
1. Judge and Pujols hit and surpass their marks. It was really a matter of when. Pujols cracking two in one night in LA to break 700 was awesome, though. It was an away crowd but they all cheered for him because...I mean, it's Albert Pujols, what's not to love? Judge hitting 61 was awesome too, honestly.
2. Miguel Cairo was a better calming force on the South Side of Chicago than Tony LaRussa. Cairo 2023.
3. The A's beat the Pirates to 100 losses. I wrote about this last week, and I figured they would. If the A's had a Bryan Reynolds or a Ke'Bryan Hayes, they'd have a shot.
4. The Astros and Dodgers win their divisions and set themselves up as first seeds. And they foreshadow a deeply boring postseason if nobody can beat them in a series.
5. lol, Phillies.
For posterity, here are the 5 Most Important Players of August 2022
1. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
3. Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins
4. Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Pete Alonso, New York Mets
And, cause I suppose I can be a bit ballsy here, 5 Predictions for the Postseason:
1. This Braves-Mets series seals the fate of one particular team. This bye is gonna save one team from a division series they are not prepared for.
2. One of the two 100-win, first seed teams isn't gonna make it to the championship series round. I think you can guess which one I would prefer not to.
3. One of the two World Series teams will be a club that has either not won in over 20 years, or has never won. I am thinking this season will turn the tide for someone like the Mets, Mariners, Guardians, Blue Jays, or maybe even the Phillies if something ridiculous happens.
4. There's gonna be a big, dramatic return from the IL of a big piece of a competitive team, and it's gonna turn the tide of a playoff matchup.
5. There's gonna be a big 'amazing career but never won a ring' marker that's gonna be knocked off. Who will it be? Goldy or Arenado? Dusty Baker? A member of the Guerrero family?
That was September, let's hope for a satisfying October.
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