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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Three Very Specific Predictions For 2006

1. Ryan Franklin will allow at least 41 home runs.

You probably didn't hear it here first, if you follow the Phillies, but about a month ago, the Phils picked up pitcher Ryan Franklin, who is currently slated to be the fifth starter. Assuming Franklin stays healthy for the whole season and keeps his starting job, he will have one of the ten worst seasons, in terms of homers allowed, in baseball history.

The Phillies play in Citizens Bank Park, which has been repeatedly shown to be one of the most homer-friendly parks in the majors. Even though they're moving the left-field fence back a few feet this season, I still think it'll be conducive to the longball. It should still be more so than Safeco Field, where Franklin used to pitch as a Mariner. It's a myth that Safeco dampens home run numbers - it ranked 15th in HR park factor last season - but it's still easier to keep a ball in the yard there than it is in Philly.

Franklin is just the type of pitcher to take a beating in Citizens Bank Park. He's a fly ball pitcher, words that should not go together. In each of the last three seasons, he's been in the top 10 in the AL in homers allowed, including 2003, when he led the league. Check out Franklin's fly ball ratio (first graph) over the last four seasons - he consistently allows them more often than he does grounders. The blue line represents fly balls; the green line is grounders; the red line is line drives. Blue shouldn't be on top. You don't want your pitchers giving up the booty like that. For a comparison, check out NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter's graph (second graph). Notice that the ground balls are much, much more plentiful than the fly balls, even before Carpenter got hurt in '02. So what will Franklin's graph look like this year? I'm afraid we could be looking at something like Eric Milton (third graph), who in 2004 got burned for 43 homers in Citizens Bank Park's inaugural season. Goo! Over 50 percent fly balls!

Anyway, I hope this prediction is wrong. I hope Ryan Franklin turns out to keep his fly ball and homer numbers down, win 15 games, and turn the Schuylkill into wine. If that happens, this prediction will be long forgotten, a relic of the blogosphere. And if I'm right and Franklin serves up a ton of gopher balls, then I can at least say I saw it coming 10 months ago.

2. Katharine McPhee will win American Idol.

Yep, there are still two cities left to audition, and there must be about 200 people going to Hollywood, and about 150 of them will never even get the chance to sing for the voting public. So I don't even know for sure if she'll make it that far. But I just have a hunch about Katharine McPhee, a 21-year-old from San Francisco.

Eventually, there will be odds somewhere on who will win Idol. Sportsbook.com already has odds on whether the winner will be female (5-6) or male (1-1). When the odds on the individual contestants come out, if she's still in the running, I'm going to put five bucks on her, because in the early going, she couldn't possibly be more than a 20-1 shot.

3. The Seahawks will win Super Bowl XL.

I have no analysis to offer that has not otherwise been said at some point during the past two weeks, so I will only give the pick: 23-20, Seattle.

For the second straight year, the Pennsylvania team will rally late and fall short by a field goal.

And the halftime show will suck.


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