It's March 21st and the start of the regular season is two weeks away. The excitement is building, but there is still time for us to make predictions regarding the upcoming campaign and how various Halos will perform.
This being the case, I'd like to suggest that we will see a couple of firsts this year. No, I'm not talking about statistical achievements, I'm predicting that at least two Angels will make their first ever appearance in the Mid-Summmer Classic (to be held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on July 11th).
To be more specific, I think that two of the following three players; Kennedy, Lackey, and Figgins, will make the All Star roster.
Like most of us I'm predicting Lackey to have a break-out year and will call my shot by saying that he'll have between 18-21 wins and over 200 K's this season. If he starts well this year (unlike last season) we could see him in Pittsburgh.
Adam Kennedy had the best fielding percentage (tied with Orlando Hudson at .991) of all Major League 2nd basemen with at least 300 attempts last season. Some would say that makes him one of the best two fielding 2B's in baseball. Who am I to argue? And I'm not just basing it on the numbers, I SAW the guy play all year and he was spectacular! Although his power numbers are negligible he did hit .300 and has a very high baseball I.Q. , is an very good bunter and is excellent at executing the hit and run. With Soriano and Hudson now in the NL his chief competition for the roster would be Belliard, B.Roberts and Cano. I think he's got a fighting chance to be on the team, even if not starting.
As for Figgins, he's without a doubt one of the top rising stars in the game. Winning the stolen base title woke up a lot of folks on the Least Coast who previously hadn't been aware of Figgy's talent. Defensively, he obviously was incredible for us last year, and invaluable in his versatility. If Ichiro starts to slip at all over the next 3-5 years we could be looking at the most valuable lead-off hitter in baseball.
It will be fun to watch this year. All three of these guys are deserving, so let's hope at least two of them make it to Pittsburgh.