Prediction time
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Earlier this year, I predicted the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers would meet in the NBA Finals. And it came so close to happening! But alas, the universe had a different plan.

My predicted Stanley Cup matchup remains partially in tact: the Kings are a win away from advancing to the finals. But that doesn't make up for Boston's disappointing loss to Montreal in the Eastern Conference semis.

The point is, I'm pretty awful at making predictions. Fortunately for you, that doesn't stop me from making them.

After tonight, most MLB teams will have played 56 games, which means the season is a little less than 35 percent over. Since that means absolutely nothing, I thought I'd go ahead and make some outlandish predictions. You with me? Great. Let's get started.

1. Edwin Encarnacion will NOT lead the Blue Jays in home runs this season

Cue the angry mob. Yes, Encarnacion just had one of the most absurd months in MLB history (16 HR, 33 RBI in 114 at bats). But has the man ever hit 50 home runs in one season? Or led the majors in home runs in back-to-back years? No, but Jose Bautista (.311, 14 HR, 40 RBI) has. And I wouldn't put it past him to do it again, especially with the way he's been hitting against left-handers (.442 AVG, .865 SLUG in 52 at bats).

Chill out, angry mob. Joey Bat's got this.

2. It's going to be a three-man race for American League Rookie of the Year

Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka are the no-brainers but check out what George Springer's been up to in Houston. After running around like a chicken with his head cut off for most of April, the UConn product demolished AL pitching in May, finishing the month with a .294 average, 10 HR and 25 RBI. He's now on pace for 28 jacks, which would be the third-highest total by a rookie since 2008. I'm not saying Springer's the favorite but he's at least in the running.

3. The Cubs will trade Jeff Samardzija to the Yankees

I'm fairly certain this will happen. The AL East is up for grabs and the injury-plagued Yanks could certainly use another arm. Samardzija could be the best one available aside from David Price, who the Rays would never trade to a division rival. Samardzija should be anxious to get out of Chi-Town after winning just one of his first 11 starts despite a 1.68 ERA. I usually go for shock value with my predictions but this one makes perfect sense.

4. Iowa Cubs player/coach Manny Ramirez will be a September call-up

We're back to shock value. Didn't take long did it? In all likelihood, Theo Epstein, logical human that he is, would never let this happen. But come on, the Cubs are awful and Wrigley looks pretty empty these days. You're telling me Manny, one of the greatest right-handed hitters ever, couldn't bat .250 in the NL Central? Give the people what they want, Theo. And by people, I mean me.

5. Tracy McGrady will not be a September call-up

I thought we should acknowledge that T-Mac, whose Houston Rockets jersey still sits in my closet, plays baseball now. I didn't say he's any good (7.94 ERA in independent ball this season) but he's out there trying and that's still kind of cool. Keep living the dream, T-Mac.

6. Dee Gordon will make it to 80 steals

I base this on my steadfast belief that Gordon is really, really fast. He's actually on pace for 97 steals this season but no one's that fast, right? To bring some historical perspective into the article, only ten players since 1990 (including Kenny Lofton who did it twice) have logged 70 or more steals in one season. Do us proud, Dee.

7. Giancarlo will challenge for the Triple Crown

He's not as far off as you might think. We all know Stanton has power for days but this year he's hitting for average too (started today at .316). Troy Tulowitzki has a healthy lead in the batting average department (.350 AVG in 180 at bats) but he always gets hurt. And Yasiel Puig (.344) ... well he's Yasiel Puig.

Either way, Stanton's having a monster season and will probably do something ridiculous at the Home Run Derby next month in Minnesota. I know Minneapolis is like 1,000 miles away from Philadelphia but I'll be wearing my glove just in case.

8. The Rangers will acquire David Price at the trade deadline

We know Price does not like David Ortiz. But he does like money and the Rays rarely spend any. That makes Price an obvious trade candidate while he's in the final year of his contract. The Rangers are still just five and a half games out in the AL West and Price could be the spark that pushes them over the top. Plus, Texas is one of the few teams with deep enough pockets to meet his salary demands. He may give up more runs in Texas, but he'll also get better run support. Fantasy-wise it's a wash, assuming this trade even happens.

9. Adam Wainwright will finally win the NL Cy Young Award

I love Waino and so should you. He's had an ERA under three four of the last five seasons, winning 19 or more games three times during that span. Yet the Cy Young trophy continues to elude him. With Clayton Kershaw (3-2, 3.57 ERA) having an off-year, the NL Cy Young race is wide open. Why not Wainwright? Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (5-4, 1.68 ERA) could be his toughest competition.

10. Japanese pitchers will go 1-2-3 in AL Cy Young voting

Get a load of this. The trio of Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka entered the day with a combined ERA of 2.40 in 183 2/3 innings. Here are more numbers for you to stare at in disbelief.

Record: 16-5

K/9 IP: 9.21

K to BB: 4.18

Opponent batting average: .221

Japan's changing the game, people. Did I mention Darvish and Tanaka are both in their mid-twenties? Good luck being an American League hitter for the next ten years.

11. Someone will throw out a worse first pitch than 50 Cent this season

Here are the contenders:

California Chrome: 5-1 (If a cat and a dinosaur can throw out a first pitch so can a fast horse)

Iggy Azalea: 10-1

Jennifer Lawrence: 15-1

Russell Westbrook: 20-1 (Because all his passes go out of bounds anyway)

Lil B: 25-1

Rob Ford: 30-1

Boogie Cousins: 50-1

Enjoy the final 65 percent of the season, everybody.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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