Re-posted 7/14/17 – Written 3/17/17 (Pre-Season Bold Predictions Article)
Bold Predictions are not all created equally. In some cases you have bold predictions like “Joey Votto is going to win the NL MVP”….In others you have Bold Predictions like David Ortiz resigns with the Red Sox after losing 78 lbs, and steals 40 bases on his way to winning the World Series MVP. By some standards, I guess both of these could be Bold Predictions, but neither offer a lot of Fantasy value to us unless we know the context as compared to the rest of the predictions. For this I have come up with a complex new ranking system to help you all understand how much I believe in, or even expect, for some of these to come true. What is the new system? Hot Wings. Yes, my rankings system is Hot Wings. Dive in.
Mild (My two year old little girl loves these)
Lewis Brinson Wins NL Rookie of the Year
Quick Thoughts: Brinson is Milwaukee’s undisputed top prospect and may be hitting his way onto the big league club with an impressive spring showing. With a home venue of Miller Park and a Manager in Craig Counsel, that has proven to be aggressive on the base paths, Brinson’s power speed skills could pay off big if given regular at bats.
Jose Bautista bounces back to being a top 10 Outfielder
Quick Thoughts: Bautista has a career OPS of 861 including 6 straight All Star seasons, where four of the 6 were over 900. It’s possible that in his age 40 season, that he continues to fad, but my money is on another impressive season.
Josh Bell Takes 80 Walks
Quick Thoughts: Bell has elite plate discipline for a 24 year old. He walked 57 times in AAA before arriving in the bigs, where he was one of only 3 players to walk more than strike out in 150 plate appearances or more.
Shawn Kelly Leads the NL in Saves
Quick Thoughts: Nationals are projected to win 90 games and have yet to sign a traditional closer as some may have expected. It’s a three way race between Kelly, Glover, and Treinen. When Kelly gets his chance I don’t expect him to look back.
Paul Goldschmidt steals more bases than Jose Altuve
Quick Thoughts: Goldschmidt actually did this last year when he stole 32 and Altuve only stole 30, but let’s be honest, this shouldn’t happen. Goldy will be 29 this year and is built more like a linebacker than a speedster, yet here I am calling for the repeat.
Medium (You might have ordered these when your girlfriend’s friends came over to watch the bachelor finale)
Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza combine for 100 Steals
Quick Thoughts: Only 9 Teams stole more than 100 bases for the entire team last season. Stolen bases are on the decline but don’t tell that to this year’s Reds. They are going to fly. We all know Hamilton can steal 80+ by himself if he can pick up where he left off at the end of last season, where he stole 23 bags in the last 30 games, while posting an impressive .376 On Base.
Jorge Soler leads the Royals in Home Runs
Quick Thoughts: Soler is entering his age 25 season, and at current full season pace, based on his career 682 major league plate appearances, he would hit 21 home runs. I’m a believer in a younger power peak, about 25-27 and expect Soler to hit 27-30 homers if given every day at bats, or close.
Dylan Bundy is a TOP 25 Starting Pitcher
Quick Thoughts: Rumor has it that the Orioles, after changing pitching coaches in the off season, have reconsidered letting Bundy throw his cut fastball that made him a top prospect years ago. Bundy posted an 8.53 K/9 last year and I would expect him to rise to the elite level of double digit K/9 with the reintroduction of his best pitch.
Keon Broxton Is a top 25 Overall Player
Quick Thoughts: Milwaukee has a way of producing speed guys that find their way to elite fantasy status for a season. Segura did it in 2013, Villar last season, and this year will be Keon Broxton. He has 15-20 homer power and a team that runs more than any other team in baseball. No reason to slow down now.
Trumbo, Chris Davis, and Machado will combine to hit more Homers than the entire Braves Team
Quick Thoughts: This may sound a little crazy before I tell you that last year was a tie at 122 home runs. With that said, both Trumbo and Machado are coming off career years in Home Runs and we all know what Chris Davis is capable of. Atlanta has a bright future, but for this year I look for the massive power in Baltimore to overshadow the future Braves stars.
Hot (Just right amount of kick that these can be enjoyed by most but not all)
James Paxton finishes higher than Rick Porcello
Quick Thoughts: Paxton and the American League Cy Young winner have a lot more separating them then just the Ten Rounds or so in ADP. Unlike Porcello, Paxton is one of the hardest throwing starters in baseball, but this hasn’t always been the case. Paxton saw a noticeable uptick in velocity leading to a much improved K/9. Also, it appears that Paxton was one of the more unlucky Pitchers in 2016. His FIP was 2.80 compared to his ERA of 3.79.
Travis Shaw leads the Brewers in Home Runs
Quick Thoughts: I will be honest I don’t have a strong statistical backing for this prediction other than I love shopping the bargain Brewers isle this season for impact bats in the later rounds, and I heard Shaw’s actual nickname is the “mayor of ding dong city”. True Story.
Michael Brantley is a Top 10 Outfielder
Quick Thoughts: You only have to go back a few years to find Brantley’s name at the top of most Fantasy leaderboards along with names like Trout and Altuve. Brantley is slated to hit in the 3 hole in one of the better lineups in the AL and “IF” he can return to form on the power side, he should be an incredible value in the middle rounds.
Sean Manaea strikes out 200 batters
Quick Thoughts: Manaea had a strong rookie season where he stuck out 124 batters in 144.2 innings but his 7.7 K/9 in 2016 doesn’t quite match up to the powerful 9.7 K/9 he posted in his combined 388 minor league innings. A step forward in innings and an improvement in his K/9 could land him amongst the league’s best young power pitchers.
Tim Anderson goes 20/20
Quick Thoughts: Anderson has hinted this spring that he would like to run more often in his sophomore season. This should lead to an absolute floor of 20 steals for a speedster of his caliber. The power on the other hand is not in his usual bag of tricks, but if you believe in the changing power landscape of the league, and you consider that 15 second baseman hit 20 or more home runs last year, this seems much more obtainable.
Suicide (These were only invented to prove how much more of a man you are than your coworkers)
Miguel Sano leads all 3rd baseman in Home Runs
Quick Thoughts: 3rd Base is Stacked! With the likes of Arenado, Bryant, Machado, and Donaldson all going in the first round in most drafts, it’s hard to imagine a 2017 season with anyone other than these studs leading the position in homers, but don’t sleep on the Sano’s 80 Grade power and his near elite bat speed.
Jean Segura finishes higher than Trea Turner
Quick Thoughts: As unpopular as this may be, Trea Turner has just 368 Major League plate appearances and Segura has twice shocked the world in 2013 and again in 2016. In these years Segura was drafted outside the top 200, only to return top 15 over all player value. Turner on the other hand played 39 of his last 49 games against sub 500 teams, where he did most of his damage (.368/11 HR)
Ryan Zimmerman Hits 30 Home Runs
Quick Thoughts: Zimmerman has the raw power tool to exceed this number, but unlike his teammate Daniel Murphy, he has yet to figure out the launch angle to capitalize. Zimmerman had the 9th hardest Avg Exit Velocity in 2016. Also in that group is Stanton, Ortiz, Miggy, and Trumbo.
Both Sonny Gray and Jon Gray win 15 Games
Quick Thoughts: 23 Pitchers won 15 or more games last season. For Sonny, I follow the Mathew Berry school of thought, where I’m looking to reinvest in a proven player coming off a bad year. Sonny pitched 200+ innings with 14 wins in both 2014 and 2015. Jon Gray does pitch half his games at Coors but surprisingly his splits don’t look half bad from last year.
Taijuan Walker and Wins National League Cy Young
Quick Thoughts: Walker has developed a slider off of his cutter from last year. In his start on March 10th he threw the slider 10-15 times during a performance where he stuck out 8 in 4 innings while his one baserunner was a walk. I’m very encouraged by his velocity this spring combined with the trust he is developing in a new secondary pitch.