Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. The national nightmare is almost over: meaningful baseball will soon be played. We fantasy owners have evaluated, re-evaluated, ranked, re-ranked, and then put all that work into motion in our respective draft rooms. Now we begin the process of seeing just how idiotic or how damn great our draft execution was. As the years go by it seems to me that BOLD PREDICTIONS columns have now become mandatory. The concept works — you’re simply taking ownership over a certain player, thus labeling them “your guy”. If their success comes to fruition you (and the guy who called it) are a genius, but if you miss the call miserably, no one will remember come October, because you’ll be so far out of contention you’ll have been forgotten about after the trade deadline.
Orioles break the team record for most players with 20 HR’s with 8
Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Manny Machado seem like virtual locks. Jonathan Schoop hit 18 last season and now has no one looking over his shoulder; his AVG will not hold but the power will play. Pedro Alvarez and Mark Trumbo seem like safe assumptions given the current roster breakdown. Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy feel like stretches, but both are only two seasons removed from the threshold. Both put their injury concerns past them and return to top options at their respective positions.
Clay Buchholz, not David Price, will be the Red Sox best SP option
This is more praising Buchholz than devaluing Price. Love the K/BB improvements Buchholz showed last season in addition to a GB% inching back toward the 50% range. With an improved defense behind him and better offensive support, a sub-3.00 ERA with 18 wins is certainly obtainable.
Michael Pineda will be the highest-rated Yankee
on the majority of website Player Rankers
As stated when discussing Buchholz, excellent K/BB rates and improved GB% gets me every time. Tanaka may be better on a per start basis, but injury concerns and workload management are enough to steer me toward Pineda. It’s really hard to fathom the Yankees could be this porous offensively, but when a 40-year-old A Rod seems to be your safest offensive threat you know times are tough.
Troy Tulowitzki Tops the shortstop rankings
Seems odd making this a Bold Call, but given Carlos Correa’s draft stock in comparison to Tulo’s it would seem the masses have passed the torch. Plain and simple, the move away from Coors is a culture shock. Therefore for me it‘s useless to point to career home/road splits and suggest Tulo was a Coors-manufactured commodity. Home/Road splits are commonplace among the entire player pool. Given the unique environment it’s would seem natural to me that the initial change would provide a more impact culture shock. Mute point now, Tulowitzki should be well versed in his new surroundings to start 2016, and I feel a return to the top of the SS class is in the offering. Now begin the “if Tulo can stay healthy” narrative.
Miguel Sano debuts in Triple A
As the 61st player off the board according the NFBC ADP, it’s clear that the masses really like the potential of Sano. His power is off the charts, and coupled with a nice 15.8 BB%, there’s plenty to like about Sano. Although a 35.5 K% rate is cause for concern, my issue has more to do with the Twins’ roster construction and Sano’s ability to play in the field. For me, he profiles as a player who could have a tendency to run hot and cold at the plate. When hitters are cold their glove work becomes much more noticeable. Should last season’s likely unsustainable .396 BABIP regress, you could be looking at a .230-.240 hitter who’s a defensive liability on a pitch-to-contact team. Or, as I would classify it, a young player who could use a little more seasoning in the Minors.
Addison Russell will outrank both Corey Seager and Francisco Lindor
If you’ve read any of my posts, it’s quite clear I’m not a believer in Francisco Lindor or Corey Seager’s preseason rankings for this season. Since Mike Trout debuted, it seems like more and more rookies hit the ground running and for the most part never struggle. I could be aging myself here, but it sure seems to me that those initial struggles seemed to be the overwhelming norm. Russell did just that last season as the youngest regular in MLB, and now he’s an afterthought in comparison to the other young shortstops MLB has to offer. I’m a sucker for post-hype prospects, and Russell would seem to be the poster boy this season. I see nothing that tells me he won’t rank among the Top 5 SS in fantasy this season.
Christian Yelich becomes Nick Markakis
Sometimes fantasy pundits can just be wrong; it happens with every occupation. For years James Loney was growing into his power, 99 career HR in parts of 10 seasons would suggest he was the Benjamin Button of home run growth. Yelich puts me in mind of Nick Markakis in his youth: a good average hitter with decent speed, a little bit of pop, and knows how to work a walk. While Markakis managed some nice numbers his first 3-4 seasons, the years of 20/20 never translated as most projected. Yelich is a nice AVG play with good SB potential. The biggest disconnect when it comes to evaluating Yelich is in the home run department. Many claim 20/20 is the ceiling, but nothing he has shown thus far would suggest to me that 11-13 wouldn’t be a more reasonable expectation. At 102 overall in NFBC drafts Yelich is capable of reaching that type of value, but to do so will require a lot of help by those around him in the lineup.
Jon Lester wins 20 Games and reaches 230 K’s
In the grand scheme of things, not being able to throw to first isn’t the worst issue a pitcher could have. While it may have gotten lost in the greatness of Arrieta last season, Lester managed his 4th straight season of 200+ innings. He also posted a strikeout per inning and kept the BB/9 near the 2.00 level. Had it not been for a decline in LOB% he could have pushed 220 K’s last season. Improved defense and better run support should add nine wins to the tally and a few more innings along the way.
Billy Hamilton will swipe 75 bags
I’m not going to lie: this one caused a little sting with the news Hamilton will hit lower in the lineup. At this point I will take that as Hamilton is hitting 9th and not in front of the pitcher. While batting in the 9th hole will cost him some at bats throughout the season, it shouldn’t put up a hold sign while rounding the bases. Sure, Hamilton isn’t a good hitter, but he’s a very good defender who is all of 25 years old and plays for a team that is clearly rebuilding. I can’t imaging too many teams are knocking on the door requesting a trade for a pinch runner, thus for me Hamilton is a lineup fixture this season.
His SB success rate improved from 71% in 2014 to 88% in 2015, making you feel as though adjustments were made in becoming a better base runner in 2015. His GB/FB rate of 1.13 really hurts him. In order for Hamilton to achieve his full potential, a GB/FB rate closer to 2.00 will be a must. Even if that profile doesn’t change, one would expect a player with the wheels of Hamilton can reasonably expect a BABIP better than the .264 from last season. A correction in BABIP closer to the .300 mark could get Hamilton’s OBP above .300, and that is the level that will need to be achieved to clear 70 SB.
Chris Carter will hit 30+ HR with 90+ RBI
For me, Chris Carter’s skill set is established. Carter’s a hot/cold player who ultimately will produce; however, the trip may be a rough one. Last season the Astros had options, and given those options the team had no need to sit through his struggles. From a fantasy perspective Chris Carter couldn’t have landed in a better place. Aside from the occasional Lucroy start at 1B, the Brewers will simply windup Carter and let him go. So Carter will hit his .210 and 6 home runs, then the moment you release him he’ll begin his 12 HR month in which he hits .265. If you take the risk with AVG, simply buckle up and enjoy the ride.
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