Today wraps up "Bold Predictions Week" here on Fake Teams, and I’m offering my 30 Bold Predictions for the 2013 season. Each prediction is presented with some sort of metric that I will use to recap my predictions at the end of the season. Although the numbers in each prediction are aggressive, keep in mind that each projection highlights a player I really like or dislike for 2013, depending on the nature of the prediction. The numbers might not come to fruition, but this article can still be used as a list of players to keep your eye on this season as their value could swing a lot higher or a lot lower than it currently stands.
Toronto Blue Jays – Emilio Bonifacio will score 100 Run’s
I love Bonifacio’s position batting 9th in the Toronto lineup. He will essentially act as a leadoff hitter after the first time through the order, and will be followed by Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion. If Bonifacio maintains his .330 OBP and can secure the 2B position all season, I think he tops 100 Rs.
New York Yankees – Ichiro hits .320
Offense might be tough to come by in the first few months for New York as Teixeira, A-Rod, and Granderson are all likely out for 10+ weeks. Ichiro is going to ease some of the Bronx Bombers pain by giving us a vintage 200+ H, .320+ BA season before starting a victory tour in his final season of 2014.
Boston Red Sox – Jon Lester wins 20 games
If you’ve read some of my other articles, you’ll know I’m investing heavily in Jon Lester for 2013. I think he bounces back in a big way as his LOB% and HR/FB% regress toward the mean. The Boston offense is also sneakily dangerous and should provide enough offense to support a 20 Win campaign from Lester.
Tampa Bay Rays – Fernando Rodney finishes with fewer than 15 Saves
6.69, 4.88, 4.63, 7.88, 1.81 – which of these things is not like the other? Rodney’s walk rate in 2012 was an aberration and won’t be maintained this season. Even if you want to argue that there was a mechanical fix behind this improvement, he still had career bests in the 3 main indicators of luck (BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB%). Regression appears likely and the Rays have some nice options waiting in the wings with Jake McGee and Joel Peralta.
Baltimore Orioles – Zach Britton gets 12+ Wins
Britton’s path to the rotation is a bit foggy, as Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Steve Johnson likely get the next few shots to crack the rotation while Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are coming up quickly behind him. However, I love Britton’s stuff and I’m not so sure there is a single starter in Baltimore that I would wager to keep his rotation spot the entire season. If he gets some burn, I think he thrives.
Chicago White Sox – Carlos Sanchez supplants Gordon Beckham at 2B by all-star break.
The White Sox window of opportunity is closing as Dunn, Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, and Jake Peavy aren’t getting any younger. They won’t give Beckham a long leash at 2B and if he doesn’t produce early in May, I believe they will look elsewhere. Carlos Sanchez appears to be the answer. Sanchez played in 4 different levels in 2012 and if he hits well in AAA, could see some time at the keystone on the South Side.
Detroit Tigers – Rick Porcello wins 15 games.
Porcello has been nasty so far in Spring Training striking out 18 batters in 18 innings while walking 0. In an old epside of Up and In (R.I.P.), Kevin and Jason mentioned that it was only a matter of time before Porcello busts out in a big way, and the talent they spoke of is starting to emerge on the bump. He still doesn’t have the ideal infield defense as a GB pitcher, but the offense should more than cover up any defensive deficiencies on Porcello’s way to a break-out campaign.
Cleveland Indians – Zach McAllister emerges as the team’s ace
McAllister put up some sneaky-good numbers in 125 Innings with a 7.9 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9. He has secured the 4th spot in the rotation already and should hold on to it all season. With an improved offense, and a lack of any real competition, I think McAllister leads the Indians in W’s in 2013.
Kansas City Royals – Jarrod Dyson steals 45+ bases
KC can’t put up with another full season of Jeff Francouer, and with no other RF on the major league roster, I think Dyson takes over and runs wild. Dyson stole 30 bases in only 102 games in 2012, and if he can find the PT due to injury or lack of performance elsewhere, he will be a great mid-season FA acquisition for your fantasy team.
Minnesota Twins – No Minnesota pitcher eclipses 10 W’s
Now this projection isn’t all negative. Sure the rotation is a mess, the division is loaded, and the offense doesn’t appear to pack much of a punch, but this projection also comes because of what’s waiting in the wings for Minnesota. Due to injury or experience, the following pitchers will not start in the rotation for Minnesota but will most likely end the season in that spot: Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson, Trevor May, and D.R. hero Samuel Deduno. Rich Harden and P.J. Walters are also guys who could see some starts this season. No one will remain in the rotation long enough to get to 10 W’s
Houston Astros – Erik Bedard pitches 150+ Innings and is relatively useful
The wins might be hard to come by in Houston this year for any SP, but Bedard presents an interesting option. For once, he didn’t miss time due to injury in 2012 instead he was released by Pittsburgh due to "inconsistency". He actually pitched pretty well with an 8.45 K/9 and a 4.05 FIP, but was also subject to bad luck (15.1 HR/FB%) in the second half of the season. I think his luck normalizes and he pitches a near full-season in Houston.
Texas Rangers – Mike Olt hits 25 HRs
Similar to Zach Britton, I’m not sure I see a path to more ABs for Mike Olt, but talent can only be held back for so long in the MLB. Whether it’s with Texas or some other team, Olt should find consistent playing time in 2013 and his power will be on full display to the tune of 25+ HRs.
Seattle Mariners – Dustin Ackley hits .300
Ackley’s inability to hit for a respectable average puzzles me. He combines an above average walk-rate (career 9.5% BB%) with an average K rate (19.4%), and an above-average contact rate (84%). All of this in a cavernous home-field, which should play well to his strengths as he doesn’t have much power for Safeco to contain. .300 might be a bit aggressive, but it was a nice round number and I think Ackley puts all of his skills together this year and comes closer to fulfilling his top prospect status of 3 years ago.
Los Angeles Angels - Jered Weaver as a 4.00+ ERA
His strikeout rate is in a free fall the last three years (9.3, 7.6, 6.8 respectively) as is his fastball velocity (89.9-87.9) and I think this is the year his ERA more closely mirrors his peripherals. He does have one of the league’s best defensive outfields, and a potent offensive supporting him, but Weaver has racked up innings over the past 6 years and it’ll start catching up to him in 2013.
Oakland A’s - Brett Anderson throws 200+ Innings
This is probably a pipedream, but I’m in need of a nap so allow me a few minutes here. The A’s have an $8 Million team option for Anderson in 2014 and will need to see a relatively full season from him if they want to commit that sort of money to him. How does pending Free Agency correlate with health? Well not at all....but hey, I’m still dreaming.
Atlanta Braves - Julio Teheran wins R.O.Y.
Teheran has had an ugly 26 inning sip of coffee in the last two years, but as most top prospects have done before him, I think we chalk this up to typical rookie struggles as he learned to adjust to big-league hitters. He’s dazzled this Spring and the stats (taken with a grain of salt) match up well with the underlying performance. With the high-powered offense behind him, Teheran is going to have a great year in 2013.
Washington Nationals - Ian Desmond goes 50/8/45/15/.250
This prediction probably isn’t that bold considering Desmond went 65/8/49/25/.253 in 2011, but my goal with this prediction is to reel in the expectations for Desmond. Desmond’s counting stats played up in 2012 because he played 64 games hitting between the 1st and 5th spots in the batting order, but he won’t ever find himself that high in 2013. The addition of Span and full-time emergence of Bryce Harper will keep Desmond in the lower third of the batting order and will affect his numbers negatively.
New York Mets - Lucas Duda hits 25+ HRs
Duda struck out a ton in 2012 (26.1 K%), which is 10% more than 2011 where he still played in 100 games and higher than any stop in his minor league career. He still managed to hit 15 HRs in 121 games, so if he can get back to his old strikeout rates and can play in 150+ games, I don’t think 25 HRs are out of the question.
Philadelphia Phillies - Tommy Joseph emerges as Phillies everyday catcher
Carlos Ruiz (suspended), Sebastian Valle (horrid approach), Humberto Quinto (Humberto Quinto), Erik Kratz (Humberto Quinto) are all ahead of Joseph on the depth chart, but all have convincing reasons as to why they aren’t great options for the starting gig. Joseph is an offensive-minded catcher who has the chops to stick behind the plate. I think he emerges while Ruiz is on suspension and lays claim to the starting job.
Miami Marlins - Jacob Turner strikes out 175+ w/ a sub-3.5 ERA
Moving from Detroit to Miami was a fortunate stroke of luck for Jacob Turner. The former Top 25 prospect has never been given a legit shot at a rotation job and he will no longer have to worry about that in Miami. He was quite impressive in his short 7 game stint in Miami throwing 42.2 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 3.22 K/BB ratio. Wins will of course be tough to come by, but he could still be a useful fantasy asset in 5x5 leagues.
Chicago Cubs - 30 HRs, 90 RBIs and .290 AVG production from RF position
I love what Theo did this off-season grabbing two opposing platoon players to man RF for the Cubs. Counting only their strong-side splits from 2012, Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston combined to hit 25 HRs, 70 RBIs, and .287 AVG (Hairston it .286 and Schierholtz .287) in 367 ABs. Increase the number of ABs by 50% (crude math I know, but it gets my point across) and you get 25 HRs and 70 RBIs in 550 ABs. They should be comfortable with their well-defined roles and thrive there.
St. Louis Cardinals - Allen Craig hits .270 w/15 HRs
I like Allen Craig and when watching him play, Craig almost justifies the hype he’s receiving this year. Then I’m reminded that he’s a 28 year old who has yet to play a full season and I’m convinced that pitchers just haven’t had enough time to expose his weaknesses. Then again, maybe the ghost of Bryan LaHair is still haunting me from last year?
Milwaukee Brewers - Mike Fiers strikes out 200+ batters
If you haven’t seen Mike Fiers pitch, make an effort this year to do so. I’ve never seen so many hitters swing hopelessly late on an 89 mph fastball. Fiers’ delivery is a mastery of deception and batters can’t pick up the pitch until it’s on top of them and it’s too late to square it up. I don’t anticipate this being something a hitter can adjust to and Fiers should see continued success as long as he continues to effectively mix pitchers and keep hitters guessing. The 9.5 K/9 appears to be very real and repeatable.
Cincinnati Reds - Shin-Soo Choo scores 100 Rs and goes 25/25.
Choo’s borderline .400 OBP is going to be the catalyst for maybe the best offense in the MLB and this will lead to 100+ Runs. The 25 HRs and steals are a result of park factor and position in the lineup. Choo is going to end up being a steal in all leagues.
Pittsburgh Pirates - Travis Snider hits 22+ HRs
The focus is on Toronto as Encarnacion and Bautista revived (started?) their careers North of the border, but I think leaving Toronto was the best thing for Snider. He never lived up to the hype and needed a fresh start. The power is very real but the strikeouts will always keep him from being a consistent fantasy contributor. If he can get in the right platoon situation, he should get enough ABs to let the power loose.
Los Angeles Dodgers - Matt Kemp goes 50/50
Remember when 50/50 was a legit topic for Kemp after his hot-start last year? Those were fun times. Unfortunately Kemp was injured and went 23/9. Rough. Kemp has had a great year followed by a dud for the past 4 years and the trend will continue this year.
Colorado Rockies - Nolan Arenado hits .300 in 400+ ABs
Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco can only keep Arenado down for so long. Nolan Arenado has been fantastic this spring and will get his shot early on in Colorado. His excellent approach and developing power will be on full display at Coors as he adds some much needed depth to the 3B position heading into 2014.
San Diego Padres - Yonder Alonso slugs .500
Last year, Yonder Alonso slugged .393 so a 100 point increase in one year is quite a big jump, a task made no easier when playing half his games in Petco. The reason I think this jump is possible, is partly due to expected improvement in both skills and luck, but also because I believe Alonso will be the greatest benefactor of San Diego moving their fences in. Petco moved their right field fences in about 10 feet and Alonso being lefty should be helped with the right-center fence no longer being 411 feet away. Alonso isn’t a pull-heavy hitter but he’s capable of turning on any fastball and putting over the right field fence.
San Francisco Giants - Brandon Belt breaks out with 90 R, 22 HR, 95 RBIs
The potential for huge counting stats is what has me most excited for Belt. Hitting behind Sandoval, Posey, and Pence should allow him to rake in RBIs (Pence had 104 RBIs last year in a similar spot). The HRs could be tough, but unlike most other Giants Belt did not see a significant Home/Road power split. Of his 7 HRs hit last year, 5 were hit in San Francisco (.505 SLG) and 2 on the road (.341 SLG).
Arizona Diamondbacks - Adam Eaton scores 110 Rs
If Eaton can maintain his .380 OBP from 22 games last year, and I think he can with a 10+ BB%, he’s going to be in scoring position a ton for Prado, Hill, Montero, and Goldschmidt. Arizona is one of the highest run-scoring environments in the MLB and it’s only fitting that their leadoff hitter leads the league in runs in 2013.
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