I got you with the title, right? You want to know why Danny Santana and "top 10" were in the same sentence...right? Well, because I put them in the same sentence back in March in my bold predictions piece. The key word was "bold" so I think I at least upheld that standard. Anyway, why do predictions if you aren't man enough to go back and see how you fared? So here we go with mine. The original article is here, and my original argument for Danny Santana is here, if you're into that sort of punishment.
1. Danny Santana will finish as a Top 10 shortstop.
The 2014 BABIP is not repeatable. But it also doesn't have to be. Santana could regress significantly across the board and still finish squarely in the Top 10 at a thin position. Remember, he only played in 101 games last year...
So, big swing and miss with Santana, who was ranked as the #18 shortstop by our staff here at FakeTeams heading into the MLB season. Turns out, I should have listened to my colleagues a little more, as Santana went from Opening Day shortstop to platooning with the Eduardos (Escobar and Nunez) to AAA afterthought. Ugly.
2. Jonathan Lucroy will not finish as a Top 5 catcher.
He's never hit a ton of homers and the recent hamstring woes are a tiny bit worrisome. He is healthy at the moment, but we all know catcher is a very demanding position. Do you really want to pay up for a guy who hits 12 home runs per year if you throw out the 18-homer outlier of 2013?
Aha! I am clairvoyant! Lucroy managed seven home runs in his 371 AB, as he battled injuries for the bulk of the season. He finished as the 15th-best catcher in the fake game, which isn't terrible considering the injuries and the poor team context--but he was not a top flight backstop. Batting .500 feels good. Is this what Danny Santana felt like in 2014?
3. Brandon Belt will be a Top 12 first baseman.
Look, Top 12 isn't as bold as Top 10, but he's currently the 23rd overall 1B according to FantasyPros, which means I'm slicing that prediction in half. Belt seems like everyone's trendy pick this season and I am drinking the kool-aid. He will be a starting-caliber first baseman assuming he is healthy. Just beat that dreaded defensive shift, Baby Giraffe.
I touted the "Baby Giraffe" in February of this year, so I was clearly all-in on him in 2015. That helped me cash in some DFS lineups for sure--especially in Coors and other hitter-friendly parks--but did not help as much in seasonal leagues. Belt finished as the 18th-best first baseman with a triple slash of 280/.356/.478. He hit 18 home runs, had 68 RBI and scored 73 runs in 2015. He did have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee after the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention. He is expected to be ready for the start of 2016--and I am sure he will be a trendy pick for someone's Top 12 yet again. Perhaps even mine.
4. Mike Napoli will hit 25 home runs and finish as a Top 15 first baseman.
Finally able to enjoy some sweet dreams at nighttime, a well-rested Napoli proves he can still be a formidable power threat in the middle of the Red Sox lineup. Currently ranked as the 31st first baseman at FantasyPros, He should finish well ahead of that mark in 2015.
When you have to flip to the third page of first baseman rankings to find the name you are searching for, you know your guy did NOT finish inside the Top 15 at his position. Such is the case with Napoli, who did hit 18 home runs but posted a meager .224/.324/.410 triple slash in 2015. He was eventually traded to the Texas Rangers and experienced a slight revival in batting average and OBP, but not enough to make a significant dent in his final line or to make this prediction look anything other than absolutely horrible. Apparently his well-documented struggles with getting adequate rest at night were not the reason for his statistical demise.
5. Jose Altuve will not return first round value.
Count me as a member of the contingent that wants no part of this two-trick pony (average and steals). Even Steamer is projecting a loss of 19 steals and about 40 points less on the batting average. That's still a useful stat line but not one I'd throw into first round consideration...
Altuve is an extremely fine MLB player. But he was overrated last season. You might say I am splitting hairs when I say he was a Round Two pick being taken in Round One, but giving up your first pick for a second-round value is not a good idea. Altuve finished as the 19th-best player in the fake game, with 15 home runs and 38 stolen bases to go along with his .353 OBP. He was stellar and is deserving of every accolade he receives. He just isn't deserving of your 2016 first-round pick.
6. Jason Heyward will finish outside of the Top 30 outfielders.
His slugging percentage is trending in the wrong direction (.479 to .427 to .384). Granted, he's had some injuries and the Braves bounced him up and down the batting order, but Heyward's numbers are pretty similar whether he is hitting leadoff or cleanup. He'll offer a solid OBP and some dougle-digit home runs and steals, but neither of those number totals will be massive. He's an OF3 being drafted as an OF2 this year. Buyer beware.
I am the Braves fan that sold out on Heyward, and it feels dirty. Sure, I had some decent reasoning, but Heyward remained healthy in 2015 and finished as the 23rd-best outfielder in OBP leagues. He had a .358 OBP and 13 home runs to match his 23 steals. In leagues that use batting average, he was the 22nd-best outfielder. So yes, he was an OF2 (barely) but was fairly close to my prediction. He managed to log 610 plate appearances and that was certainly helpful to his OF2 cause. He did slightly improve his marks in batting average, OBP, SLG and OPS from 2014, so there's that. I think he will almost always be overhyped given his name recognition. Good luck making a profit on him in 2016. The best case scenario with a name like this is that you break even. I still won't be buying.
7. Dustin Ackley will finish inside the Top 40 outfielders.
Again, "bold" is in the eye of the beholder. If Ackley greatly outperforms his FantasyPros ranking of OF88, I say that's pretty darn good and some quality bang for your buck. Ackley made some improvements during the second half last season that seem to be pretty sustainable.
Our own Tim Finnegan talked me into Ackley. It is all Tim's fault. Okay, okay, I should take responsibility for my own actions. Ackley was horrible in 2015. He had a .231/.284/.429 line with 10 home runs. His playing time dwindled down to nothing with the Seattle Mariners, who eventually gave him away to the Yankees for a reserve outfielder and a bad relief pitcher. We will speak of this no longer. Except to say, Ackley is interesting in that ballpark with that short right field porch...maybe...
8. Josh Donaldson will hit 40 home runs.
It is a done deal, people. Book it. The only thing that will get in the way of this happening is a freak injury. Elsewise, Donaldson will be a fantastic fantasy baseball value in 2015. "MVP" may even enter the discussion. Sign me up for his services as early as Round Two in 2015.
Donaldson hit 41 home runs and "MVP" certainly entered the discussion. He was the #6 player in the fake game and was the foundation for many of my own seasonal teams, due to snagging him everywhere in Round Two. 122 runs, 123 RBI, and a .297/.371/.568 slash line will pay the fake bills. What an outstanding season Donaldson had in Toronto.
9. LaTroy Hawkins uses his old man wiles to save at least 20 games.
Look, I'm not saying he's an asset in the strikeout category but he is an incumbent closer who is being largely ignored on draft day. Any return at all from Hawkins is a profit on your minimal investment.
Hawkins suffered an injury early in the season and was eventually traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He tallied three saves, a far cry from my prediction. He did prove to still have something in the tank though, as his 3.26 ERA and 1.32 WHIP were entirely acceptable. Keep doin' you, LaTroy.
10. The Atlanta Braves will win more games than they lose.
If that isn't bold, I do not know what bold is. Oh, you wanted a reason? I have no rationale other than this is a bold statement. Deuces.
My apologies for the lazy analysis from the original article, but it was the last item and it was a bit of a homer pick. My Atlanta Braves finished with a 67-95 record. Okay, it was a terrible homer pick. But it was bold.
So, three out of 10 isn't bad in baseball. If I were an MLB hitter I'd be making bank. Unless my BABIP was wildly inflated. Just remember, for every Danny Santana and Dustin Ackley pick, there are equally awesome picks of Stephen Vogt and Mitch Moreland. So don't give up on me just yet.
Until the next MLB season, you can find me here at FakeTeams talking about some fake football. Thanks for sticking around, gamers.