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Alex Kantecki's 10 Somewhat Bold Predictions for 2015

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Alex Kantecki offers 10 somewhat bold predictions for the 2015 fantasy baseball season.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

These aren't all that bold, but I've included some of my favorite targets as draft day creeps closer and closer for some. If you'd like, here's a link to my bold predictions from a year ago. I went 1 for 10, cementing my status as a fantasy "expert."

1. Evan Gattis finishes as the No. 2 catcher, behind only Buster Posey.

Gattis finished as the No. 9 backstop in 2014, but the switch to the American League and Houston, specifically, gives the former janitor a big boost in fantasy. Gattis can play catcher, outfield and also slot in at designated hitter, which should allow the 28-year-old catcher to reach 450 plate appearances for the first time in his career. I also think we see Gattis hit 27-30 home runs as a first-time member of the Astros. His batted ball distance of 300.63 feet was the 11th highest mark in 2014, and the Juice Box is a big step up from Turner Field.

2. Alex Wood finishes as the Braves best starting pitcher.

Wood wasn't far off from reaching top-20 status last season, finishing 10 spots out at No. 30. I'm trusting Wood will stay healthy despite the eye test telling you that he can break at any second. He's been remarkably consistent since undergoing Tommy John in 2009. The Braves are going to stink, but Wood has proven himself in a full-time starter's role. His numbers as a starter last year were fantastic: 2.59 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 151 strikeouts in 156 1/3 innings. I ranked Julio Teheran higher in the Fake Teams Consensus Rankings, but it wouldn't surprise me if Wood took over the title of best Braves pitcher in 2015.

3. Brandon Belt finishes as a top-10 first basemen.

I urged readers to stay away from Belt last year, even correctly predicting in the 2014 version of my bold predictions that Justin Morneau would outproduce the Giants first baseman. Injuries got in the way of Belt putting it all together in 2014. He did get off to a hot start, however, blasting seven home runs in April before his playing time dwindled. Power has always been the biggest question mark for Belt, who could also see time in the outfield with injuries to Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan. Ten of his 12 home runs were away from San Francisco, which is a bit worrisome, but I can see Belt approaching 25 home runs in 2015. If he can reach that level and put it all together, the 26-year-old could finish top 10 at first. I like getting in on guys the year after they disappoint, and Belt is someone I'm targeting.

4. Max Scherzer finishes as the No. 1 pitcher.

Max Scherzer is my favorite player. Max Scherzer is now in the National League East. Max Scherzer will strike out 200 Braves batters alone. OK, he's not doing that, but you get my point. If I'm taking one pitcher in the National League not named Clayton Kershaw, it's Mad Max.

5. Mike Napoli and Michael Morse combine for 55 home runs.

It's weird, maybe even stupid, to pair these two together, but I think both are underrated heading into drafts. Both have a 21st-round price tag in 12-teamers, according to's NFBC ADP. I'm targeting one or the other to fill out my corner infield and/or utility spot (and, in the case of Morse, outfield). I'm particularly high on Morse, who could hit 30 bombs in a full season and drive in upwards of 90. Hitting in front of Giancarlo Stanton is a nice place to be, and he'll have first base and outfield eligibility, too.

6. Steve Cishek leads the National League in saves and finishes as a top-5 closer.

Cishek collected a career-high 39 saves in 2014 with a 30.6 percent strikeout rate. A correction to his 3.17 ERA (2.17 FIP and 2.54 xFIP) could vault Cishek among the top closers in the game if he keeps his strikeout rate in tact. I love what Miami did this offseason, and Cishek will feast in the NL East.

7. Starlin Castro goes 20/15.

Insert my annual Cubs prediction. Castro will need a little luck to reach 20 home runs for the first time (his career high is 14), but I'm confident he'll run more under new Cubs skipper Joe Maddon. While Maddon's last two Rays teams weren't exactly speed burners on the base paths, I expect the Cubs to be more aggressive; and, remember, Castro does have a couple of 20-steal seasons under his belt already. The middle infield is scary bad, but Castro is someone who will provide consistency at the shortstop position in an improved Chicago lineup. You might have to pay full price to acquire his services on draft day, but you'll be happy you did.

8. Masahiro Tanaka finishes as a top-10 starting pitcher.

Tanaka scares almost everybody, but he's an elite talent with some of the biggest upside on the mound. Take Tanaka at a discount and as your No. 2 SP and you'll be a happy camper. If he gets hurt, at least you didn't have to pay full price. An 11th-round price is more than fair for what you potentially get back. Bonus advice: grab post-hype sleeper Michael Pineda four or five rounds later. I like him, too.

9. Jose Abreu finishes as the No. 1 hitter.

He's real and he's spectacular. I'm all in.

10. Jose Altuve finishes outside of the top-30 hitters.

What happens if Altuve, the No. 1 hitter in 2014, sees a 10, 15 or 20 loss in steals? With little power and a lot of value tied up in speed and batting average, I'm very hesitant to pay the price for last season's breakout. Steamer predicts a 42-point loss in batting average and 19 fewer stolen bases. I still think he finishes high among his second base peers, but it's not a deep position this year. I won't own the little guy anywhere in 2015.

Bonus predictions because I can!

11. Leonys Martin outproduces Starling Marte in 5X5.

12. Matt Adams outproduces Lucas Duda in 5X5.

13. Fake Teams' Daniel Kelley bats .000 on his bold predictions.

14. Jean Segura rules the world.


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