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Domenic Lanza's Ten Semi-Bold Fantasy Predictions for 2016

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Jonathan Schoop is on the verge of being a stud, and Zack Greinke may be a dud. This, and much, much more as I take my crack at some bold(ish) fantasy predictions.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

01. Jonathan Schoop will be a top-three second baseman.

Schoop knocked out 15 HR last year despite playing in only 86 games, and there's no reason to doubt that prodigious rate - he has long been praised for his excellent bat speed and plus raw power, and many foresaw him hitting 25-plus home runs at his best. Schoop's motto may well be "swing hard, swing often," as he swung at 61.4% of pitches in 2015, the most among second basemen (Scooter Gennett was second at 56.8). He also hit the ball harder than any other second baseman (and was 41st among 268 players with 300-plus PA in hard-hit percentage, just ahead of Nelson Cruz). Schoop's batting average may be limited by his free-swinging ways, but he can hit around .260 with 25 home runs, and the Orioles lineup will allow him to score and drive in runs in bunches.

02. Zack Greinke will not be a top-25 starting pitcher in most formats.

Greinke has been one of the very best pitchers in baseball these past three years, and it was not entirely due to Dodgers Stadium - and that's what makes this prediction so hard. However, the 32-year-old did strikeout better than a batter per inning more at home in that time, while walking a batter per inning less and allowing fewer hits. The sparkling numbers that Greinke produced are downgraded to 'great' on the road, and picking up half of his starts in hitter-friendly Chase Field will move that needle even further (and pitching in front of a subpar defense will not help, either). There's no reason to expect that he will fall flat on his face, but Greinke won't be challenging for a Cy Young in the desert.

03. Trevor Story will be a top-five shortstop, and threaten 20/20.

The Rockies have cobbled together a strange roster, in that it is hard to tell if they are hoping to contend or not. Acquiring Jake McGee and Gerardo Parra seems to indicate that they want to win now - but this is not a good team. And with the justified suspension of Jose Reyes, they are left with a big hole at shortstop. Enter Trevor Story. The 23-year-old performed quite well between Double-A and Triple-A last year (.279/.350/.514, 20 HR, 22 SB in 130 games), and is currently batting .381/.458/.881 in Spring Training. With his quick bat speed, above-average power, above-average speed, a smart approach at the plate, and the friendly confines of Coors Field, it's only a matter of playing time for Story.

04. Aaron Sanchez will be the best starting pitcher on the Blue Jays.

This prediction is a matter of faith and hope, based on both my former prospect crush on Sanchez and his dedication to becoming a starting pitcher. He's still just 23-years-old, he has two plus pitches (fastball, curveball) and a promising change-up, and folk have raved about his refined mechanics this Spring. Stranger things have happened, right?

05. Aaron Hicks will be the Yankees best outfielder.

Jacoby Ellsbury is already hurt, Brett Gardner was still feeling the effects of a bone bruise from last Fall as of a couple of weeks ago (and is always banged-up), and Carlos Beltran will be 39 in less than a month. Chris Young amassed 356 PA playing behind that trio last season, and indications from the Yankees camp are that the team plans to utilize Aaron Hicks more often than that - he will likely start every game when a LHP is on the mound for the opposing team. The former top prospect is a career .272/.360/.447 hitter against southpaws, and could hit 15 HR and steal 20 bases with enough playing time. He'll get that this year.

06. Hunter Strickland will lead the Giants in saves, and end up as a top-20 relief pitcher.

Strickland just has the look of a closer, doesn't he? He's 6'5" and 220-plus pounds, with a 100 MPH fastball, a big-breaking curveball, and excellent control. Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo are both over 33, and the Giants are quick to make a move when something isn't working; if either of those relievers falter, Strickland will be there to pick up the slack. And his peripherals will be terrific regardless.

07. The Angels will somehow manage to have three (or, more accurately, two and a half) worthwhile starting pitchers.

Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, and one of Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs will be worth owning in something more than a streaming role. None will be studs, but Richards and Heaney could be borderline SP2 candidates. Keep your eyes on Nick Tropeano, as well; he's a genuine sleeper in my mind (though it's a matter of opportunity for him).

08. Chris Carter will hit around .230, but will still end up as a middle-of-the-pack first baseman.

The Brewers are going to surprise some folk as their offense will end up being above-average, in no small part due to Carter. The mountainous first baseman has plus-plus power, as evidenced by his career .230 ISO and 15.9 AB/HR, and his pull-happy approach will work quite well in Miller Park. With no real threats to his playing time and a solid lineup around him, Carter should hit 25-plus home runs with 65-plus runs and 85-plus RBI.

09. Chris Archer will be the best pitcher in the American League, and a top-five pitcher overall.

This isn't too bold, as Archer was the fifth-best pitcher in the AL by both bWAR and fWAR, but I'm sticking with it. His slider is almost unhittable (and has my vote for the best slider in all of baseball), and his improved control and groundball tendencies limit whatever damage opposing hitters can do when they do manage to square up one of his offerings. Archer struggled in September (5.81 ERA in 31 IP) as he set a new personal high for innings pitched; he'll be ready for the long haul this time around.

10. Kyle Gibson will have a breakout season, and rank among the top-20 pitchers in the American League.

Gibson reminds me of a right-handed Dallas Keuchel, due to his approach and arsenal, and there's a part of me that believes he's an adjustment or two away from truly breaking out (hat tip to FanGraphs). He keeps the ball on the ground and picks up swinging strikes at a league-average rate, and his command and control are far better than his 3.0 BB/9 would suggest; however, his above-average slider is simply underutilized, and his other offerings are merely average. With the Twins hoping to find out what they have in the works, I expect Gibson to unleash his very best this season - and the results will be there, too.