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5 bold outfield predictions for 2020

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A light of opportunity in Baltimore.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Outfield Week is well on it’s way here at Fake Teams and now it’s time for some bold predictions for 2020.

1. Of Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and Ronald Acuna Jr., two of these three players will NOT finish inside the top 3 among outfielders this year.

Justification: How is that for coming out strong? I’m not messing around with the outfielders. There is just one problem, I don’t know who WILL be in the top 3. Could be Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Juan Soto, JD Martinez, Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, etc… I think three things are going on with outfield. First, there is a chance one of those three has an injury limiting their time—we’ve seen it with Trout, and Yelich is not a spring chicken. And just look at the players I mentioned, a number of them have gone down for a bit with some form of injuries. Second, the outfield is very talented (see previous list). Thirdly, as stolen bases become more valuable, Trout and Yelich are likely headed away from that stat in their older age.

2. Kole Calhoun hits above .275 for the first time in seven years and also hits for 35+ HR and 190+ combined Runs & RBIs.

Justification: His last two years, Kole’s batting average dropped from .244 to .208, and rebounded to .232 last year (but definitely not a good trend). His BABIPs the last two seasons have been below .270, which is below the average of his previous five years (above .300). When Kole started his career (the seasons he played more than 50 games), he had two seasons above .270 with a strong run & RBI per at-bat rate. Perhaps he needs a change of scenery, which he will get at Chase Field (which, depending on humidor settings could be a hitter’s park). He is increasing his fly ball rate, he has a very low ground ball rate, and he had hard contact rate of 42.3% last year.

3. The outfield position has the highest walk rate of all positions, eclipsing a 10% average rate.

Justification: They have not done this any of the last three years, but I think we see outfielders start to become more patient at the plate. Currently third among the hitting positions (behind first base and DH), I see this talented position working pitch counts and making pitchers throw more.

4. Austin Hays is a top 25 OF with a batting average above .270.

Justification: Last year in just 21 games he had 25 runs and RBIs along with two stolen bases and a .309 batting average. Pitchers have some tape and will be ready but I think he is the closest thing this team has to a ray of sunshine and they will be putting all of their tools into him succeeding. Baltimore’s 2020 strategy: All in on Austin Hays

5. Joey Gallo’s batting average drops below .215 and his strikeout total rise back above 190 causing the Rangers to send him down or sit him for a while

Justification: Ok so I’m not sure if they would actually send him down but his .368 BABIP was quite high last year, especially for a player who is typically well below .300. He chose to swing less in a season where every ball was going outside of parks so it begs a question of whether it was right of him to do so. His average improved but imagine how many home runs he hits if he was swinging a lot. Joey looks to be caught in at the end of Newton’s cradle trying to catch up to the rest of the group continually.

Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

2019 (Last Year’s) Bold Outfield Predictions

1 . J.D. Martinez is NOT a Top 10 outfielder this year

Result: With 98 Runs, 105 RBis and a .304 batting average he finished 7th. Outcome: He was NOT outside the top 10.

2. Andrew Benintendi hits for 100+ RBIs for the first time in his career

Result: He ended 2019 playing 138 games, hitting 13 home runs and hitting just 68 RBIs. His stock has dropped precipitously in this years draft and his underwhelming 2019 is largely the reason why. Outcome: Incorrect!

3. We see a decrease of 30% in outfielders who steal at least 20 bases

Result: We had 13 players do it in 2019. 18 players did it in 2018. This was almost smack dab on the 30% decrease among outfielders. Outcome: Correct.

4. Bryce Harper has above a .290 average after hitting .249 last year

Result: I’m torn on this because he hit .260 so he fell well short of the .290 average. He also hit 35 home runs, 98 runs and 114 RBIs so he had a strong year last season. If you picked him or were swayed somehow due to that prediction, I hope his production was satisfactory to you. Outcome: He fell short.

5. Austin Meadows is a Top 25 outfielder

Result: This is by far the most correctest-est-est I was not only among outfield predictions but all of them as a whole. Many analysts were “meh” on him last year and he proved the collective wrong finishing as a top 10 outfielder in some formats. His streakiness can be frustrating but he is talented when it is all clicking.