Like some of the other newer writers here at RotoGraphs, this is my first entry in the Bold Predictions.
Here’s to hoping .300 is still good enough for the Hall of Fame.
Feast up commenters!
10. Despite injury, Adam Eaton will still steal 40+ bases.
Not exactly BOLD, I know. Trying to ease y’all into this. But if Eaton returns by mid-May or earlier as advertised, he’ll still have enough time to wreak havoc on the basepaths.
9. Andrelton Simmons will score 80 runs, swipe 25 bags.
The Braves shortstop is more known for his leather, but with a full-season leading off in front of Heyward and the Upton brothers, Simmons should really flourish. In addition to the 80 runs and 25 swipes, Simmons could chip in a .275 or better batting average, giving those a nice return who selected him in the late-rounds of their fantasy drafts.
8. Jordan Zimmermann to finish ‘13 as a top 15 fantasy starter.
For the second year in a row the Nationals’ right-hander will increase his strikeout rate and keep his ERA under 3.00, but is the beneficiary of more run support which increases his win total to 16. The Nationals finish with two hurlers (Stephen Strasburg) in the top 15 and both names will show up on Cy Young ballots at the conclusion of the 2013 campaign.
Bruce’s home run and RBI totals have increased in each of the past four years. Now entering his age 26 season, the Reds’ outfielder is primed for his first 40 homer, 100 RBI campaign in the Majors. Oh, and he’ll outperform Giancarlo Stanton in fantasy who is being drafted about two rounds ahead of him.
6. Mike Trout will not be a top 25 fantasy player in 2013
Yes, I know our own Jeff Zimmerman noted Trout would not be a top 15 fantasy player this season, but I think he’ll “fall” even further. Trout will struggle to match his runs scored and stolen base totals — even in a full-season — and are the power numbers from ’12 sustainable? I’m not so sure. A 21.5% HR/FB% will likely come back to earth and Trout will finish with about 20 homers and 75 RBI, just outside of the top 25 overall.
5. Wilton Lopez will lead the Rockies in saves.
There are a few other names I like in the Rockies bullpen, such as Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle, but I went with the former Astro instead. When Rafael Betancourt gets traded before the deadline (another BOLD prediction!), Lopez’s worm burning skills (55% GB%) and 6.75 K/BB will leapfrog him into ninth-inning duties.
4. Jose Fernandez is the most valuable fantasy starter in Miami, post All-Star Break.
The 20-year-old Cuban defector went 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA (0.93 WHIP) and a 4.5 K/BB between two levels of A ball in 2012. He’s got an insane arsenal — an overpowering four-seamer (that touches 99 mph), a groundout inducing two-seamer, two breaking pitches and a plus change — that he commands well and isn’t afraid to throw. He’ll start the season on the farm polishing his offerings, but don’t be surprised if the confident youngster packs his bags for the Majors mid-summer and becomes the biggest fish in Miami not named Giancarlo.
3. Your National League strikeout leader will be: Jeff Samardzija
The former Notre Dame football star is developing into a monster on the mound. In each of the last three seasons, he’s increased his strikeout percentage while reducing the amount of free passess allowed. In just 28 starts in twenty-twelve, Samardzija whiffed 180 batters — and with a full-season of starts on the docket, the right-hander should easily eclipse the 200 plateau and challenge for the National League lead.
2. Billy Hamilton to lead the Reds, and the National League, in stolen bases in ‘13.
This isn’t saying much considering the team’s 2012 leader in swipes, Drew Stubbs (30), was shipped off to the Indians in the offseason leaving newly-acquired Shin-Soo Choo (21) and Brandon Phillips (15) as the team’s biggest base-stealing threats in the starting lineup. But with Hamilton getting a mid-summer cup-of-coffee after ironing out some defensive wrinkles, he could potentially take over the team and league lead in swipes during a homestand against the Metropolitans in late-September.
The three amigos went a combined 72/70 last year while missing just over 30 games. But in 2013 they come together like Voltron to reach the combined 100/70 plateau while yielding at least one MVP candidate. Oh, and they very well may combine for 500 strikeouts as well.
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