Alan Harrison’s 10 Bold-ish Fantasy Predictions for 2014

Yes, I’m late to the Bold Predictions party. What else is new? I’m going to be late for my own funeral, guaranteed.

Anyway, last year’s bold predictions didn’t fare entirely well, as discussed here, but the author feels that .400 is within the realm of possibility this time around.

10. Khris Davis will hit 25 homers and steal 15 bases.

In just 153 plate appearances last season, the 27-year old outfielder posted a .279 average, put 11 balls in the stands and swiped three bags. Davis’ 28.9% HR/FB% is hardly sustainable, but with a full-season of plate appearances likely on the way, the righty could put up a season similar power numbers to that of his 2010 effort – or, I hope. Davis is no Billy Hamilton, but he successfully swiped 17 bags in 2009 for Cal St. Fullerton, then another 17 for the Advanced-A Timber Rattlers in 2010. Fifteen stolen bases may be a slight stretch at this point in his career, but it’s possible.

9. Justin Ruggiano will go 20/20

If he gets 500 plate appearances, that is. And no, I’m not the first one to beat this drum during Bold Predictions here, but I can’t help but include the right-handed outfielder. Ruggiano hit 18 in 472 plate appearances with the Marlins in ’12, so one would hope that he could hit the 20 mark with 500 PAs. We just has to hope that Ruggiano can get enough playing time to reach 500 appearances considering his batting average liability.

8. Koji Uehara will not be a top-12 closer in 2014

Uehara was incredible last season. He converted 21-of-25 saves with a 38.1% K% and a miniscule 3.4% BB. And with all the success Mariano Rivera had into his late-thirties, it’s hard to say that Uehara, entering his age-39 season, will not experience success simply because of that. He could be a fantasy baseball bust due to the combination of the age, injury history and the cost of acquiring the reliever in about the seventh round of a 12-teamer.

7. Jacoby Ellsbury will not be a top-15 outfielder in 2014

Let me start off by saying, Jacoby Ellsbury is one of the most exciting young thirty-year old players in the game. And when healthy, he has the ability to be a top-ten outfielder for fantasy purposes. But that’s just it. When healthy, Ellsbury has failed to play full-season’s slate of games since his miraculous 2011 season when filled the stat sheets with 32 homers, 39 stolen bases etc. The only part of that season that we still see is the speed. Can he replicate the homers? Probably not, but if he can, Yankee stadium could be the place to do it. I’m just not confident that Ellsbury plays enough games to earn a top-15 outfield spot by season’s end.

6. Everth Cabrera or J.J. Hardy will finish ’14 ranked higher than Jean Segura

Yep, I’m hedging here. Despite being currently drafted close to 50 and 100 spots after Segura respectively, one of these other short stops will finish the season ranked higher. Segura’s first-half power surge last season tailed off as expected, but he continued to wreak havoc on the base paths and maintained a .294 average en route to finishing ’14 as Y!’s top short stop. In a shortened season, Cabrera stole 37 bags in 435 plate appearances and added four long balls. If Cabrera can keep his batting average at .275 or higher, match or better Segura’s power totals and steal more bases, the Friar could finish ’14 ranked higher than the Brewer. To a lesser extent, J.J. Hardy needs to maintain or better his power totals from ’13 and see a spike in average/stolen bases if this were to happen. At any rate, I think both short stops are better values at this point during draft season than Segura at his ADP.

5. Gerrit Cole will outperform Jose Fernandez

Maybe not bold enough, but it seems as if people are already crowning Jose Fernandez the best sophomore starting pitcher for 2014 – or, drafting him that way anyway. I gave Jose Fernandez a lot of love in my ’13 Bold Predictions, so it’s not that I don’t believe in his abilities, I simply believe that Gerrit Cole wins more games than Fernandez with a similar ERA – their FIP and xFIP were mightily similar last season – and just a few less strikeouts.

4. Ryan Braun, Khris Davis and Carlos Gomez will combine to go 80/50

I’m somewhat piggybacking on my on my first bold prediction, but I think each of these outfielders are poised for big seasons. A minimum of twenty-five homers and 15 stolen bases each is not far-fetched, if they each earn 400+ plate appearances that is.

3. Two of Javier Baez, George Springer and Gregory Polanco combine to go 40/30

Springer and Polanco have already been sent down to the minors. Baez is still getting some reps with the big boys for the time being. At some point earlier in the season these prospects will be playing for their parent clubs and become immediate contributors. My gut says that Baez and Springer are the two that make this prediction work, but I’m not counting that as another prediction.

2. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton will combine to go 50/25

I tried this last year, but injuries and B.J. Upton happened to my Braves’ outfield prediction. Steamer projects 43/19 for these two in twenty-fourteen, but I think a comeback season for Jason Heyward parlayed with 25/10 season from Justin Upton can make this thing happen.

1. David Price will not be a top-20 starting pitcher in ‘14

There is no doubt that David Price has been one of the better fantasy starting pitchers over the last few seasons. But much has been said in the baseball community about the southpaw’s gradual loss of velocity on his offerings and the direct impact it has on his ability to strikeout opponents. His K% has hovered in the low-twenties for the most part of his career, but last season, it dipped to 20.4% — the lowest since Price’s 2009 campaign. It is important to note that while Price fanned fewer batters, he also allowed fewer free passes, but Steamer projects both of those numbers to go back (21.5% K%, 6% BB%) towards Price’s career rates. Despite this, the decrease in velocity, strikeouts and missed bats along with batters making more contact off of the lefty, could cause him to fall off a bit more in ‘14.

Bonus Prediction: Billy Hamilton adjusts fairly well to the bigs, steals 50+ bags with a .315+ OBP.

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In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

24 Responses to “Alan Harrison’s 10 Bold-ish Fantasy Predictions for 2014”

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  1. The Flaming FIPs says:

    “Jacoby Ellsbury is one of the most exciting young players in the game”

    He’s 30.

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  2. Jim Atkins says:

    A request: could you find a way to include (perhaps in parentheses) the clubs these individuals play for?

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  3. Jed says:

    Also a request: could you include a phonetic pronunciation and country of origin for the surnames of these individuals?

    +25 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Emcee Peepants says:

    Were these written just for me? I drafted Davis and Ruggiano, traded away Segura and traded for Cole in the offseason. You wanna make out a little, Alan?

    I think Segura is going to be the biggest bust of MLB this year. He was great to start, but his wRC+ by month: 173-152-97-89-57-51 Yeesh.

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    • Gerald Molina Laird says:

      I’m just surprised Smoak wasn’t a top 3 1B last year after hitting .341/.426/.580 in September/October in 2012.

      Because monthly splits are sooo significant.

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      • I.P. Dailey says:

        They can be when it shows a season long downward trend. Nice try on being a smart@ss though!

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    • GFuzz says:

      Being down on Segura seems to be a trend, and I’m starting to wonder if he makes everyone eat it. I understand it might be a reaction to where he’s being drafted, and I’m in agreement that he feels more like a 6th rounder than a 3-4th. But my opinion last year was that the kid was a phenom and he went out and proved it. This year he’s the same phenom with a year under his belt, and should be at the top of a potent lineup. And he’s does have a track record of extra base power.

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      • Emcee Peepants says:

        It’s definitely a possibility. SS is a craphole of crappy crap again this year, so he doesn’t have to be great to be above average. But he has to prove he is closer to the player of April-June than July-August.

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  5. JREwing says:

    80/50 for Braun, Gomez, and Davis is bold? I see Braun and Gomez combining for 50 SBs between the two of them. Put it to 80/70 (35 SB from Gomez, 20 from Braun, and 15 from Davis).

    Be bold. ;)

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    • Lenard says:

      Yeah, I don’t really thing 80/50 is bold either. 80/70 would classify though.

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      • Razor says:

        Why would 80/70 be bold? Last two healthy Braun years he stole 33 and 30. Last two Gomez seasons he’s stolen 37 and 40. The two of them alone should at least get to 55 or 60 given a slight regression, and I’m being pretty conservative. No reason for Braun not to steal 20 with a return to 30 unlikely but would be a *bold* prediction and Gomez 35-40 being a safe play. That leaves Khris Davis to have to steal 10-15…maybe a few less, maybe a few more…just to keep this a safe play.

        Unless 80/50 was supposed to be bold in the sense that 50 is so low.

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  6. Cheesewhiz says:

    Seems the Segura prediction is a little at odds with the Braun/Gomez/Davis and Davis predictions.

    While I agree that Segura is quite likely to regress, I really don’t see Cabrera coming close in runs if your other prediction comes to pass. If you are penciling in 80HR from the middle of the order, then it stands to reason that Segura will have a significant lead in runs over Cabrera and the offensively challenged Padres.

    I don’t have the metrics to back me up, but for fantasy purposes I’d rather have Segura hitting in front of Braun/Gomez in a hitter friendly park than Cabrera in front of Gyorko in Petco.

    That said, I happen to have Segura on my team. But as keeper in the 18th round. So I guess I can live with regression to just a top 5 SS.

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  7. Walkswith4balls says:

    Should I entertain the thought of trading Choo for either Gio Gonzales or Bailey? My starters are my weak area of my team. Plus I’m a little wary of Choo being older, knicked up and hitting in the AL again. I can pick up Krush Davis if I do the trade. League is 6×5 H2H.

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  8. ron paul says:

    Barely any of these are really bold…some are almost 50/50(Heyward/Upton or Milwaukee OF ones for example)

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  9. JMo37 says:

    I love reading this site and others, but for the love of god, why do I HAVE TO NAVIGATE A MINDFIELD OF VIDEO ADVERTISEMENTS to read an article.

    Sitting at work and having the advertisements pop out/play out of no where is annoying.

    I know the site requires sponsors, but I will not go to (well, because it is fox) and because of the negative association I have with it because I always have to turn off the ANNOYING advert.

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  10. andyrentfrow says:

    I will go bold. Khris davis will hit 40 home runs and 35 doubles to go along with 15 stolen bases.

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