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