Eno Sarris’ 10 Bold Predictions for 2012

We — collectively — are going to steal Mike Podhorzer’s idea and make some crazy predictions for the coming season. Every year, something happens to surprise baseball viewership. Jose Bautista and Lance Berkman come to mind over the past few years.

So let’s try to open our minds and let crazy in for some fun. Then we’ll look back at the end of the season and see which RotoGraphs staff member can access the other side most effectively — then we’ll scoot down the bench a little away from him.

1) No player will hit 40 home runs this year. Obviously Mike Stanton and Jose Bautista loom large, but there were only three guys that managed the feat last year, and the point is that power is down. Handy graph time!

2) Lucas Duda will outproduce Logan Morrison in every 5×5 roto category. I’ve been hinting at this all year and it’s time to just outright say it. I love el Dudarino and I don’t care who knows. He couldn’t be any more different than Logan Morrison in terms of demeanor and pedigree, but their peripherals are similar and Duda is about to get a nice home park boost from the change in Citi Field dimensions.

3) Dee Gordon will steal 60 bases — and won’t hit a single home run. Is this bold? The stolen base total has to be — only one player (Michael Bourn) managed 60 stolen last year. And considering that he got on base almost 35% of the time and Gordon won’t get on base at a 33% clip, Gordon will have to work extra hard to make it happen. But, dude knows where his bread is buttered, and the Dodgers are an old-school organization that will let him run wild.

4) Brandon Belt is finally freed (to the tune of a .280 average and 25 home runs, seven stolen bags) when Bruce Bochy sees Aubrey Huff for the piece of toast that he is. Hey if you’re not right the first time, keep plucking that chicken, amiright. It’s just that Aubrey Huff is old and not good, and Brandon Belt is neither of those things. Playing time is the real question, but left field and first base are so old that a spring training run to first could be all the break Belt needs. He won’t let the next break go by.

5) Ryan Hanigan will get twice as many PAs as Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco is a trendy pick, but the Reds are a veteran team — just look at their big offseason trade for Mat Latos — and they are ready to win now. Worst of all, Dusty Baker is at the helm, and he likes veterans and he likes Hanigan and he’s already said that it’s no lock that Mesoraco is the starting catcher when the season begins. Maybe Spring Training changes things, but tomorrow is March 1st, so count this as bold for now.

6) Jarrod Parker will be the Athletics’ best pitcher this year. We all love Brandon McCarthy, but all it will take is a tiny step back from the nerd-warrior and a little luck love for Parker to switch the tables on the A’s rotation. Projection systems don’t love Parker’s lack of strikeouts in his post-TJ surgery Double-A stint, but before the surgery, Parker was closer to a strikeout-per-inning guy. Scouts love his 93+ MHP fastball and slider, change combo, and his home park should help any fly ball tendencies he might have. His other competitors for Best A’s Pitcher include an old man (Bartolo Colon), an injured man (Dallas Braden), and two men without as much pedigree (Tom Milone and Brad Peacock).

7) This year, the role of Brandon Beachy will be played by Juan Nicasio. Last year, Beachy was the prototype for the out-of-nowhere pitcher with gobs of stuff, an unclear shot at playing time, and no Average Draft Position. There’s no better way to get value out of nothing than to find one of these guys, and Nicasio is an interesting bet for this year’s version. He showed up on Carson Cistulli’s “Next Michael Pineda” list, and he showed the same above-average swinging strike stuff and great control that he had in the Minor Leagues in his debut. He even added passable ground-ball rates. When his strikeout rate catches up with his 94-MPH gas and swinging strike rates, the man with the surgically-repared neck (and gruesome highlight reel) will surprise in a lot of leagues. Don’t worry about those eight candidates for the final spot in the rotation, Nicasio is well ahead of all of them.

8) Jimmy Paredes will outproduce Emilio Bonifacio relative to cost. You want bold? How about predicting one flawed, no-glove speedster to replace another flawed, no-glove speedster? This year, though, Paredes is the one on the team that needs players at multiple positions and will give him the green light to swing away and steal away. The Marlins may have more on the line, and their speedster will most likely cost you more than the Houston version. Spend less, get the same production.

9) Gio Gonzalez will miss significant time this year. Guessing that any starter will go to the DL has about a one-in-three chance of coming true, so maybe this doesn’t seem so bold. But Gonzalez goes to the curveball almost a third of the time and using the curve and the slider a ton leads to the most injuries.

10) Vinnie Pestano will lead a smaller group of ‘new’ closers. Yes, Addison Reed is the sexy pick, but Matt Thornton is a better pitcher than Chris Perez. Who is already hurt. Define ‘new’ closers as those that add more than 20 saves to their previous seasonal high if you want, if Perez doesn’t improve he won’t keep his job.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


41 Responses to “Eno Sarris’ 10 Bold Predictions for 2012”

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  1. LegallyMinded says:

    “Maybe Spring Training changes things, but this is March 1st, so count this as bold for now”

    Do predictions still count as bold if the author is living in the future? That seems like a distinct advantage in accurate prognostication.

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  2. shibboleth says:

    I like Gordon as an MI pickup, and am emboldened by your 60 SB suggestion. Might have to grow tunnel vision now…

    Will be watching Nicasio closely… Any estimates for the innings he puts up this year?

    For the 40 HR club, I’ll be bold and suggest Santana clubs that many this year.

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  3. hernandez17 says:

    I’d like to see Jarrod Parker dominate at at least one professional level before anointing him a major league team’s best pitcher. I’ve never actually seen the guy pitch, but I look at his numbers and fail to understand where the hype comes from.

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  4. Nate says:

    No player will hit 40 home runs this year.

    pshh, you clearly forgot that Ichiro! is moving to the 3-hole.

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    • hifilofi says:

      Dudes who will hit 40 HRs:

      Big Mike Morse
      Matt Kemp
      George Herman Jay Bruce
      Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton
      Jose Bautista
      Prince Fielder

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  5. philosofool says:

    Pujols totally hits 40 this year. He’s moving to a more RHB friendly park and he had easy 40 power in one of the toughest HR parks in the league. (HR factor for RHB in St. Louis is 74, Anaheim, 93.)

    But my dark horse 40 HR candidate is Jay Bruce. I think this is the year that he starts making good on the Walker comps.

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  6. Rick says:

    I would change the Dee Gordon prediction to no over the fence HRs, as I could see an inside the park HR.

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  7. LuckyStrikes says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    Not all that bold, but at least one of Kimbrel/Venters will need TJ surgery this year…

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  8. supgreg says:

    My bold prediction is Josh Hamilton will stay healthy. Don’t underestimate the power of the contract year!

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  9. stevo says:

    I’ve said it before I’ll say it again – look at Nicasio’s numbers last year vs the Padres and then look at his numbers vs everyone else. Not impressed.

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    • Stuck in a slump says:

      Look at the guy’s K/BB rates in the minors, those are some sick numbers, dude struck out 8.6/9 in the minors (50 IP min) and walked no more 3.17 at any level, lets also not forget that he put up almost 350 IP where his BB/9 was under 2, and over 200 of those innings had a BB/9 of around 1.5

      I have every bit of confidence that when he returns and makes his adjustments vs big league hitters that he can sustain a ~4/1 K/BB ratio

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      • stevo says:

        Ok well let’s see what happens to his K’s when he finds out 95-96 mph fastballs aren’t going to strike everyone out like they do in the minors.

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      • Stuck in a slump says:

        Here’s some stuff for you to read:

        http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/5/27/2191632/prospect-of-the-day-juan-nicasio-rhp-colorado-rockies

        From KFFL: Putting Nicasio’s performance in perspective, Rockies young gun Jhoulys Chacin averaged 7.49 strikeouts there in 2009, albeit his age-21 season. In his first year at Tulsa, in 2005 (age-21 season), Ubaldo Jimenez averaged 7.57 strikeouts per nine frames. The next season Jimenez’s strikeout rate climbed to 10.55 in Tulsa, so Nicasio is in the same neighborhood.

        Stuff-wise, Nicasio is no slouch either. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound righty can dial up his fastball in the mid-90s. Although it’s not as heavy as Jimenez’s or Chacin’s, Nicasio’s is compensated with pinpoint command. For his career, Nicasio has surrendered an average of only 0.53 home runs and 1.99 walks per nine innings, a testament to his command.

        Read more: http://www.kffl.com/a.php/127816/fantasy-baseball/Fantasy-Baseball-Player-Prospecting–Juan-Nicasio–more#ixzz1npvXGWK6

        Considering his K%, BB%, HR/9 rate (especially given that he’s pitched in hitter dominated leagues his professional career), I think that his floor is a slightly better version of Jason Hammel and his ceiling is much higher. Even though he only has 71 IP in the big leagues, his numbers didn’t stray too far from his MiLB line and nothing stood out in his peripherals to suggest that he will have future troubles. If his LOB% had been a little closer to league average he would have had a sub 4 ERA.

        Everything I’ve read on the guy says that he’s got a full arsenal at his disposal with his secondary stuff being at least average, so I really don’t understand your pessimism about him. Lots of guys get by (and a few excel) at the MLB level with a fastballs that sit in that range.

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    • tedescomatt says:

      im going to draft him either way my team can use a pitcher with the balls that he has after breaking pretty much everything from the neck up

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  10. The Dweez says:

    I love statistical info, but ultimately after all the data compiling you have to make a decision. I read that Nicasio dreamt he would be pitching in World Series this year. That’s the kind of nonsensical info that makes a decision fer me. Like last year I knew nuttin bout Beachy, but figured if he beat out Minor/Teheran/Delgado and Vizciano he can’t be too bad right?

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  11. Snarf says:

    Stanton is like a 22 year old Jose Canseco but with a better supporting cast.
    90/35/100 is well w/in his reach, though I don’t think we see a 40hr season from him until 2013.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/OAK/1986.shtml

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  12. Max says:

    I just drafted LoMo in my 16-team keeper slowdraft. Does this mean I should take Duda next time around? RF is my weakest hitter spot right now, as I just have Mike Trout and his PT issues there currently.

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  13. honk-e says:

    wow bold predictions, i just u read the duda page comments…

    bill james knows swat

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  14. Chad says:

    I’m on the Duda bandwagon, too.

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  15. deadhead says:

    Bold prediction: Theo Epstein (Juan’s illegitimate brother), will impregnate a teenage who-oar from Evanston before the first homestand is complete.

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  16. Eminor3rd says:

    I can’t believe Joey Bats doesn’t reach 40

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  17. JdeWitt88 says:

    You lost me at Stanton, although you’d be technically right if he hits the 38 i predict…(you better be right about Duda because that is your most consistent 2012 prediction) and then you brought me back around with the Belt prediction. I think your list has the most potential for correctness.

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  18. Krisko91 says:

    Dustin McGowan will be the second best starter on the Blue Jays this year. I think that qualifies as “bold”

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  19. Matt says:

    Pablo Sandoval finishes top 3 to 5 in MVP voting is my bold prediction. I’m looking at a .317 – 34 – 112 season (along with good D) from him as the Giants rebound from a dismal 2011 and make the playoffs.

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  20. BaseballDudeNYC says:

    What about Kemp, going for 50/50? Wouldn’t that be bold, or you couldn’t do it because he already did it? I see him doing it, too.

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