Howard Bender’s 10 Bold Predictions for 2012

So we’ve decided to turn this 10 Bold Predictions thing into a friendly competition amongst the RotoGraphs writers. Here are mine…

Adam Jones will go 30/30 — Putting my money where my mouth is.  Sure, he swings at a ton of pitches. Sure, his SwStr% is typically in double digits. Sure, he’s considered an average runner at best. But Jones is entering his prime and ready to take yet another step forward in 2012. Keeper league owners should grab him now as he’ll never come this cheap again.

Prince Fielder will hit fewer than 30 HR — It’s not just the move to the AL, but also the fact that Comerica Park makes Miller Park look like a sandlot. He’ll also see some seriously ugly pitches and while that may help his walk rate and OBP, his power numbers are going to suffer. Wouldn’t you rather take your chance with Alex Avila or Delmon Young than Fielder?

Nick Hundley will hit a minimum of 15 HR — Last year’s mid-season elbow surgery to clean out loose bodies in the joint did wonders for Hundley’s work at the plate. He crushed the ball over the final two months of the season and hit six home runs in the process. This year he carries that momentum in from day one.

Brad Boxberger notches at least 10 saves for San DiegoHuston Street is fragile and Luke Gregerson is better suited to come in on a moment’s notice in the 7th or 8th inning. Boxberger is green and needs to limit the walks, but his arm is live and he’s got tremendous strikeout potential. The Padres may not turn to him immediately, but they will call on him at some point.

Bryan LaHair hits at least 30 HR — This late-bloomer will have Cubs fans saying, “better late than never!” Though the PCL is notoriously hitter friendly, something clicked for LaHair last season and his power really took off. Look for him to start hot right out of the gate and lead the Cubbies in home runs this season.

Trevor Cahill wins 15 games and notches 175 Ks — A switch to the NL will help revitalize Cahill’s game. He’s a ground ball pitcher so the switch to Chase Field won’t hurt too much and facing a pitcher instead of a DH will certainly help increase his strikeout totals. He actually might even end up as Arizona’s top hurler, and that’s saying a lot.

Jesus Montero finishes the season as a top three catcher — Yes, 61 at bats is a very small sample size. But Montero’s bat is for real and while he may not like the dimensions at Safeco, he’ll still find a way to muscle the ball over the fences both at home and away at least 25 times. Look for a solid walk rate and strong BABIP totals to help keep his average north of .285 as well. And while he’ll likely DH more often than not, he should still get at least 40 games behind the dish thus solidifying that catcher eligibility.

Cameron Maybin will hit 15 HR and steal 50 bases — We’ve been waiting to see the 5-tool potential for some time now and last season we got our first taste of what could be. The stolen bases will continue to come for Maybin and Bud Black will keep the green light on for him. And although Petco Park will continue to stifle his power, there are still 81 road games that will afford him better opportunities. He’s only 25 years old, so that power is still developing.

Jon Rauch saves more games for the Mets than Frank Francisco — It’s more about a lack of faith in Franky Frank than it is a belief in Rauch. Francisco lost his job in Texas and he lost it, not once but twice, in Toronto last year. Though he was nearly an even split between ground balls and fly balls last year, he still sported 12.7% HR/FB ratio and the fact that they moved the fences in at Citi Field isn’t going to help. Rauch has closing experience and will be more than capable to pick up the pieces once Francisco crumbles.

Matt Cain wins the 2012 NL Cy Young Award — Cain is a workhorse and an innings-eater with remarkable consistency. While his numbers have been incredibly similar year in and year out, Cain took an interesting step forward last year when he produced an FIP of 2.91 and reduced his HR/FB to a remarkable 3.7%. This year, unless the Giants’ brass suddenly get their collective heads out of their posteriors before the season begins, he is pitching for a contract. Big bucks and a long term deal await this 27 year old hurler and an award-winning season should cinch that up.

Print This Post

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

44 Responses to “Howard Bender’s 10 Bold Predictions for 2012”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Randy says:

    I’d put the over/under on Fielder at 35 home runs. He might go under, but it’d be pretty shocking if he hit under 30.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Fatbot says:

    I enjoy these bold predictions and understand you gotta go bold. But if that second number for Adam Jones’ 30/30 is stolen bases, I can’t see any chance, even bold, of Adam Jones sniffing 30 SBs. He’s never even attempted 30 steals in a season, let alone the 40 it would take for him to even possibly make 30 safely! I’d boldly predict 200 Ks for him before that happens.

    Matt Cain is another laugh. The Giants magic has been an amazing run, and with the 6th highest payroll sure they’ll stay competitive. But my bold prediction is that magic finally runs out for Cain this year and we hear the bemoaning of Cain’s “inexplicable bad luck” giving up so many home runs (read: close to normal finally).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt NW says:

      Didn’t Pac-Man talk up the beat writers last spring training? Suggesting he’d run a lot.

      You know why he didn’t run a lot? Of course you do… he isn’t good at stealing bases.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Howard Bender says:

        Can two guys who share a name but play in different sports still have the same nickname? Are you referring to the NFL player Adam Jones? Of course he’s terrible at stealing bases. That’s not even his game…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • dave in gb says:

        What sense would it make for Adam Jones to even attempt 30 steals anyway when the Orioles have one of the worst OBP in MLB? Anyway, Showalter is too deliberate to even allow Jones to attempt 20.

        30 homeruns, 30+ 2B’s is a first Jones should shoot for. Then again, this is called “bold” predictions lol

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Oliver says:

    30 SBs for Adam Jones would be his 2011, 2010, and 2009 SBs totals, along with 1/3 of his 2008 SB totals.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. tvators says:

    Like the boldness right up to #9. if your lack of faith is in Francisco getting hurt and losing his job then ok, but no way is moving from Rogers centre and before that Arlington to the NL and shorten yet still most likely pitching or neutral Citi Field a bad thing. Fransico was dominant in the second half last yr and I think the move to NL and Citi help him tremendously and he will be one of the best baragin closers out there. and if he happens to get hurt which given his career is not that unlikely I think the mets will quickly realize Rauch is not all that good and Ramon RAmirez will get more saves than Rauch

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Schu says:

    Now I know to avoid everything you write going forward. These are your predictions? Christ.

    -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      they’re called BOLD predictions for a reason. no one wants to see predictions of Verlander winning another CY.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Schu says:

        Bold doesn’t mean completely unrealistic. It means a prediction based on numbers that people aren’t looking at. Saying Jones is going to go 30/30 for the year is not based on anything he’s done statistically in the past, it’s a number he pulled completely out of his ass. I expect better from Fangraphs than ‘gut feelings’.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Howard Bender says:

      Granted, the 30 SB call is shooting for the moon here. But 30 HR is very realistic for a guy entering his prime and has increased his power output over from two seasons ago. Perhaps 20 SB would have been bold enough but 30/30 has so much nicer a ring to it…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ray says:

        people don’t understand the meaning of bold, do they? I had the same reaction when I wrote my 30 bold predictions for 2012 as well.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nilsilly says:

        I certainly appreciate the boldness of the 30/30 prediction Howard but it would sound a lot more confident if you didn’t preface it with several reasons why it won’t come true. :-) Even in your “Get Adam Jones” article earlier this week it seemed like the only real argument for a step forward from Jones is that he’s “entering his prime”. What exactly, aside from age, indicates to you that is the case? Often times players can have their prime years of production early (Russel Martin) or later (Paul Konerko). I’d like to see SOME statistical basis for the step forward here, especially since it’s not like the respective difficulty/ineptitude of the division or the surrounding lineup suddenly changed.

        I’m not knocking the prediction, I think it might just be TOO bold. :-)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. SteveJobs says:

    I gotta laugh at all the people that come into these posts and disparage the BOLD predictions as somehow unworthy of inclusion on this site. Y’all need to stop taking everything so seriously. These posts are meant to be fun (I know that might be a word you are unfamiliar with…you should look it up)…not analyzed and nit picked to death.

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. GVeers says:

    I gotta say I think no guy is getting more undue attention going into this year than Brian LaHair. If I can pick him up for a few bucks I’ll do it, but 30 HR seems completely and utterly absurd to me.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. gary says:

    Rauch is “more than capable” is more than an overstatement.

    Francisco is a far superior pitcher who got messed around by the manager last year. Farrell admitted his 9th inning mismanagement.

    Fun article to read though.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Wes says:

    The Jones 30/30 was certainly a BOLD prediction seeing he’s only attempted 64 steals in 624 games but that is the idea of bold predictions.

    Think anyone predicted Brady Anderson would hit 50 home runs in a year. If someone had they would have been roundly criticized, until it actually happened.

    Folks need to read the headline prior to getting all worked up. It wasn’t Howard Bender’s 10 stone cold lead pipe locks…. Relax people..

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. hifilofi says:

    These are the BOLDEST of the bold predictions on fangraphs. Bravo!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Dave says:

    Won’t Cameron Maybin only play 81 road games not 82? If that’s the case then I will sarcastically say that one less game on the road gives him no chance to meet the 15 HR mark. At most he can muster 14 HR

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Howard Bender says:

      touche, Dave.

      The number of games is corrected, but I still stand by my call…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jimbo says:

      Maybe there’s another round coming where Howard will boldly project the Padres wind up in a 1-game playoff…on the road.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. cfg720 says:

    I like Maybin this year and while I understand these are BOLD predictions, I still like him to hit 12-15 HRs and steal 40 bases again.

    No shot at Adam Jones stealing 30 bases. The power is there for 30 HRs and if Buck is aggressive, he could steal 15-18 but that’s it. On the plus side, he did attempt more steals last year than he ever has in the pros.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Cecil Fielder says:

    So you expect more homeruns from both Adam Jones and Brian LaHair than you do from Prince? Really?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Parker says:

    So if these predictions are so out there, what is the Montero prediction doing there? Would it really surprise anyone if he hit 25 HRs? Honestly it would surprise me if he hit less than 25 HRs if he gets 600 plate appearances

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. balticfox1917 says:

    No way Adam Jones gets 30. Bold would be 30/20.
    I like the Fielder prediction: Comerica will keep some of his shots in the park, as will Target and Kaufmann.
    My guess: 33 adjusted for the lack of pitching in the AL Central.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. jerbear1985 says:

    Why would Francisco or Rauch get the job over Sergio Santos?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Jeff says:

    Comerica isn’t that much of a homer killer. The park is basically neutral towards hitters in general and even moderately favors lefty hitters.

    It’s a huge park, but it certainly doesn’t play like it is.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Jason says:

    I hope you are right about Adam Jones being a 30/30 guy this season! I have him on two of my teams.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Ryan says:

    If Frank Francisco fails at closer for the Mets then I see Ramon Ramirez first crack at taking over the job, not Rauch. Last season, the velocity on Rauch’s fastball dropped off and his HR/FB was higher than Franky’s at 12.9%. Ramirez HR/FB was only 5.0% and he clearly just has closer stuff. He can bring the heat on his fastball and his slider definitely has some filth on it.

    Don’t forget about Manny Acosta, either. Over the last three months of the season Acosta had an ERA of 2.06 along with 41K/12BB in 38.1 innings Once he took over the closer’s role in September he went 4 for 5 in save opportunities. His talent has never been in question, it’s always been about taming his wildness.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. supershredder says:

    I have Maybin stealing 70 bases this year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Howard Bender says:

      that would be ridiculously awesome. I projected him between 50 and 55, but I’ll certainly take 70…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Jordan T says:

    Don’t look now but Adam Jones has 5 home runs and 3 stolen bases in the season’s first two weeks. 30 stolen bases is still really ambitious but I’d say the chances today are a lot higher than they were when the article was written.

    Long and short, much respect.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. DRS2Impress says:

    Hello there Mr LaHair, we’ve been expecting you

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. RTBenj says:

    The Jones and LaHair predictions don’t seem quite so unrealistic now, do they?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Jason says:

    Just taking a mid-season look back at this. Funny that the most criticized predictions are the most accurate! Specifically, Adam Jones, Prince Fielder, Bryan Lahair (though this one looks like it fell of a cliff), and Matt Cain.

    Vote -1 Vote +1