Jack Weiland’s 10 Bold Predictions

Dear Reader, I have heard your (kind of unruly) demands for bolder Bold Predictions and I come to you today bearing two pieces of good news.

First, it’s Friday. Congrats, you made it. Time to coast on in to the weekend. Second (most importantly) I am committed to throwing stuff at the wall here pleasing your discerning Bold Prediction palates today with ten things that I think technically have a nonzero chance of happening, but are pretty out there.

So let’s take a ride on the Crazy Train, shall we?

1) Jed Lowrie will be the top fantasy shortstop.

This is a statement as much about the relative lack of elite options at short as it is about the potential upside of Lowrie himself. First, the field. By ADP, Lowrie is the 16th shortstop being taken this spring, behind Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jean Segura, Jose Reyes, yada yada yada. This is the case despite the fact that Lowrie posted the second highest wOBA among shortstops in baseball last season, and was able to stay healthy for a full season for the first time in, like, one thousand years.

Lowrie can’t beat Tulo or Hanley on skill, so he doesn’t control his own destiny in this sense. But injuries to Tulo and Hanley have happened before, so it’s a plausible (if unlikely) scenario that both fall out of the equation. It’s also unlikey (but possible) that Lowrie stays healthy for an entire season again. But he’s only going to be 30 years old this season, which may be younger than many would think. He has the ability to be a very good hitter, in a field of shortstops that is muddled after the top couple of options.

2) Mike Olt will hit 30 home runs this season.
Hey, remember this guy? Olt was once such a hot prospect that memes foretelling his brilliance scattered the internet. Now, he’s seemingly all but forgotten. And yet he is healthy this spring, and hitting bombs like whoa.

Once upon a time, Olt was a highly regarded prospect with the Rangers, before concussion and vision issues dropped his stock considerably. Moved to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal last summer, Olt’s competition for the third base gig in Chicago is mostly Luis Valbuena, and he doesn’t figure to pose much of a threat if Olt is playing up to his potential. He hit two homers Wednesday night (one of them was off Randy Wolf but shhhhh) and it’s not hard to envision a scenario in which he plays every day for the Cubs. Given that kind of playing time, and assuming health, he has the ability to be a surprise power source this summer.

3) Chris Carter will hit exactly 12 home runs this season.
Let’s be clear: no part of this prediction has to do with Carter’s ability to hit home runs. If he plays, he’s going to hit his fair share of those. It is, after all, pretty much the only thing he’s done at the plate in the major leagues besides striking out. He’s hit 48 in his 248 big league games, to be exact.

No, this one is all about that qualifier above: if he plays. It’s also about those strikeouts, something he’s done at a 34.7% clip. The Astros figure to be rotten again in 2014, but even they can’t continue to stomach a player so vanilla even if he has one totally awesome carrying tool. With prospect Jonathan Singleton waiting in the wings, it’s easy to picture a world in which Carter’s strikeouts dive even further into the abyss, and he’s out of a job. If that happens, fantasy owners can kiss those homers goodbye.

Why 12, you ask? I did it for the bold, of course! (This was originally “fewer than 15″ but I deemed the odds of that were not insane enough, so 12 it is).

4) The American League Rookie of the Year will come from the White Sox, and his name is not Jose Abreu.
Abreu is getting most of the ink for preseason AL ROY picks, and rightly so. He’s older and more ready for the big leagues than most in that field, and he has immense potential. He could very well be the Rookie of the Year this season.

But me? I’m going with Erik Johnson. The top prospect in the White Sox system according to our own Marc Hulet, Johnson profiles as more of a mid-rotation workhorse than an ace, but he’s closer to reaching that potential than players who have more potential. He will very likely be on the White Sox opening day roster, and if he can provide that mid-rotation value as a (relatively) unheralded prospect in his first full season, I’m betting voters will be all over that like fantasy nerds on a (relatively) pointless column.

5) Billy Hamilton will steal more bases than Eric Young, Jr., Peter Bourjos, and Starling Marte combined
On the one hand, this is not very bold. Predicting Billy Hamilton to steal a ton of bases is like predicting the sun to rise tomorrow. It’s probably going to happen.

On the other hand, in this scenario he’s going against two guys who stole more than 40 bags last year, and one who proclaimed this spring that he could do the same if given regular playing time. So it’s Billy Hamilton versus 120 steals and I’m going Hamilton.

Well, not really. Part of the calculus here involves a drop in steals from both Young and Marte (the former because I expect him to get fewer at bats this year, even though his manager and general manager love him, and the latter because I’m not totally buying the 41 he put up last season on account of smaller minor league figures). As good as Bourjos is defensively, expecting 600 plate appearances seems like a fool’s errand, both because of his injury history and because Jon Jay exists. So this is really more like Hamilton versus 60-70 steals, and I’m taking the over. I don’t think he will be a very valuable real life player, but he’s going to get on base more than a hundred times, and he’s going to run around the clock.

6) Bartolo Colon will post a batting average of more than .100
He’s spent his entire career in the American League, which means the opportunities to watch him swing that bowl of jelly around at the plate have been too few and too far between. Well no more, gentle reader! We’re all going to tell our grandchildren about watching Bartolo Colon hit in 2014, and we will say DID YOU KNOW HE HAD A BATTING AVERAGE ABOVE .100 and they will scrunch their semi-robotic faces and return to their Hologram Wars. Or as they call them in the year 2050: Wars.

7) The first closer deposed this season will be Fernando Rodney
Rodney controlled his walk rate for one brilliant year in Tampa, giving free passes to just 5.3% of batters in 2012. As a result, he posted a season of fantasy legend, including 48 saves and an ERA of just 0.60. His walk rate bounced back closer to his career levels last year (12.4% vs. 11.4%) and his dominance was watered down. He’s made his way to Seattle via free agency, and will enter the season as the team’s closer. If his walk rate is still high, or perhaps gets even worse (in his age 37 season, it’s certainly possible) he could find himself demoted.

In his place? Why benevolent Lord Farquhar, of course! Danny Farquhar briefly grabbed the closing role when Tom Wilhelmsen flamed out last year, and he is more than capable of succeeding in that position. So we have a combo effect here: Rodney is old and probably can’t sustain the walk rate that made his historic career season possible, and Farquhar is going to be breathing down his neck. In the dysfunctional world that is Mariners HQ, my money is on them to pull the rip cord on their closer before anyone else.

8) The best fantasy rotation in the National League will come from San Diego
Not a single pitcher with an ADP under 200, but many of my favorite low-cost sleepers, including Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Josh Johnson and Andrew Cashner.

9) The worst fantasy rotation in the American League will come from Houston
Not bold at all, you say? Well, yeah. Of course. But I, like Bartolo Colon, need to ensure I hit at least .100 here. Give me a break for one prediction, eh?

10) Andre Ethier will be among the top 25 fantasy outfielders this year
Everyone wants to focus on the bad with Ethier. He’s in a crowded outfield, he can’t hit lefties, blah, blah, blah. We get it. The guy has warts. But who among us does not?

What’s lost in the negative fuzz surrounding Ethier is that he’s still darn good against right-handed pitching, and his crowded outfield consists of two guys made of glass and one guy with 432 major league plate appearances under his belt. Also sometimes trades happen.

Is he likely to be among the top 25 outfielders? Of course not, he’s not even currently in the top three on his own team. But these wouldn’t be Bold Predictions without staring certain wrongness in the face and choosing to come right at it. So get some of that mojo back against lefties, Andre, take a little visit from the luck dragon, and have a season filled with only hot streaks. Let’s do this … for the kids.

Enjoy the rest of your Friday, folks.

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Jack Weiland is not just a pretty face. He resides in Boston with his wife and family (they're dogs) and watches the Cubs at levels not approved for public consumption. He likes chatting on twitter, too: @jackweiland.

40 Responses to “Jack Weiland’s 10 Bold Predictions”

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  1. chri521 says:

    Will Bartolo Colon make it to second base though? That may be an even bolder statement!

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  2. JMo37 says:

    Go Bold or Go Home??

    What consequence or what does it matter that you think Either will be a top 25 OF?
    You basically go on to explain that even if he isn’t you were at least BOLD?

    These articles are fun, but without taking your own predictions seriously it is a waste of the readers’ times and borders on the NotGraphs side of things.

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    • TRJV says:

      You, sir, are no fun.

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      Every year when the season ends, The Powers That Be tally up our wins and losses from these Bold Predictions and we receive one sacking for each incorrect answer. The consequences are real, I assure you.

      Also, I mean, I see these as “things that have an outside chance of happening” and I think Ethier has more potential this year than most give him credit for. This is the point I’m trying to make it.

      But if you did not enjoy this, hey, sorry man.

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      • Yahmule says:

        Joc Pederson will be a top 25 outfielder. Now that’s bold and more likely than Ethier, I believe.


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      • Jon L. says:

        I don’t really appreciate you having fun with your predictions when we’re trying to have fun reading – oh, never mind, I see what you’re doing now.

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  3. PBMax says:

    Some of these are pretty bold: lowrie, Johnson and ethier especially. As a Cubs fan I’m hoping for olt but not adding him. yet.

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  4. murphyluke says:

    Wow. Now THESE are bold. Probably too bold, but very entertaining to read, nonetheless.

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  5. Pat says:

    We wanted bold and Mr. Weiland delivered. Thank you, Jack.

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      Hey don’t mention it, guys. Happy to oblige. I am happy to know my sacking at year’s end will not be in vain.

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  6. novaether says:

    I hope you go 9/10 on this while only missing on #9.

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  7. Hendu for Kutch says:

    I’m afraid to draft Colon because, as a Red Sox fan, I’m scarred by watching him end his season trying to swing a bat in a 2008 interleague game.

    His cuts were Ruthian in every way, right down to the trailing gut fat. They were so mammoth that they tore his body assunder on the inside. Colon’s swings were just too awesome for his own body to handle.

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      This is probably the single best comment on anything I’ve ever written. So thanks.

      I think mostly I just like picturing Bartolo’s belly, but you’re the one who helped make that happen.

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      • Kershawshank says:

        That is very telling, Mr. Weiland…

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      • Jack Weiland says:

        I’m an open book, dude. If you came here expecting to see someone hide their love for Bartolo’s belly, you came to the wrong place.

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      • I know, right? I’ve been dying to see one of those MLB hug-it-out “brawls” where CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon meet up for some sumo love. I would die happy if Prince Fielder & the sorely-missed Livan Hernandez broke up that fat scrum.

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      • cavebird says:

        I love the boldness of the predictions, but I suspect there are two non-bold predictions instead of the obvious one. If Bartolo Colon gets one lucky hit in his first nine at-bats and has to run the bases, he ends up on the DL for the rest of the year, and well, that’s still over .100.

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      • Jack Weiland says:

        Cavebird, shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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  8. Kershawshank says:

    Thanks – very bold and fun! Much better to hit on one or two “impossible” predictions than to hit on three or four blah predictions. Hold your head up high a year from now!

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  9. dscottncc says:

    Absolutely love the Olt and Hamilton predictions. I can see both of these things happening, but the likelihood of them happening is slim and that’s why it is bold. Great projections and I pray both of these come true!

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    • Kinda curious about the Olt prediction. What are the chances he hits 270, 19hr, 71rbi, 11sb? (Median player in our league, though I’m guessing Olt won’t deliver the SBs)

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      • Jack Weiland says:

        He’s a really interesting player this offseason because there are just sooooooooo many variables at play. His health, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, the Cubs’ overall sucktitude. It’s worth noting that Steamer actually has him down for 21 homers. I haven’t seen a single projection system have him much over .200, but part of what makes him fascinating is that the projection systems might not have a lot of value here. They’re all including a guy from 2013 who may not be even close to the real, actual Mike Olt. So how likely is he to be that guy? Kind of not very likely, but also entirely possible.

        Is that a solid non-answer or what?

        (Side note: the steals seen like the most unlikely part of that projection, but crazier things have happened.)

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  10. Belle of the League says:

    Hey Jack,

    Crazy train? There are no crazy trains in Boston. It’s the crazy drivers’ left on reds and the other MA left turns ya gotta watch. The Maine-iacs don’t call them Massholes for nothing.

    1) Lowrie. I like him. I liked him in Boston, but from a points league perspective, I don’t see him cracking the top 5 even if he stays healthy….and what odds will give me on that? There’s young talent out there. Someone like Simmons could put it together this year.
    5) Billy Hamilton. Very bold because he assumes that Hamilton will get the PA’s. IMO, Too soon to tell, yet.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a drop in the others, though. There’s always injury risk, but:
    The Cards have Jay + Taveras who will more than likely start in AAA. In spite of his great defense, if Bourjos struggles at the plate, he could be platooned. (If LaRussa were still there, you could count on it.)
    Off the top of my head, didn’t Marte have a high BAPIP last season? Just asking. If so, will there be regression in his OBP?
    Eric Young, Jr. is pretty quick, but I don’t trust his manager and/or GM to continue loving him if he hits a slump. Nothing against Mets “leadership”, I don’t trust anybody.
    7) That depends on how you define “deposed” as in what’s really going on in Houston? Has Washington committed to Feliz or is he really competing with Soria? My take: There are others that could get the hook sooner if a problem develops.
    The Mariners knew what they were getting and are they really committed to competing? I’m thinking a team like the Pirates might have a shorter leash on someone like Grilli with Melancon available or the Indians with Axford and Cody Allen, the “closer of the future”
    8) Good luck with that.
    10) Shhhh….Our draft is tonight and I think Ethier will have an uptick in production this season. Hoping to get him really, really cheap as a 4th OF.
    Besides, he owes me. The last time I owned him was a few years back and he burned me with injuries

    Fun read.

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      I am willing to admit that I do the Boston Left sometimes. I’m not proud of it.

      Good thoughts here. Lots of these things are longshots, but that’s also kind of the point.

      5) I actually like Bourjos this year as a low-cost high upside roto player. He and Jay both hit righties better, so they don’t make great platoon partners, but I do see the Cardinals putting them both in the lineup to get the best mix of Jay’s offense/Bourjos’ defense/health for both of them.

      7) The assumption behind “deposed” is that the player losing his job is commonly seen as the closer. In situations where it’s unclear who will close games, there is no one to depose.

      8) Hey, it could happen!

      10) I grabbed him for nothing in my dynasty league over the offseason, so I am hopeful as well.

      Thanks for your thoughts as always Ande!

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  11. Jack Weiland says:

    Dang, wish I had put “Twins sign reliever to a four year deal” on here.

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  12. Walker says:

    I was looking for someone to get ridiculously bold, and yours was the boldest and most entertaining. Thanks for that. Please, encourage your fellow colleagues to come up to your level.

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  13. Jon L. says:

    I’m pretty sure “palates” is the homonym you’re looking for here.

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  14. ms says:

    I enjoyed reading…thanks!

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  15. retarded says:

    Predictions are retarded

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  16. SurprMan says:

    Officer, SurprMan, Fun Police.

    Mr Wieland, you should be aware the Bartolo Colon spent half of 2002 in the NL with the Expos.

    Just watch yourself from now on.

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  17. Bill says:

    I don’t have warts. What kind of a website is this?

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  18. Eric says:

    Bartolo Colon started 17 games in the National League as a Montreal Expo in 2002. This isn’t his first go-round. He hit .128, for what it’s worth.

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