After a Mendoza-like .200 average last season, I hope to improve on my predictions this season. Some are based on facts, others on my gut, all BOLD. Let your mocking begin.
Torii Hunter will improve on his 2012 season.
In the first half of the 2012 season, Torii Hunter was struggling with his hitting. In early June, he shortened up his swing and raised his OPS from .708 to .857. Even though he won’t be able to sustain his second half BABIP (.423), it won’t be as bad as his first half BABIP (.289).
Eric Hosmer will not regress and will continue to struggle with hitting.
Hosmer hit .232/.304/.359 in 2012 after posting triple slash line of .293/.334/.465 in his rookie season. The main drag on Hosmer’s value was his .255 BABIP. After watching way too much of Hosmer play, his main issue is swinging at balls outside of the strike zone. Here is his difference in percentage points above or below the league average for swinging at any pitch (catchers perspective).
The left-handed hitting Hosmer loves to swing at the inside pitch compared to the rest of the league. Over the past two seasons, he ranks 17th in the league (min 1000 PA) in O-Swing% (pfx). His main problem is he makes too much weak contact with these outside pitches. Unless Hosmer learns to be more patient at the plate, he will not reach his full potential.
Mike Trout will not be a top 15 fantasy player.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back off with the torches. Hear me out. After last season, I looked out how pitchers were adapting to Trout. In August and September, he hit only .287 as the number of his ground balls increased. Pitchers will continue to adjust to him and I could see him continue to struggle. He will still have a good season, just not a great one.
Yu Darvish will be a top 5 fantasy pitcher.
He improved steadily as the season went on as he was able to find the strike zone more and more. I expect the same from him in 2013. He should be able to get Wins with the Texas offense behind him and his strikeout numbers may be through the roof. If he can do what he did over his last 9 regular season starts (2.95 ERA, 10.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9), he will be a draft day steal.
Yoenis Cespedes will continue to improve and be a top 20 fantasy player.
Cespedes had the raw tools when he entered the league to dominate, but he was lacking plate discipline. He improved on his plate discipline over the season’s course by seeing his K% go from 24% in March to May to 16% in August to October. His triple slash line went from .245/.319/.434 in the first third of the season to .275/.350/.472 in the last third. My one reservation against him in fantasy baseball is the rest of the Oakland lineup. Can they help him accumulate enough counting stats to be a top 15 player.
Half of the following 10 pitchers will spend time on the DL in 2013: Edwin Jackson, Edinson Volquez, Gio Gonzalez, James Shields, Jarrod Parker, Jon Lester, Jeremy Hellickson, Stephen Strasburg, Tim Lincecum and Yovani Gallardo.
I found pitchers who are unable to throw pitches in the strike zone are more injury prone. Each of the preceding pitcher had a Zone% under 47% in 2012 and historically half of those pitcher end up on the DL.
Alex Rodriguez will give top 10 third base production over the season’s last 2 months.
He is pushing to be back by the All-Star game. He is a stubborn centaur. Giving him a month to adjust, I see him providing decent production over those last couple of months.
Historically, knuckleballers have done better in domes than away from them. It will be to Toronto’s advantage to get him throwing in the controlled conditions of domes as much as possible. Also, the rest of the A.L. is not used to him yet and may initially struggle against him.
That hurt to type. Myers will be held back from starting the season in the majors because of service time and injuries. Second, Myers, like Frenchy, struggles with plate discipline. Pitchers will take advantage of this weakness. Finally, Frenchy as new guns:
Mariano Rivera will not be a top 15 reliever.
Surgery and age will finally do him in during his last season. His cutter won’t be the same because his arm is not the same. The farewell tour will just be a hard to watch as he is sent out to the wolves every night.
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