Eno was the first to put out his bold 10 predictions for 2012. I will now give it a stab.
1) Brennan Boesch will be a Top 30 fantasy player. I liked Boesch even before Prince Fielder was signed. He has the potential to have 20+ home runs and 100+ runs since the Tigers say they will bat him in the No. 2 hole. Also, pitchers are going to challenge him quite a bit since they would rather face him then either Miguel Cabrera or Fielder.
2) Jacoby Ellsbury will be better in 2012 than in 2011. On the surface Ellsbury looks like he would be a candidate for regression, especially in the home run department. Most of the homers he hit came in the 2nd half (21) vice the first half (11) of the season. The main reason for the increase in power was that the left-hander began turning on and hitting the ball further as seen here. (Negative numbers are towards left field, positive numbers are towards right field.)
I don’t see why he can’t stay at this new power level in 2012.
3) Zack Cozart will be a top five shortstop – Once promoted in 2011, Zack had a great season until he went on the DL for an injured left elbow. Zack has speed, power and the ability to hit for AVG. Additionally, the Reds have him penciled him in as the No. 2 hitter. With Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce hitting around him, he will have plenty of run and RBI opportunities in the Reds lineup.
4) Zack Greinke will be a top three fantasy pitcher. Among qualified pitchers in 2011, Zack was ranked as follows:
1st in K/9 at 10.5
1st in xFIP
1st in SIERA
Zack was unlucky with his BABIP (0.318) and HR/FB (13.6%). The bad luck, and the early season injury where he missed 6 starts, kept him from being an elite pitcher in 2011.
6) Joakim Soria will end up with 40+ saves. For the first two months of the season last year Soria messed around with a cutter and here are his stats:
6.55 ERA, 7 Saves, 5 Blown Saves
He never had more than 5 BS in any previous season. He ditched the cutter and then his stats were:
2.58 ERA, 21 Saves, 2 Blown Saves
Buy low on Soria.
2009: 348 games
2010: 342 games
2011: 228 games
I don’t expect Morneau to play a single game and expect less than half a season from Doumit and Mauer.
8) At least three of the following six pitchers will end up on the DL in 2012: Ervin Santana, Bud Norris, Edwin Jackson, Madison Bumgarner, Michael Pineda and Ryan Dempster. This information is from an article I am writing. 46% of all pitchers that pitched at least 120 innings and threw sliders 30% or more of the time end up on the DL sometime during the next season. These six pitchers all threw sliders over 35% of the time in 2011.
9) Edinson Volquez‘s ERA will be better than Mat Latos‘ ERA. Both pitchers have similar strikeout rates over their careers (8.67 vs 8.65). Latos has significant advantage in walk rate (2.83 vs 4.84). The key for Volquez to make up ground is with his home run rate. He moves from a home park that was hitter-friendly (park factor of 103) to an extreme pitcher-friendly park (park factor of 92). I think Latos will struggle with his career 1.0 GB/FB ratio and Volquez will come out of his funk with help from his 1.4 career GB/FB ratio.
10) Of Chris Perez, Matt Capps and Javy Guerra, two will still be closers at the end of the season. Some people are already writing off these closers to the point of drafting their backups (Vinnie Pestano, Glen Perkins and Kenley Jansen) first. As often as closers lose their jobs, other keep the jobs even if they are less talented than their setup men (see Kyle Farnsworth and Perez in 2011).