Jeff Zimmerman’s 10 Bold Predictions

Bold prediction time. Let the bashing begin.

1. Miguel Cabrera will not be one of the top two fantasy players. A couple of thoughts here. He is just an old, heavy player with a recent injury history. I don’t think he will have enough production to over come time lost to a possible disable list trip. Even though he is at 1B this season, he is still susceptible to injuries. Also, a full season from Carlos Gonzalez or Ryan Braun could be enough to take one of the top two spots.

2. Billy Hamilton will have more stolen bases than base hits. I don’t think his hit tool is good enough to make it at the major league level. While he has done decent in spring training, it is only spring training. He was sent back from Puerto Rico because he could not  hit. I think he will have fantasy value, but not at all from his bat.

3. Dean Anna will produce more than Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts. Roberts and Jeter  just can’t stay on the field.

DL day history
2011: 20
2012: 0
2013: 172

2011: 135
2012: 144
2013: 79

Anna has a good chance to get some playing time.

Also, the three have similar ZIPS projections so the production drop off  when Anna is in the game won’t be much.

Anna: .240/.321/.356
Jeter: .259/.322/.357
Roberts: .246/.304/.364

4. Victor Martinez will be a top three catcher at the end of the season. Martinez will likely catch in some early inter-league games Detroit has on their schedule. Detroit plays five games at NL teams in early April and few more in July. It will be nice if he could get behind the plate for a game here and there. Additionally, my faith in Alex Avila being a decent full time catcher is evaporating.

Martinez should have no problems producing. He ended the 2013 season healthy and hit .367/.418/.519 from July 1st on. Some regression should be expected because of his .382 BABIP, but he was a beast once healthy. He will be mainly hitting DH in a decent lineup, so he will get plenty of Run and RBI opportunities.

5. R.A. Dickey will be a top five pitcher in AL-only leagues. Once he was able to throw his hard knuckle ball over the last 11 games of the 2013 season, he put up a 3.35 era, 1.13 WHIP and 7.6 K/9. Also, I like to root for the old guys.

6. Ervin Santana will put up better fantasy numbers than Masahiro Tanaka. First the projections.

2014 Projections (Steamer)
ERA: 3.94
K%: 19.8%
BB%: 6.7%

ERA: 3.87
K%: 19.5%
BB%: 4.9%

The projections are fairly close. Additionally, Tanaka is going to pitch half his games in a home run hitter’s paradise (home run stadium factor: 110) with most of his games against the loaded AL East. Santana on the other hand will pitch in great pitcher’s park in the weak NL East (home run park factor of 97).

7. Carlos Quentin will play in a career best 132 games in 2014. Here are the number of games he has played over the past 4 seasons.

Season: Games played, DL days.
2010: 131
2011: 118
2012: 86
2013: 82

He has to buck the tend at some point ….. right?

8. All three of Jose Fernandez (33), Michael Wacha (92), Gerrit Cole (91) will under-perform their average draft position.  I just think this group is getting too much helium. Regression, inning limits, injuries, and the league adjusting to them will hamper their production.

9. Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez will spend less than 50 days combined on the DL. No thought process here. I am going off my gut with this one. Since I have been living off a steady diet of burritos and beer the last few days, it is probably not one of my better gut feelings.

10. One RotoGraphs writer will get half of their BOLD predictions correct. Someone will breakout and have a career year.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

40 Responses to “Jeff Zimmerman’s 10 Bold Predictions”

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  1. zurzles says:

    So that’s the 87th bold prediction predicting the plight of Billy Hamilton. Perhaps it’s not that bold a stance to take?

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  2. yosoyfiesta says:

    These are bold predictions, so you can’t criticize them really, but a thought which counters #8; Jose Fernandez didn’t start strong and get weaker when teams saw him a second time, he started strong and in the second half pitched like a top 5 pitcher in the game. If he’s started strong and tailed off, I’d think it would be more likely. I know this argument lacked numbers, but I just don’t see where the big regression comes from.

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    • benagain123 says:

      how can Ervin > Tanaka be bold if they have identical steamer projs

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      • Detroit Michael says:

        Per the NFBC ADP test reports, Tanaka is averaging pick 110 and Santana is averaging pick 280. I don’t really care about the semantic debate about whether the prediction is bold. Jeff’s opinion that Santana will do better is worth noting.

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  3. jim says:

    So, you’re predicting the Rockies to be at least a wild card team, basically

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  4. Atreyu Jones says:

    Would you really consider VMart a top X catcher if he doesn’t gain eligibility until late July?

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    • benagain123 says:

      he means when looking at the endof year outcomes

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      • Atreyu Jones says:

        Yes, but if he was only eligible for C for 1/3 of the season, it would be weird to use his stats from the other 2/3 of the season when placing him on a list of catchers.

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    • OBlock says:

      Think H2H leagues, by the end of the season he’ll have eligibility and will be a top 3 option. I’m not sure whether I agree even if he gains eligibility.

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  5. Sandy Kazmir says:

    Ha, classic Zimmdog!

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  6. sdcarp says:

    Yeah – if #9 comes true, coupled with the Braves and DBacks pitching injuries, the Reds ineffective offseason, and some Pirate regression……it would make the Rox a WC contender.

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  7. yaboynate says:

    What if no other writer gets half correct and you get 4 correct from predictions 1-9? Do you count #10 as correct, thus fulfilling the requirement to count #10 as correct?

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  8. Jon L. says:

    There are a lot of little typos of here, and lots of predictions that would portend badly for my fantasy team and real-life loyalties. I’m just going to assume apparent instances of the latter are merely more instances of the former.

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  9. AJ says:

    Think I’m on board with almost all of these

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  10. Menthol says:

    I think #9 is *really* bold. And if it comes true, then I really screwed up my draft yesterday.

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  11. Macamadamia says:

    No love for Miggy C. this year despite everyone licking his lollipop 24/7 for the past 2 seasons. He has more or less no injury history prior to last year, so I don’t get why a lot of people suddenly expect him to fall off a cliff, production-wise. Is it more related to Prince leaving?

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    • Feeding the Abscess says:

      He’s portly, is 31, and had lingering injuries that required surgery last season.

      Pujols started his decline at 31, for reference.

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      • jim says:

        cabrera was better in 2013 than pujols ever was, for reference

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      • ms says:

        Pujols has 7 seasons with more WAR than the 7.6 Cabrera had last year, for reference

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      • Anthony says:

        Cabrera’s best year would only be Pujols’ 6th or 7th best year…so no.

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      • Macamadamia says:

        I get that he is rotund and was injured last year, but he had basically played at least 157 games in every season before last year, and while I know he was slowed by injury at the end of the season, he still played 148. Also, last season he was talked about as being young at 30 and in his prime, but now he’s old at 31?

        I could also certainly see a dropoff coming since he has been so awesome the past 2 years, but in August last year he was being called one of the greatest righty hitters ever and in a league with Aaron, Dimaggio, and Hornsby (granted, it was ESPN, but at least it was J. Stark). It just seems like a pretty abrupt change of heart from quite a few writers. I was really wondering if the loss of Fielder hitting near him in the lineup was the main reason.

        Also, for the Pujols discussion below, wRC+ might be the best metric to measure hitting impact only, and using that, Cabrera was better last year than Pujols’ best years (192 vs 184). WAR takes baserunning and defense into account, where Pujols is clearly superior, but it makes it more of a complicated comparison.

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    • agam22 says:

      I don’t think it would require falling off a cliff for Cabrera to finish third, which would still make the prediction true. The prediction is basically that one of Gonzalez, Braun, McCutchen, or Goldschmidt will have a better year, and I don’t think its disrespecting Cabrera to say he falls off enough at 31 to make that happen.

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  12. Cookierojas16 says:

    These seem both bold and plausible. Well done.

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  13. DavidJ says:

    I don’t think #1 is bold enough. Miggy could have a typical Miggy year and still finish third if Trout does his thing and just one other guy has a monster, over-his-head season. “Miguel Cabrera won’t return first-round value” would be closer to bold.

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  14. Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

    Bold Predictions have no place in smart fantasy baseball coverage, just like facts don’t have a place within Bold Predictions.

    It’s modestly annoying when RotoGraphs is taken over by this Bold Predictions series, and right when good fantasy baseball coverage is most precious, but the strange cherry-picking of facts and ideas within these Bold Predictions is annoying at a whole other level. Five of the ten speculate about injuries, and with nothing like consistency in thinking.

    People will think this is me outing myself as a Jeter fan/apologist (I am not) but I don’t know what about missing 20 days, 0 days, and 172 days over three respective seasons equals “not being able to stay on the field.” We’re talking about a player that led baseball in plate appearances in two of the last four seasons, and scored another 600+ in one of the two remaining seasons. Jeter missed most of one season with injury. That’s nothing like being injury-prone. (… that so-called injury proneness is not a big deal in fantasy is another subject, and one … )

    Screw it. I’ll write the analysis myself. Community Research, I’ll see you Thursday–maybe Friday.

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  15. Baltic Fox Has Cold Paws says:

    Aw, Jeff. I’m such a big fan of yours I was hoping for true boldness.

    Miggy not finishing a top two fantasy player? Big deal. There are so many candidates to have that one truly great season that they never duplicate again; why is that so hard to imagine? Now if you had said: “Won’t finish in the top five,” that would turn my head.

    Santana and Tanaka. As Jeff and his colleagues have taken pains to point out a number of times, Santana is no longer the fly ball pitcher he used to be. And apart from the Nats, he’ll be pitching in a division with teams that have uninspiring lineups.

    Meanwhile, Tanaka will be pitching in park that absolutely punishes fly balls. That splitter of Tanaka’s better have supernatural qualities.

    Now: kudos for the Rockies prediction. If Tulo alone doesn’t spend 30 days on the DL, I’ll eat my virtual hat. (Full disclosure: beer and burritos haven’t been part of my diet for a while. Not quite sure if I should regret or rejoice.)

    The Quentin prediction is pretty bold too. Let’s see what happens when Greinke hits him with a pitch again and this time the catcher gets to him before he gets to Greinke. Quentin likes to crowd the plate, so I don’t think I need to visit the local gyspsy to read a crystal ball that a brawl is likely a part of any of his seasons.

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  16. mattsd says:

    #3 and #7 use the exact same facts to reach opposite conclusions

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  17. wasabibean says:

    So, what happens if you get 4 correct predictions? Does #10 become self-fulfilling?

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  18. cs3 says:

    How is #1 in any way bold?
    You are basically taking the field over Miggy, which doesn’t seem bold at all.

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    • Triteon says:

      Exactly. Even at his best, Tiger Woods lost more tournaments than he won. In a large sample, bet the field every time.

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  19. Roto Wizard says:

    Number 9 is by far the most bold prediction any one has had so far. As in it is the least likely to come to fruition. How much it really effects the fantasy landscape is something else entirely.

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  20. buddyglass says:

    Re: Hamilton. The lowest # of hits for a qualified player in 2013 was 80, by Dan Uggla, who played in 136 games. If one supposes Hamilton keeps his job all year and avoids injury, he’s looking at ~150 games, which, if his hit rate is comparable to Uggla’s, would give him 88 hits. So JZ is predicting 88+ steals (give or take) for a full-season Hamilton.

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