As a prospect writer, I’m wrong on the World Wide Web all the time.
“Casey Kelly makes a smart late-round pick this year,” I will write one week before we lose him to injury. “Adam Eaton can grab you 30 cheap steals,” I opine before his elbow acts up. “Devin Mesoraco will be a Top 12 Fantasy catcher this year,” is a sentence linked to my name from 2012.
You have to be willing to look bad sometimes to do this on a regular basis. It’s just the nature of the beast. So when Bret asked if I wanted to make 11 specific predictions about the 2013 season, my reaction was a simple one: how bad could it be?
Here’s what I think will happen as Opening Day nears. This article will self destruct in mid-June.
1. Shelby Miller will win 15 games for the Cardinals this season, to go along with an ERA in the mid-3.00s and 190 strikeouts in 180 innings. The Cardinals are a good team and Miller is a good prospect, so perhaps this isn’t super bold, but when you consider just how good the stat line I offered up is, this prediction should count. He’s really good, even if he’s overshadowed by the likes of Oscar Taveras. In related news, I have Miller in all but one of my redraft leagues this season. Happyface.
2. Eric Hosmer will decide not to crush my dreams and will blossom into one of the better young hitters in the game. He’s not going to hit for a .255 BABIP again, and a 16 K% is perfectly acceptable for someone with 30-homer power. I’m going .270/.355/.515 with 30 homers and 15 steals from Hosmer this season. Please, Eric. I need this. I still have nightmares about Brandon Wood.
3. Mat Latos takes that final step forward this season, putting the Reds on his back and becoming a true ace worth between 4-5 WAR. His strikeout rate creeps back up to close to one batter per inning, his command improves a bit in his age 25 season and he grabs 18 wins for the 2013 NL Central champions. He won’t win the NL Cy Young thanks to the likes of Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, but his name will come up for discussion.
4. The Rays will “fix” Mike Montgomery, and while he’ll never live up to the No. 2 starter upside many saw a few seasons back he will contribute meaningfully to the team in 2013. We’ve seen Matt Moore and Chris Archer quell concerns over their command – or lack thereof – in recent seasons, and they’re trying to do the same now with guys like Enny Romero, Alex Colome and Montgomery. I’m willing to bet that it works here.
5. Jesus Montero will finish as the third-most productive Fantasy catcher in the AL, trailing only Joe Mauer and Mike Napoli. Now that he’s out of New York, likely out of a job as a backstop long-term and has one mediocre year under his belt, Montero is a terrific buy-low candidate in most leagues. I can see Montero ending with a .270 average with 25 homers and 80 RBI pretty easily, and an uptick in average wouldn’t surprise me at all. He’ll only catch 23 games, but in most leagues that gives him eligibility for 2014.
6. The Rangers are going to trade Mike Olt for pitching at the deadline, and it’s a decision that will haunt them as they lack a great option at first base and Adrian Beltre has a tendency to miss games. I fully understand that Olt isn’t the second coming of David Wright, but he’s also going to be a well above-average MLB third baseman for a long time. I’ll take the strikeouts if they come with a 25-homers and excellent defense. I feel the same way about Will Middlebrooks, too.
7. It’s going to be a mixed year for the Mariners’ talented trio of starting prospects. Danny Hultzen will be promoted in June and see a sneaky-good three months in the MLB rotation. He’ll be a popular Fantasy sleeper headed into 2014. Taijuan Walker will struggle early and dominane late, causing some to underrate him a la Shelby Miller this season. He won’t see the majors until 2014, though. And the Mariners will finally bite the bullet on James Paxton, and will convert the talented but inconsistent arm into an erratic but effective set-up man. The 2014 rotation of Felix Hernandez, Hultzen, Walker and Brandon Maurer will be exciting nonetheless.
8. The first prospect who’ll be a part of The Next Competitive Astros team to cement himself in the majors won’t be Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton or George Springer: it will be Jonathan Villar, a man who I consider to be one of the most underrated infield prospects in the game. The average may not be pretty, but Villar is a 15-homer, 30-steal threat over a full season, and I could see him in the majors come July. You want to go bold? He’ll be more valuable to Fantasy owners in the second half of the season than his MI counterpart, Jose Altuve.
9. Jurickson Profar – the best overall prospect in the game – will have only the third-biggest impact of any prospect on the Rangers this year. Leonys Martin will be the most important player, while Martin Perez will hold down the fifth spot in their rotation when he recovers from injury. With Ian Kinsler refusing to move from second base and Elvis Andrus having every right to stay at shortstop, there’s just no room for Profar to see more than 200 PA in 2013. He will loose his rookie eligibility, though, leaving room for Xander Bogaerts to profile as Fantasy’s No. 1 prospect in 2014.
10. You can file this one in the “wishful thinking” department, but Jon Lester will return to form this year, posting an ERA in the mid-3.00s and a K/9 of right around 9. He’ll win 14 games, his homer rate will normalize and he’s going to log 210 innings. Lester is reunited with former pitching coach John Farrell and he’s drawn rave reviews this spring, posting numbers to match. We might not get the explosion from Lester we were all waiting for after his 2010 campaign, but we’re going to get a damn good pitcher and a bargain in Fantasy drafts.
11. Roman Quinn will hit .290 and steal 90 bases. I will spend the offseason investing in avian genetic engineering labs, helping to create the world’s largest crow. This bird will then be prepared by me and served to Bret and Craig as I take their mothers out for nice seafood dinners and never call them back. While I’m out on this dinner, I will get an MLB At Bat update informing me that Tyler Thornburg has just won his 10th game for the Brewers. The subsequent text I receive from Craig will be unprintable.