Bret’s Eleven Bold Predictions for 2014
In what’s now becoming a yearly tradition at The Dynasty Guru, the writers here have been (and will be) putting their boldest predictions out there as they relate both to the major leagues and minors. And for completeness, here were my predictions from last year, and then my review of these same predictions from the end of the season. They’re fun pieces and at this point you know exactly what to get out of them. They also don’t need any longer of an intro than this. Let’s have some fun–and yes, these go to eleven.
1) Albert Pujols will be a top-3 fantasy first baseman in 2014, only behind Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt.
The blessing and the curse about writing a lot during the off-season is that you already know who my guys are–and Pujols is clearly one of my guys heading into 2014. He’s healthy and ready to remind people that it wasn’t too long ago that he was considered one of the best hitters in the game. I believe that Spring Training stats mean as little as anyone else, but one thing I did notice this weekend was that Pujols hit a triple on Sunday and just the fact that he felt good enough to stretch it in a meaningless game is noteworthy.
2) Addison Russell will get more major league at bats in 2014 than Oscar Taveras.
I’m very bullish on Taveras long-term, but we’ve talked about the crowd of players in St Louis that will have an effect on many players for 2014. Between the slow recovery from the ankle injury and the continued presence of Matt Adams, Taveras may end up with somewhere between 200 and 300 plate appearances this season. On the other hand, the A’s are starting some combination of Eric Sogard, Alberto Callaspo and Jed Lowrie (when he’s not playing SS or hurt) at second base, and Russell is advanced enough to be ready come June or July.
3) Tony Cingrani will end up in the Reds’ bullpen. Before the All-Star Break.
It doesn’t make me happy to constantly be crapping on everyone’s Cingrani parade, but I really just don’t see this working all that well. The deception is going to run out when the league has seen him and he’s going to need to figure out how to throw secondary pitches for strikes, or else hitters are just going to completely ignore them and load up on his low-90’s fastball. And it won’t be for Robert Stephenson either..
4) Alex Gordon hits triple-digits in both counting stat categories.
Gordon was the frontrunner in my column last year, but just because I wasn’t right then doesn’t mean I won’t be now (I probably won’t be). Regardless, I think he stays in the number three spot almost all year for the Royals and becomes one of the handful of players to accumulate 100 runs and 100 RBI. Anecdotally, we think this happens more often than it really does–especially since we’ve come out of the expansion era–but only four players accomplished this last year (Goldschmidt, Crush, Adam Jones and Miggy).
5) Andrew Cashner throws 200 innings and finishes the season as a top-10 starting pitcher.
The stuff has rarely been questioned with Cashner, though the durability sure has. Though to his credit last season, he threw 175 innings–and that was with being a member of the bullpen for the first three weeks. The Padres are certainly going to need him, especially with Josh Johnson being hurt already, but so long as he doesn’t get stabbed again by one of his friends, it’ll at least be a better start than 2013.
6) Tyler Skaggs will be more valuable in 5×5 leagues than Jered Weaver in 2014.
With Skaggs seeing velocity return this spring, I like him to take a nice step forward when the games matter–especially pitching in front of that outfield defense in that park. On the other hand, at some point there is going to be a velocity decline which renders Jered Weaver’s deception useless, and I fear we’re getting to that point now. If you’re trying to get Skaggs on your dynasty league roster, you probably have about another month or so to go before his value returns to that of his prospect days.
7) R.A. Dickey will finish the season as a top-20 starter.
This would certainly not have been a bold prediction for last year, but he didn’t exactly prove the non-believers wrong in 2013 after being a surprising Cy Young Award winner in 2012. Dickey pitched much better in the second half after moving past back/neck troubles and regaining the velocity on his hard knuckler. I like his chances at putting up a sub-3.50 ERA, sub-1.20 WHIP and 180 strikeouts–and the ratios come at added value because he still led the American League in innings last season.
8) Jose Abreu outperforms Freddie Freeman in 5×5 leagues this season.
I’m not sold on Freeman as either a .300 hitter or a 25-homer guy, but this is more because I think Abreu will perform well in his initial run in the majors. Also, the White Sox lineup on the way up with Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia being able to produce in the outfield and the Braves’ lineup is on the way down without Brian McCann and this incarnation of B.J. Upton.
9) Yan Gomes will neither hit .250 nor get to 10 homers.
Like you thought I wasn’t going to go here. I think his performance with the bat was a fluke in 2013 and will get exposed in near full-time play. The only reason he’ll keep a job for most of the season is because his defense is better than Ryan Raburn’s bat against right-handed pitching–which is really damning with faint praise.
10) Derek Norris will hit 20 homers and steal 10 bases.
If I had a dollar for every year I’ve said THIS is going to be the year that Norris notches 450 at bats and proves to everyone that he’s not just a miscast platoon bat, I’d be wealthier than I currently am. But still, THIS is the year. I just don’t see the A’s either being able to swallow Stephen Vogt’s offense or John Jaso’s defense behind the plate in large doses. Norris combines the two skills in a way that no one else in the organization does, and this would make him an easy top-5 option in all leagues (especially OBP ones).
11) Sean Manaea will begin the 2015 season as the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball.
This holds true for both real-life and fantasy, and includes long-presumed number one overall pick Carlos Rodon (who may not be so presumed anymore). Manaea was a legitimate top-five possibility after he dominated on the Cape, but an injury-riddled junior season at Indiana State (and high contract demands) dropped him to the supplemental round, where the Royals pounced on him. Healthy now, expect him to take a huge step forward and end the season with at least 10 starts at Double-A (but not after I get to see him in Wilmington..)
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