Bold Luke’s 11 Bold Predictions about Bold Baseball Players. Bold.
1. Jose Abreu goes off for 40+ HRs/100+ RBIs
He didn’t destroy Cuba because he is bad. He destroyed Cuba because he is really good and he wasn’t allowed to play anywhere else. Probably the best Cuban to compare Abreu to is Kendry Morales and Abreu blew Morales’ Cuban numbers out of the water. So assuming Abreu is better his base line should be set at 34 HRs, 40 is going to be easily reachable.
2. Danny Salazar put up 200+ Ks.
Health is what matters here but Salazar is ready to go at elite an MLB level. WIth over 144 innings last year he can easily push that number up to 175+ this year and with his astronomical K-rate that should put him damn close to 200. Additionally, it looks like the Indians will at least be fighting for a WC bid in 2014 and I can see them pushing Salazar beyond 175 if he looks good and they need his arm. The good news is that even if he only gives you 150 IPs he’ll still be valuable in any league.
3. Maikel Franco hits 20+ HRs in the majors
Cody Asche… I’m not sure what else to say here, Franco is far and away superior to Asche and should overtake the MLB job in May. When he does he’s going to come out mashing.
4. Gregory Polanco puts up 10 HRs/25 SBs in the majors
Polanco is absolute physical specimen and once the Tabata/Snider show gets traded or totally collapses it’ll be his gig for a long time. Expect a mid-May call up alongside 10 HRs and 25 SBs. The Pirates OF of Polanco/Marte/McCutchen is going to be pretty good both offensively and defensively.
Which brings me to Gerrit Cole…
5. Gerrit Cole + Stephen Strasburg are in the top 3 for NL Cy-Young
Predicting anyone but Kershaw for the Cy Young seems silly, but both of these guys are about to put it all together. With Stras it’s a matter of staying healthy and for Cole it’s about replicating and improving on his 2nd half. The pirates know what they are doing when it comes to SPs and defensive shifts and look to have one of the best OF defenses in the league, put that alongside Cole’s high Ks, low BBs and 50% GB rate and you’ve got yourself a star.
6. Danny Farquhar, Pedro Strop and Tyler Clippard all lead their teams in SVs and be elite closer options heading into 2015
I don’t trust Fernando Rodney and he’s also 37 years old. The Cubs are going to deal everyone who has any value, meaning Jose Veras gets dealt and Rafael Soriano’s arm will just fall off. Farquhard, Strop and Clippard all could carry 10+ K/9 rates in 2014 are relatively young and have just enough experience for their respective managers to trust them in the 9th inning. Grab and stash as many as you can.
7. Ryan Kalish Becomes fantasy relevant in May
I’ve loved Kalsih ever since Bill James projected him for a 20 HR/30 SB rookie season. Unfortunately injuries derailed his career but the projection underlies the type of talent that Kalish possesses. The Cubs also believe in him, as seen by the fact that he’ll be on the opening day roster, and since they are most likely going to trade everyone older than 29 with a pulse you’ve got yourself a lovely post-hype sleeper who, at 25, is ready to contribute at the MLB level.
8. Prince Fielder falls out of the top 10 1B
Something has to give, Fielder turns 30 in May and he’s been in decline for the last 3 years capping his downward trend with a poor, for him, 2013 where he put up career lows in HRs, OBP and Runs. Maybe his divorce really caused the decline in his numbers across the board but my intuition is telling me that it probably had more to do with the fact that big bodied 1st basemen age extremely poorly.
9. Yasiel Puig becomes a top 5 player
I know Don Mattingly has had enough of him, I know he drives like he’s being chased by the road runner, I know he came into camp overweight and I know he has nagging shoulder/back injuries going on. But at the end of the day he’s a 23 year old 30 HR/20 SB monster who made his own adjustments at the MLB level after the book came out on him and continued to knock the cover off the ball. He probably can’t hit over .300 for the course of a season, more like .280, but that is really the only knock on his fantasy baseball game.
10. Giancarlo Stanton hits 50 HRs
Stanton was only on pace for 34 HRs last year even before injuries derailed him but 2013 was more of a learning year for Stanton as he tried to figure out how to hit when no one will pitch to you, how to play on a terrible Marlins team and how to handle the possibility of getting traded. Stanton was visibly bothered out of the gate and he limped to a .227 Avg/3 HR April and then immediately got injured. But once back from injury Stanton looked calm and collected, hitting 21 HRs in 3 ½ months worth of games and really understanding how to find his pitch, which led to a career high 14.7 BB%. With the distractions in the past it’s time for Stanton to truly breakout.
11. Ji-Man Choi will make an impact in standard 12 team leagues in 2014
Who?!?!?! One of my favorites hitting prospects in the minors is a little known gentleman by the name of Ji-Man Choi. A long long time ago Choi was a catching prospect with great plate discipline and a plus bat but 2011 happened and Choi’s back fell apart causing him to miss the entire season. Choi came back in 2012 for 66 games and was once again solid with the bat, but now as a first baseman a ‘solid’ bat wasn’t going to get him anywhere. Thankfully 2013 happened and Choi proceeded to hit 18 HRs over 122 games at three minor league levels, topping out in AAA. Choi’s plate discipline remained outstanding and his Avg. was only drug down by some bad BABIP luck. In OBP leagues he’s worth even more as he has the ability to put up a 10% BB rate as soon as he gets to the majors.