Bold Predictions: Dynasty League Edition
With the presidential primaries in full swing this week in my home state of New York, the gravity of this election has finally begun to sink in. In less than a year, we will make history when/if one of the remaining front-runners is elected president. Hillary Clinton would be our first female president. Donald Trump would be our first realty-TV-star-turned-president president. Bernie Sanders would be the first self-proclaimed democratic socialist to be elected president. And Ted Cruz would be our first Canadian president. America loves being first. We were the first to punch King George right in the kisser. We were the first country to put a man on the moon. And we were the first to put cheese inside of a pizza crust. We have many fine accomplishments on our resume, which got me thinking: what kind of firsts can we expect from America’s pastime over the next decade?
What follows is my list of firsts, a collection of bold predictions for dynasty baseball leagues. This list is a bit of a departure from my previous entries in that it A. emulates our democratic process by only partially relying on fact and reason, and B. gives me license to make wild and sometimes unsubstantiated predictions. This is about as hot-takey as I get. So sit back, crack a beer, and join me as I take a break from combing through datasets and mail in this week’s TDG submission.
David Ortiz becomes the first 40-year-old to hit 40 homeruns
Big Papi has defied Father Time, and he has successfully maintained his elite plate discipline and power stroke through his age-39 season. He’s off to another promising start this year, demonstrating the same skills that have made him one of the premier sluggers in our game for nearly a decade and a half now. Even if he doesn’t hit the 40 homerun benchmark, he will certainly contribute elite production nonetheless. He presents a unique opportunity for dynasty league owners, as his impending retirement has likely suppressed his value in long-term keeper leagues, making him a more affordable option than some of the other stars you might try to acquire to propel your team to a championship. He’s a great option for teams that are trying to contend this year without mortgaging the future.
Bryce Harper becomes the first player to break Barry Bonds’ single-season homerun record
Bryce Harper is making baseball fun again. He’s done so much winning over the past year that he’s probably getting tired of it by now. But I’m willing to wager that he keeps on winning anyway just for the hell of it, and becomes the first player to hit 74 homeruns in a season. He’s already put together a Bondsian season before his 23rd birthday, and he’s off to a ridiculous start in 2016, hitting seven homeruns in only 13 games. That’s an 86 homerun pace. Will he keep it up? It’s about as likely that you’ll be able to trade for him in a dynasty league. But considering his age, Bryce should have roughly 10 seasons to get it done, and I like those odds.
Anderson Espinoza becomes the first rookie to win the Cy Young award since Fernando Valenzuela
Perhaps the longest odds of all of my bold predictions, even if Espinoza develops into an ace, he’ll need to take the league by storm in order for this one to come to fruition. As a 17-year-old, he struck out 65 over 58 innings between rookie and full-season A ball, and did so with great stuff and an advanced feel for pitching. He is beginning 2016 where he left off at Salem, and has a 0.87 whip and 16 strikeouts to just two walks over three starts. These are all incredibly small samples at the lowest levels of the minor leagues, but the numbers are backing up what the scouts have been saying since he burst onto the scene last year. If he remains in the Boston market (sorry Sandoval, not that one), and the skills translate to the Bigs, I could very easily see the writers handing him the award. Because if there’s one thing Americans like better than being first, it’s romanticizing about baseball. The take-away here is that I really, really like Anderson Espinoza, and even with my aversion to investing in arms, I’d be trying to acquire him in every league possible.
Noah Syndergaard becomes the first pitcher to win multiple NL MVP awards
Kershaw might seem like the safer bet for this prediction, since he’s already halfway to the finish line. However, he just turned 28, and has accrued 1,633 innings over his nine-year career. I think he will still be a top-tier pitcher moving forward, just not the other-worldly pitcher we saw over the past few seasons, which is what it takes for a pitcher to earn MVP honors. Speaking of other-worldly, the man known as Thor is just 23 years old, and has already demonstrated the type of stuff that could translate into 300 strike-out seasons. He’s throwing 95 mph sliders. It’s just not fair, and even if his arm falls off, he’ll probably just grow another one using a lock of his golden hair. He’s quickly shooting up the starting pitcher rankings, so if you want to acquire him, you’ll need to act fast. What seems like an over-pay today may not look nearly as bad tomorrow.
Victor Robles becomes the first player to hit 20 homeruns and steal 80 bases in a season since Rickey Henderson and Eric Davis accomplished the feat in 1986
Buxton may be the more obvious choice here, but I like the combination of Robles’ hit tool and plate discipline to give him plenty of opportunities to get on base and show off his excellent speed. The power hasn’t translated to big home run numbers yet, but he has posted impressive isolated power numbers in his short career, albeit in the low minors. At 18, he’s got plenty of time to fill out, and if those doubles and triples start clearing the fence, I see no reason why he can’t develop into a superstar. He is another player that I am targeting in all dynasty leagues.
Eric Erhardt is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to The Dynasty Guru
I’m so confident in this prediction, I’ve already been fitted for my outfit for the awards ceremony.