We’re under a week away from the start of the regular season and we still have bold predictions to discuss, today with our prospect expert Nic Gardiner taking the spotlight.
1. Gregory Polanco ends the year a top 15 hitter
Gregory Polanco was hitting the cover off the ball during the first half of 2016. Through his first 92 games, he had a .287/.361/.506/.867 with a .328 BABIP Line. In the last 52 games, his line was .206/.249/.386/.635 with a .225 BABIP Line. His career BABIP is .298, so he was extremely unlucky in the second half. His ISO has improved every year and was .205 last year. He has worked extremely hard on his conditioning this winter and looks huge. I was scared that it might take away from the SB department but he has already swiped 3 bags in only 13 At Bats this spring. 30 HRs and 20 SB is a legit possibility.
2. Matt Moore ends the year in the top 15 for Starting Pitchers
No Yankee Stadium, No Mookie Betts, No Xander Bogaerts, No Josh Donaldson, No Jose Bautista, No Mark Trumbo, No Designated Hitter, No AL East……Sign me up. Moving from Tampa to SF his FIP dropped nearly 1 run, his K/9 went from 7.5 to 9.1 and HR/9 went from 1.4 to 0.7 after the move. His win percentage went from 33% to 50% He could win 15+ Games in 2017 and strike out 200+ batters if he stays healthy for the entire year. Matt Moore in 2017 is the guy we thought he would be.
3. Matt Bush is a top 10 RP
Jeremy Jeffress and Matt Bush are the best relief pitchers in the Rangers bullpen but Sam Dyson is the closer. Jeffress had some off field issues and will need to reprove himself to Jeff Bannister. Bush is having a pretty good spring training with 3 IP, 3 Strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, and a 0.33 WHIP. I think Bush steals the job from Dyson mid way through the year and ends the year with 20+ saves and an ERA + WHIP among the Elites.
4. Miguel Sano leads the league in Homeruns in 2017
Vegas has Miguel Sano’s Over/Under on Home runs at 29.5, I’m taking the Over. Miguel does a good job working the count and drew a walk in 11% of his plate appearances however he had a bad split when hes ahead of the count vs battling back. He was ahead of the count in 109 of his 437 ABs, he had 16 HRs and 107 Total Bases. Thats an absurd SLG % of .982%. Now he needs to do better to get the count in his favor but when he sees his pitch, he crushes it. Thats why Miguel Sano will hit 45+ Bombs in 2017 and lead the league in the category. With Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, and Joe Mauer batting in front of him, Sano could rake in 110 RBI’s on a much improved Twins team. His avg will be low but he will put up top hitter numbers for a mid round draft pick.
5. Cameron Rupp out performs Gary Sanchez and Wilson Contreras
Cameron Rupp should be the starter coming out of spring training and has 20-25 HR potential. Rupp could be in the middle of that Phillies line up that should be better in 2017 as a number of young players have another year of development. Rupp should get plenty of chances to get knock the hitters in and could end up with top 5 in each of Runs, RBIs, and HRs. On the flip side, Wilson Contreras might not get 400 ABs in 2017, he’s a guy I’m avoiding in redraft leagues. Gary Sanchez looks damn good and could be he #1 catcher but this is Bold predictions so maybe the sophomore slump gets him.
6. JT Realmuto is the fantasy #1 catcher
Marlins could have JT Realmuto splitting time at 1B, which should help get him some extra at bats. He could lead the catchers in AVG and SB and if he gets those extra ABs he could be near the top in runs and RBIs. Marlins could move him up in the line up, possibly in a premium spot, 2nd 3rd or maybe 5th. He’s a guy I’d target in the draft.
7. Brendan Rodgers is traded mid-season
Colorado has an awesome line up that doesn’t have many holes, even their catcher can hit 20 HRs. I think Colorado could be in the mix a playoff spot come July and could make a move for starting pitching. With Trevor Story and DJ LeMahieu up the middle the Rockies could part with Brendan Rodgers. It is not unprecedented to deal a top prospect as we saw a couple move this offseason. The Rockies will need more starting pitching to compete and Rodgers could move to acquire them.
8. Jurickson Profar ends the year the #1 player for the Texas Rangers
As a Rangers Fan, I’m a bit disappointed the Rangers signed Rougned Odor to an extension because we have a very capable player that could be the future second baseman for years to come in Jurickson Profar. He missed two seasons but came back in 2016 and performed quite well in the first half of the year with a hitting line of .323/.363/.465/.828. He will be a super utility player that can play CF, LF, 3B, SS, 2B, and 1B for the Rangers. If he hits, Bannister will find him at bats as he looks to rest some of the aging players more. There is so many question marks with the Rangers team, that Profar could end up the most valuable players by the end of the year.
9. Luken Baker, TCU, wins Golden Spikes Award
Luken Baker was a 2015 first rounder until he told all the MLB teams he would honor his commitment to TCU. The two way athlete settled into the middle of the lineup his freshman year and helped lead TCU to the college world series with a .379/.483/.577/1.060 line with 11 HRs and 62 RBIs in 67 games. He also pitched 47.2 Innings and had a 1.70 ERA. He was a big reason why TCU came into the year the preseason #1 and he has continued his tear through the first 16 games of the year. He has a .333/.500/.627/1.127 line with 4 HRs and 14 RBIs so far as TCU has won 12 of their first 16. Luken Baker is my pick for the Golden Spikes Award and could end up being a top 5 pick in the 2018 draft.
10. The Colorado Rockies become the 2nd team in 15 years with 1800 runs
In 2008 the Texas Rangers scored 901 runs but allowed 967. They ended the year with 1858 runs in their 162 game season. Hitting the 1800 plateau has only occurred 19 times since 1950 with the majority coming during the Steroid Era, 17 times between 1996 and 2001. The Rockies are tied with the Rangers, each have 5 teams featured on the list. A young, unproven rotation along with a deep line up could mean the Colorado Rockies edge the Rangers as sole possession of most 1800 run seasons.