Ben Duronio’s 10 Bold Predictions

1. Marcus Semien will be a top ten shortstop

I lauded Semien last year and he struggled to start out the year and could not find the playing time at any infield position. In a new city and starting the year as the A’s shortstop, I like Semien to replicate his ZiPS projection of 16 homers and 12 steals. His average may not suffice, but he takes enough walks to be even more valuable in OBP leagues.

2. Travis d’Arnaud hits 20 home runs

The thought of 20 homers sounds kind of crazy with d’Arnaud, but he hit 19 across two levels last year and he had a .174 ISO last season. His defense is shaky and Kevin Plawecki is not far from pushing him if his defensive output worsens, but if he is given a full season of plate appearances he has the power to hit 20 plus.

3. Brian Dozier goes 20-20 again

This may be slightly less bold, but going 20-20 in back to back seasons is not exactly common. Dozier benefited from essentially full health that allowed him to step to the plate 700 times last season and he only barely made the mark. Even so, Dozier is at the peak of his career and his walk rate gets him on base enough to steal as frequent as he did last season.

4. Michael Pineda is a top 20 pitcher
Pineda has been around so long now that it is easy to forget that he is still just 26-years-old. He has battled a mess of injuries since joining the Yankees but health has been his only issue. When on the mound, Pineda was very impressive in his rookie year and was excellent in his 13 starts last season. I am betting on the 26-year-old to stay healthy this year (the odds are against me), and if he is then I think he continues to dominate.
5. Craig Kimbrel will not be a top five closer
Make no mistakes, I love Kimbrel and am drafting him as early as anyone will be in almost all formats. Even so, Kimbrel;’s been a model of health throughout his career, which is no guarantee to carry forward. One short disabled list stint and with all the talent in the ninth inning around baseball, Kimbrel falls out of the top-5. Also keep in mind that his walk rate was higher last year than it has been in any of his first four seasons.
6. Rougned Odor goes 20-10
My favorite thing to see this year was ZiPS comping Odor (at his age) to Robinson Cano (at Odor’s age). Odor’s smooth left-handed power coupled with playing in a very nice park that allowed him to hit nine homers in 114 games last season gives me confidence in his home run ability. While he had an awful stolen base rate, with more comfort at the major league level I think the Rangers will have him pick his spots better and be more effective on the bases as well.
7. Brad Miller is a top 10 shortstop

I will start this off by saying I was hopeful that Chris Taylor would beat out Miller for the shortstop role in Seattle (I own Taylor in a dynasty league). Both of these young shortstops are impressive and can handle both sides of the ball with at least average quality. Miller struggled offensively last year but I think he gets off to a hot start and combines enough homers and steals to surprise people this season. The Mariner offense will be better also, allowing him to reach reasonable run and RBI totals.

8. A.J. Pollock is a top 15 outfielder

The injury bug hit him last year and he has actually never compiled more than 10 home runs in any single professional season, but I still like Pollock to continue his development and become a top tier outfielder this year. I do not love his plate skills, but his power and speed combination along with a steady swing in a great ballpark should allow his average, homers, and runs scored to be impressive atop the Diamondbacks lineup. Add that to his 26-6 stolen base to caught ratio over the past two seasons and I believe we get something like a .290 average, 17 homers, 100 runs, 70 RBI, 30 steal season.

9. Alex Wood will be a top-10 starter
He had a dynamite 171.2 innings last season split between the bullpen and rotation, and he is certainly a hot commodity on draft day this spring. I think he will out produce his ADP this season, mostly due to my feelings that his home run rate last year was inflated. While much of it was in the minors, Wood allowed just five home runs in a similar amount of innings as the 16 he allowed last season. With his sinking fastball and high ground ball rate, I do not expect him to allow as many homers, and he should continue to post high strikeout rates due to his deceptive delivery and knockout changeup.
10. David Wright gets reborn and hits 20 home runs
It was just a season before last that Wright was tearing the cover of the ball to the tune of a 156 wRC+ (his highest ever). Granted, injuries shortened his season in 2013 and his return last year was the worst offensive year of his career. The Mets should be in contention this year and they will need Wright to perform to contend. This is not statistically backed, but I think Wright will come back to life at age-32 and produce a vintage Wright season that includes 20 long balls.

Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

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tommy tom
tommy tom

gotta say…loving the formatting of this page.