Brad Johnson’s 10 Bold Predictions

Fantastic news folks, it’s Bold Prediction season. The premise is simple – we make 10 aggressive, fantasy-related predictions about specific players. Then, in the comments, you tell us they aren’t bold enough. Shall we?

1. Socrates Brito will be a top 60 outfielder

I was ready to go all in on Aaron Altherr this season, but he broke his wrist. Luckily (for me), Brito has been turning heads in the Diamondbacks camp. He has the tough job of beating out big money Cuban Yasmany Tomas, but I have little doubt Brito is the better overall talent. The potential for plus-plus defense, above average base running, and a league average bat easily exceeds Tomas at his best.

While Brito isn’t a finished product at the plate, I’m predicting a decent batting average to go with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases. I see him as a poor man’s Christian Yelich.

2. Tony Zych will save 10 games

Carter Capps was the breakout pitching star of 2015. And had his elbow remained healthy, I would have boldly predicted him to be the best reliever in all of baseballdom. Zych saving 10 games isn’t nearly as flashy.

Zych engenders quite a few “who” responses when he’s drafted – even among industry insiders. He has the best stuff in the Mariners bullpen, but he also only has 18 innings of major league experience. Steve Cishek and Joaquin Benoit have the closer and primary setup roles on lock down. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where a third closer is needed.

3. Nomar Mazara will be the most productive rookie eligible player

When it comes to guys with no major league experience, the smart money for best fantasy player goes to Mazara, A.J. Reed, or (perhaps) Jose Berrios. However, for this prediction to be true, Mazara has to outperform some players who were already good against major league talent – namely Corey Seager and Steven Matz.

Mazara has one of the prettiest left-handed swings I’ve seen in awhile. While he won’t make the club out of Spring Training, the Rangers are giving him a nice long look. So far, he’s 11-for-20 with a double and a home run. He projects to be a high average hitter with plenty of game power. Alas, he’s not a runner which hurts his fantasy upside. Think of him as a better, left-handed Stephen Piscotty.

4. Jesse Winker and Phillip Ervin give Reds fans hope

The Reds outfield is a mess. One or more of Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall, Yorman Rodriguez, and Jose Peraza could carve out a starting role in the majors. It’s possible. To me, that quartet looks like a confederacy of fourth outfielders. Once Jay Bruce is gone, it only gets worse.

Enter Winker and Ervin. Everybody knows about Winker because he’s consistently succeeded throughout his minor league career with fantastic plate discipline. He’s arguably their top prospect. Ervin has more swing-and-miss to his game, but he’s a patient hitter like Winker. He does need to make adjustments at the plate in order to reach his ceiling. He has an exciting power and speed combination that will play beautifully with the Reds home park and aggressive ways on the base paths.

Fantasy owners don’t care if Reds fans have hope. They just want guys with power taking turns at the plate in Great American Band Box.

5. Michael Brantley will be a top 10 outfielder

Some people didn’t believe in Brantley’s breakout 2014 season. When he mostly repeated it while suffering through a back injury in 2015, the bandwagon filled up. Now, one of the wheels fell off the wagon. Everybody is hedging their bets while Brantley heals.

Reports have him on track for a possible April return. Early May looks very doable. Once safely ensconced in the middle of the Indians lineup, Brantley need only stay healthy to provide massive five category value to his fantasy constituents.

6. Victor Martinez hits 25 home runs

Old man VMart hit an impressive 32 home runs in 2014. Then injuries (once again) derailed his 2015 season. He’s looking healthy in camp which has me modestly hopeful he can tap into his power stroke. Then again, 2014 was an unusual outlier. He’s injured more often than not, making this prediction both unexciting and bold.

7. Dallas Keuchel proves he’s Cliff Lee 2.0

I’m one of Keuchel’s biggest supporters despite that I can never quite land him in auction drafts. He has the classic Lee skill set with even softer contact induced. This year, he’ll maintain a below average BABIP thanks to that low hard hit rate. His superb command ensures continued success with strikeouts and walks. Although he won’t exceed a strikeout per inning, he has a higher floor than many 10.00 K/9 starters.

8. Mike Trout will steal 30 bases

Trout is talking about running more. The last time he talked about a weakness, he went from not so good against high fastballs to an unbeatable monster. All of you fools thinking about Bryce Harper ahead of Trout will be kicking yourselves.

9. Maikel Franco will channel Edwin Encarnacion

The Phillies top position player will have an MVP caliber season – if he was on an actual contending team. I’m talking 30 or more home runs, a solid batting average, and plenty of run production. Encarnacion thrives with a high walk rate and low strikeout rate. Franco will do the same this season.

10. Jimmy Rollins outperforms Corey Seager

You wanted bold? I have some bold right here. Seager ousted Rollins late last season. I’m calling on Rollins to have his revenge.

Nobody is drafting Rollins – and for good reason. The White Sox are talking about him sharing time with Tyler Saladino. There’s obviously something they see in Saladino that the rest of the industry is missing.

Rollins is entering a good situation. His new home stadium will help he’s middling power play up to it’s peak potential. Rollins is going to hit for a low average, but he can make up for it with 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and decent run production. I mean, he probably won’t do any of those things – he just has the physical ability to reach those upsides. And he’ll need to if he wants to be more valuable than Seager.

You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

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6 years ago

Trout did say he was going to run more last year too.

6 years ago
Reply to  OutOfTheBox

Yep. And he started out well last year, stealing 7 bases without getting caught once by early May. Then he got caught on his next three attempts, and the running mostly stopped.

I think it’s a very safe prediction he will begin this season stealing more, but whether it continues will depend on how successful he is.

On the subject of Trout, he has gone his first 23 PA in spring training without a K. The longest such streak in his entire career in the RS is 25 in June 2014, and he had another streak of 24 in June 2012. And only one other streak of more than twenty. Is this a chance affair, or will we see a significant drop in his K-rate this year?