Chad Young’s 10 Bold Predictions for 2012

Eno dropped his Wednesday morning, and by Wednesday afternoon, Jeff had reported for duty. Howard and Mike joined today.

Now, I add mine.

1) Prince Fielder will have 30 HR or fewer in 2012. As a 22 year old rookie, Fielder cracked 28 HR, but has broken 30 every year since, breaking 40 twice and once touching 50. But not this year. It isn’t just the home park (although that does factor in). The AL Central is just not as hitter-friendly as the NL Central. And the AL is the tougher league in general. Most projections I see have Prince smacking 33-38 HR, but I say he ends up with 30 and no more.

2) Ryan Raburn will be a top 10 2B, perhaps even top 5. I am down on Prince, but not on the man standing next to him on the diamond. When Raburn has played, he has produced. Last year was a down year, but it is hard to figure why. His HR/FB was down, but his LD% was up, his BABIP was not out of line with his career numbers. Given a full season of playing time, 20+ HR is not out of the question (he had 29 over 828 PA the last two years – that comes out to just over 21 if he gets to 600 PA this year), along with perhaps a .280 average. And if he hits in any close proximity to the middle of that order (even 9th) he’ll have some good chances to score or drive in runs.

3) C.J. Wilson will be the ace of the Angels staff. Last year, Dan Haren, Wilson and Jered Weaver were 3-4-5 in WAR among AL SP. Wilson had a better ERA than Haren, but a worse one than Weaver; led the three in Ks; was last among them in WHIP; and tied Haren with 16 wins (behind Weaver with 18). This year, he will lead the trio in ERA, K, and Wins, and close the gap in WHIP, and be the clear most valuable Angels SP in fantasy.

4) Albert Pujols will post a wRC+ north of 170. The artist never known as El Hombre has seen his stats decline four straight years, which makes sense for a guy entering his age 32 season. But this year, the slide stops. A little more rest with some occasional DH time, a friendlier home park, and a good old fashioned bounce back will go a long way.

5) Mike Carp will be the most valuable Mariner player (non-pitching category). Carp will not outshine Felix Hernandez, but will provide a tidy profit to fantasy owners. Jesus Montero will likely be more valuable as a catcher, where applicable, but Carp will provide better overall stats than the former Yankee. Sure, his BABIP was sky-high last year, but the soon-to-be 26-year-old has a solid Triple-A track record and it will show.

6) Gio Gonzalez will get cut in your fantasy league. For two straight years, Gio has outperformed his peripherals, after spectacularly failing to live up to them in 2009. This year, away from the cavernous confines in Oakland, Gio will learn that sometimes you are better off facing a DH than a pitcher when the DH has ten thousand square miles of foul ground to pop out into and nasty Bay Area winds keeping the ball in the yard.

7) Ubaldo Jimenez will strike out 200 and post a sub-3.50 ERA. This is my shameless homer pick, as the Indians fan in me is desperate for this to be true. But…it will be true! Recovered from an injury-tarnished 2011, Ubaldo will regain his dominant form and torment the AL hitters who have never seen what he has to offer. Getting out of Colorado will only help things.

8) Ike Davis will finish in the top-5 in NL in Home Runs. Matt Kemp, Giancarlo “Don’t Call me Mike” Stanton, Ryan Braun, and Justin Upton will join him. Jay Bruce will be close. Ike may start slow, but by the end of the year, he will be trying to chase down the NL’s power elite.

9) Justin Morneau will win the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. To be honest, I don’t even know if that award exists (it kind of does), but Morneau will play his way into candidacy. I know Jeff thinks he won’t play at all, but I am taking the other extreme. He plays practically a full season and, while not the MVP candidate he once was, he’ll produce.

10) Wilin Rosario will lead a stellar class of rookie catchers. Sure, Montero is the premium prospect of the bunch, and Devin Mesoraco is the catcher du jour. Travis D’Arnaud will likely play some in Toronto, as well. And don’t discount Yasmani Grandal, even in San Diego. But Rosario will tame the K’s a bit, walk a little more, and let his power shine, producing more value between June 1 and the end of the year than any of the other three. And next year, when draft time comes around, no one will talk about catcher as a shallow position: Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, Brian McCann, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Matt Wieters, Miguel Montero, and the five guys mentioned above will provide a solid fantasy option for every team in your league.

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Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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I think you are bat shit crazy with that Ryan Raburn prediction. Top 10 2b in directly assisting in the result of the opposing team scoring more runs, yes. Definitely then.

Offensively? Inge might have a better chance at that bold prediction…but hey, that’s why its bold.

wily mo

raburn has a rep as a second half player, but last year at least there’s a reason for that: he broke his finger in early may and kept playing anyway. at first he didn’t even know it was broken. by the time they figured it out the bone had already set so they just rolled with it. it was never publicized until this spring because we are manly men who play through pain and don’t make excuses. but, he was hilariously abysmal in may (.113/.141.129) and then merely not very good in june (.229/.257/.400), and it doesn’t seem like a stretch to make the connection.

then after the break he hit .341/.393/.574. that was only 129 AB, but still.

i have him on all my teams.