As if finding ten things to predict boldly weren’t challenging enough, I added one more layer this year. All my Bold Predictions will be about players whose first name starts with B or last name starts with P. In fact, we are going one step further – all the B names are Brandon.
Why, you ask? Why not, I answer.
1. Brandon Moss hits a career high 35 HR.
Moss has been a platoon monster for the Athletics the last couple years, right up until a hip injury side-tracked his 2014 campaign. He was at 21 HR by the break, and had only four after. Now he’s moving out of a brutal HR park and into one that is sneaky good for LH power hitters. For years, Indians fans have been clamoring for a RH power bat to balance the lineup, but the truth is that park is perfectly suited to LH who hit fly balls with power. Enter Brandon Moss.
2. Brandon Belt will be a top 12 1B.
According to FantasyPros consensus ADP, Belt is the 28th 1B coming off the board. Of course a large number of the guys in front of him (11 by my count) will primarily be used at other positions, so he is the 17th pure 1B. Ahead of him are guys like Justin Morneau, Eric Hosmer, Matt Adams, Mark Trumbo, Adam LaRoche, Lucas Duda, Joey Votto, David Ortiz, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez. Basically, a bunch of old guys, injured guys, and question marks. And Adam LaRoche who really isn’t old, injured or a question mark. Belt will surpass at least five of those guys, and solidify himself as a viable starting 1B in 12 team mixers.
3. Brandon Phillips is being drafted WAY too high.
Phillips is the 21st 2B coming off the board, which when you include the SS/2B combo guys, means teams are drafting him to be a starting MI. Here is a brief list of 2B-eligible players drafted after him that I would take before him:
- Brett Lawrie
- Jedd Gyorko
- Marcus Semien
- Scooter Gennett
- Arismendy Alcantara
- Chris Owings
- Jose Ramirez
- Brad Miller
- Micah Johnson
Alright, I am bored. So, yeah if you drafted Brandon Phillips, you drafted him too early.
4. Brandon McCarthy will out-perform his projections.
Steamer calls for a 3.41 ERA and 7.24 K/9; ZiPS says 3.83 and 7.88. I actually think ZiPS is probably close on K/9 and Steamer is maybe a bit optimistic on ERA. But they both project mid-160’s in terms of innings pitched. I don’t buy it. McCarthy threw 200 innings last year. Obviously he has to stay healthy, but I expect he will and, if he does, he’ll blow past that IP projection and be far more valuable than those projections suggest.
5. Brandon Maurer will earn double digit saves and be a keeper closer for 2016.
The second half of that is league dependent – if you only get four keepers, he won’t be one. But if you are in an ottoneu league or dynasty league where you can keep large numbers of players, Maurer will be cheap and well worth keeping as he posts great rates out of the Padre pen, earns the closer job, and sets himself up for a 30 save 2016.
6. Dalton Pompey isn’t a good hitter, but is a fantasy stud.
Pompey is not going to light the world on fire. The power will be limited, the average or OBP won’t be great, but he’ll do enough to keep a job and in keeping that job he’ll put up 40+ SB and that will be awfully valuable. Plus, with that lineup around him, he’ll have plenty of chances to score runs.
7. James Paxton will be a top 30 SP.
I keep coming back to the Paxton well, and I have no intentions of stopping now. His career so far includes 17 starts and 98 innings, which is not a huge sample size, but it also includes a 2.66 ERA and 3.27 FIP, with nine wins. With an improved Mariners team around him and some good health, he should be able to win 15+ with great rates. I also think he can improve his K-rate, but even if he doesn’t, he’ll be more than just useful.
8. Drew Pomeranz will be the most valuable A’s SP.
I am tempted to say this is true weighted by playing time, but that wouldn’t be quite bold enough. Pomeranz was excellent in a BABIP-aided 2015, but most of that aid came out of the pen. As a starter, he struck out 8.6 per 9IP and posted a 3.67 FIP (2.58 ERA). I think he can post excellent stats as a starter again, and see no reason to think he won’t hold the job if he gets a shot. This is also something of an indictment of Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray, who are being drafted much earlier, but neither of whom I am high on.
9. Gregory Polanco goes 15/30.
I have almost no basis for this. Steamer says 13/21 while ZiPS says 14/26. Polanco went 16/40 in 2012 in A-ball and 12/37 in 2013 between high-A and AA. The 15 is a stretch. The park isn’t homer-friendly and there isn’t a lot of reason to expect a big jump in HR next year, but he did hit 7 in 312 PA last year. 650 PA could happen, right? And as for the 30, he stole 14 last year despite a .272 BABIP that seems low. I’d expect an uptick in OBP and that means more chances. After going 14 of 19 last year, 30 of 40 seems quite doable.
10. A.J. Pollock disappoints, then becomes a sneaky mid-season acquisition/pick-up.
Prior to 2014, Pollock had posted a .265/.320/.406 line with 10 HR and 13 SB in 575 PA. Then, in just under half that, he posted a .302/.353/.498 line with 7 HR and 14 SB. That pace – making him a 15/30 candidate like Polanco – has a lot of fantasy owners drooling. But his .344 BABIP will drop, and I expect his HR/FB rate to be closer to his career average (7.9%) than his 2014 (9.5%). The results won’t be bad, but for those expecting 15/30, the 10/15 or so he provides will feel disappointing. The thing is, it won’t be, especially with a decent average. Give Pollock’s over anxious owners enough time to get frustrated, offer to buy low, an reap the rewards of their out-sized expectations.
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.