Chad Young’s Ten Bold Predictions by Chad Young April 6, 2022 It’s almost baseball season, which means we are in the heat of bold predictions season, and I can’t pass on a chance to throw out some hot takes. Here are my ten bold (slightly Ottoneu-focused) predictions for the 2022 season. Willy Adames is a top 10 5 SS in Ottoneu points leagues. Note: I started with 10, but we want bold so let’s get bold. The current iteration of the Surplus Calculator has him ranked 18th, but I think projections are underweighting just how much of a struggle it was for Adames to hit at Tropicana Field. Everyone saw what Adames did in half a season in Milwaukee (.285/.366/.521 with 20 HR in 413 PA; 623.8 FanGraphs Points in 99 games for 6.3 P/G) but everyone is also hesitant to just pro-rate that to 600+ PA and call it a day. And that skepticism is probably warranted. But this isn’t just a 99 game hot streak. Adames was just as good (.291/.363/.495 with 26 HR in 628 PA; 892.7 points in 157 games for 5.69 P/G) on the road with the Rays. Between those two stat lines, we have more 1,041 PA of 5.92 P/G production. I am all in. Joe Ryan is a top 20 SP. The Surplus Calculator has Ryan as the 60th best SP for Ottoneu FanGraphs Points leagues. But lest you think this is just projections struggling to value a young SP, Paul Sporer ranked Ryan 43rd, Nick Pollack has him 49th, and Eno Sarris put him 76th. But yeah, I am going top 20. Ryan has a profile I love. He combines plus command with a fastball that outshines its velocity, and a unique approach that helps his stuff play up. Jake Mailhot goes into far more detail than I can here, so go read that to understand more. Only one $30+ pitcher will be worth it. There are six SP with a median Ottoneu salary of $30 or more – Jacob Degrom, Gerritt Cole, Max Scherzer, Shane Bieber, Walker Buehler, and Aaron Nola. Technically there is a 7th, but I am not counting Shohei Ohtani, because this is about pitching. The problem is, pitching is fickle. Last year, Degrom threw 92 innings and it’s a risk to take the over this year. Projections don’t love Buehler. Bieber has had injury issues. Scherzer is old. Nola struggled last year. Cole was actually excellent and I have very little negative to say about him, but he is still a pitcher and who knows what could happen. I don’t think more than one of these pitchers will be worth $30. How strongly do I feel that spending more than $30 on SP is a bad bet? Across my six rosters, I do not have a single pitcher with a salary greater than $30. Seiya Suzuki will be cut at least once before the start of next season in 75% of leagues. Suzuki is the hot new thing and, as with all hot new things, his hotness and newness is impacting his price as much as his likely production. His median salary is the 17th highest among OF, tied with Kyle Tucker. I like Suzuki. I think it is very likely he settles in as a solid top 20-25 OF. However, the transition to MLB is tough, and we have seen plenty of talented players take time before establishing themselves after a move from overseas. I suspect we’ll see a lot of Suzuki cuts mid-season, and another rush of them around the cut deadline next year. The right time to buy Suzuki will be after those cuts, when you can get him closer to $15. Jeff McNeil posts a .370+ OBP. His OBP in 2021 was .319 and the seven projections listed on his player page range from .334 to .346. But from 2018 to 2020, McNeil had a .383 OBP in 1,024 PA. To get back to where he was, he needs to do two things – first, he needs to hit more liners and fewer grounders. His flyball rate came down in 2021, which is fine for a guy who lacks significant power. But from 2018-20 he hit 22.4% line drives and 42.2% ground balls; in 2021 that was 20.4% vs. 46.6%. Second, he needs to increase his HR/FB rate from 6.5% in 2021 to closer to the 10.7% he posted previously in his career. That likely requires getting his Pull% back up over 40% (42.1% through 2020) instead of the 35% he posted in 2021. Alex Cobb throws 150 innings with a sub 3.50 ERA and more than 5.5 FanGraphs Points Per IP. I was high on Cobb before he signed with the Giants, let alone before we started to get information on his spring velocity. In 2021, he threw only 93.1 IP, but had a 2.92 FIP, 3.38 xFIP and 3.83 SIERA. He posted a career high K-rate at 24.9%, backed up by career highs in swinging strike rate and CSW. His velocity was up a tick, and he threw fewer pitches in what Baseball Savant calls the Heart (basically, middle-middle pitches that can be crushed) and more in the shadow zone and chase zone. All of that is good. Now he is with an organization that has established itself as among the best in getting the best out of their players, particularly pitchers. And his velocity this spring is way up. That 150 innings might be tough, but I think he’s going to be great. Art Warren leads the league in saves + holds. Don’t we all predict league leaders for weird stats like saves plus holds? Well, I guess I do. This combo stat matters in a lot of fantasy formats, but especially Ottoneu points leagues. Warren has a few things working against him here. First, he’s not a closer. You don’t need to be a closer to lead the league in this stat (Tyler Rogers led MLB last year with 43), but it helps. Last year, 20 pitchers had 30+ saves+holds. They averaged 24.4 saves and only three of them had fewer than 10. Second, he has two holds and no saves in his (admittedly brief) career. Third, the Reds are probably going to be bad and it is hard to save or hold a lead that your team never has. But he also has things working for him – most notably a filthy slider that he throws nearly 60% of the time. How filthy is in? Among pitchers who threw 200+ sliders last year only four had an xwOBA against below .140. Warren was one. The other three were elite closer Liam Hendriks, the underrated Aaron Bummer, and Jacob Degrom. That is some good company. Warren is going to be the man in that Cincinnati pen sooner rather than later, with that slider leading the way. Frankie Montas leads all pitchers in FanGraphs Points. This requires him to both pitch better than he did overall last year and throw more innings than he did last year, but there are reasons to believe he’ll do both. Through May 24 of 2021, Montas had made 10 starts, going about 5.1 IP per start, and posting 3.05 Pt/IP, for 16.2 points per start. From that point on, he made 22 more starts going nearly 6.1 IP per start with 5.76 Pt/IP and 35.1 points per start. If he makes 32 starts again in 2022 (big if) at the rate he spent most of last year (see previous parenthetical), he would put up 1122.2 points for the season, which would have been enough for 4th overall last year. And he was even better in his last eight starts, despite a stinker on September 14. His last eight starts were on a 1200 point pace. Matt Olson leads all hitters in FanGraphs Points. This isn’t as bold as Montas, but I wanted to mirror that one and I think Olson is the guy. Last year he was 7th in total points at 1055.7, putting him more than 200 points behind Vlad Guerrero Jr. I like Olson to make the leap for three reasons: First, he is getting out of Oakland and that brutal park. Second, he is moving into a stronger lineup. More offensive production means turning the lineup over more and that means more chances to score points. Third, he’s played nearly every game three of the last four seasons – if you are going to predict a league leader in points, you want someone who will get 155+ games played. Shohei Ohtani does NOT lead all players in FanGraphs Points. Taking the field is not usually bold, but Ohtani had 1,785.76 points last year, almost 50% more than any other player. He doesn’t even have to repeat his 2021 to run away with the overall points lead. However, I suspect Ohtani posts something around 6 P/G on offense (closer t this 2018-2019 rates than what he did last year) and puts up more like 4.5 P/IP than the 5.18 he posted last year. That said, 150 games at 6 P/G and 120 innings at 4.5 P/IP is still 1,440 points. However, Ohtani appeared to wear down last year and I think the Angels might need to find ways to keep him rested, especially if they have a healthy Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon around to pick up the slack. 130 games on offense and 100 innings pitching would put him closer to 1,250 points, which puts him in shouting distance of Olson and Montas (or whoever actually leads the league if I am wrong in #8 and #9).