Somehow I weaseled myself out of doing 2016 BOLD predictions. No luck this year. Paul has implemented released his Shocky Monkeys and I am forced to make some sort of fact-based BOLD predictions.
Note: For ADP values, I used NFBC for this season and will use our auction calculator for end-of-season values.
BOLD prediction #1: Trea Turner will perform 20 spots worse than his ADP suggests.
I am not down on Turner one bit but nothing points to him being a top 10 fantasy hitter. Unless a person projects out his 2016 for a full season. I feel comfortable taking him around pick 20 overall but he will likely never last that long. I was going to say never but he has lasted to the 20 pick in at least one NFBC league.
I find the most projection variance with first or second-year players. It takes just one person of the 10 to 20 people in the draft to have an overly optimistic projection to bump up the value. Or they have a fear of missing out on the next big thing. Turner has a range of 1st overall to that 20th ranking. The two hitters going before or after Turner, Manny Machado (4th to 12th) Josh Donaldson (8th to 20th) have a tighter ADP range. Someone else can take the chance and I will grab last year’s 1st round phenom, Carlos Correa, a few picks later.
BOLD prediction #2: Giancarlo Stanton will hit 50 home runs.
This prediction comes down to one simple concept, there is no such thing as an injury-prone hitter. Almost. If a hitter, like David Wright, has a chronic injury the effects will linger. Otherwise, no data or research points to an injury prone trait as I found at BaseballHQ ($$). Owners are discounting Stanton and Bryce Harper but I see them as buying opportunities.
BOLD prediction #3: Kyle Seager will outperform his brother Corey.
The pair had almost identical seasons (.363 wOBA for Kyle and .372 for Corey). I think the older brother is going to take it personally and put his younger brother in his place … for at least one season. The pair is close in overall talent but because of the young player bias I mentioned with Turner, Corey is getting way more love.
It seems like highly touted hitting prospects get overhyped. Now if a hitter continuously produces in the majors but had no previous prospect hype, they get undervalued for years. Three top-12 hitters, Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, and Charlie Blackmon, fall into this group.
There isn’t an obvious choice this year like Betts last year, so I had to drop down a bit to point out Turner and Herrera. One possible selection could be Trevor Story.
BOLD prediction #5: Clayton Kershaw will produce his best season ever.
He’s been great. He’s not 30 yet. He’s one of the top-10 pitchers ever. I believe he has one more monster season in him and why not this year? Depending on the evaluation system, Kershaw had the best 2016 fantasy pitcher season with only 21 starts. With 33 starts, he can wow us one last time.
BOLD prediction #6: Chris Davis will be top-25 fantasy producer.
Davis’s production, mainly from his BABIP, has always been erratic. Last season, he dealt with an early season hand injury which sapped some of his power. It’s tough to know how much exactly but I will guess quite a bit. He is going 82nd overall which I see as way too low. I will buy in on huge bounce back.
BOLD prediction #7: Robbie Ray will be a top-12 fantasy pitcher.
The pieces are there with the strikeouts and a good pitch arsenal. The major item holding Ray back is the Diamondbacks’ defense. It was historically bad last year and his BABIP ballooned from .311 in 2015 to .352. Fewer hits bring down his ERA and WHIP and help him throw more innings for Wins and Strikeouts. As late as he is going in drafts, an owner might as well take a chance on him.
BOLD prediction #8: No Cubs starting pitcher will be in the top-20 starting pitchers at season’s end.
Like with Ray, this prediction comes down to heavy team BABIP regression. The Cubs posted the best team BABIP (.255) since the 1982 Padres. Nothing points to it staying low especially with Kyle Schwarber in the outfield. I expect decent jumps in ERA and WHIP. The one item which could move a starter into the top 20 is a high Win total (Rick Porcello effect).
BOLD prediction #9: Rick Porcello will outproduce his 2016 season except his Win total.
Many experts have Porcello on their Pan lists. I do believe his production may drop but mainly based on his 22 Wins. I do think he made some mid-season changes which he can continue. His FIP dropped from 3.84 in the first half to 2.95 in the second half with the changes coming from a drop in walk and home runs rates.
The improvement came from moving from a 2-seam/change pitcher to one who used his four-seam and curve more.
BOLD prediction #10: Jose Berrios pulls it together and is a top-50 starting pitcher.
I thought Berrios had the minor league pedigree and results to smoothly transition to the majors. It didn’t go smoothly. At all. I had little faith in him for this season until I heard Doug Thorburn singing his praised on Berrios.
Berrios was sent to the minors to work on his mechanics and when he returned for some late season starts, the mechanics improved. With an ADP of 397, the investment in him won’t be huge and he could live up to his previous high prospect billing.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.