1) Travis d’Arnaud will be a top-3 catcher in all formats
This prediction relies on d’Arnaud being healthy this season, but if he is I think we could see 25 home runs with 70+ runs and RBI with a .270 average. In 268 plate appearances last season d’Arnaud had a .355 wOBA, not far behind what Kyle Schwarber did (.364 wOBA) in his 273 plate appearances.
2) Byung-ho Park will hit 35 home runs this season
We don’t have a lot of data for converting KBO performance to MLB, but Park has already made an impression this spring by hitting three home runs in 36 at bats. He might strikeout 30% of the time, but the power is for real, and Dan Farnsworth likes his swing even more than he did Jung-ho Kang’s.
3) Rougned Odor will be a top-4 second baseman in all formats
Odor is only 22 years old, and just put up a .334 wOBA in his age-21 season last year. I think he’s an excellent bet to hit 20+ homeruns to go along with 10+ stolen bases and a .275 batting average. There is a deep and crowded cast of characters at second base in fantasy this year, but I’m all-in on Odor’s upside.
4) Trevor Story will hit 20 home runs and steal 20 stolen bases
There is an excellent chance that Story begins the season as the Rockies primary short stop, and with the legal trouble of Jose Reyes, this prediction assumes he plays full time all year. Story hit well at AA and AAA in 2015, and playing in Colorado never hurts.
This one might be too bold, but Sano has massive power and I think his offensive profile is very reminiscent of Giancarlo Stanton. Sano will strikeout a ton, but he hits the ball extremely hard when he does make contact, with a 43.2% hard hit last season.
6) Nelson Cruz will hit fewer than 25 home runs and finishes outside the top-30 outfielders
I think this year might be when age and Safeco Field start to fight back against Cruz. I don’t see any way that Cruz repeats the .350 BABIP he had last season, especially since he struck out more last year than he had since 2007 with the Rangers. Cruz relies so much on his power for value, that any degradation of that tool could prove costly.
7) Domingo Santana will hit 25 home runs and steals 10 bases
I’m not the first one to say this, but Santana reminds me of a poor-man’s version of George Springer. I expect Domingo to be the full time right fielder for the Brewers, and I think there is an excellent chance that he improves his contact issues and improves on the .336 wOBA he had in 2015 as a 22 year old.
This prediction is sure to delight the Mets fans out there, but I think there is enough talent at the top of their rotation to make this a reality. Harvey is one more year removed from Tommy John, Syndergaard was excellent as a rookie last year and has definite ace quality stuff, and deGrom was even better in 2015 than he was in his breakout 2014. This Mets team should win a lot of games, and this pitching staff is the biggest reason.
9) Kyle Hendricks will be a top-30 starting pitcher in all formats
Call it Cubs bias, but I think Hendricks is for real. The idea that he might get squeezed out of the Cubs rotation eventually is absurd to me, as I think he could post better than eight strikeouts per nine, coupled with fewer than two walks per nine. Hendricks finished with a 3.36/3.25 FIP/xFIP last year, and if you believe in his second half he was even better with a 3.32/2.84 FIP/xFIP.
Joe stole my thunder last week, but I am a self confessed fan of Blackburn. Traditional prospect analysis and scouting seems to look past him due to his average stuff, but KATOH is a fan and he has performed very well at every level in the minors, including in AAA last year after a shoulder injury caused him to miss the beginning of the season.
Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.