Paul Kastava’s 10 Bold Predictions by Paul Kastava March 18, 2016 Well, here goes it. My first bold predictions list while working at RotoGraphs. This proved to be quite a difficult exercise because a lot of these lists have already been published, and rather than just make a copy combining all of our authors, I wanted to be somewhat original. I guess there is something to the adage that great minds think alike, as some players I mention, have already been mentioned by our wonderful staff. Eno Sarris had mentioned batting .300 last season, so that sounds like a lofty, though attainable, goal for myself. Without further adieu, here are my 10 bold fantasy predictions for the upcoming season. 1.) Chris Carter will break 100 RBI’s. I am a believer in Carter’s September/October where he slashed .333/.400/.822. He walked less during those months, but he also struck out less. I don’t think he will hit for those numbers for a full season, but I also don’t think he will struggle for a significant part of the season as he did last season. Given regular playing time in Miller Park, the home runs will come. I also like the RBI opportunities with Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun batting immediately in front of him. 2.) Joc Pederson will be a top 3 CF according to WAR It’s easy to forget Pederson’s first half after his woeful second half. If Pederson mirrored his first half, he would’ve finished with 40 home runs and had been the clear Rookie of the Year Award winner. Pederson, instead, hit a skid that lasted the rest of the season. Still, his walk rate was an excellent 15%. He will never hit for a high average with his low contact rate, but will still provide excellent value with his walks and if his power comes back, which is not far-fetched at all given his age. Star players hit are able to overcome roadblocks and Pederson happened to have an extended one. A full-season of maturing, and a new manager with a different approach could do wonders for this 24 year old. 3.) Wilmer Flores will have over 550 PA’s With Asdrubral Cabrera potentially starting the season on the DL, David Wright needing more rest than most regulars, and Neil Walker struggling against lefties, there are a few scenarios where Flores receives extended playing time in the infield. With the lack of middle infielders available, Flores could be a nice sneak pick who hit 16 HR’s in under 500 AB’s. The Mets have an aging left side of the infield that will need their rest, and Flores is the clear choice to get those reps, especially with Ruben Tejada recently released. Given a substantial amount of at-bats, 20 home runs is not out of the question. 4.) Johnny Cueto will post an ERA higher than 4 I know, he changed leagues and had a new catcher, and the list goes on why Cueto didn’t pitch as well in August, September, and October. (Well, outside of Game 2 of the World Series). I’m concerned with the age and the drop in strikeouts in his second half. The ballpark and the move back to the NL should help, but I am not convinced he has the stuff anymore to bounce back to his pre-Royals numbers. 5.) Lucas Duda will be a top 5 fantasy 1B The low batting average, lack of RBI’s, and the strength of 1B fantasy talent has kept Duda out of the top five so far in his career. Duda should have the best line-up he’s ever had surrounding him, meaning more RBI opportunities, and even more opportunities to be driven in. He’s averaged slightly over 28 home runs over the past two seasons, and if he’s able to stay healthy and plays a full season, breaking 30 homers is certainly within the realm of possibility. Stories are breaking that have Duda taking less practice swings before games, which some contribute to his past injuries. Breaking 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s will place Duda in some top tier company at first base. 6.) Marcus Semien will be a 20/20 guy this year. At 24 years old, Semien showed some positive signs, particularly his 148 ISO, at least for a young SS. His minor league numbers show that a 20/20 season is not too far fetched. Across two levels in 2014 (AAA and MLB) Semien combined for 21 home runs. Across two levels in 2013 (AA and AAA) Semien stole 24 bases. I am basing this prediction mostly on his maturation process, which is not a full-proof way to make predictions. Still, this a player who has the skills to hit these goals and has shown in the past it is attainable if he continues to improve at the major league level. 7.) Jake McGee will have 40 saves. So, yeah, I put a Colorado pitcher on my list. I’ve always been a fan of McGee’s numbers, and his fastball-only approach makes him an ideal fit in Colorado, if that really exists. Jason Motte is a former closer, so he can make a push, but I think McGee’s past stability and how he potentially fits in Colorado makes him a nice 40 save candidate. 8.) Justin Verlander will win the AL Cy Young The AL has some strong Cy Young candidates, and health will always be a question for Verlander, but I see an excellent season coming from the Tigers ace. His second half was vintage Verlander in terms of ERA and WHIP. His strikeout rate was not where it once was, but he showed stronger control and command. The Tigers line-up and rebuilt bullpen should also help his win total, which we all know doesn’t mean everything in real baseball, but in terms of Cy Young voting carries significant weight. 9.) George Springer will go 30/30 Springer stole 34 bags in the minors in 2013, but surprisingly has yet to hit 30 homers in any level. That’s not necessarily because he lacks the ability, but mainly because he has trouble staying healthy. If Springer stays healthy, the sky’s the limit, but that has been a big if. He had a semi-Jekyll and Hyde season last year where he started the year off with more power, walks, and less contact, then dropped his walk rate and power, but significantly improved his contact rate. Putting those all together (or some combination of those improvements) can go a long way towards this prediction. 10.) Trea Turner will lead the Nationals in stolen bases. Playing time and Ben Revere will be the main deterrents for this prediction. Even if Turner is not starting to begin the year, I think he will find playing time with Danny Espinoza being his main competition at short, and Daniel Murphy potentially getting time at first base if Ryan Zimmerman gets hurt. I also see Turner as a late inning replacement in close games in order to steal a bag to put crucial runs in scoring positions. Dusty Baker likes to run and this Spring Training has shown nothing different.