Paul Sporer’s Bold Predictions for 2020

We have a shortened season which brings a lot of bold predictions into play. In fact, it might actually keep them from being bold which means we’ll have to amp up the boldness. I’ve got five I think are bold enough to qualify here. Let me know what you think in the comments and include your own big time bold prediction. Again, it has to be feasible but not obvious. Franmil Reyes isn’t projected to lead baseball in homers, but it’s not terribly bold to pick him, either. My boy Frankie Montas is a legitimate AL Cy Young candidate so while he’s far from the favorite, picking him wouldn’t really catch anyone’s attention.

Ramón Laureano is the #1 OF

The 25-year old power-speed stud for the A’s broke out with a 126 wRC+, .288 AVG, 24 HR, and 13 SB in 481 PA last year, good for 32nd on the Auction Calculator at the position with volume no doubt holding him back. With health, he’ll play close to all 60 games as a stud defender in center for Oakland which will give him a real chance to be tops at the position. He’s projected to finish 32nd again in the ATC projections thanks to a major dip in AVG, but I think he can deliver something special like a .320 AVG, 18 HR, and 15 SB with 37 R and 30 RBI.

Ross Stripling is the most valuable Dodgers pitcher in fantasy

Clayton Kershaw is on the IL, Walker Buehler isn’t fully ramped up yet, Julio Urías could still be carefully managed innings-wise, and Alex Wood is comparably skilled to Stripling so there’s no reason to believe he’d have any substantial edge over Strip. Look, I never shut up about Stripling so no one is surprised to see this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fully believe that it could happen. He’s a career 3.51 ERA/1.20 WHIP with a 24% K rate in 387 innings. With that baseline skill, he can absolutely deliver a low-3.00s ERA and 1.10 WHIP with over a strikeout-per-inning in an “everything-goes-right” kind of season. Throw in a gaudy W-L record and all of a sudden, he’s the most valuable Dodger fantasy arm!

Jorge Polanco leads MLB with 50+ runs scored

OK, maybe this isn’t that bold because that lineup is truly insane and he scored 107 last year. Polanco is batting third for the Twins ahead of Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario, and Mitch Garver. I imagine he’ll bat second some days, too, adding Josh Donaldson to the mix of studs batting just behind him. If he repeats his .356 OBP, he has a real shot to lead the league in runs and if he somehow improves that number into a .370+ range, then he’s a damn near lock for the title.

Nick Burdi saves 14 games

I wanted to go really far and declare him the league leader in saves but I really don’t see the Pirates surprising and winning more than expected so I had to temper this a bit. I still think 14 SVs is pretty bold for a guy who doesn’t currently have a guarantee on the job and is in a relatively deep bullpen. That said, I think he’s the best of the bunch. He has an electric arm and looks completely healthy in his return from TJ back in 2018. Incumbent Keone Kela has COVID leaving it an open battle at the outset of the season and I think Burdi takes it and runs.

Austin Nola is a Top-10 Catcher

This would’ve been bolder before the Tom Murphy injury thrust Nola into the starting spot behind the dish for the Mariners, but it’s still pretty bold for someone who doesn’t yet qualify as a catcher in fantasy. One thing I loved about Nola was that he was going to qualify at catcher relatively early int the season (the normal 162) as Murphy’s backup but spend plenty of time elsewhere on the diamond.

I’m a sucker for non-catching catchers. He’ll spend the first part of this season as a primary catcher but then once Murphy returns, look for Nola to spot start behind the dish and bounce around the diamond the rest of the time. He’s a solid hitter who posted a 114 wRC+ in the majors last year, which would’ve ranked 7th among catchers with at least 250 PA.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Uncle Spikemember
2 years ago

Kyle Tucker seizes a full time job my week 2 and produces like a top 10 hitter the rest of the year.

The Blue Jays win the AL East.

Luis Arraez scores 10% more runs that anyone else in MLB.

An MLB team ends the season with an .800+ win percentage.

Shohei Ohtani is the AL MVP.

2 years ago
Reply to  Uncle Spike

It is with no joy I must report that that last prediction is on life support 3 games in.