We’re getting closer to the end of the countdown and today, Michael Dixon takes a look at the guys who will be the best of the best. These are 5 hitters who will be MLB’s Offensive Fantasy Stats Leaders in 2014.
A lot of things you’ll read about fantasy baseball deal with sleeper, bargain picks, or busts. Not today. Today, we’re dealing with the best of the best. Who will be the best player in each of the five standard offensive stats?
When making a list like this, I have one rule: No repeats.
I understand that all five of these stats could well be covered by Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout at season’s end, but where’s the fun in that? I’m certainly not going to neglect those two, but rather only list them in the stats I feel they’re most dominant.
On that note, let’s get one of them out of the way early.
- Runs: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
I was a bit amazed that Mike Trout didn’t lead in a single one of these categories in 2013, though a career year from Matt Carpenter and some injuries/poor performance from Trout’s Angels teammates conspired to work against him in runs.
I don’t think that happens this year. Carpenter is a fine player, but I don’t expect him to score 126 times in 2014, especially with Carlos Beltran not there to drive him in anymore.
Given Trout’s incredible prowess at getting on base and all that he can do when he’s there, the smart money can’t be on anyone other than Trout.
Predicted 2014 Total: 125
- Home Runs: Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers
It’s nothing against Chris Davis, I’m just expecting a bit of a regression from his amazing 2013. Something in the 40-45 range seems more fitting from Crush. Not bad, but I think Prince beats it. It’s also nothing against Miguel Cabrera, I just wonder if he’s going to get the chance to top 40 without Fielder’s protection, especially with the way he seemed to break down towards the end of last year. Miggy will also be appearing elsewhere shortly, and I feel more comfortable about him there.
On top of all of that, Prince Fielder just seems like a pretty natural choice. His new home park is perfect for left-handed power hitters (as Josh Hamilton would attest to) and Ron Washington can order the lineup in any number of ways that would still get Prince ample protection.
Playing in a home park not terribly conducive to home runs over the last two years AND having rough seasons, Fielder still managed 55 bombs over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Call it a hunch, but I think we see the Prince Fielder that we all knew and loved in Milwaukee.
Predicted 2014 Total: 44
- Runs Batted In: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
There are a lot of great players, but this is the one guy on this list that I feel best about. We just went over Crush and he’ll drive in plenty of runs, but the fact that I’m expecting a slight dip in HR production, along with the fact that he and Prince Fielder both rely a lot on HR’s for RBI makes me doubt whether they can really challenge Miggy.
Miguel Cabrera will hit plenty of HR’s, but he’s also a much better overall hitter than any of those guys.
When you consider that, you’re asking one question: Are you really going to bet against Miguel Cabrera’s ability as a hitter? I’m sure not.
Predicted 2014 Total: 130
- Stolen Bases: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
First of all, he can absolutely fly. Segura stole 44 bases in 2013 and seven the year before in only 45 games, and 50 in the minors in 2010. His stolen base resume is pretty strong.
He’s also in the National League and although omitting Paul Goldschmidt was not easy, Segura is the only NL guy on this list.
What really puts Segura in this spot over Trout is that I’m pretty confident that he’ll stay at the top of the Brewers order, which is where people steal. I can see Trout moving anywhere between the 1-3 spots, which is obviously less conducive to stealing bases.
I can certainly defend this pick even if my own rules didn’t keep Trout eligible. But without him, it’s a pretty easy decision.
Predicted 2014 Total: 40
- Batting Average: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Remember, the guy’s a three-time batting champion and a .323 career hitter, while playing catcher. Catchers frequently give at-bats away late in the year because their legs are just too beaten up.
Now, Mauer, always a line drive machine, will be moving away from the catching position (talked about here by Clave Jones and here by me) and playing first base. I’m not sure he’ll have the power to be an elite fantasy first baseman, but his average should be even better.
Predicted 2014 Total: .335