It’s easy to reflect back on last year’s big news. But predicting what’s AHEAD takes a fantasy baseball writer with the willingness to risk his own reputation.
But this is fantasy baseball. What reputation? Check out Matt Schindler’s 2014 “Year in PREVIEW.”
1. Mark Trumbo is this year’s Crush Davis.
Mark Trumbo will hit over 40 HRs with over 90 runs and 110 RBI. Trumbo will not hit the .280 AVG mark like Chris Davis did last year. However, the smaller digs in Arizona will help facilitate a growth in his slightly below average BABIP of .273 last season.
All things considered, a smaller ballpark, the shift from AL to NL, Trumbo will only see an increase in his very respectable numbers from last season.
2. Robinson Cano will finish outside the top 3 in 2B.
The new contract and new atmosphere will eat away at Robinson Cano’s drive and overall production. Research indicates that when players sign a big contract, there is a decrease in production (see: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim!). Cano will be no different. The fact that he is going to a bigger ballpark and to a team that lacks a winning tradition will only exacerbate Cano’s drop off.
Here’s more on Cano.
3. Tommy Hunter will save more than 45 games and will be labeled a system’s closer by the end of 2014.
The system: a great offensive team, an average pitching staff, and a patient manager when it comes to closers (sound like the Baltimore Orioles?).
Tommy Hunter increased velocity on his fastball from 91.6 to 96 when he moved to the bullpen. His 1.46 BB/9 indicates he did not compromise any command with the increased velocity.
Hunter had four saves last year, two of which were traditional. Meaning he entered the game in the last inning and recorded the last three outs. He was perfect in both of those opportunities. The other saves came in multi-inning performances. Not a big sample size, but enough to give Hunter the confidence to take the closer job and deliver for his owners.
4. Billy Hamilton becomes first player in the majors since 1987 to steal 100 bases in a single season.
Owners of Billy Hamilton in head to head leagues might never lose the SB category. Hamilton will definitely go through some growing pains at the dish in 2014, but any time this guy puts the ball in play, whether with a drag bunt or slap swing, he can beat the throw or force a lot of wild throws.
Hamilton will find a way to get on base and when he does, fantasy owners will see a lot SBs and runs. Enjoy those. If you want proof that 100 steals from Hamilton is plausible, Vince Coleman, and Why We Should All Be Geeking Out” href=”http://fantasybaseballcrackerjacks.com/2013/10/22/billy-hamilton-2014-fantasy-baseball-value-steals-vince-coleman/”>read this.
5. Colby Rasmus, at the prime break out age of 27 and in a contract year will hit 30 bombs.
This also means that Colby Rasmus will finish in the top 30 of OFs in 2014.
An injury interfered with a solid 2013 campaign as Rasmus hit 22 HRs in 458 plate appearances last season. That is a HR for every 20.82 plate appearance. If he gets 625 plate appearances like he did in 2012, he hits 30 HRs at that clip. Think Mark Trumbo vintage 2013: strong, complex, but a perfect blend of variables.
6. Matt Carpenter is the only Cardinals position player to finish in the top 10 of their respective position rankings.
And, if Adam Wainwright continues with his second half splits from last season, you can remove the word ‘position’ from the previous sentence.
Matt Carpenter is a solid player but this prediction has more to do with the organizational depth that Manager Mike Mathemy loves to utilize. That depth will suffocate fantasy value of Allen Craig and Matt Adams. Matt Holiday is still a solid choice for your OF, but he does not have top 10 fantasy value anymore.
Predicting Yadier Molina to finish outside the top 10 of catchers is the biggest leap of faith. His career highs in Runs, RBIs and AVG was incredible last year, but regression is on the horizon. I think a 31 year-old catcher that is asked to catch 130 games is bound to break down, and the inevitable lumps and bumps he gets behind the plate will take a toll when he digs in at it.
7. RA Dickey bounces back and will throw 200 Ks and have a sub 3.75 ERA and win over 15 games in 2014.
I read this article by Gregor Chisolm and I got excited about Dickey. I was unaware that he was dealing with an injury at the beginning of last season. Also, the World Baseball Classic has had – more often than not – a negative effect on pitchers that participate. To top it off, he signed a nice size contract prior to the season beginning, *cough* Cano *cough*.
Looking at his splits form last year, you can see that Dickey was way off in the first half. But his 7.97 K/9, 3.56 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in the second half is a more accurate predictor of what to expect in 2014. A 7.97 K/9 may not seem that sexy, but if he throws 226 innings (a reasonable number for his arsenal), that gives him 200 Ks on the year. Not bad production for a guy that has slid to the mid to late rounds in recent mock drafts.