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 Michael Dixon’s 2014 “Year in PREVIEW.”
1. Robinson Cano will be better in 2014 than he was in 2013.
Robinson Cano‘s home/road splits aren’t that drastic through his career and Safeco is not a terrible place to hit for left-handed sluggers. Also, the hitters the Mariners have in 2014 are no worse than what he was around with the Yankees in 2013.
I would have liked Cano a lot more if he stayed in the Bronx this year, with this year’s teammates. But Cano’s been one of the best in the game for a long time, and the change in parks won’t change that.
2. Bryce Harper will be a Top-10 Player.
Bryce Harper‘s talent is just too great. There’s nothing he can’t do on the field and we have to remember that he’s only 21. Now that he’s got (close to) two full seasons under his belt, Harper is becoming less raw. It will show up in a big way this year.
3. Matt Kemp will come back strong.
Do not forget how talented Matt Kemp is. Do not forget that he predicted a 50-50 season, and it only seemed a little far-fetched.
Kemp has spent most of the last two seasons banged up. He’ll probably miss the Australia games and may miss a few other games at the start, but that will all be a good thing. He’ll miss a few early games, but he’ll play far more games down the road became of it. A healthy Kemp will dominate fantasy baseball again.
4. Joe Mauer will be consistently drafted too high.
It’s not that I don’t like Joe Mauer or that he doesn’t belong on fantasy teams. But I definitely see people overdoing the whole “catcher eligibility without having to play catcher” thing. That will bump his value but we still have Mauer as the ninth overall catcher, barely cracking the Top-90 overall. Don’t reach too much above that for Joe. Let someone else make that mistake and deal with fewer than 15 homers from a big power position.
5. Brett Lawrie finally puts it together this year.
To me, it feels like we’ve been hearing about Brett Lawrie for about 10 years now, but he’s only 24. Lawrie has actually been fairly impressive, at least in terms of power, when on the field. The problem has been, well, staying on the field.
This year, the talent comes together and Lawrie shows what we can really do. I’m expecting him to at least approach the 20/20 range, which you don’t get from third basemen. He’s got real sleeper value if people in your league are in the “I won’t get burned by last year’s flop sleeper again” mindset and forget how young and talented he is.
6. Everth Cabrera will flop.
You have to gamble in fantasy baseball. I get that. But as I see it, this is the kind of gamble that Everth Cabrera is. You need to get ahold of someone over the phone but don’t know the number. So, you just dial seven random numbers (we’ll assume you know the area code) and hope for the best. Sure, it can pay off, but not that likely.
He may steal some bases, but he’ll be a liability in too many other categories. Cabrera’s still a young guy but remember, by far the best year of his career came in the same season where he was suspended for 50 games for PED use. It’s Melky Cabrera all over again. I won’t say that shortstop is a deep position, but I can name 12 others who belong in fantasy baseball starting lineups.
7. Ryan Braun will be a Top-5 Player.
Plenty of negative baggage is attached to Ryan Braun. But unlike Cabrera, he’s got a long career of strong seasons that came without positive PED tests.
I attribute his poor showing last year more to injuries than the juice wearing off. The 65-game suspension, in addition to the offseason that followed, will actually work in Braun’s favor this year.
He’ll approach 100 runs and RBI, hit in the .290-300 range, and fly by 20-20, possibly even reaching 30-30. If that’s not a Top-5 player, it speaks more to the rest of the talent than it does to Braun.