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 Nash’s 2014 “Year in PREVIEW.”
1. Adrian Beltre disappoints fantasy owners with a down year.
Before 2010 Adrian Beltre hit over .295 and for more than 100 RBI only once each. I’ll admit, his last 4 seasons have been impressive, but he is now setting rather high expectations for himself, and I would not bet on him to meet those high expectations. Perhaps I am being overly skeptical of Beltre. After all, 34 is not as old as it used to be and the Rangers have good talent around him. I just cannot see him 85-30-95-.300+ this year, so I do not see him as a justified first round pick.
2. Adam Jones stakes a claim as a top 5 fantasy player.
The O’s are really putting together a nice squad to make a run and in the process they are forcing teams to have to face Adam Jones, which means fantasy owners reap the rewards. While I doubt he gets close to 20 steals as Baltimore will not need him to run so much, he is certainly primed for another 100 and 100 in the runs and RBI areas. Add that to a possible 30 homer season with an average close to .300 and he has elite all over him!
3. Carlos Santana ends the season as the number 1 catcher, then loses catcher eligibility.
Ok, the second portion should come as no real surprise as the Indians are entertaining every possible way to get Carlos Santana out from behind the plate—even a move to third base. However, for this season, he will qualify as a catcher, and thus should top the position with his stats if he can get more than 550 at bats. He is also going to turn 28 this April, and we all know that 28 is the magic age for home run power (unless of course you are Joe Mauer).
I like Santana for 75-20-85-.260 easy, and he will certainly challenge even Buster Posey for the top spot!
4. Carl Crawford will be the most productive LA Dodgers outfielder.
This isn’t as much a boast on his potential as much as a hit on the rest of the outfield. I do think that Carl Crawford will bounce back, but only in the modest 80-15-60-25-.300 range, which is great production for guy that will go extremely late in drafts. I just think he will be the only one competing with Yasiel Puig for the crown of productive outfielders. Andre Ethier will be traded and Matt Kemp will make cozy with the DL, most likely right out of the gate. I do think Kemp will be fairly productive when on the field, but he will not likely see more that 475 at bats.
Ergo, the only guy standing between Crawford and the top outfielder spot is the kid that fizzled last season. I am betting on a sophomore slump for Yasiel Puig and one last hoorah for Crawford.
5. Ben Revere falls way too low in drafts and pays off for fantasy owners.
There are plenty of things that point to Ben Revere not being a guy who should go very high to begin with. He doesn’t have a lot of success to assure owners that he is the real deal. He also has a history of failing to play more than 125 games in any of his 3 “full” seasons. However, he had solid production in 2012 with a mediocre Twins team. He was also on pace to top that last year with a hobbling Phillies squad until he had an unfortunate season ending injury.
The kid will be back, and he will be good for 50+ steals, .300 average and maybe, just maybe, 90 runs.
6. Dustin Pedroia grinds, fights, and guts his way back to old production level, yet it still isn’t enough to get him back to a top 3 2B.
Dustin Pedroia is a guy that guts it out through every injury to play nearly every day. It is his tenacity that makes him both admirable in real baseball and annoying to own in fantasy. He has played through nagging injuries much of the past three seasons and his production has suffered due to it. I think this year he avoids an injury in which he can play through and gets back to his old days of 20/20 production.
7. Norichika Aoki proves to be a good fit in KC
Clave wrote a terrific article about exactly how hard it is to strike out Norichika Aoki a while back. He is also going to a team that just always seems to be missing something, and perhaps that something is Aoki. He might be the table setter the Royals need to get things going. Projected at a conservative 80-9-48-20-.290, I think he makes good on those and adds a little more!
Aoki is underrated because he doesn’t provide overly sexy stats and has a very small sample size in the MLB for his longer pro career, but he is legit and will be about as bankable as it gets for fantasy purposes. So if you take a couple risks elsewhere he might be the right compliment for your team.