Well, opening night is Sunday, and opening day is Monday. Why isn’t Opening Day a national holiday yet? Regardless, it marks the end of the offseason, and what’s an offseason without extremely bold predictions? Well, that’s what this article is all about, 3 bold predictions for the 2017 fantasy baseball season.
Bold Prediction #1: Greg Bird will finish the year as a top 5 first baseman in fantasy.
Greg Bird absolutely has the skills to be a top five first baseman. He gets to play in Yankee Stadium, a park tailor made for his swing, among the other extremely hitter friend park within his division. His batted ball profile fits the part as well. In 178 plate appearances in 2015 (he missed allof 2016 with a shoulder injury), he slashed .261/.343/.529 with 11 homeruns. Digging even deeper, he had a 44.8% hard contact rate. Couple that with a 51% fly ball rate, or even a 20.4% homerun-to-flyball rate, and you’re probably going to see a lot of dingers (I think it’s going to be well over 40). The one thing he will have to do though, is cut that strikeout rate down a little. It was at 29.8% in 2015, so if he can cut that down some (maybe down to 25%), and replicate, or even do better than some of the numbers he put up in 2015, he may be the talk of the 2017 fantasy season (and you can get him in like the 13th round!). You might even say that Bird is the word come the end of season.
Bold Prediction #2: Giancarlo Stanton will finish as the #1 outfielder in fantasy.
Call me crazy, but I feel like this is the season he finally wins the MVP, and puts up the absolutely insane numbers we’ve been waiting for him to put up, but never has. Most of this prediction is relying on him playing 150 games or more, which means a healthy season out of him. From a numbers standpoint though, he just hasn’t been able to make things work. He hits the ball literally harder than anyone else ever in history of the Statcast era (and probably really in the history of the sport). His 162 game average for homeruns is 41, but in only two of the seven years he’s been a major league player, has he played more than 123 games (2011 and 2014). He’s struck out 30% of the time, and only walked 10% of the time, which shows that he was over-aggressive last year, much like he was in 2015 as well. However, my gut feeling for this has to do with more than numbers. This is going to be the first full season since the death of Jose Fernandez. Over the offseason, Stanton said that, while accompanied with two other teammates, he went on a life changing trip to 8 countries and three different continents. He said he’s learned to “enjoy the moment and understand this is the best time of my life – and have joy with it”. This guy is a man on a mission, and I feel a monstrous season out of Mr. Stanton.
Bold Prediction #3: The top 3 pitchers at the end of the year will not include Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, or Madison Bumgarner.
Go big or go home right? Truth be told, I’m expecting at least one of them to finish in top-3. However, Kershaw is coming off a season in which he missed time with a herniated disk in his back, and I am a little hesitant with back injuries. He looks fine, seems like the Kershaw of old, but back injuries like to resurface. Scherzer gave up a ton of homeruns last year, 31 to be exact (7th most in majors). But a lot of his success from last year, outside of striking out everybody and their mother, came from stranding the runners that he let on. He was able to strand runners at north of an 80% rate, which is his best mark in his seven year career. I’m banking on a little bit of unluckiness for Mr Scherzer, along with a drop in that LOB%. Madison Bumgarner has been the poster boy for durability. He’s thrown a ton of innings over the last three years or so, and I think this is the year it finally catches up with him. I hope I’m wrong, because you never want to see a player get hurt in any sense. But the human arm can only throw so much, and I would think that there’s good chance we see Mad-Bum miss a chunk of the year.
Let it be known that it’s really hard to make an argument against any of these guys, so I’m banking on a career year for any combination of three pitchers in the MLB. The crazy thing is, it may still not even be enough to make my prediction come true.
Bonus Bold Prediction: I win every single fantasy league I’m in this year.
I’m in 25 leagues this year. That’s all you need to know on why it’s a bold prediction.
Quuestions? Comments? Concerns? Find me on Twitter @Marky_B_14