Predicting the Leader for Every Main 2014 Fantasy Baseball Stat Category
As we inch closer to Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, the excitement builds. You have likely already drafted or it’s in your immediate future. Every team in the league is tied for first.
It’s the perfect time to make predictions. Here’s the Lester’s Legends prediction for the statistical leader in each of the five-by-five-league fantasy baseball categories.
Batting Average: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera has won three straight American League batting titles. He has posted the highest batting average in the majors twice. Cabrera is a career .321 hitter, which only trails Joe Mauer (.323) and Albert Pujols (.321) among active hitters.
Mauer, who is moving to first base for the Minnesota Twins, is the main competition in this category as far as I’m concerned. Cabrera, however, is also moving to first base, which offsets some of Mauer’s position-change benefit.
Runs: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout led the American League in runs scored the past two seasons with 129 in 2012 and 109 last year. After a brilliant rookie season, Trout’s on-base percentage increased by 33 points.
I’m expecting better years from both Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, which should help Trout’s run total.
Home Runs: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera will challenge for this distinction, but if Jose Bautista can remain healthy he has a good a shot as anybody. Over the past four seasons he hit 152 home runs (38 per season) despite missing 114 games the past two years.
During that four-year span, Bautista averaged 47.3 home runs per 162 games. The only player with more home runs than Bautista during that stretch is Cabrera (156), and he played in 100 more games than Bautista.
If he can stay healthy, another home run title is likely.
Miguel Cabrera led the league in RBI in two of the past four years. Over the past 10 seasons Cabrera has averaged 119.8 RBI. He averaged 138 RBI the past two campaigns. He’s as good a bet as anyone.
Stolen Bases: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
I am going out on a limb with Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton. He stole 13 bases in his 13-game cup of coffee last year. Since 2010, as Hamilton moved through the minor league ranks, he swiped 381 bases in 459 games.
Wins: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright led the National League in wins (19) last year and in 2009 (19). He won 20 games in 2010. In a fickle category, Wainwright is a solid bet to lead the majors again.
Strikeouts: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Yu Darvish struck out 277 batters last year, which was the most since Randy Johnson struck out 290 in 2004. He fanned 221, which was good for seventh, in his first season in the majors in 2012. Darvish has a number of pitches to keep the hitters guessing.
Max Scherzer, who has averaged 235.5 strikeouts over the past two years, and Clayton Kershaw (236.3 over the past three years) are his biggest competition.
ERA: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw posted an ERA (1.83) last year reminiscent of Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux. He led the majors in ERA the past three seasons. Since 2009 his ERA is a ridiculous 2.43. His career ERA (2.60) is 0.52 runs less than the next lowest active ERA (Wainwright, 3.12).
It should be no surprise that Kershaw led the National League in WHIP the past three seasons. His WHIP during that stretch is 0.97. Cliff Lee and Stephen Strasburg are the most likely to challenge Kershaw's supremacy.
Saves: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Craig Kimbrel has led or tied for the National League lead in saves the past three seasons, averaging 46 saves per year during that stretch. Jim Johnson has consecutive 50-save seasons under his belt, but he was traded to the Oakland A's.
I like Kimbrel's chances, especially protecting leads for the likes of Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Ervin Santana.
Also check out LestersLegends.com for additional fantasy baseball advice.