MLB Fantasy Baseball: 99 Predictions for the 2011 Season

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MLB Fantasy Baseball: 99 Predictions for the 2011 Season
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Some are bolder than others, but here are 99 predictions for the upcoming 2011 season to whet your baseball palate.

 

American League

1. Matt Wieters will eclipse 20 home runs. With the additions of veteran hitters such as Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee, Wieters can relax and get back to what made him the highest-rated catching prospect since Joe Mauer. (Chris)

2. Brian Matusz will make a similar jump to the ones made by David Price and Clayton Kershaw in their second years. From August 1st on he had a 2.18 ERA. (Chris)

3. Kevin Gregg, the closer nobody ever wants, will save 23-plus games for the fifth straight year. (Chris)

4. Carl Crawford will reach a .300 average, 100 runs, 20 home runs, 100 RBI and 30 stolen bases. He will also be the best outfielder this year. (Chris)

5. Adrian Gonzalez will not hit 40 home runs. It will take him some time to get used to American League pitching and the Green Monster will turn some would-be home runs into long singles. (Chris)

6. There will be no closer controversy in Boston; Jonathan Papelbon saves 40 games. (Chris)

7. John Lackey will win 15 games and have an ERA under 4.00, a WHIP in the 1.20s and 175 strikeouts. His posted a 3.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP with 88 strikeouts in 102 innings after the All-Star break last year. (Chris)

8. Alex Rodriguez will hit 40 home runs for the first time in four years and owners will feel silly for barely making him a second round pick. (Chris)

9. Jesus Montero will not make an impact on the Yankees this year. However, he will make an impact on another team in the second half of the year. (Chris)

10. Jorge Posada will hit 20 home runs as the Yankees primary DH. Another reason not to draft a catcher in the first five rounds unless you’re in a two catcher league or Mauer inexplicably falls to you. (Chris)

11. Derek Jeter will bat over .300, proving that his .270 batting average last year was a fluke and not the sign of a declining skill set. (Chris)

12. John Jaso will rank third among catchers in runs, behind only Mauer and Victor Martinez. Jaso’s OBP last year was .372 and he’ll share leadoff duties on the Rays. (Chris)

13. James Shields parties like its 2008. Despite an ERA of 5.18 last year, his xFIP was 3.72 and his K/9 was 8.28. Compare that to 2009 and 2010 when his K/9 was 6.70 and 6.84, respectively. (Chris)

14. Jake McGee won’t be the Rays closer at the start of the year but he ends up with the most saves. Kyle Farnsworth has failed as a closer before and McGee showed his potential dominance as areliever in Triple-A last year when he posted a 0.52 ERA to go along with a K/9 of 14.02. (Chris)

15. After hitting six home runs last September, Travis Snider of the Toronto Blue Jays will hit 25 this year. (Chris)

16. Edwin Encarnacion, Snider’s teammate, hit eight home runs after September 1st. He will also hit 25 this year. (Chris)

17. Brett Cecil will have an ERA under 3.75. If you take out his last five starts in September, his ERA would have been 3.76. He also lowered his walk rate from 3.66 in 2009 to 2.81 last year. Now in his second full year, Cecil shouldn’t tire as much in the second half. (Chris)

18. Despite all the offseason hoopla surrounding Miguel Cabrera, he will finish the season with a .300 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Money. In the. Bank.  (George)

19. Playing mostly as a DH, Victor Martinez will hit .300 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI, making him the No. 1 catcher. (George)

20. There's a lot of hype surrounding Max Scherzer, but he will finish outside the top 30 starting pitchers and struggle with his control (1.30-1.35 WHIP) over a full season. (George)

21. Adam Dunn won't just hit 40 home runs, but will approach 50 and lead the majors. Thank you, U.S. Cellular Field. (George)

22. It might be time to give up on Jake Peavy. He will have another disappointing season and make fewer than 20 starts. (George)

23. Gordon Beckham will continue his success from the second half of last year and finish 2011 with at least a .300 batting average. (George)

24. By the end of the year everyone will know who Michael Brantley is because of his 30-plus stolen bases. He finally has a full-time job.  (George)

25. Chris Perez was a bit lucky in the ERA/WHIP departments last year, but he will finish 2011 with at least 30 saves and 70 strikeouts, putting him in the top 10 among relief pitchers. (George)

26. The best starting pitcher on the Cleveland Indians by the end of the year will be Carlos Carrasco. He will post an ERA in the mid-4's and a WHIP of 1.35, but you still do not want to own him in mixed leagues. (George)

27. Alcides Escobar continues the disappointing start to his career and will not reach 30 stolen bases, giving him minimal fantasy value. (George)

28. Alex Gordon has been tearing it up this spring (.353 AVG, 6 HR, 12 BB, 15 K) and finally puts it together for a full season. (George)

29. Top prospect Mike Moustakas gets called up in mid-May and ends the year with more than 15 home runs. (George)

30. Francisco Liriano was one of the best pitchers last year in terms of FIP (2.66) and will be a top-10 pitcher as he further removes himself from Tommy John surgery. (George)

31. Concussions are not something to mess with. All reports are that Justin Morneau feels great in spring, but there will be at least one DL stint in his future. Don't expect 30 home runs or 100 RBI from him this year. (George)

32. Expect Joe Nathan, who is in the same boat Billy Wagner was in 2009, to finish the year as one of the top five closers in the majors. (George)

33. Vernon Wells won’t top 20 home runs. He hit 21 of his 31 dingers last year in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre, the fourth easiest park for four-baggers in 2010. His new home in LA ranked just 24th. (Bryan)

34. Peter Bourjos fails to meet expectations by stealing fewer than 30 bases. While he’ll get at-bats, a low OBP (think .330) will prevent him from getting enough opportunities. (Bryan)

35. Dan Haren falls short of 200 strikeouts for the first time since 2007. While he’ll still throw 220 innings, Haren has shown a clear AL/NL split in his K/9 highlighted by a 7.18 K/9 in his return to the AL last season. (Bryan)

36. Bobby Abreu, a career .296 hitter, rebounds to bat .285 with his 13th straight 20-steal season. (Bryan)

37. Gio Gonzalez strikes out more batters than in 2010 (171) but finishes with fewer wins (15) and a higher ERA (3.23) and WHIP (1.31). (Bryan)

38. Cliff Pennington steals 35 bases, finishing fourth among all shortstop eligible players and proving he actually does have some fantasy value. (Bryan)

39. Brian Fuentes saves 15 games filling in for Andrew Bailey at various points throughout the season. (Bryan)

40. Dallas Braden posts an ERA under 4.00 for the third straight season and finishes with a team-best 15 wins this season. (Bryan)

41. Justin Smoak bats under .250 with just 17 home runs with less lineup protection than he saw in the minors. (Bryan)

42. Michael Pineda throws 150 innings with 150 strikeouts, winning 10 games in the process. (Bryan)

43. Did you know Chone Figgins has had a line-drive rate of at least 20 percent in each of his eight seasons? He rebounds to bat .280 with 42 steals. (Bryan)

44. Nelson Cruz will lead all outfielders in HR/AB but won’t top 500 at-bats due to at least one DL stint (likely related to his troublesome hamstring). (Bryan)

45. Josh Hamilton will hit more home runs (34) than Elvis Andrus will have extra base hits (30). (Bryan)

46. Derek Holland finally figures things out and wins more games (14) than C.J. Wilson (12). (Bryan)

47. Michael Young finishes the season with 20-plus homers, 90-plus RBI and 700-plus plate appearances, but for all you AL-only managers out there, a large chunk of that production will come as a member of an NL "mystery" team. (Bryan)

 

National League

48. Craig Kimbrel will claim the closers role for the Braves by May and strikeout 100 batters. His K/9 was an astonishing 17.42 last year in 20.2 innings. (Chris)

49. Chipper Jones will play in 140 games and bat .300 with 20 home runs and 80 RBI, providing great value for those fantasy owners who took a chance on him. (Chris)

50. Dan Uggla will disappoint with a batting average in the .250s. A low line-drive percentage and a lack of speed didn’t support his career high .330 BABIP last year. (Chris)

51. Mike Minor may not have won a rotation spot out of spring training but he’ll still contend for the NL rookie of the year. In 40.2 innings last year his K/9 was an impressive 9.52 and he showed good control (2.43 BB/9). (Chris)

52. Anibal Sanchez will have more strikeouts than teammate Josh Johnson. He finally pitched close to 200 innings last season and has no health questions entering the year. He had a K/9 of 7.25 last year and he threw harder than any other year of his career, averaging a career best 91.3 MPH on his fastball. (Chris)

53. Logan Morrison will hit 10 times as many home runs as last year. Although he only hit two home runs in 244 at-bats he did have 20 doubles and seven triples. At 6'3" and 237 lbs., there’s definitely more room for him to grow in the power department. (Chris)

54. Ricky Nolasco’s ERA will be under 3.50. The average pitcher had a K/BB ratio of 2.17 last year while Nolasco’s was 4.45. Sure, home runs are a problem for him but he let up a career high 28 in 2008 and he still had a 3.52 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Plus, his K/BB ratio that year wasn’t as good as it was last year. (Chris)

 

55. Brad Emaus will have double digit home runs and stolen bases for the Mets. His on-base percentage in the minors the last two years was .402 and .395, respectively. (Chris)

56. Jose Reyes will score 100 runs, steal 40 bases and hit double-digit home runs. He knows those numbers might make him baseball’s next $100 million man in the offseason. (Chris)

57. Lucas Duda will hit 15 home runs. Carlos Beltran is going to miss games and the Mets really like Duda’s bat. The 6'4", 225 lb. Duda hit 27 home runs last year in 509 at-bats last year splitting time between Double-A, Triple-A and the majors. (Chris)

58. The news on Chase Utley is certainly ominous but he’s defied the odds before by returning from both hip surgery and thumb surgery earlier than expected. He gets 400-plus at-bats this year. (Chris)

59. I’d rather have Cliff Lee pitching game seven of the World Series, but Cole Hamels will be the better fantasy pitcher. Their ERAs will be similar but Hamels will have a lot more strikeouts. He’s also younger and he doesn’t have chronic back problems. (Chris)

60. Jimmy Rollins will hit 20 home runs and steal 25 bases. He’s finally healthy after being plagued by injuries last year. The Phillies will need Rollins, who’s in a contract year, to come up big in a lineup missing Jayson Werth and Chase Utley. (Chris)

 

61. Michael Morse will hit 25 home runs. He hit 15 home runs in 266 at-bats last year and he locked up a starting spot in left field after a strong spring. He’ll also bat fifth in the lineup behind Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. (Chris)

62. Jordan Zimmermann will have an era under 3.75, a WHIP in the 1.20s and 175 strikeouts. He’s over a year removed from Tommy John surgery and his fastball is back in the mid-90s. (Chris)

63. Nationals manager Jim Riggleman is using the dreaded closer by committee approach, but Drew Storen will end the year with 30-plus saves. (Chris)

64. Move over Drew Stubbs; Andrew McCutchen will be the first 20/40 player since three did it in 2007. He had 16 home runs and 33 stolen bases last year at the age of 24. (George)

65. 30 home runs for Pedro Alvarez isn't crazy, but his 34.3 percent strikeout rate last year was. He hits 32 home runs, but bats in the .240s. (George)

66. Joel Hanrahan will lead the team in saves, but don't forget about Evan Meek. Both will be in the mix for saves by year's end. (George)

67. Dave Duncan's newest project, Jake Westbrook, will have an ERA under 4.00 with a 1.25 WHIP. Don't believe me? Just check his 2010 splits (3.48 ERA/1.25 WHIP in STL). (George)

68. Colby Rasmus improves his strikeout rate (31.9%) and base running (40.0% CS rate) and becomes a 30/20 hitter this year. (George)

69. Look for Yadier Molina, who batted .315 in the second half last year, to rebound in 2011 and become that reliable do-nothing-great-but-do-everything-solid catcher. (George)

70. Brett Myers is being highly undervalued and will have a season much like last year when he was the 23rd best pitcher in fantasy.

71. I predict Michael Bourn brings both the batting average and speed this year. Think .280 AVG and 45-plus steals and better than Juan Pierre. (George)

72. He doesn't walk much (4.1 BB%) and his BABIP (.385) suggests he was very lucky in 2010. Don't expect Chris Johnson to repeat his rookie year.

73. Tyler Colvin hits 30 home runs. It's a big leap, but he was on that pace last year and should get the at-bats. (George)

74. He seems to be fine this spring, which means Aramis Ramirez will return to his old .300/30/100 self for one more season.

75. Carlos Marmol will come back down to earth and not strike out more than 100 batters. His won't miss as many bats, which means his horrible walk rate will be felt. (George)

76. Thanks to an injury to Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo's second-half struggles, Shaun Marcum will be the Brewers' best pitcher this year. (George)

 

77. In a contract year, Prince Fielder will have another monster season and hit .290 with 45 home runs and 120 RBI...much like his 2009 season. (George)

78. Don't be fooled; despite rumors of newly acquired Nyjer Morgan playing the part of backup, he will steal 30 bases and take over Carlos Gomez's job in center field. (George)

79. Drew Stubbs shocked the world in 2010 with a quiet 20/30 season. While I like him as a sleeper, he will not get much better this year and his batting average will remain in the .250s until he cuts down the strikeouts (32.7 K%). (George)

80. Flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman ends the year with the most saves on the team (28). (George)

81. Joey Votto realizes that he is a first baseman and steals fewer than 10 bases this year. (George)

82. Seth Smith will bat .280 with 20 home runs. Nearly all of that damage will come against right-handed pitchers. (Bryan)

83. Troy Tulowitzki won’t hit 15 home runs in any single month. (Bryan)

84. Jhoulys Chacin finishes the year with the lowest ERA of any Colorado starter. (Bryan)

85. Matt Kemp will have the highest combined home run/stolen base total in baseball. (Bryan)

86. Don Mattingly will (temporarily) give ninth inning duties to Hong-Chi Kuo by the All-Star break. (Bryan)

87. Justin Upton finally hits 30 home runs. (Bryan)

88. Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy combine to win 30 games. (Bryan)

89. Kelly Johnson hits just 13 home runs, exactly half as many as in 2010. (Bryan)

90. Heath Bell remains a Padre for the entire season and returns to San Diego in 2012. (Bryan)

91. Jason Bartlett almost reaches his 2009 stolen base total by swiping 25 bags for the Padres. (Bryan)

92. Tim Stauffer wins as many games (13) as Mat Latos. (Bryan)

93. Fourth outfielder Chris Denorfia gets more plate appearances than Cameron Maybin. (Bryan)

94. With Adam Wainwright out of the picture, Tim Lincecum returns to form and wins his third Cy Young award. (Bryan)

95. Kung Fu Panda gets back to the 25 homer, 90 RBI threshold he reached in 2009, but he won’t bat .300. (Bryan)

96. Andres Torres shows his late emergence wasn’t a fluke by combining for 40-plus home runs and stolen bases once again. (Bryan)

97. Matt Cain will continue to defy sabermetricians everywhere by posting an ERA substantially lower than his FIP, xFIP or any other metric you throw at him. (Bryan)

98. Jonathan Sanchez goes back to being a 4.00-plus ERA pitcher but keeps the 200-plus strikeouts. (Bryan)

99. I called it before last season and I’m calling it again: Aubrey Huff will threaten to break the .290/25/100 mark. (Bryan)

 

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