You read the title right. So, I guess I might have some splainin’ to do at the end of the year, but I’m proud to throw out the wildest, aka BOLDEST predictions out there. Trust me, these will all be two-drink minimum statements I’ll be laying down. But we ain’t calling this bold because I have a grudge against italics. And I’m not just spouting crazy for crazy’s sake… which I know, brace yourselves, is much different than you’re used to. I’m also going to be sharing evidence to support my claims. And everyone does 10-lists, so I’m going to be one better, cause that’s how I roll. Right down that hill over there. Hey, you want to punch that guy 10 times? Here I am, pushing you out of the way to punch him 11 times. Then I’m quickly running, cause those be sirens I hear. So, you’re going to eat 10 of those hot dogs? Well then, challenge accepted, I’ll eat 11 hot dogs, and then eat 11 Tums to wash it all down. You ain’t got nothing on me son!
1. Bryce Harper will hit 40+ homeruns and steal 25+ bases.
For his rookie season, Bryce Harper did not disappoint, hitting 270/340/477 with 22 homeruns and 16 steals. In fact, while non-fantasy related, his 4.9 WAR was the highest ever for a 19 year-old player. In an offense only context, his season stands with Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, and Mel Ott’s rookie campaign. Not too shabby. While he doesn’t have elite speed, he’s a savvy runner, taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Most projections already have him pegged for a 25/15 season on average, so what does he need to do to reach my 40/25? Well, his LD% is fantastico at 22.5%. So what he needs to do is pull a switchero with his 44.6 GB% and his 32.9 FB%. Yes, it might be a stretch to expect that, but it is not as rare as you might think it is. Power guys are notorious for hitting more fly-balls as they get older. As a guy who lives in the metro area and gets the privilege of watching such a talent, Harper is quite bizarre with his mix of patience and aggression combined with 80 raw power on the scouting scale. He’s basically there to destroy the ball like Frank Thomas once did, and will be a constant 30-35 HR threat. Its not that hard to imagine multiple 40+ HR years will get mixed in there, even in the current run environment. Add in an expected marginal improvement in his BB%, and he’ll be on base enough times to to steal plenty.
2. Robinson Cano will not have a batting average higher than .275 and will not reach 20 homeruns.
This prediction is based solely on second base aging curves. If you didn’t know, players who man the keystone do their best impersonation of Mo Vaughn trying to fly off a cliff once they reach a certain point in their careers. And, yes, that Vaughn reference was a double entendre. Diction baby! Did you hear that? Half of New York just cursed my name. The other half are too busy chugging down Big Gulps like no one’s biz. Want examples? Oh, I got your examples right here. Edgardo Alfonso, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Marcus Giles, fellow Yank-me Chuck Knoblauch, Chase Utley, etc. So, you get my point. Now, how do I know Robinson Cano is one of these guys? Well, you got me there, because I don’t. But there is plenty of evidence to show that as these players reached and passed the age of 31, things went downhill and went downhill fast in terms of health and the overall erosion of skills, or both. Cano is 30 by the way. Bake in the fact that he just produced a season in which we saw a career high in HR’s, a career high BB%, and a career high SLG%, the regression dragon might just put more hot flame on this fire. I’m staying away from this top-15 player for this year and beyond.
3. Yu Darvish will win the AL Pitching Triple Crown (ERA, W, K’s).
I went over him in the first Razzball Podcast of the season. If you need help picking which one is me talking, I’m the guy directional vomiting an Apache helicopter in your general area while doing my best impersonation of a Jim Rome clone. PHA! NOMINAL! Here’s a quick recap. Yu Darvish maintained his speed over the course of the entire season — Good. His strikeout rate improved over the course of the season, from 23% in April to 29% in September — Great. In his last 9 starts, he struck out 76 while only walking 19 in 64 innings — Awesome. And his lollipop curve, oh man his lollipop curve — GIF Porn. Did you say GIF Porn? You didn’t think I was going to develop a super power and not use it again, did you? Love me!
The emotion I feel when I see this…
Is the same emotion when I see this…
I call this emotion a boner.
To get the Triple Crown, I’m estimating that he’ll need a sub 2.75 ERA, 20+ Wins, and 230+ K’s. I think Darvish gets there if he sustains his aggressive last two months of the 2012 season. (2.21 ERA, 9.57 K/9.) Remember, only Yu can prevent forest fires. And herpes.
4. Everth Cabrera will steal 70+ bases.
Since Everth Cabrera was covered in my Deep Impact series recently, I’ll just do a quickie. Hey, its happened to every guy. But only a few times… I swear. Everth is going in as a starting SS this year and he did all of his damage (44 SB) in 2012 without even reaching 400 AB’s. In 39 games after August 16th, he stole 25 bases. Yes, read that again until you can wrap your head around it. In 39 games, he stole 25 bases. Es loco. In fact, Cabrera, in his last month of play, stole 19 bags. So basically, in one month, he stole more bases than Justin Upton stole all year. So I’m going to go with the assumption that he plays a full season and runs like Sam Gerard is on the case and searching every outhouse.
This one may be the least bold so far, but, then again it may not. Dan Haren was once an anchor for MLB pitching staffs and Fantasy pitching staffs alike. Usually registering an 8+ K/9 and FIPS in the low 3′s and high 2′s, last year showed how quickly the stock in a pitcher can change. Last year, his FIP was 4.24 and his K/9 stood at 7.23, most likely a direct result from his numerous back and hip issues. But this prediction is two-fold, in that I’m not entirely writing off Haren. I’m just saying that a young sleeper in the AL East will out-produce him. Here’s where the prediction gets hard for me. If it gets hard for you, then I’m doing it wrong. So put that away, before you poke someone’s eye out. Or we can sword fight. It’s all about what you want. Before last year, Ivan Nova had never known what it was to have a K/9 above six. But 2012 was a different story. While Nova struggled a bit with his fastball command, he had a career high strikeout rate of 8.08. Thanks to a big jump in BABIP, his ERA stood at 5.02. While he doesn’t do anything particularly well, he doesn’t really have any weaknesses either. Nova throws a 91-94 mph fastball with a good changeup and solid curveball. Slated to start in the Yankees rotation, he just might end up being more productive counting stats wise.
Join me next time when we reveal the last 5 predictions, along with the bonus uno mas prediction. It’s so awesome, I had to use another language to describe it!