With the 2013 Major League Baseball season imminent, I wanted to give thirty predictions involving one player from each team. These predictions are from a Fantasy Baseball point of view. I will revisit these predictions after the season is over and see how close I came or how far off I was with each one.
National League East
The year 2013 will be career years for the Upton brothers. Justin Upton will surpass 30 home runs for the second time in his career and achieve a career high in stolen bases with 24. B.J. Upton will go 30/30 for the first time in his career while also upping his batting average back into the .270 range. By the time the season is complete, he will set a career high in RBIs, but fall just short of 100.
Giancarlo Stanton will lead the league with 46 home runs while driving in 110 or more runs. This performance will cement him as a consensus top five pick in all leagues in 2014.
New York Mets
Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum will combine to pitch less than 110 innings due to injuries throughout the season. This will allow Zack Wheeler to make his debut and win eight games while posting a respectable 3.65 ERA in just under 130 innings pitched.
Finally back to full strength and healthy, Ryan Howard will hit 37 dingers and drive in 121 runs, proving skeptics wrong. His RBI total will lead the National League.
Ian Desmond will prove to be over drafted and put up a mediocre triple slash of .262/.310/.373 while hitting less than 10 home runs. His saving grace will be that his stolen bases total exceeds 20 for the third straight year.
National League Central
A new closer will emerge for the Cubs this year. Carlos Marmol will falter early on and make way for Kyuji Fujikawa to be the ninth inning man. Fujikawa will respond by racking up 26 saves, an ERA under 2.50, a WHIP under 1.15, and posting a K/9 of 11.5.
An early injury to Ryan Hanigan, forces Dusty Baker to play Devin Mesoraco on a daily basis. Mesoraco responds by hitting 18 home runs in 425 at bats and making fantasy owners in two catcher leagues ecstatic.
Carlos Gomez proves that his second half of 2012 was a fluke by hitting .242 with eight homers and 14 steals. He becomes a platoon player by late July.
Gerrit Cole will be called up in mid-June and be the lone bright spot on a very underwhelming Pirates starting rotation. Cole will go 6-4 with an ERA of 3.60 and 105 strikeouts. A.J. Burnett will post an ERA and WHIP close to his career numbers of 4.05 and 1.32, respectively.
St. Louis Cardinals
A new closer will emerge for the Cardinals in 2013. Jason Motte‘s elbow injury will prove to be season ending and Trevor Rosenthal will take over the closer’s role by mid-May. He will save over 25 games and mow hitters down with ease.
National League West
In a limited role and only amassing 220 plate appearances, Tony Campana will find a way to steal 36 bases this year, eclipsing his total of 30 in 2012.
After blasting 28 home runs in just under 400 at bats last season, Wilin Rosario‘s terrible plate discipline will catch up to him. He’ll hit 19 home runs, but have a .236 average with a .271 on base percentage at season’s end.
Los Angeles Dodgers
For the third straight season, Carl Crawford will disappoint fantasy owners by under performing and spending time on the disabled list. Crawford will hit just .258 with 8 homers and 12 steals and becoming nothing more than a late round flyer in fantasy leagues next season.
San Diego Padres
Everything finally clicks for Cameron Maybin and he has a breakout season where he hits .280 with 15 home runs and 40 steals.
San Francisco Giants
Pablo Sandoval is able to keep his weight in check and goes on to have the best season of his career by batting .328 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs.
American League East
While still hitting for a strong average, Nick Markakis won’t eclipse ten steals or ten home runs and will disappoint fantasy owners hoping that he would provide a nice blend of pop and speed.
Boston Red Sox
Will Middlebrooks will continue to have terrible plate discipline and only draw 31 walks compared to 155 strikeouts. His average will dip into the .255-.260 range and he’ll finish the seasons with 16 home runs; one more than he had last season.
New York Yankees
At age 39, Ichiro Suzuki will hit 17 home runs, topping his previous career high of 15. He’ll chip in with 36 steals and bat over .300 to make himself a top 25 outfielder once again.
Tampa Bay Rays
Fernando Rodney will regress to his pre-Tampa Bay career numbers of a 4.29 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. He’ll finish the season with exactly half of the amount of saves he had last year, 24.
Toronto Blue Jays
Proving doubters wrong, Edwin Encarnacion will follow up his 2012 breakout with very similar numbers to last season. He’ll belt 39 home runs and drive in 115 runs to go along with a .280 average and eight steals.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
Chris Sale‘s workload catches up to him a bit at points in the season and he finishes 2013 with an ERA of 3.65 and a WHIP of 1.22. He will still strikeout a batter per inning and finishes with 14 wins.
Finally healthy, Lonnie Chisenhall will emerge as the everyday third baseman for the Indians and hit 23 home runs with a .275 average. He will have more home runs than every Indian except Mark Reynolds.
A muddled closer situation will be cleared up by early May and Al Alburquerque will emerge as the Detroit stopper. He’ll post a 2.75 ERA and rack up 29 saves. Meanwhile, Bruce Rondon will struggle with his control in Triple A and won’t get called up until after the All-Star break.
Kansas City Royals
Alex Gordon will turn many of the doubles he hit last season into home runs and finish with 28 on the season. He’ll bat .310 with 100 runs scored and 80 RBIs and solidify himself as one of the top leadoff men in all of baseball.
As one of the few bright spots for Minnesota, Joe Mauer will finishing with the highest batting average of his career by hitting .369 on the season and win the American League batting title for the fourth time.
American League West
Jason Castro will finally stay healthy and finish the season as a top 12 catcher. Castro’s solid minor league numbers will translate into major league success and he’ll club 16 homers and drive in 65 runs.
Los Angeles Angels
After signing with the Angels for 3.5 million plus incentives, Ryan Madson doesn’t save a single game for the club. He experiences a setback that keeps him out until June and when he does return, he sets up for Ernesto Frieri, who saves 42 games.
Brett Anderson stays healthy and pitches 185 innings, winning 15 games, and posting an ERA of 2.85 with a 1.10 WHIP.
Jesus Montero will catch fire in early May and never look back. He’ll finish the season as a top five catcher hitting .290 with 24 home runs.
After spending only three weeks in Triple A, Jurickson Profar will play his way into a spot with the big league club. He will hit 15 home runs and steal 25 bases and head into 2014 as a top five pick at shortstop.
I will write a follow-up column in October to assess how good (or bad) my predictions were. Until then, feel free to post your predictions for the 2013 season in the comment section below!