But let’s make some bold predictions. Let’s go team by team and go so extreme that there’s very little chance of it coming true … or is there?
Atlanta Braves – Dansby Swanson finishes the year as a Top 10 shortstop: Swanson doesn’t do one thing great, but he does everything well. In a position loaded with talent, Swanson does enough across the board for the Braves to finish as the 10th-best shortstop in Fantasy.
Philadelphia Phillies – Tommy Joseph leads the National League in home runs: Joseph has the job to himself, plays in a great ballpark and has elite power. The Phillies will surprise people this year, and Joseph will be one of the main reasons for that.
New York Mets – Robert Gsellman finishes as the third-best Mets pitcher: From a skills standpoint, Gsellman would be sixth on the list, but from a health standpoint, I’m not betting my life savings on healthy seasons from Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zach Wheeler. Gsellman threw his slider 145 times last season. He allowed just five hits off of it. Chalk another success up to Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen.
Miami Marlins – Kyle Barraclough saves 30 games: The Marlins don’t like A.J. Ramos for whatever reason, and Barraclough had an elite K/9 last season. Ramos may start the season as the closer, but it won’t be long until the guy with the coolest last name in baseball takes the job over.
Washington Nationals – Trea Turner joins the 20-20-20-20 club: OK, let’s not get extreme here. Extreme would be predicting a 40/40 season for Turner. Instead, let’s say that he becomes the fifth member of the exclusive 20-20-20-20 (doubles, triples, homers, steals) joining Frank Schulte, Willie Mays, Curtis Granderson and Jimmy Rollins as the only players in history to accomplish the feat.
Chicago Cubs – Addison Russell finishes as the top shortstop in Fantasy Baseball: Russell quietly hit 21 home runs last season. This is your last chance to buy low on him. The average will eventually go up, and when it does, sayonara.
Cincinnati Reds – Jose Peraza leads his team in stolen bases: I don’t know if this says more about Peraza or Billy Hamilton.
Milwaukee Brewers – Keon Broxton goes 25/25: We know three things about Broxton: 1. He has power. 2. He has speed. 3. He’ll strike out one-third of the time.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Gerrit Cole is the fourth-best starting pitcher for the Pirates in Fantasy: Am I a Cole hater? Not really. Do I think he’s always been overrated? Yes. He’s a low-variance pitcher, and Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova and Drew Hutchison/Tyler Glasnow all could finish higher than him by season’s end and I wouldn’t be shocked.
St. Louis Cardinals – Luke Weaver is a Top 40 starter: Weaver has been overlooked as a prospect thanks to Alex Reyes. With Reyes needing Tommy John surgery, Weaver’s breakout year starts now.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Joc Pederson is a Top 20 outfielder: Pederson killed in in the first half of 2015, but then he’s disappointed the past year and a half. I’m not ready to give up on him yet. 2017 is the year the speed starts to come into play.
San Francisco Giants – Joe Panik wins the batting title: Here’s a look at Panik’s plate discipline numbers from the past three years, but look at the last two years:
Yet he somehow went from a .312 batting average in 2015 to a .239 average last year. He’s a nice late-round second baseman to grab.
San Diego Padres – Austin Hedges is a Top 12 catcher: Is this bold enough? You or I might be able to be a Top 12 catcher with 450 at-bats.
Colorado Rockies – Tyler Anderson is a Top 50 pitcher: Anderson allowed a 28.2 precent hard-hit rate against. If he qualified, that would have been the 10th-best mark in all of baseball. Pitching in Coors Field, that’s a great thing.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Robbie Ray leads the NL in strikeouts: Everyone is on the Ray bandwagon, but can he actually follow through on the hype? I’m betting yes.
Boston Red Sox – Rick Porcello is out of the rotation by July: It’s my inner Porcello hater coming out. He’ll be fine … unless he’s not. The Red Sox have enough arms that if he performs poorly, they can replace him.
New York Yankees – Aaron Judge gets fewer than 200 at-bats: You call the Chris Carter signing detrimental to Greg Bird and Matt Holliday. I call it an excuse to send Judge to Wilkes-Barre Scranton.
Tampa Bay Rays – Blake Snell becomes a Top 20 pitcher: We saw the flashes from Snell last year. If he can harness his stuff, he’s going to be a must-start pitcher.
Baltimore Orioles – Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop combine for 115 homers: They weren’t too far off the mark last year, as they finished with 110 combined homers. Schoop reached his numbers in part because he played in 162 games.
Toronto Blue Jays – Devon Travis is a Top 5 second baseman: This is the year Travis finally is healthy. The Blue Jays lineup is a lot better than people think it is still. If the Jays pencil Travis in as the leadoff hitter, there may be no better value in drafts.
Cleveland Indians – Jose Ramirez finishes as the top position player in Fantasy for Cleveland: His numbers this year are similar to what Michael Brantley posted when he broke out. I expect a repeat of last year with Ramirez and then some.
Chicago White Sox – Yoan Moncada goes 20/20: Is he going to start the season in Triple-A? Yeah, more than likely, but if Charlie Tilson’s injury – yes, Charlie freaking Tilson could be a roadblock – is serious, Moncada could contribute sooner than expected.
Detroit Tigers – J.D. Martinez wins the Triple Crown: Just give me a full season of Martinez, please. His power is legit in any park and he hit for .315 in 2014.
Minnesota Twins – Byron Buxton finishes as a Top 20 outfielder: We saw the growth last year with Buxton in September. If he can just lower his strikeout rate, the word “bust” won’t be in the discussion with him anymore.
Kansas City Royals – Mike Moustakas hits 25 homers. 10 against lefties: What’s this? A double prediction? Yeah, we aren’t playing around. Moustakas was on his way to a terrific season in 27 games before getting injured. The power should return, and in limited at-bats, he hit .286 against lefties last season.
Los Angeles Angels – Tyler Skaggs emerges as a Top 40 pitcher: Let’s not forget that Skaggs is a former top prospect that has had his issues with injuries. Skaggs put together as stretch of dominate outings last year in limited time. If the Angels want to be a .500 team, they need all of their pitchers to reach their maximum potential. Perhaps none of them are more vital than Skaggs.
Oakland A’s – Jharel Cotton finishes as a Top 20 pitcher: OK, this one I’m actually 50 percent believing will happen. Cotton’s changeup is elite, as Derek Pierson pointed out on Twitter, Cotton threw the pitch 124 times last year and allowed just one hit when throwing it.
Seattle Mariners – James Paxton wins the AL Cy Young: Paxton started to throw his curve again last year. Add with it the fastball that reach triple-digits, and you have the making of an ace.
Texas Rangers – Matt Bush earns 30 saves: Sam Dyson wasn’t that great last year, but found his way to 38 saves. Bush is the more talented pitcher, and that typically always wins … unless your name is Dellin Betances in arbitration.
Houston Astros – Francis Martes is this year’s Michael Fulmer: If you’re drafting one rookie pitcher this year, it’s Martes. He’s risen quickly through the Astros system with a nice three-pitch mix. If he can develop his changeup – always the million dollar question with pitching prospects – he’ll have a home in the top of the Houston rotation for years to come.