In the Year 2011…(Bold Predictions)

It’s officially 2011 and a new year brings new hope to fantasy GM’s across the land. Soon, the fantasy baseball pre-draft season will kick into high gear. While you’ll find plenty of articles featuring rankings, projections, sleepers and busts here at FB365, let’s take a moment to make some bold predictions. Get LaBamba ready, because we’re looking to the future, in the year 2011…

In the year 2011, Ricky Nolasco will be a top 15 fantasy starter.

Yes, I’m at it again. If you followed this site last year you know about my man-crush on Ricky “Hot Nolasco Sauce”. Statistically, you can’t find many pitchers with his pure stuff. His ability to miss bats and not give away free bases makes him look like a monster, sabermetrically speaking. In fact, he ranked 14th on my Raw Pitcher Ratings end of season list. The trouble has always been a tendency to be around the plate too much, which has led to a high number of home runs against. Ending 2010 with a 4.51 ERA and having posted a 5.06 ERA in 2009, Nolasco should come quite cheap on draft day. I think the home run totals should drop in 2011 — his HR/FB rate in 2010 was the highest of his career. It may seem like insanity to go back to the well again, but I’m not ready to give up on Hot Nolasco Sauce.

In the year 2011, Edwin Encarnacion will hit .260 or better with 30-plus home runs.
I’ve always liked E5 as a hitter. He has shown flashes of brilliance in the past, holding an AVG as high as .289 and hitting as many as 26 homers, but he has yet to put together a “complete” season. Having gone from Toronto to Oakland and back to Toronto already this offseason, there wouldn’t seem like much optimism for a breakout season on the surface. However, the same could have been said for his teammate Jose Bautista before last season. As was the case with Bautista, I see some signs in Encarnacion that could lead to a breakout season in 2011.

The dude can hit the long ball. If nothing else, he has proven that over his career. Last season, E5 averaged one home run every 15.8 at-bats, which translates to about 32 homers in 500 at-bats. The Blue Jays brought E5 back, but have no intention of letting him butcher himself at third base again. Instead, he’ll split time with Adam Lind between first base and designated hitter. Translation: More time to focus on hitting and a great chance to get 500-plus at-bats. While he’ll likely lose third base eligibility after 2011, he’ll be eligible there this coming season. Given the lack of depth at third base and the low cost to get him on draft day, E5 is a great player to take a flier on.

In the year 2011, Carlos Santana will be the top fantasy catcher.
(Sound of breaks screeching on asphalt). What! This is nuts! Joe Mauer? Victor Martinez? Buster Posey? Nope. Carlos “Oye Como Va” Santana.

[See Posey vs Santana>>>]

Between Triple-A and the majors in 2010, Santana hit a combined .292/.529/.540 (1.069 OPS) with an AB/HR rate that would equal about 27 homers in 500 at-bats. Look back at those numbers for a second. That’s a .529 OBP! That’s a 1.069 OPS! Those are video game type numbers! A horrible knee injury ended Santana’s MLB debut early, but he should be 100 percent heading into 2011. The bottom line is that you just don’t often find players with his elite combination of plate discipline, contact skills and raw power. There are some elite names atop the catcher rankings and Carlos Santana is primed to join that group starting in the year 2011.

About Charlie Saponara