At the risk of sounding like Harold Reynolds, I’m going to go out on the limb here with 10 bold predictions for 2011.
photo © 2009 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)
Matt Wieters will hit .280 with 20-plus home runs – Why would I stop now? Wieters showed some pop in the minors and now, along with some improvements in contact and BB/K, he’s primed and ready to have his first big season.
Aroldis Chapman will have 15 saves and over 100 strikeouts – Because he is good and Francisco Cordero is not.
<Mark Reynolds will hit 40-plus home runs – Hand injuries not only accelerated his already historic strikeout totals, but sapped some of his power as well. He still probably won’t hit for much AVG, but there aren’t many bats out there with legit 40 home run potential.
Jose Bautista hits .240 with under 40 home runs – The combination of very few line-drives and a ton of fly-balls makes his AVG risky to begin with. If his HR/FB rate regresses from the very high 21.7 percent mark he held in 2010, not only will his home run numbers drop, but his AVG will as well. Besides, Brady Anderson sent me a text telling me to not believe the hype.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka finishes with a higher ranking than Elvis Andrus – Both players have 30-plus steal potential, but Nishioka has a better shot to hit .290 or better.
Justin Smoak will be a top 10 1B – With tremendous raw power and the ability to spray line drives all over the yard, Seattle’s big catch in the Cliff Lee deal is ready to take a big step forward.
C.J. Wilson will post a 4.00-plus ERA – Wilson finished 2010 with a below league average K/BB rate and a .266 BABIP against. A rise in BABIP along with a few more home runs allowed could very easily ruin any fantasy value for 2011.
Drew Stubbs will only hit in the .230′s – Stubbs was a career .269 hitter in the minors. His .260 AVG in 2010 was fueled by a .330 BABIP despite a low 15.5 percent line drive rate. Stubbs also struck out in almost 33 percent of his at bats with a whiff rate ranked among the 20 worst in baseball last season.
Ben Zobrist finishes with a higher rank than Rickie Weeks – The plate discipline was still there, but the power went out. Look for a bounce-back and numbers that approach 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Also, if you can’t find Rickie Weeks, be sure to browse all the way down the page. He’ll be the one playing the DL position with two red letters next to his name.
Francisco Liriano finishes with a higher rank than CC Sabathia – The peripheral numbers actually were better last season. If the Twins can help their ace a little more in 2011, he could win 20 games and finish with one of the lowest ERA’s in the American League.