10 Bold Predictions for 2012

We’re almost ready for baseball’s real opening day. Most drafts are done and teams are set, but there is still time to craft a sneaky trade or find an early free agent gem. Here are 10 bold predictions for 2012…

  1. Miguel Cabrera will hit 40 home runs – He has come close in the past, but this season, with Prince Fielder behind him, he’ll break the 40-bomb barrier and become the most valuable player in fantasy (and real) baseball.
  2. Francisco Liriano will be a top-20 pitcher – Arm injuries bothered Liriano in the spring of last season, yet he still managed to post a tremendous whiff rate. A healthy Liriano will revert to 2010 form, if not better.
  3. Pablo Sandoval will drop a .310/30/100 line on you – Dedicated to staying in shape is only part of the equation. He came back from a wrist injury last season and didn’t lose any of his power game. At 25 years of age, he is just now entering his prime.
  4. Matt Wieters will be a top-three catcher in fantasy baseball – I know, I know, you’ve heard this from me before, but last year Wieters took such a step forward (three-year rise in ISO and three-year drop in strikeout rate) that I am convinced the best is yet to come.
  5. Adam Dunn will hit 40 home runs – Dunn was a mess last spring, striking out 27 times. This spring, however, he has only struck out 10 times compared to 14 walks and five home runs. While spring numbers aren’t reliable predictors, it’s definitely a good sign that he’ll be the player he was before the disaster of 2011.
  6. Grant Balfour will be a top-five closer - He’s been an excellent reliever most of his career, especially over the last two seasons. The only thing that has changed is his title. The numbers should translate just fine, to go along with 35-plus saves.
  7. Ichiro will hit 20 home runs – Normally, I look for some type of statistical evidence to back my assertions. This one, however, goes directly against that norm. Ichiro can pepper baseballs out of the yard with the best of em’ during batting practice. Now, hitting third, he’ll pick and choose a few more spots to try and drive the ball out of the yard.
  8. Jose Altuve will hit .290 with 35-plus stolen bases – Altuve is an impatient hitter, but he has terrific contact skills and enough speed to make use of those skills. The Astros should let him run often, because, well, what do they really have to lose (other than baseball games, which seems inevitable anyway)?
  9. Mat Gamel will hit .280 with 25 home runs – Read why here.
  10. Trevor Bauer will take the fantasy world by storm –  While Bauer won’t start the season in the big leagues, he should get there before long. He has the stuff, smarts and poise to get big league hitters out from the get-go. It wont take long before Josh Collmenter proves that he is not the answer and that his 2011 season won’t be repeated. Be sure to keep close tabs on Bauer’s situation and snag him first, or else you’ll be the one suffering from Bauer Outage.