UPDATED: July 29th
Looks like Ryan Rufe hit the nail on the head with this one: "Albert Pujols will go under the knife in August and miss the remainder of the season"... And it seems like this is also coming to fruition: "A-Rod will do almost nothing of substance to help the Yankees."... Wow, I wonder what else our resident precog will be right about!
PUBLISHED: July 18th
I’m not ashamed to admit that I like to snack at work. During the afternoon hours especially, as I’m counting down the minutes to 5 PM, you’ll find me digging through my cubicle drawer, wrist-deep in a random assortment of goodies. Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups. Dunkaroos. Peanut Butter Crackers.
You know, the essentials.
At the risk of disappointing fellow RotoBaller staff writer and fitness aficionado Shawn Caswell (@CasKnowsRoto), I should mention that I do have some healthier options too. Oatmeal isn't my preferred snack of choice, but it occasionally hits the spot on the days I’m feeling motivated and health-conscious. So, like... once a month? Another one of my “go-to” snacks is a six-ounce tin of Blue Diamond brand almonds. I love their BOLD flavors - Habanero Barbecue or Salt and Vinegar will do just fine, thank you. And a quick look at the Blue Diamond label sparked my creative juices enough to present BOLD! A Second Half Predictions Thread.
Let’s go over the rules: I’ll make a post-ASG fantasy relevant statement -- a BOLD! statement, if you will-- about a player from each MLB team. You, my fellow RotoBallers, would then make use the Comments section below to come up with your own BOLD! statement. Feel free to go crazy and come up with several, if you feel so inclined. The goal is to make this as interactive as possible. At the end of the season, we can all revisit this article and laugh at how ridiculous we sounded.
Let’s get started, then, shall we?
- The most fantasy relevant player on the Houston Astros at the end of the season will be someone NOT named Jose Altuve.
While Altuve’s on-pace numbers are comparable to last season’s totals, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Jose Veras will have more impact on fantasy squads in the second half. Altuve is very young and has room to develop, but right now he’s really only helping you in one category (SB). He’s simply not scoring many runs and his batting average is, well, average, at best. Jose Veras, on the other hand, has posted better numbers this season (3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) than you might have guessed. He’s striking out over a batter per inning and already has 18 saves on a bad team. He’s been better than more heralded closers Tom Wilhelmsen, Huston Street, Chris Perez, and Rafael Betancourt. Assuming he doesn't get traded, I expect Veras to outperform teammates Altuve, Carter and Castro as the most valuable Houston player.
- Jose Fernandez will finish the season with 190 IP, 11 Wins, a sub-3.00 ERA and 175 strikeouts.
Before the season, Giancarlo Stanton was a lock to represent the Miami Marlins in this year’s All Star Game... that is, until 20-year-old rookie fireballer Jose Fernandez came along and pitched his lights out. Fernandez was dominant in his inning of work in the Midsummer Classic and is on-pace to finish the season with 184 IP. The Marlins may decide to cut him a bit short of that, but sticking with the BOLD! theme of this article, let’s say that Fernandez will finish out the season strong and reach the numbers I've predicted above.
Moving on from the sunny beaches of Miami to the southside of Chicago, where Adam Dunn has really come on as of late. Since June 1st, Dunn is hitting .285 with 12 HR and a whopping 32 RBI. While he’s on pace to smack 43 long balls, I say Adam Dunn reaches or exceeds 50 HR. Surprisingly, that is something he has never done in his career thus far.
- Jonathan Lucroy will finish the season as a top-5 Catcher.
If you've been keeping up with RotoBaller’s monthly position rankings-- the Catcher rankings, in particular-- you’re probably sick of all the Jonathan Lucroy hype. I've been touting Lucroy as a Top 10 Catcher since the beginning of the season and recently moved him up to #8 at the position in our July rankings. Everyone’s been talking about Yadier Molina this season, but more people need to take notice of the 27 year-old backstop in Milwaukee. I’m confident when I say that Jonathan Lucroy will finish the season as a Top 5 Catcher.
- By the end of the season, Jedd Gyorko will be a top-12 2B.
Padres 2B Jedd Gyorko has gone 0-11 since his return from the DL (groin), but prior to that, he was absolutely crushing the ball throughout May and the beginning of June. From May 1 - June 9, Gyorko hit .309 with eight HR and 17 RBI, and even threw in a stolen base for good measure. You've heard the Robinson Cano comparisons in the past and have likely scoffed at them, but in my opinion, Gyorko has an insanely bright future ahead of him at one of the weakest positions in fantasy baseball. Thanks to his time missed due to injury, he’s currently ranked outside the Top 20 second basemen. By the end of the season, Jedd Gyorko will be a top-12 2B.
I wanted to write about Twins closer Glen Perkins in this space, but with Minnesota out of contention in the AL Central and in a rebuilding phase, I think they are best suited to trade him since his value likely won’t get any higher than it is right now. As for the other core players, we know what to expect from Joe Mauer, and Josh Willingham recently had arthroscopic knee surgery. So who to focus on then? How about Aaron Hicks, who is playing much better since his recent call-up on July 2? After hitting .179 in his first 55 MLB games, Hicks has improved to .271 in July with an .848 OPS. I’m not sure how BOLD! I can get with the 23-year-old rookie, but Aaron Hicks will easily reach 15 HR and 15 SB.
- Matt Harvey will flirt with 300 strikeouts this season.
Realistically, I think he’ll finish in the 250-275 range, but that total would still surpass the strikeout leader from last season (Verlander, 239). No further analysis needed.
- Matt Cain rebounds and finishes the season as a Top 30 SP. '
Yes, he hasn’t pitched up to standards this season, but Cain has had a few dominant outings recently (6/18 vs SD, 6/29 @COL). As long as he’s not hiding an injury, I think he’ll do just fine in the second half.
- Carlos Gonzalez surpasses his already ridiculous on-pace numbers to finish with a .315 batting average, 45 HR, 120 RBI and 30 SB.
If we were picking mid-season a Fantasy MVP for each league, you’d have a tough choice in the AL between Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout and Chris Davis. In the National League, the clear winner is Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez, who is on-pace for a career season (.302/117/43/110/27). The big question remains: can he stay healthy? CarGo misses time to injury each season, so it’s tough to bank on him reaching those numbers, but again, let’s be BOLD! and say Carlos Gonzalez surpasses his already ridiculous on-pace numbers to finish with a .315 batting average, 45 HR, 120 RBI and 30 SB.
- Taijuan Walker will make the biggest impact on the M’s this season.
Seattle has long had one of MLB’s best farm systems, and this season we've seen some impact players make their MLB debuts (Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino). Franklin has been great thus far, but mark my words when I say that pitching prospect Taijuan Walker will make the biggest impact on the M’s this season, outside of Felix Hernandez. Danny Hultzen is another pitching prospect to keep an eye on as well, but Walker has far surpassed him in the pecking order.
- Starlin Castro sheds the overrated label with a strong second half.
Speaking of prospects, I’m really excited about a handful of players in the Cubs system (Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Arismendy Alcantera), but all are still over a year plus away from contributing at the big league level. On the current roster, let’s just say that Starlin Castro sheds the overrated label with a strong second half.
- Jose Reyes will surpass 35 SB and have a HUGE second half.
The Toronto Blue Jays have underperformed as a team this season, but shortstop Jose Reyes hasn’t underperformed when he’s been in the lineup. In 28 games, the 30 year-old is hitting .322 with 4 HR and 12 RBI to go along with 8 SB. Health permitting, Jose Reyes will surpass 35 SB and have a HUGE second half to pace all MLB shortstops.
- Greg Holland will surpass the 40 Save mark and be drafted as a top tier closer in 2014
Remember when there was talk at the beginning of the season of Kelvin Herrera supplanting Greg Holland as the Royals closer? Yeah, that probably didn't sit too well with Holland, who has been flat-out dominant since those rumors started. A sterling ERA (1.80) and WHIP (0.91) and a 15.4 K/9 make Holland one of the best pitchers in MLB right now, and I’m not just talking closers. It’s not far-fetched to say that Greg Holland will surpass the 40-Save mark and be drafted as a top-tier closer in 2014.
- Albert Pujols will go under the knife in August and miss the remainder of the season.
The LA Times recently reported that Albert Pujols is considering offseason foot surgery to fix a plantar fasciitis issue. With the Angels falling farther and farther back in the AL West, Albert Pujols will instead opt for surgery in August and miss the remainder of the season.
After hitting 23 home runs prior to the ASG, with 12 in the month of May alone, Domonic Brown goes off again with 15 bombs in the month of August.
- Lonnie Chisenhall will hit 18 HR in the second half.
- Adam Eaton will spend another extended stint on the DL.
Diamondbacks OF Adam Eaton was a popular sleeper pick prior to the season, and now that he’s active and seemingly healthy, he’s being added in more and more leagues. I was on the Eaton bandwagon as much as anybody, but I have a gut feeling that he’ll end up on the DL again by mid-August.
Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig has flashed 5-tool ability and is now a fixture in the Dodgers lineup. Many fantasy owners are selling high on him, but I think that would be a mistake, as Yasiel Puig will hit .330 with 13 HR, 30 RBI and 11 SB in the second half.
- Bryce Harper will lead the majors in second-half home runs with 28.
Nationals phenom Bryce Harper kicked off the 2013 MLB season with a couple of bombs on Opening Day. After finishing in 2nd place in the Home Run Derby behind Yoenis Cespedes, Bryce Harper will lead the majors in second-half home runs with 28.
- A-Rod will do almost nothing of substance to help the Yankees.
The injury-riddled New York Yankees have sorely missed their superstars this season, so much so, that fans are actually anticipating the return of 3B Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez is currently on a minor league rehab assignment and hopes to be activated soon. When that happens, don’t expect much, as I’m guessing A-Rod will hit somewhere around .230 with only a handful of home runs.
- Chris Davis will not come close to Roger Maris.
Chris Davis has been an absolute MONSTER this year, already surpassing last season’s HR total before the All Star break. Many are hoping he will break the pre-steroid home run record set by Roger Maris in 1961. Sadly, Chris Davis will fall well short of 61 home runs.
- Billy Hamilton will play in the majors, and steal home.
Shifting from power to speed, as a late season call up, Cincinnati Reds OF prospect Billy Hamilton will steal home at least once.
Desmond Jennings is having a fine season for the Tampa Bay Rays. Sure, his 15 SB are well short of what we expected from him, but he has more than made up for the “lack” of steals by showing some decent pop in his bat. Jennings is sitting on 11 HR at the break and on-pace to finish with 18 HR and 25 SB respectively. I’m willing to go a step further than that and say that Desmond Jennings will have a 20-30 season, the first of many in his young career.
- B.J. Upton will bounce back in a big, big way.
You know who else will have a 20-30 season? BJ Upton. That’s probably the boldest thing I've written thus far, but I honestly don’t think those numbers are completely unattainable. I’d put a 100-1 odds on it actually happening, but it’s certainly not impossible. Right now, Upton is sitting on 8 HR and 7 SB respectively. If he comes back strong from the DL - and fixes whatever is ailing him mentally - the Braves will separate themselves from the Nats even more in the NL East.
- Adrian Beltre will hit 19+ HR.
I have no idea how the Texas Rangers have managed to get by this season without Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz in their starting rotation. Ogando and Lewis are set to return soon after the All Star break, while Harrison and Feliz are late season candidates to join the club. Joakim Soria recently returned also to help an already formidable bullpen. If the Rangers acquire a starting pitcher, lookout Oakland A’s. As for the offense, Adrian Beltre is absolutely DESTROYING the baseball in July. At 34 years old, Beltre continues to produce elite numbers. While nothing will top his 48 HR season with the Dodgers in 2004, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Adrian Beltre smack 40 HR this season.
- Miguel Cabrera will not win another Triple Crown.
Compare Miguel Cabrera’s stats at the All-Star break this season to his stats at the same point last year and you’ll be astounded:
2013 - .365-73-30-95-3
2012 - .324-52-18-71-3
What Miggy’s doing right now is historic, something we may never see again, at least in our lifetimes. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that he will shatter last season’s statistics-- BUT... Miguel Cabrera will not win the Triple Crown award in 2013. He’ll have Chris Davis to thank for that. I hope it doesn’t happen (as an Indians fan, that’s tough for me to say) but again... I’m just being BOLD!
Back to the AL West, Bartolo Colon will be a 20 game winner for the 2nd time in his 17 year MLB career. Crazy.
- Pedro Alvarez will revert to being, well, the Pedro Alvarez of past years.
As Pittsburgh Pirates look to avoid another second half collapse, Pedro Alvarez goes ice cold and finishes the year with less than 30 home runs.
- Oscar Taveras will have little or no fantasy impact.
Back to prospects, Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals is widely considered the #1 prospect in baseball. While many are expecting him to be a fantasy superstar immediately upon his arrival to the big leagues, I think he will struggle when he inevitably gets the call. Oscar Taveras’s 2013 Stat Line = .242. 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB.
- "Glass" Jacoby Ellsbury will visit the DL at least once.
The Boston Red Sox have exhibited quite a turnaround from last season and a big factor there has been the resurgence of Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury has remained healthy for the most part this season and leads MLB at the break with 36 stolen bases. Unfortunately, Ellsbury owners always have to worry about the threat of injury, be it his wrist, shoulder or something fluky like a really bad bee sting. If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d bank on Jacoby Ellsbury hitting the DL at some point in the second half of the season.
After all that typing, I could use a nap. I doubt my son will allow me to take one, but as I attempt to do so, I’ll again invite you to make your own BOLD! predictions in the comments section below.
You can also submit them via Twitter (@RyanRufe).