Bold Predictions for Each MLB Team (NL)

Mar 30, 2016

Gregory Polanco

We know of Gregory Polanco’s speed, but will he provide a power surge in 2016?

Here’s a look at bold predictions for each National League club.

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Arizona Diamondbacks

Zack Greinke will fail to live up to expectations
In 2015, Zack Greinke posted one of the best seasons in history to not result in a Cy Young Award, finishing second behind Chicago Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. Greinke finished with Major League-bests in ERA (1.66) and WHIP (0.844), while his name was near the top of almost every other pitching leaderboard. During the offseason, Greinke surprised many by signing a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Dodgers’ division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greinke is currently 40th overall and the 9th-ranked pitcher in our Expert Consensus Rankings, yet there are signs that point to Greinke possibly finishing out of the top-100 overall and outside the top-20 pitchers by year-end.

Greinke threw 222.2 innings last season, his most since his 2009 AL Cy Young award-winning campaign – which he followed up with a 4.17 ERA in 2010 that was two runs higher than the previous season. His 2.76 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in 2015 was 1.10 higher than his ERA and the third-largest differential in the majors. His BABIP-against (batting average on balls in play) was .232 (previous career-low was his rookie season at .269). Among other outliers, his career-bests of 6.0 H/9 (hits per 9 innings), .187 BAA (batting average against) and .507 OPS-against (previous career-best was .611) will prove hard to duplicate in the desert. All of these statistics and hints at regression don’t even consider the move from home games at pitcher-friendly Dodgers Stadium to Chase Field, which is regarded as an extreme hitters’ park.

While Greinke will still be one of baseball’s most cerebral and talented players, it is unlikely the rare mix of good-fortune and career-best performance that led to his historic 2015 campaign will again team up to make Greinke one of the top fantasy starters in baseball in 2016.
– Tony Pontecorvo (Diamondbacks Correspondent)

Atlanta Braves

Nick Markakis will be one of baseball’s most coveted acquisitions at the trade deadline
In what should be a year to forget in Atlanta waiting for the new stadium to be built in 2017, Nick Markakis could be a valuable trade chip come deadline time for a contender. Markakis still possesses underrated on-base skills (.370) as he placed ninth best in the NL as well as totaling the fourth-most hits (181). His power is non-existent at this point in his career as he hasn’t slugged over .390 or had an ISO over .110 in the last three seasons. He’s not part of the Braves’ long-term plans of rebuilding but certainly could command quite a few offers in late July. I’m expecting him to once again quietly single and double his way into a bidding war for a team desperate for a veteran outfielder with excellent contact skills.
Kyle Borgognoni (Braves Correspondent)

Chicago Cubs

None of the Cubs’ outfielders will finish in the top 20 of fantasy OFs
It is hard to come up with a bold prediction for a team where Vegas has them as the World Series favorites and the intense love of their fans paired with being in a major media market has helped to raise their fantasy predictions towards the high end of their range. Now, a disclaimer is in order that I am not counting Kris Bryant as an outfielder despite the chances he will spend some time out there. The reasoning behind my prediction is that manager Joe Maddon rotates players often enough that it is possible none of the outfielders will play more than 150 games even if completely healthy. Maddon will have Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler along with the various utility guys who might spend an odd game every now and then out there to enable getting another of the many talented infielders into the game, such as Javier Baez.
Jamie Mellor (Cubs Correspondent)

Cincinnati Reds

Billy Hamilton will steal 80 bases
Last season, Hamilton registered career lows in BABIP and ISO while improving his walk and strikeout rates from 2014. Considering his efficiency on the basepaths, and assuming he plays a full season, mostly batting atop the Reds’ lineup, Hamilton has a real shot at 70-plus stolen bases. I’ll be bold and say he reaches 80 stolen bases in 2016 with his batting average back in the .250 range and an OBP north of .300.
Blaine Blontz (MLB Correspondent)

Colorado Rockies

Gerardo Parra will have a 20/20 season
The Rockies acquired Parra in the offseason as a free agent for three years and $27.5 million. When Corey Dickerson was traded to the Rays it opened up a full-time role for Parra. Entering his age-28 season, Parra has consistently shown that he can be a decent source of both power and speed while also hitting for average. Last season, splitting time with both Milwaukee and Baltimore, Parra had his best season yet slashing .291/.328/.452 and tallying 14 HRs and 14 SBs. In addition to the home run total, Parra added 36 doubles, five triples, and showcased an ability to hit to all portions of the field. Now with Coors Field to call his home, some of those doubles/triples should turn into home runs. With an increase in at-bats and a reasonable chance to bat early in the lineup (projected No. 2 hitter), the stolen base totals should increase as well. Parra is currently being drafted with an ADP of 197, making him a late-round steal. Bold prediction: .285 AVG, 85 R, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 20 SB
Grant Evje (Rockies Correspondent)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Trayce Thompson becomes the Dodgers’ CF
I initially had Carl Crawford getting traded as my bold prediction, but with the injury to Andre Ethier, that is definitely not happening. So, for my next bold prediction, I will say that Trayce Thompson becomes the Dodgers’ center fielder at some point in the season. This is probably more an indictment against Joc Pederson. If he does not improve his strikeout rate, I could see him getting sent down to the minors. Thompson has been playing a lot this spring, so the coaches are getting a real good look at him. In 122 major league at-bats with the White Sox, he posted a .295/.363/.533 slash line with five home runs. He crushes lefties (.327) and is adequate against righties (.269). His strikeout rate is 21% and he plays excellent defense. He will probably make the 25-man roster and if Pederson struggles Thompson could get his opportunity.
Stan Son (Dodgers Correspondent)

Miami Marlins

Marcell Ozuna will hit 30 home runs
New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Barry Bonds clamored for the team to keep Ozuna because they saw something in him. Ozuna will open the year as the Marlins full-time center fielder despite being the subject of trade rumors for most of the offseason. Mattingly has placed him second in the batting order in most Grapefruit League games and may try him in that spot in the regular season so that he can “see more fastballs.” Ozuna has a powerful swing, but sometimes struggles with breaking pitches. Hitting in front of Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton should indeed lead to Ozuna seeing more fastballs as pitchers would prefer to challenge him rather than put a runner on base for the middle of Miami’s order. Ozuna hit 23 homers just a few seasons ago and should be able to sneak a few more over the shorter fences at Marlins Park.
David Marcillo (Marlins Correspondent)

Milwaukee Brewers

Domingo Santana will be a top-30 fantasy OF this season
Santana is currently being drafted as the 80th outfielder in drafts according to our Consensus ADP, but he has a shot to be a top-30 outfielder to help lead fantasy teams to their championship this season. Santana is in the right situation to excel in 2016. He should get all the at-bats he can handle for the rebuilding Brewers this season following the trade of Khris Davis to Oakland. He has shown excellent power in the minor leagues with four straight seasons with at least 16 home runs and will get to play half of his games in the hitter-friendly Miller Park. While his strikeout rate is a concern, he still has the potential to hit for an above-average batting average. He will likely start the season hitting either fifth or sixth for the Brewers. With proven hitters like Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy hitting in front of him, he should have plenty of RBI opportunities. He is also athletic enough to sprinkle in some steals during the season and has already stolen two bases this spring. Santana is a player that fantasy owners will not need to spend much to get on draft day but has the upside to be a hitter with a .265 average with 25 HR, 85 RBI and 10 SB which is a comparable stat line to players like Adam Jones and Matt Kemp who are both being drafted among the top 25 outfielders this season. Give Santana a shot late in your fantasy drafts.
Brad Richter (Brewers Correspondent)

New York Mets

Noah Syndergaard will finish as the Mets’ best fantasy SP in 2016
Coming into 2016 as the Mets’ SP3, Noah Syndergaard is poised to break out as one of the top starting pitchers in all of baseball. In 2015, in only 150 IP and 24 starts, Syndergaard posted a 3.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP to go with 166 Ks. Ready to pitch his first full season in the majors after maturing before our eyes in the 2015 post-season, Syndergaard will exceed his current ADP and finish as top-dog in the Mets’ starting staff. Coming into 2016 as a more confident pitcher who now excels on the big stage, and with a fourth devastating pitch (slider) to work with, Syndergaard should be able to limit the HR ball which plagued him in 2015 (19 in 150 IP). This would, of course, reduce his ERA and impact his win total on a team built to contend for a World Series title right now. While Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom are also in-line for solid top-tier seasons, when 2016 comes to a close, Noah Syndergaard will be the Mets’ starting pitcher with the best stats (fantasy or otherwise) of the bunch.
Nicky Tapas (Mets Correspondent)

Philadelphia Phillies

Vincent Velasquez will throw 180 innings, have a sub 3.25 ERA, and total over 200 strikeouts
Velasquez has less than 60 inning in the big leagues, but he has all the potential of rounding into the Phillies’ ace. Velasquez, in 5 minor league season, averaged 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. If he is to meet my prediction, he will have to keep up a similar pace. His ERA in those 5 seasons was 3.28. I am expecting him to improve on that rate for a few reasons, but the main reason is the inner-division matchups. Pitching against the Braves and Marlins will be helpful. Velasquez is only 23 years old, so he has plenty of room to grow. That’s what will make his power arm so exciting and that’s why I expect him to take a big leap forward this season.
Matt Hutcheson (Phillies Correspondent)

Pittsburgh Pirates

Gregory Polanco will be a 20/30 player
The speed portion of this prediction is hardly bold, but in order to reach 20 home runs, Polanco will need to double his production from last season. Though it seemed like he took a step back last season, his fly ball rate and ISO both increased. His HR/FB cratered, but his average fly ball distance remained similar to his debut in 2014, so there could be some bad luck involved in his 5.5% HR/FB rate from last year. Polanco reported to Spring Training looking stronger, and he should improve considering he is a 24-year-old player with incredible raw talent.
Dan Marcus (Pirates Correspondent)

San Diego Padres

Matt Kemp will have 30 home runs and 15 stolen bases
With a refreshed lineup in San Diego, Matt Kemp and the Padres’ offense can be a threat to opposing pitchers. With Petco Park becoming less “pitcher-friendly” and Kemp being as healthy as he’s been in two seasons, Kemp will be the key damage dealer of the Padres’ lineup. If he can stay healthy through the year, Kemp will finish right at 30 home runs and his legs will get him at least 15 stolen bases.
Bret Skinner (Padres Correspondent)

San Francisco Giants

Hunter Strickland leads NL West RPs in ERA, ends season as Giants’ closer
The last time the nation saw Strickland, he was grooving fastballs in the 2014 playoffs. However, he quietly put together an impressive 2015 campaign in the Giants’ bullpen. In just over 50 IP, he put together a 2.45 ERA, which is quality production from a reliever. What is more impressive was his 0.857 WHIP. His 8.8 K/9 should see an uptick as he further refines his stuff. He’s currently third in line for saves in San Francisco’s bullpen, but Santiago Casilla is extremely shaky, and Sergio Romo’s versatility may be called upon due to the departure of long-time Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Strickland struck out batters at a rate five times higher than he walked them in 2015, which bodes well for his 2016 prospects.
Jeff Krisko (Giants Correspondent)

St. Louis Cardinals

Kolten Wong will lead STL in homers
The five-foot-nine Cardinals’ second basemen has been known to go on absolute tears. His power ability is there, but his approach needs to become more consistent, which tends to come naturally as hitters mature. Wong could knock 25 homers this year, which would put him ahead of an aging Matt Holliday, the platoon partners (Matt Adams and Brandon Moss), the injured Jhonny Peralta, leadoff hitter, Matt Carpenter, and the Cardinals’ cleanup hitter, Randal Grichuk, who is dealing with shoulder concerns that could shorten his season. Wong is likely to see 20 stolen bases in addition, and could score plenty of runs if he is moved to the two-hole in the lineup.
Bobby Sylvester (Cardinals Correspondent)

Washington Nationals

Trea Turner will lead the Nationals in stolen bases in 2016
Through 26 spring training at-bats, Nationals shortstop of the future Trea Turner has reached first base only five times. Of course, in reaching first five times, he’s stolen second four times. While Turner will likely start 2016 with Triple-A Syracuse, the lack of shine that remains on Danny Espinosa (seriously, he’s not very good) will likely magically come off once Turner can avoid Super-Two status. Turner is too good and too fast to waste another season in the minors, and Dusty Baker will want to utilize his speed to steal a few runs for the Nationals in 2016. Ben Revere had only 31 steals in 2016 compared to 49 in 2015, and produces just a fraction of the other tools that Turner (and his .384 career OBP in the minors) does – and he’s not getting any younger.
Roy Widrig (Nationals Correspondent)

More Advice: View More Bold Predictions for 2016

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