12 Bold Predictions from the Most Accurate Experts (2019 Fantasy Baseball)
With less than a week remaining until baseball’s true Opening Day, there’s no better time than now to make some bold predictions. Seriously, what in all of fantasy sports analysis is more fun than bold predictions? It’s the one time that experts, who pride themselves in making accurate calls that are grounded heavily in statistics, can go buck wild and take a stab at what their gut has been telling them (even though some justifiable statistical foundation is still necessary). It’s a true win-win. Anyone who thought that Khris Davis would be 2018’s home-run leader knows that you look like a genius if you’re right, and no one gets on your case if you’re wrong.
Let’s be real, though. The main value of bold predictions is that they highlight the upside that certain athletes possess. What’s even more encouraging is when experts actually share the same takes on specific guys, which you’ll see in some capacity below. If you’ve already assembled at least one fake baseball squad, then hopefully you’ll find one of your players listed here. We greatly thank the most accurate experts for sharing these daring forecasts. Now without further ado, here is what they think is possible in 2019.
Q1. What is one bold prediction with the season about to start that owners should keep in mind?
“Max Kepler hits 35 home runs. His year-by-year results in home runs (17, 19, 20) and wOBA (.313, .315, .316) indicate only the slightest of incremental progress, but he actually made substantial gains buried beneath a .236 BABIP in 2018. He comfortably set personal bests in fly-ball (46.2%) and hard-hit (37.1%) rates while elevating his launch angle and cutting down on strikeouts. The 6’4″ outfielder still possesses an immense power ceiling, and drafters can realistically project a rise to 25-30 long balls.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)
“Whit Merrifield becomes the first player in a decade to steal 70 bases. Merrifield led the majors with 45 stolen bases last year. Teammate Adalberto Mondesi was eighth with 32 (in just 75 games). This winter, the Royals added Billy Hamilton – who has stolen at least 55 bases in four of the last five seasons. Of the three, Merrifield is the only one who’s shown an above-average ability to get on base – with a career-high .367 OBP in 2018. With the Royals running at every opportunity, Merrifield will be the most successful of the trio, swiping at least 70 bags – a mark no one has reached since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2009.”
– Steve Gardner (USA Today)
“Michael Conforto will hit 40 home runs. He hit 27 home runs in 109 games two years ago and 28 in 153 games last season, but was coming off shoulder surgery and got off to a slow start. He had 17 home runs over 256 at-bats in the second half once he was healthy. He had a .895 OPS in the second half and with an improved Mets lineup, Conforto will provide elite power.”
– Adam Ronis (ScoutFantasySports)
“My bold prediction is that Chris Archer will be a top-five fantasy starter. I understand why Archer’s ADP and expert consensus ranking is so low (an ERA over 4.00 last season that’s been trending up over three straight seasons will do that to you), but I expect that a full season out of the AL East will be enormously beneficial. In addition to finally trying to add a third pitch in earnest this spring, the simple fact is that Archer has a 3.33 ERA and 1.13 WHIP against National League teams in his career. Still only 30 years old, if Archer can get back to being a 200-inning workhorse like he had been the three seasons prior to last year and continue to work on adding that sought-after third pitch to his arsenal, he could easily be in for a monster year.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)
“Michael Conforto leads the National League in home runs in 2019. THE BAT has Conforto hitting 30 home runs this year. That’s just two more than last season and is tied for 12th in THE BAT’s National League home run projections. While he played 153 games last year, the projection systems don’t account for his struggles due to his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. After the All-Star break, he hit a whopping 17 homers in just 68 second-half games. I think that stretch is more in line with his skills when healthy. He has a shot at 40 bombs this year, which might be enough to lead the National League.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)
“Last year, Whit Merrifield led MLB with 45 stolen bases. Each season from 2015-2017 produced two players who reached at least 50 stolen bases. This year, the already aggressive on the bases Royals — owners of a truly horrific offense that could be forced to ramp up their running in order to produce runs — will have two players eclipse 50 stolen bases. With speedsters Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, and Billy Hamilton, they certainly have the horses to do it.”
– Josh Shepardson (FantasyPros)
“Austin Hays hits 30 home runs this season on his way to the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Everybody wants Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and rightfully so, but Hays surprises him and everybody else. Hays blasted five home runs during spring training before being sent down, plus he hit 32 homers with a .329 batting average two years ago in the minors. Once he’s called up, you won’t have to worry about playing time either because the Orioles are not loaded with talent.”
– Frank Stampfl (RotoExperts)
“Daniel Murphy is a top-15 hitter and is looked back on as the biggest ‘cheat code’ hitter in the first 80 picks. Justin Morneau went from a .270 hitter in Minnesota to a .319 hitter with the Rockies at age 33. Murphy has been a .320 hitter over the past three years at ages 30-32. A .340+ average with 200+ Rs/RBIs and 25+ HRs is not out of the question.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)
“Francisco Mejia will be the Padres’ primary catcher and the NL Rookie of the Year. We tend to grow impatient with prospects who have helium attached to their names at an early age, and we forget just how good guys like Mejia are. Still just 23, and still with rookie status eligibility, Mejia will recapture our attention as the emergence of the Padres begins in SoCal. He can finish with 30 homers, a .280 average, and as one of the games’ top catchers by year’s end.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)
“Andrew McCutchen will lead all of baseball in runs scored. I was already optimistic about McCutchen having a big season, but now that he’s slated to bat leadoff, I am all in. He is very adept at drawing walks, and more of his batted balls should fall in for hits now that he’ll be playing his home games in a favorable ballpark for hitters. Add in the fact that he’ll be hitting leadoff in one of the league’s most fearsome lineups, and you are looking at a player who could realistically cross the plate 120+ times.”
– Andrew Seifter (FantasyPros)
“Kyle Hendricks finishes top three in NL Cy Young voting. Hendricks is on a good team and keeps himself out of trouble with an excellent BB/9. He’s not going to strike out 200, but if things align, he could post an ERA just over 3.00 and win 15+ games. From a fantasy perspective, he’s certainly a target for me at his current ADP.”
– Jason Johnson (Understanding Fantasy Baseball)
“Victor Robles hits 20 home runs and steals 40 bases on his way to a top-10 overall fantasy season. The top prospect has elite speed, he can hit for average, take a walk, and he has more power than most people realize. He’ll even do your laundry and cook you breakfast. It’s only a matter of time before Robles rises to the top of the Nationals’ batting order and racks up eye-popping fantasy numbers.”
– Donkey Teeth (Razzball)
Thank you to the experts for making their bold predictions. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and listen/subscribe to our podcast below for all the latest discussions this season.