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Revisiting 30 Fantasy Baseball Bold Predictions for 2019

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Jul 10, 2019

Devers broke out in the first half for the Boston Red Sox

There are two articles that I love writing more than any others each year. The first is the annual bold predictions piece. To refresh, it can be found here. I gave one bold prediction for each team on February 28. 

The keyword here is, of course, bold. It’s going out on a limb with something that is unlikely to happen, but, if everything breaks right, it could happen. They are predictions that I believe in and that I put a lot of thought into.

But that leads us to my second-favorite piece to write each year – the follow-up article.

At the All-Star break each season, I look back at the predictions to see what I got right, what I got wrong, what is still up in the air, and what it all means for your fantasy season going forward.

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NL East

Team: New York Mets

The prediction: Pete Alonso hits 30 home runs

Revisiting: So, while this is technically right, it looks like I underestimated not only the power environment, but also Alonso. I pegged him as a Rhys Hoskins clone, which is still really good. But at the break, he already has 30 home runs. While he won’t hit 60 homers, 45-50 is definitely achievable. What a rookie year for Alonso.

The verdict: Correct

Team: Atlanta Braves

The prediction: Josh Donaldson is a top-five third baseman

Revisiting: After starting the season off slow, Donaldson went on a late-May tear, but it hasn’t been enough to get him into the top five at a loaded position. In Yahoo points leagues, he’s 15th. On ESPN’s Player Rater, he comes in at 20th at the position. He won’t break into the top five going forward, but he’s a good corner infield option in all leagues.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Washington Nationals

The prediction: Trea Turner goes 20/20/20/20

Revisiting: Man, Turner looked like he was going to crush this projection in the first week … then he got hurt. Turner is still one of the top steals options in baseball, especially since he contributes elsewhere. He won’t reach the 20/20/20/20 mark, but he has an outside shot at going 20/20/20 with the triples holding him back.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Miami Marlins

The prediction: Trevor Richards is a top 50 starting pitcher

Revisiting: I loved the Marlins pitching staff coming into the season. I thought Caleb Smith had the highest ceiling, but was an injury risk. I thought Pablo Lopez had the best pure stuff, but was still raw. So I went with Richards, who had the best pure pitch of the group. He’s had an up-and-down season so far, and a recent rough stretch has hurt his ranking. He’s 104th on ESPN’s Player Rater, and he’s 79th in Yahoo points leagues. I’m sticking with him going forward, but ultimately, I think he’ll end up outside the top 50.

The verdict: TBD, but unlikely.

The team: Philadelphia Phillies

The prediction: Bryce Harper posts a .323/.455/.623 slash with 43 home runs

Revisiting: From a baseball standpoint, Harper has still been good for the Phillies as a 2.0 WAR player, which is the same as Juan Soto, Charlie Blackmon and, oddly, Manny Machado. But as a fantasy player, he’s been a letdown. Not only has he underwhelmed on the projected line above (he sits at .253/.370/.470 with 16 home runs) but I also predicted he’d win the MVP and be the top player in fantasy. Yikes.

The verdict: Incorrect. 

NL Central

The team: St. Louis Cardinals

The prediction: Carlos Martinez is a top-five closer

Revisiting: The good news is that Martinez is now getting more of the ninth-inning work with Jordan Hicks out for the season. I thought it would take place earlier in the season, so top five is out of play. I like him as a No. 2 reliever going forward. I’ll take this as a moral victory.

The verdict: Incorrect (but moral victory!)

The team: Chicago Cubs 

The prediction: Javier Baez finishes outside the top 10 at second base, shortstop, and third base

Revisiting: Everything that needed to break right for Baez in 2018 did so, which made him a fantasy star. So far, it’s happened again. He’s a top three, four, and four at the respective positions in category leagues, and he’s eighth, eighth, and 12th in Yahoo points leagues. One out of six won’t cut it for a correct prediction, but there’s a chance this comes true in points leagues.

The verdict: Potential for a 50/50 split, but incorrect.

The team: Pittsburgh Pirates

The prediction: Jameson Taillon is a top 10 pitcher

Revisiting: We can use the easy way out and say that Taillon got hurt so early, that we won’t know what he would have done this year. But as it stood, he wasn’t looking like a top 10 pitcher even with some flukey numbers (highest SwStrk% of his career, but lowest K/9). This one is incorrect due to injury, but the Pirates seem hopeful that he’ll pitch again this year.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Cincinnati Reds

The prediction: Yasiel Puig goes 30/30

Revisiting: It seems like Puig has been a bust so far this season, and yet, he’s on pace for more than 30 home runs and mid-20s stolen base numbers. He’s the No. 13 ranked outfielder on ESPN’s Player Rater, but a trade could lower his numbers a bit. Hopefully he runs more going forward, but he’s going to need to go on a real hot streak to reach 30 steals.

The verdict: TBD.

The team: Milwaukee Brewers

The prediction: Lorenzo Cain outearns Christian Yelich

Revisiting: L. O. L. 

The verdict: A horrible, massive failure of a take.

NL West 

The team: Los Angeles Dodgers

The prediction: Ross Stripling finishes the season as a top 35 pitcher

Revisiting: So the idea here was that the Dodgers would use their typical injured list manipulation to let their pitchers rest a bit. With Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Rich Hill in the rotation, it was a good idea. The thing is, it wasn’t until two weeks that Stripling reentered the rotation when Hill went down with a legit injury. The pitching landscape isn’t great, so Stripling could reach top 35, but he’s struggled mightily this year. This is going to be a bad prediction by the end of the year.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: San Francisco Giants 

The prediction: Mac Williamson hits 30 homers

Revisiting: Well, the Giants released Williamson on June 1, so that tells you how this prediction went. He signed on with the Mariners, but he has just four combined homers between the two teams.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Arizona Diamondbacks

The prediction: Wilmer Flores is a top 10 second baseman

Revisiting: I had more shares of Flores than I did anyone else entering the season. Flores did start to get hot before he got injured. Even with a shallow position, Flores will be lucky to break into the top 20 due to time missed and his performance.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: San Diego Padres

The prediction: Eric Lauer and Robbie Erlin are top 70 pitchers 

Revisiting: So, I obviously liked the Padres rotation this year (remember, this was before the Chris Paddack news that he would open the season in the rotation), but could I have picked two worse options to go with? Bad call. 

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Colorado Rockies

The prediction: Kyle Freeland finishes the season outside the top 100 starters

Revisiting: This, right here, is probably my best call of the year. Freeland has been so bad (*from the back* “how bad is he?”) that the Rockies demoted him to the minors. On the Player Rater, Freeland ranks 302nd between a guy named Josh Rogers for the Orioles and Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers. He’ll be back up to Colorado after the break, but I’m still avoiding him like the plague.

The verdict: Correct.

AL East

The team: New York Yankees

The prediction: Aaron Hicks is a top 10 outfielder in points leagues

Revisiting: The injury for Hicks kept him on the shelf for longer than I expected. He’s only scored 122 fantasy points this year, which puts him behind guys like Jose Peraza and Billy Hamilton. Yes, in points leagues. I like him going forward still, but the draft-day value is shot, and DJ LeMahieu is not leaving the lead-off spot.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Boston Red Sox

The prediction: Rafael Devers is a top seven third baseman

Revisiting: I called Devers the ultimate post-hype sleeper, and man, has he proved that to be true. After a slow first month, Devers has been on a tear. On the Player Rater, Devers is the No. 1 ranked third baseman. In points leagues, he ranks third. Pat yourself on the back if you bought into him after his disappointing sophomore season.

The verdict: Correct.

The team: Baltimore Orioles

The prediction: Cedric Mullins is a top 30 outfielder

Revisiting: Mullins is yet another guy I swung and missed on. I was buying into the opportunity for him, but the Orioles sent him down early on. Dwight Smith Jr. is basically what I pictured Mullins being. I’m buying in deeper dynasty leagues, but it’s not happening this year.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Tampa Bay Rays

The prediction: Tyler Glasnow is a top 15 pitcher

Revisiting: I guess technically, this will be wrong because of the injury. But before that, Glasnow put together two months of being a top 10 fantasy pitcher. He suffered a setback, which won’t see him returning to the mound until at least August. This is a technicality, but I feel good about the prediction.

The verdict: Technically incorrect.

The team: Toronto Blue Jays

The prediction: Vladimir Guerrero finishes as a top five player

Revisiting: He’s not going to finish as a top third baseman, but that’s more than OK. He’s still hitting the ball harder than anyone, and pitchers are being careful how they are pitching him. If you can buy him in any type of league – especially a keeper or dynasty – at a discount, do it now. I’ll still take him over Fernando Tatis Jr. going forward, and he’s a legit superstar.

The verdict: Incorrect.

AL Central 

The team: Chicago White Sox

The prediction: Dylan Cease is this year’s Walker Buehler

Revisiting: The jury is out, as Cease has only made one start so far. I guess this year’s Buehler is subjective, but it would probably have to go to Paddack, but I still think there’s a lot of 2019 value to be had with Cease. 

The verdict: TBD.

The team: Cleveland Indians

The prediction: Jose Ramirez goes 40/40

Revisiting: Well … this sucks. Ramirez, while he has hit his stride lately, has been more Jarrod Dyson than the No. 3 player in fantasy so far. He’ll reach the steals total, but he won’t sniff the home run side of it.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Kansas City Royals

The prediction: Adalberto Mondesi finishes with fewer than 300 at-bats

Revisiting: So, this is wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. He has 340 plate appearances entering the break. I’ll argue, though, that Mondesi has been an overall bust – at least in points leagues. He’s the No. 11 2B in the format and No. 13 at SS. The Player Rater doesn’t have him eligible at second, but he is the top-ranked shortstop because of the steals. 

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Minnesota Twins

The prediction: The Twins will lead all of baseball in home runs

Revisiting: A lot of people liked the Twins heading into the season. I loved the Twins going into the season. As of now, the team has 166 home runs, which is the most in baseball. The Mariners, though, are only six behind them. Even with some regression, I feel good about this one going forward.

The verdict: So far, so good. TBD.

The team: Detroit Tigers

The prediction: Miguel Cabrera reaches 600 at-bats

Revisiting: So for the actual prediction, Cabrera is on his way of passing 600 at-bats, which is great because he’s healthy. But, he’s basically giving you an empty batting average and no power, which limits his value.

The verdict: Correct

AL West 

The team: Texas Rangers

The prediction: Nomar Mazara is a top 15 outfielder 

Revisiting: Too bad you don’t get fantasy points for long home runs, because Mazara is doing that for you. It’s another season of him not living up to his potential. He ranks 50th on the Player Rater at outfield and 41st in points leagues.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Los Angeles Angels

The prediction: Justin Bour is this year’s C.J. Cron

Revisiting: Bour’s numbers are hurt a little because of him being injured, but he’s been atrocious. He’s provided empty power but has hurt you everywhere else.

The verdict: Incorrect.

The team: Seattle Mariners

The prediction: Mallex Smith leads the league in stolen bases

Revisiting: Even with him getting sent down, Smith is second in baseball in stolen bases — behind only Adalberto Mondesi. He’s five behind Gordon now, so it will be a close race to the end. I put this at a coin-flip going forward. It’s a crime that Smith is only owned in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues.

The verdict: Coin-flip

The team: Oakland A’s

The prediction: Ramon Laureano goes 20/20: 

Revisiting: Laureano is on pace for 30/20 right now, so it’s the speed that he will have to keep up. He’ll still be more known for his defense than his offense, but it’s definitely a good turnaround from his early-season struggles.

The verdict: Correct

The team: Houston Astros

The prediction: Kyle Tucker hits .300 with 30 homers

Revisiting: “Tucker is better than both Tyler White and Yuli Gurriel, and it won’t take long for the Astros to realize it.” So, umm, let’s pretend that I said Yordan Alvarez and not Tucker. Also, let’s ignore the “it won’t take long” part of the sentence. Both Tucker and Alvarez are better than White and Gurriel – even with Gurriel’s recent hot streak – but neither will have a shot at reaching .300 and 30. Both should be owned, though.

The verdict: Incorrect

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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