Mac Squibb's 2019 Bold Predictions
by Mac Squibb
March 28, 2019
The season is finally here and what better way to start it off than with some bold predictions. My predictions are based on the scoring of a standard 5x5 league and I will be using ESPN’s Player Rater to determine a player’s ranking. Enjoy!
1. Andrew McCutchen sets a career high in Home Runs (32+)
McCutchen has hit at least 25 home runs just three times in his 10 year career; 2012 (31), 2014 (25), and 2017 (28). Since the statcast era started in 2015, McCutchen’s exit velocity on fly balls and line drives, a measure of a player's power, has been very consistent; 94.9 mph, 94 mph, 93.4 mph, 94 mph. So, McCutchen's underlying skills have remained nearly the same, but what has changed is the ballpark that he’ll call home for half of his games. For each of the last five seasons, Citizens Bank Park has been either the best or second best park for home runs as a right-handed hitter. In comparison, PNC Park and AT&T Park have both been in the bottom three parks for righties over the same period.
2. Franmil Reyes leads the Padres in Home Runs AND Batting Average
Franmil Reyes is a gargantuan man with power that can’t be questioned. He finished 2018 with the 14th best exit velocity and 21st best exit velocity on fly balls and line drives despite having a slow start to the season. The power aspect of this prediction is far from a guarantee as the Padres lineup also includes Manny Machado and Wil Myers who have both hit 30 home runs in a season. The more bold portion of the Franmil prediction is his batting average which no projection system at fangraphs has above .265. Reyes is unique in that he hits the ball with a low average launch angle which is reminiscent of NL MVP Christian Yelich. After being recalled on 8/4/18, Reyes had an xBA of .286 across the final two months of the season. Read more about him here.
3. Ozzie Albies fails to hit 15 Home Runs and isn’t a top 15 second basemen
Albies had a major power spike in the first half of 2018, hitting 17 of his 24 home runs before the All-Star break. However, Albies has had an exit velocity on fly balls and line drives of 91.2 mph during his career, which is below the league average of 92.2 mph. Albies has also been bumped out of the top two spots in the lineup, where he played 122 of his games last year, to sixth which will hurt his counting stats.
4. Ryan Braun is the best Brewers Outfielder
Christian Yelich finally put it all together and won the NL MVP after having one of the greatest second halves ever. However, people are overlooking the strong season that ex-MVP Ryan Braun put together. In 2018, Braun had the 10th highest xBA (.296), 21st xSLG (.515), 30th xwOBA (.368), and 10th exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (97.4 mph). Yelich will need to regress heavily for this prediction to hit and Lorenzo Cain is no slouch either, but Braun has the combination of power, speed, and average that could make him the most valuable.
5. Adam Frazier is a top 100 player
A swing adjustment in the 2nd half of 2018 lead to a power surge for Frazier that should up his value if it carries over to 2019.
He also secured the leadoff spot which will allow him to accumulate a lot of runs due to the extra plate appearances. I foresee a statline of 90 R / 18 HR / 70 RBI / 10 SB / .290 AVG, which should be enough to make him a top 100 player.
6. Jonathan Schoop leads all infielders not named Gallo or Arenado in Home Runs
Schoop was injured early in the 2018 season and it showed in his numbers. Schoops exit velocity on fly balls and line drives fell to 90.2 mph in 2018 after averaging 93.1 mph the prior three season. This prediction is based on his fly ball Pull% which was amongst the top 25 in baseball for the second year in a row. Schoops fly ball Pull% increased from 25.6% in 2016 to 34.3% in 2017 and 35.6% in 2018. There is a recipe for power if he combines his elite fly ball Pull% with an above average FB%.
7. Carter Kieboom forces the Nationals hand and is starting in June.
Victor Robles and Juan Soto are the young faces that most National fans would recognize, however, Carter Kieboom could force his way into that group. The Nationals signed Brian Dozier to a one year contract to be a placeholder for Kieboom, but he’s coming off a down year due to injury and isn’t getting any younger. Kieboom has shown great plate discipline in the minors with a BB% above 10% and a K% below 20%. He also has budding power, 16 home runs in 2018, due to an increase in FB% and fly ball Pull%. Kieboom should get the call if the Nationals are in the playoff hunt and Dozier is struggling.
8. Diego Castillo finishes with more saves than Jose Alvarado
Jose Alvarado was lights out in 2018, posting a miniscule 2.39 ERA while having a 11.25 K/9. However, Alvarado didn’t have the closer role which actually belonged to Sergio Romo (25 saves) despite having a worse ERA and WHIP. I think that the analytically inclined Rays will play the matchups and thus the left-handed Alvarado will again draw the short end of the stick. Right-handed Diego Castillo, who was used as an opener in 2018, is a perfect fit to take over Romo’s role after his 3.18 ERA and 10.32 K/9 in 2018.
9. Tim Anderson has less than 15 HR and 20 SB. Finishes outside the top 250
In the second half of 2018, Anderson had a measly .251 OBP. His exit velocity on fly balls and line drives fell below 90 mph which is significantly below league average and indicates a lack of power. Also, just 7 of his 20 home runs and 5 of his 26 stolen bases came in the second half. Anderson doesn’t hit the ball hard or get on base enough to steal. His NFBC ADP since 3/1 is 135.
10. Jason Heyward finishes higher than Brandon Nimmo
Heyward has been a disappointment for the Cubs as he’s never had a wRC+ above 100, the league average. There was a glimmer of hope for Heyward in 2018 though. During April and May, Heyward had an average launch angle above 13° for the 1st time in the Statcast era and his xStats improved (xBA: .282, xSLG: .450). It even prompted Joe Maddon to hit him 3rd or 4th for the first time since joining the Cubs. The change was short lived though as his launch angle steadily decreased throughout the season. Heyward’s playing time and is somewhat secure given his Gold Glove defense and with Happ being sent down.
Brandon Nimmo outperformed his xStats by a wide margin in 2018. Not only that, Nimmo could also lose out on playing time once Yoenis Cespedes comes back. Nimmo’s NFBC ADP since 3/1: 176.48, Heyward’s: 671.33.
Check out other articles