2017 Fantasy Baseball Bold Predictions: 7 for 2017

by Tyler Gettmann
2017 Fantasy Baseball Bold Predictions

Opening Day is upon us! So is my annual 2017 Fantasy Baseball Bold Predictions.

This is probably my favorite segment of the year. The unpredictability of any type of sporting season is one of my favorites to actually try to predict. At this point you have already had your drafts. During them many of us think, “Oh I like this guy or I think this guy is going to have a bad year so I am not going to draft them.”

These are a few things that were going through my mind as I was drafting and what I think could happen in 2017.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Bold Predictions

No. 1: Javier Baez will be a top-10 second baseman in 2017

According to ESPN, Javier Baez enters the year as the 18th ranked second baseman. His lower rankings are connected to how many probable at bats he is going to get this year.

I feel like these at bats are going to be higher than most experts think. His shaky field play are what keep him out of the lineup often, but his versatility (third baseman and shortstop eligible) is what is going to keep him in the lineup.

Obviously, as the fantasy realm goes we are just concerned about the offensive production of the player. I know that the World Baseball Classic is over, but with the high intensity that the tournament entails and him coming off of playing in the World Series last year, I believe he is in for a big year.

I was trying to target him in all of my leagues, but was only successful in one of them. The struggles that Jason Heyward had this Spring will help Baez find the field a little more, but then again with the amount of money the Cubs are paying Heyward are they really going to keep him on the bench? Only time will tell, but I am telling you I like Baez in 2017.

No. 2: There will be no 20 game winning pitchers

They call them bold predictions for a reason. There were only three pitchers in 2016 to have 20 or more wins.

You might only be able to guess one of those flame throwers. The pitchers were; Rick Porcello, J.A. Happ and Max Scherzer.

As much as I love Porcello, the only one with a great chance of repeating this accomplishment is Scherzer.

I believe there is too much emphasis on middle relievers, set up guys and closers to accumulate 20 wins over a season this year. As a high school coach, I see the emphasis on pitch count and pitch innings really coming into effect and entering the big leagues as more importance.

Injuries are happening more frequently in the majors, plus managers are extending their pitching rotation to five and sometimes six guys at a time in a season. I just don’t see pitchers getting enough starts to be able to achieve 20 wins in 2017.

No. 3: Freddie Freeman will have more homeruns than Kris Bryant

You already know what you are getting with the Chicago Cubs lineup, but the Braves are an interesting breed in 2017.

The projected lineup has Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson (side note: who I love this year as well) both hitting in front of Freeman. He should be followed by Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis.

Let us dive into the numbers for Freeman from last year. He set a career high in home runs in 2016. The percentages tell the story clearly of why this happened. From 2015 to 2016, Freeman’s contact rate went from 77% to 72%, his hard ball rate went from 38% to 44% and his fly ball rate went from 36% to 40%. He sacrificed contact for hitting the long ball. His average distance went from 221 feet to 237 feet, his exit velocity increased 0.6 mph and his launch angle went from 14 degrees to 17 degrees.

You may not know this, but the Braves got a new stadium this year and they are projecting it to be a better hitter’s ballpark. I feel like the Braves are going to rely on the long ball in order to score runs. This is where Freeman steps in.

Now the way the Cubs scores run, Joe Maddon can be up to his old tricks and score in many different ways. Kris Bryant could be asked to do so much in that lineup, which features better types of fundamental batters than the Braves.

No. 4 Madison Bumgarner will lead the major leagues in ERA

What can I say about Bumgarner? He is simply amazing and can do more than just pitch. He is a true gentleman of the game that not only goes to the mound thinking he is going to dominate, but he goes to the batter’s box with the same mentality.

Over the past five years and a minimum of 500 innings pitched, Bumgarner is fifth in ERA (2.86). He is another model of consistency as a starting pitcher. The only other pitchers that you can argue that should be ahead of him are probably Kershaw and Scherzer.

The game is truly different when Bumgarner is on the mound. He has a WAR of five (rounding up) three times and a WAR of four two times already in his career. It is amazing to think that Bumgarner is still only 27 years old.

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No. 5: Zach Britton will lead the league in saves

Early this Spring Training, Britton missed some time because of soreness. There is no need to panic though because I believe the extended rest was planned in order to keep him to his full potential entering the 2017 season.

He was a perfect 47 for 47 with an ERA of 0.54 in 2016. During the year, he had a 43 game appearance in which he didn’t allow an earned run.

His sinker is what makes him so successful. It is quit nasty. It is 90 mph that usually creates weak contact when hitters can catch up to it.

He won’t dazzle the mound with strikeouts as he normally would, but will keep his defense honest. I look for him to repeat this type of success and would have drafted him first in the closers category.

No. 6: Eduardo Nunez will have more stolen bases than Jonathan Villar

Jonathan Villar had a breakout season in 2016 with 62 stolen bases.

A little did you know: The past four years, there have been three different players that led the category (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dee Gordon and Jonathan Villar). For this reason, I see someone else winning this crown this year, even though it may not be Eduardo Nunez.

Nunez did have a respectable 40 stolen bases last season. He is a journeyman in the league and I think Nunez will be a nice fit in the Giants organization.

He will see more success running in the National League as well. Without the DH, the NL is forced to manufacture runs in order to get on the board. Nunez is a great option to keep running the bases to help hitters with run production.

No. 7: Manny Machado will be this year’s Fantasy MVP

Entering his fifth year in the league, Machado had career highs in runs, RBI, home runs and average in 2016. His only blemish was that in 2015 he had 20 stolen bases and had zero last season.

I believe this will not be the case this year. Obviously, any stolen bases will increase his value. In the past three seasons, he has increased in all the major categories for batting.

As a Red Sox fan, it hurts me to say that an Oriole will be the Fantasy MVP, but I see it happening.

Conclusion

I wish you the best of luck this fantasy season. It’s a new year, a clean slate.

Mary Schmich, an American Journalist for the Chicago Tribune, I believe said it best. She explains, “Opening day. All you have to do is say the words and you feel the shutters thrown wide, the room air out, the light pour in. In baseball, no other day is so pure with possibility. No scores yet, no losses, no blame or disappointment. No hangover, at least until the game’s over.”

Have fun!

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