Top Fantasy Bold Predictions 2021

  1. Kris Bryant hits 30 Home Runs and Returns to from: Bryant has had a lot of talk about his exit velocity being down. If you look though his down seasons are really 2018 and 2020. 2020 is basically a wash for guys who did pitiful because both the weirdness of the season and sample size but Bryant also had a finger issue, which to a hockey player might not be anything, but in baseball you need your finger as a big part of your swing. In 2018 we all heard about his well-documented shoulder injuries and that REALLY will affect your swing so that is understandable. Sandwiched between these two seasons was a very solid 2019 season. It wasn’t 2016-17 Bryant level but nonetheless it was a great season for him. The thing about Bryant is his swing is really about creating loft on the ball and his exit velocities even when winning MVP were not great. He was always around 89.5. In his very small sample size this spring is 90.1. If Bryant can keep it around 88 there is no reason he can’t return to form. His exit velocity on average was 87.6 in 2019. I think that there’s regression to the mean headed back his way from 2020 and if he can continue to create more hard hit balls with his loft then he will have success. Remember, Bryant was never a .300 hitter and can walk, so if he hits .275 then he can be among the league leaders again.
  2. Byron Buxton Breaks Out For Real: For Buxton the skill is always there, he doesn’t fit perfectly in today’s game as he is more of an excitement player. He has a ton of strength but his speed helps him leg out doubles and triples and with his instincts he is not only fast on the bases but elegant and tough to catch stealing second base. Last year he added a little more power to his game too. Buxton is another guy who could be fantastic if he hits just .275 because he will get on base. People throw out the 40-40 potential for guys like Tatis and Acuna but here is something I think Buxton could do: a 20-20-20-20 season, last done in 2007 by Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson. He has insane speed, added power and can hit the gaps so 20 steals would be easy, 20 doubles would be too and with his power 20 homers seems reasonable at this point. 20 triples would be hard but he hits the gaps and has speed. Buxton has always had superstar potential and by the end of the year he could establish himself as one of the best lead-off men in baseball. He is also at the peak age of 27 and has cut down on his strikeouts from his early days.
  3. JaCoby Jones Goes 20-20: Jones has had terrible luck as half way through 2020 he lost a month getting hit by pitch and breaking his hand. In 2019 he got hit by a pitch and broke his wrist and be missed a bit of time due to other ailments. I don’t think it’s fair to call him injury prone when two errant pitches took away most of his playing time. Jones has always had tools. He went to baseball powerhouse LSU and there was 20-20 talk when he was drafted. In 2019 Jones tinkered with his long swing along with improving the fact he used to just go up and swing hard at every pitch without a great plan. He moved his hands in his swing lower along with a more relaxed and powerful stance starting in May 2019 and since then he has a 112 wRC+ and has hit .259/.331/.485. He has found some power and averages a 91 MPH exit velocity and has hit 15 home runs in 103 games. He had a torrid start to the 2020 season too. If he stays healthy he could reach that 20-20 mark. He may not be a top fantasy option but he could definitely become a good fantasy option.
  4. Nick Senzel Lives Up To The Hype: Senzel to me is just a post hype sleeper. He has just barely had some time to get used to MLB pitching and he has shown flashes of potential already. Senzel just needs playing time. His skills haven’t significantly dropped off. He has the speed to steal some bags and can stick in center field at GABP. He’s starting to get around his peak age start and with some playing time I think he can make adjustments. His development has definitely not been linear and his 2021 season might not be either but at the end of it I think we will really start to see his skills translate into good stats.
  5. Gary Sanchez Returns to the Top: The top of the catchers that is. It’s not too hard. Yes, his batting skills are huge swing and miss, boom or bust. How many catchers can hit 30 home runs though? Also his BABIP is extremely low and there is just no way it doesn’t get better. He had a BABIP over .300 his first two season and then one of .244 and two under the Mendoza Line. The thing is the swing and miss has went up and is concerning but Sanchez has such great hitting skill when he makes contact even with a 35% K rate he could have a productive season, think Miguel Sano territory as a catcher. I think ultimately if he controls the zone a bit better he’s going to be .235 hitter but offer the upside of 35 home runs. He definitely isn’t as bad as everyone makes him out to be. Yes. He had a horrible 2020 but that means the only way to go is up.
  6. Aaron Civale Becomes The Latest Cleveland Pitcher to Break Out: It’s hard to bet against pitching. In 2019 Civale limited good contact. In 2020 he regressed a bit but he increased his strikeout rate and decreased his walk rate. Civale isn’t a jump off the paper pitcher but he has a good skill set and he plays his sinker and curveball off of each other mirroring them well. He also improved his CSW%. He is improving all of his stats and he already limited good contact and looked good so he is in good company to possibly a top 20 pitcher this season. He doesn’t have impressive velocity but he works his way around the zone. Also, after being 99th percentile in xwOBA it’s okay to regress, I’d say he is somewhere between 2019 and 2020 maybe closer to 80th percentile. Civale will slot in behind Bieber and Plesac but be one of Cleveland’s trustiest pitchers
  7. Trevor Bauer is a Top 5 Fantasy Arm Again: A while ago I saw a tweet comparing Bauer’s coming out to Scherzer right before free agency. I definitely would not go that far, in his 3 years before free agency Scherzer was more consistent, had a lower WHIP and FIP and compared to the era I’d say his K/9 was slightly more impressive. But the fact someone can make the argument is more of a good sign than anything for Trevor. Bauer however has maximized his curveball, his training program obviously works and he has a good game plan when attacking hitters. He’s still only 30 this year and I could definitely see him staying in this elite tier for another 2-3 years, making his contract a win-win for him and the Dodgers really. There will be some regression but he can expect to keep up a lot of the greatness because of his fastball and his ability to generate strikeouts. The Dodgers also have a solid defense behind him to cushion a lot of regression. Bauer I could see being at the top for another year or two at least.
  8. Ryan McMahon Breaks Out: McMahon will finally get a full time chance. He is a lefty with big power and he will be playing at Coors and finally has a starting spot. On fly balls and line drives his average distance is 301 feet. He will also be a good guy to have at utility or off the bench because he will have multi-positional eligibility. He has yet to hit his stride with the bat fully as in the MLB he has been a 40 grade hitter at best but he tore up the minors and up to 2019 he got more consistent playing time and got better. He is entering his prime seasons too. I like his power the best but I think that he has a chance to take a step forward with the bat as well.
  9. Tim Anderson Comes Back To Earth A Bit: I think Anderson has proven he is an above average MLB hitter at this point. His plate discipline combined with high BABIP. I think the regression will hit him this year. Now to be clear his power has developed and I do not think he will revert back to 2018 but he will probably be more of a .280 hitter if I had to guess. His hitting profile is good but not elite. His bat to ball skills are what are really solid but without some of that luck it might not end at a .335 average. Also, last season he hit .513 against the Tigers and played 18% of his games against them, He also hit over .400 against Kansas City. In 162 games he will play less games against this competition.
  10. Matthew Boyd Strikes Out 250 Hitters: This is a straight forward one. Boyd has been what I call the Robbie Ray of the pack in pitching recently. A high strikeout pitcher on a bad team who has had some tough luck but has the skill set to break out at least somewhat. Ray broke out after two seasons in 2017 and Boyd has a little more experience and has dominant stretches but with his ability to miss bats shown over the last 3 season and the fact he struck out 238 hitters in 2019, I think that Boyd is being forgotten a little bit. This might not be the boldest prediction but he’s not the first guy you think of when you think 250 strikeouts.
  11. Drew Smyly Returns To Form: Smyly has had injury issues his entire career but he was an above average pitcher on the brink of being really good at the start of his career. The balloon completely popped when he came back and got roughed up with the Rangers in 2019. Last year he redeemed himself though and was striking guys out left and right in his small sample size with the Giants. He wasn’t a Statcast darling but he showed the same skills that made him a really good option in 2014-16. If he can limit contact to being weaker then he has a real chance of even surpassing that a little. I tend to believe his return to form last year is the real deal. His velocity is really up to speed too, at 93.8 he is faster than his 2016 numbers, That is the biggest supporting evidence for Smyly.

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