Brandon Funston (Yahoo Sports) and two other guys took their stabs at some Over/Under totals on players for 2015, and provided some analysis. We’ll do the same here and see how our advice stacks up against the ‘Pro’ advice sought over at Roto Arcade.
In ’14, Baltimore slugger Chris Davis dropped to 26 home runs, which was 27 fewer than his previous season total (53). Which Davis will we see in ’15 – Over/Under 34.5 bombs?
His goose is completely cooked. ZiPS has him at 34 homers, and the usually-conservative Steamer projection system checks him in at 30. But I trust my eye on this one. Maybe the Orioles haven’t given up on him; yet. But when they’re trying to win ballgames and it’s July and he’s hitting .210 with the same issues that have plagued him his entire career, he’s going to fall into some type of weird platoon and lose playing time. I think he’s a lot more likely to finish with 20 than he is 35 – and who could honestly feel good putting their faith in Davis at this point? There’s a good book on him now. He actually saw more fastballs last season than in his Ruthian power season. No faith here in his ability to adjust and recover.
Jason Heyward washed out in Atlanta at an age (25) that many players are still trying to break into the league. Now in St. Louis, can Heyward get his career back on track – O/U .7999 OPS?
OVER – the Cardinals have a way of fixing players. His career BB% sits at 10.3, but at his finest version when he was an All-Star caliber rookie, it was 14.6%. He improves the walk rate from his career average a little bit and hits close to .280 with more extra base hits and he’s there.
Second sackers Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia both disappointed in ’14 by finishing outside the fantasy top 200. Which pivotman will deliver more RBI+Runs, and will that number be O/U 149.5?
Pedroia/OVER. For what it’s worth, I like both to go over the 149.5 on this. Pedroia has missed this figure only twice when he’s played in 135 or more games. Boston’s lineup is littered with talent from top to bottom, and they’re going to need the run support to supplement a less than stellar pitching staff. You’ll see lots of shootouts in Beantown this season, making the ‘over’ a good wager every night at your local sportsbook. When in doubt, go with the more proven commodity (and never the Cleveland player). We look for a nice rebound from Kipnis as well, but gun to our head, we’re going with Pedroia as the better bet to surpass the total.
Which of these ’14 rookie arms is most likely to deliver a breakout top 100 fantasy campaign in ’15 – Marcus Stroman, Yordano Ventura, Jake Odorizzi or James Paxton?
The answer would have been Stroman in a landslide but that isn’t exactly going to work out now, is it? We really like Yordano Ventura all-around. One of the best fastballs in the big leagues, he’ll continue to improve command and become more efficient; going deeper into ballgames. Just a little bit of improvement allows him to steal a few more W’s and improve to a say; 15-8 pitcher with a 3.45 ERA and over 180 strikeouts if he reaches over 200 innings pitched. Most people would take that all day, and it would have him inside the top 100 with ease. He won’t be your staff ace, but he’ll be a fine four-tier guy for you if you make him that. He comes in ahead of Paxton and Odorizzi who are excellent sleepers as well.
Colorado hot corner Nolan Arenado saw his ’14 breakout campaign cut short for health reasons. Assuming he plays 145-plus games this season, what is your prediction for his final five-cat fantasy line?
If he plays in more than 145 games, playing half of them at Coors; he’s going to have pretty insane numbers for a third baseman this day in age. The guy can hit.
Buzzy second-year fantasy commodities Kolten Wong and Mookie Betts land back-to-back on the Yahoo fantasy 2B rankings. Which player will wind up with a greater combined HR+SB tally, and will that number be O/U 39.5?
This is so tough, because both are going to do impressive things and hunt that total well. They should be ranked closely together. But that total is asking for a lot. I like Betts to steal a lot of bags but not have the developed power yet. Maybe he does 10 and 28 which would be superb. Wong won’t steal as many bases but probably hits more home runs than Betts and helps in every other category. Wong hits 15 homers and steals 18, but hits over .280 and scores 85 runs.
Bryce Harper’s games played and fantasy value has dwindled in each of the two seasons since his rookie campaign. Still just 22 years old, which fantasy feat, if any, is he most likely to reach for the first time in ’15 – .280 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 100 R or 20 SB?
Harper is a weird player. You could make the easy case that he reaches none of these, or all of these. There seems to be no in between with him. Matt Williams by all indications is going to hit him in the middle of the order, and the early rumblings are clean-up. If he was hitting two-hole all year, 100 runs would be the safest bet. We have a feeling he finally shows the ’80’ power grade that scouts raved about and gets off to a quick start in April with a good homer total, and finally tops the 30-homer plateau in 2015. The least likely is 20 stolen bases. For all his aggressiveness on the basepaths, he seemed awfully neutered when standing on first after reaching base last year.
Which power-challenged 1B will rebound from an injury-plagued ’14 to deliver an OPS north of .800 this season – Eric Hosmer, Brandon Belt, neither or both?
BOTH. Both, both, both. Thank me later, and try to get both of these guys on your team this year. Freddie Freeman will always garner more headlines but you’ll be surprised how similar the numbers look at the end of the year on paper with Belt and Hosmer. Of the two, we believe a little more in Hosmer’s pedigree. Hosmer really drove the ball in the postseason, I’m not scared of the rate at which he’s hit groundballs in the past. He’s going to be a very good hitter this season.
Which cheap Minnesota power source will finish with more home runs in ’15, Kennys Vargas or Oswaldo Arcia (and what is your HR prediction for both players)?
ARCIA. I fell in love with Kennys’ power last year, but he was shown to be pretty pedestrian once there was a book built on him. The struggles Arcia has against lefties is real, but he’ll improve against them in 2015. Arcia leads Minnesota in home runs this season with 32. Vargas hits between 20 and 25 if everything goes right.
Which K/9 stud from ’14 will finish with the most punchouts this coming season – Carlos Carrasco, Jake Arrieta, Danny Salazar, Jacob deGrom or Collin McHugh?
Finishing with a very tough question – it would be easy to go with deGrom here – but we expect a good chance of regression from Arrieta, deGrom, and McHugh and we’re not that excited about Carrasco to begin with. Salazar will put things together to become Cleveland’s most prized starter in 2015, and in some ways he’ll look like a different starter from the guy in 2014 who was yanked in the fourth inning at times. Just over 200 strikeouts are coming for Salazar in 2015.