With a 60 day season it feels like just about anything can happen. Just look at 60 game runs that players have had in the past. We can see batting averages over .400 or ERAs below 1.00. So how bold do we have to go to actually be bold in this unprecedented season? I’m not sure but I am going to take a few cracks at this and find out just how far off my thinking is.
- At least 6 Catchers rank in the Top 100 of qualified hitters in wRC+.
My colleague Christian said he thinks that no catchers finish in the top 100 in end of season rankings. I think the opposite is going to be true. In a shortened season the hot hand is going to be played way more. Couple that with the DH being in the NL, we are going to see catchers that are hitting well play a larger portion of games than they would have in a normal season. From a fantasy standpoint it means do the exact same thing, ride the hot hand. If you have a catcher that is hitting well expect to be able to slot them in more often. If you have a catcher this isn’t hitting well but has another catcher hitting well on their team, look elsewhere, you may be disappointed with the amount of games played.
- A hitter who wasn’t in the Top 100 last year will be the top qualified hitter in wRC+ this year.
Keeping with the hot hand theme, a team will ride an unexpected hot hand and he will end up being the best hitter in baseball. In a shortened season every team is going to feel like it has a chance to make the playoffs until officially eliminated. Teams are going to allow the hot hand many chances to keep a streak going. For us fantasy players that means we shouldn’t be afraid of the player we have never heard of or whose name normally turns us off. Pick them up and you may even be able to flip them for players you like better for next year.
- Only 10 pitchers will average more than 6 innings per game started.
On the flip side pitchers are not going to be given the same slack. The moment that a pitcher is in trouble they are going to be taken out. This trend is even going to affect the top pitchers though. Pitchers we traditionally have been able to ride because we knew they would go 7 every fifth time through just aren’t going to be give the chance when they need to win. Think of what we see in the post-season but with all 30 teams. In fantasy players should roster many more starters than originally expected. If you do not mind getting deep into it, another way to combat this expected trend would be to roster many more relievers and cycle out pitchers who already pitched two in a row to maximize on reliever innings.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. hits 20 home runs and steals 20 bases.
My first player specific prediction focuses one of the most electric players in baseball. Last year he came incredibly close to joining the 40/40 club, missing it by just 3 steals. In a shortened season the equivalent to 40/40 is 15/15. I think Acuña crushes that. Barring something unexpected he should play in all 60 games and he is not going to hold anything back.
- Garrett Richards returns and has the best season of his career.
On it’s face this doesn’t seem to be too bold but Richards was really good in 2014. That year he had a 2.61 ERA and struck out 8.75 batters per nine innings. I think he eclipses both of those stats while putting in a fully healthy year for the Padres. The 32 year old had a good spring, not allowing a run and striking out 6 in 5.1 innings while facing mostly major league hitters.