Maude’s Bold Predictions for 2020 👀

Baseball’s back!! Welcome to Points Above! I’m Maude, and this is literally the first time I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been playing fantasy baseball for only five years, and ottoneu for three of those, but roto is my game, and ottoneu 5×5 is my format of choice. Outside of ottoneu, I’m part of the team that makes Sultans of Stats possible, and have been stuck in Division 2 of the world’s largest fantasy baseball super-league for a couple of years. If you’re willing to bear with the grammatical errors and lack of prose (I had to Google ‘prose’ just to make sure I was using it correctly), maybe you’ll see what this is all about and absorb some information from one of the greatest fantasy baseball minds of our generation*

*once tied for first in an ottoneu 5×5 league

With the season starting this weekend, and the urge to put my bold predictions on the record for eternal internet glory, here goes nothing:

  1. Kenta Maeda will not be startable (12-team 5×5) unless he’s facing the Tigers, Royals, or Pirates

It flummoxes (big writing word) me how so many folks in the fantasy baseball community are touting Kenta Maeda as the next big thing, while completely bypassing the fact that pitching with the Dodgers was the ideal situation for Maeda. The Dodgers can leverage their depth like no other team in baseball, which is good for the Dodgers, and great for Maeda. Sure, he will pitch more innings, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. The Third Time Through Tax (5T’s as I like to call it) is a real thing, and you cannot be excited for Maeda’s increased workload without recognizing that those additional innings are going to be less valuable than his normal, controlled workload he had with LA.

2. Lucas Gio-elite-o will break Steamer projections more than any other pitcher (again)

This one doesn’t even seem bold to me, but due to my unwavering love for projection systems, I think it’s appropriate for me to have a heart to heart with Steamer, to make each other stronger. The fact that Lucas Giolito is projected to run a 4.28 ERA (4.33 FIP) and a 1.46 HR/9 personally bothers me. Giolito’s improvements were well documented last season, and when a pitcher overhauls their delivery, it should be considered better in the projections. Now, going from “worst pitcher in baseball” to elite was already incredible, so I will keep the heat turned up with this prediction. Chicago’s willingness to let Giolito pitch deep into games, and a semi-favorable schedule (beware: he doesn’t line up to face DET, KC, or PIT too much) will lead to Lucas Giolito smashing his projection once again en route to a top 5 AL Cy Young season. Let this bold prediction serve as guidance to always consider multiple projection sources to identify and understand outliers.

3. The Baltimore Orioles won’t finish in last place in the AL East

Is the AL East really that good? Fine, I can’t poke many holes in what the Yankees have built from their drafting, player development, and league leading payroll, but Boston’s pitching staff is abysmal, Tampa Bay is banged up, and Toronto is being kicked out of their country and is still looking for a home. Baltimore’s pitching staff can’t be much worse than Boston’s, but if I take my glasses off, I think I see some hitters up and down their lineup. I think this team can score runs, and the 60 game season is their friend. Look for them to jump ahead of Tampa Bay, Toronto, or even Boston, unless…

4. Xander Bogaerts wins the AL MVP

Xander Bogaerts is my dude. I traded for Bogaerts before the 2019 season in what is one of my favorite ottoneu trades ever. I clearly look like the loser now, but Bogaerts outproduced both Tatis and Berrios in 2019, and played a key role en route to my first ottoneu (co-)championship. I would not have won without him. The Red Sox will need to win games by out-hitting their opponents, and their top half of the lineup should support Bogaerts to have another season of strong counting stats to combine with his continued ascent as an elite hitter, following a 2019 with a 141 wRC+. If Bogaerts can stay healthy, he fill Mookie’s bowling shoes in Boston and claim the American League MVP.

5. The Miami Marlins offense will outproduce Washington, Philadelphia, and New York’s in 2020

 Last year, I predicted the Marlins would have more fantasy relevant pitchers (Roto, including Holds) than any other team in the NL East, and by the All-Star Break, Dan Straily and Wei Yin Chen were replaced with exciting pitchers such as Caleb Smith, Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez, among others such as Nick Anderson and Sergio Romo in the bullpen. This year, I’ll focus on the offense. Certainly, the Marlins’ offense will not strike fear in many opponents, but they will have a resurgence, thanks in-part to new additions Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson, and Jesus Aguilar. Jorge Alfaro, Brian Anderson, and Garrett Cooper will continue their ascents as #ProfessionalHitters, Isan Diaz will get his bearings in the Majors, and Monte Harrison will somehow appear on the major league roster after a very calculated number of days. Add all this up, and the Marlins will have offense in their lineup from top to bottom, eclipsing most of their NL East competition, and putting them at the top half of the National League in total runs for 2020 after finishing dead last in 2019.

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