RotoRanks Staff Bold Predictions for 2020 Fantasy Baseball

Butch Dill/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Baseball season is finally upon us! Let’s have some fun this Opening Day and get a little bold. The RotoRanks staff collected bold calls for the 2020 season. Are they bold enough? Do you agree, or are they just crazy? Let’s find out.

Ryan Venancio (@ven_baseball) – Bold Prediction: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hits over .350 

At 20 years old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. disappointed many with a .772 OPS and just 15 home runs in his much-anticipated debut. What some people have looked past are his underlying numbers that would suggest this is just the beginning from the young third baseman. 

Given his excellent 17.7% strikeout rate and the ability to hit the ball as hard as anyone in the league, he could take a big step in his second season. Vlad is just a launch angle adjustment away from being one of the superstar bats in the league. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he were to hit .350 in this small 60-game sprint. 

Callen Elslager (@Callen_Elslager) – Bold Prediction: Luke Voit will finish as a Top-10 first baseman

Prior to being hurt last year, Voit’s triple slash was .280/.393/.509. His second half was then plagued by a hernia injury that he finally got worked on this offseason. Though his lineup spot might not be ideal for most teams, being an everyday player for the Yankees means plenty of opportunities for counting stats in a shortened season. He consistently hits the ball hard, with a hard hit rate last season of 41.2% (69th percentile) and an average exit velocity of 89.8 mph (63rd percentile).

Though some may be concerned about his playing time, and maybe Andujar and Ford take some at-bats, when he is on the field I believe in the production, as evidenced by his exhibition homer the other day. In a shortened season, he has the potential to get on one of those hot streaks to finish top 10 at the position and be a very good value in drafts.

Micah Henry (@FantasyCentral1) – Bold Prediction – Carlos Santana will finish the season as the number one first baseman for fantasy

Before you drop your jaw in shock, did you know that Santana had the third highest WAR among 1st baseman in 2019? Only behind Max Muncy and Pete Alonso. More than that, he hit 206 balls at 95+ MPH, the same as Marcus Semien and Cody Bellinger. He hits it hard, he hits it often, he gets on base, and he’s my choice to be the most productive fantasy first baseman in 2020.

Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino) – Bold Prediction: CJ Cron is a Top-10 first baseman

I recently mentioned on the RotoRanks Fantasy Baseball Podcast that it would not surprise me to see CJ Cron outproduce Paul Goldschmidt. And if you look at their profiles, Cron is taking steps forward while Goldy has been on a decline for years. Cron has raised his barrel rate every season over the last three years. With a 96.2 MPH average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls, his barrel rate jumped to 15% in 2019. Despite the gains, Cron was one of the unluckiest hitters last season with a .273 xBA and .545 xSLG looking much better than his actual .253 average and .469 SLG. Even with the terrible luck, he swatted 25 home runs in just 499 plate appearances. Now, we finally get to see what Cron can do with everyday playing time. And it’s going to pay off for fantasy players.

Heath Capps (@HeathCapps) – Bold Prediction: Austin Riley leads the majors with 19 home runs

Riley–who is starting at third base in Atlanta’s opener–goes absolutely bonkers in the short season. He sees time at first base, third base, and left field, as the Braves are forced to find ways to keep his red-hot bat in the lineup. Last year’s 26.2% ground ball rate trailed only Mike Trout and Cavan Biggio among MLB hitters (min. 100 PA). And last year’s 20 degree launch angle and 13.7% barrel rate further illustrate exactly what you’re getting–a lot of fly balls that are hit hard. I know, hashtag analysis. Anyway, Riley’s assault on MLB pitching this spring concluded with a two-homer game in the finale against the Marlins. It was only the beginning. And for what it’s worth, low and away is a part of the zone Riley struggled in last year. Well, here’s his second dinger of the day in the summer camp finale…

More of that, big guy. More of that.

HAPPY OPENING DAY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

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