With the MLB season almost upon us, it is always fun to offer bold fantasy predictions for the upcoming season. Here is one bold fantasy prediction for each team in the NL East.
Conjuring up bold fantasy predictions is one the more intriguing offseason exercises as it blends conjecture, player situations, and stats together. While most bold predictions fail to come true, there is always that hope that one does strike gold and would be the one that fantasy owners believed in. Here is one fantasy prediction for each of the teams in the NL East.
More bold predictions here: AL East
Washington Nationals: Trea Turner challenges Mike Trout for the title of best fantasy player in 2017.
Turner is one of the more polarizing picks in the draft this season, as fantasy owners are either all in on him, while others are not chasing the hype. But, the upside undeniable.
While Trout and his consistency still reigns supreme, Turner has the skillset to match him. The only categories that Turner will surely come up short in compared to Trout are in RBI and HR. Turner will get 100+ R batting leadoff for the Nats and has the ability to hit over .300 as well, putting him in line with Trout.
While Turner should hit around 15 HR and knock in around 70 RBI, the SB department is where he can make up the difference. Turner stole 33 SB, three more that Trout last season, in only 73 games. If he can keep that pace up, he is easily a 50+ SB commodity.
Trout is amazing and will likely be the best fantasy player for even more years to come. But, Turner has the skill to post a .300/15 HR/70 RBI/50 SB line. Steals are harder and harder to find, meaning the boost he gives in that department serves as a real separator to the top.
New York Mets: Noah Syndergaard takes over the number one fantasy SP spot
There will probably be some Kershaw guy in L.A. that laughs at this, but Thor is banging at his door. Thor posted a 2.60 ERA/218 K line over 30 starts last season. Kershaw is still ridiculous, but his stat line would not have to fall too far for Thor to pass him.
Sydergaard got attention in the offseason for adding weight, with the hope of higher and more sustained velocity. But, the thing that should be interesting fantasy owners and why he could catch Kershaw, is that he has tweaked his arsenal. The changeup and predominant use of a two-seamer, is tangible evidence as to why he will take the throne in 2017.
Miami Marlins: Christian Yelich posts a .300/25 HR/100 RBI line
Yelich is an intriguing player. Most scouts have raved about him for years, speaking to the ceiling he could reach if he kept developing. He mashed a career-high 21 HR and 38 2B in 2016. Some may waver on his power and if it is legit, but the solid upticks in his batted profile are enough to believe in.
In terms of the RBI total, hitting the century mark should be within grasp with a full-season of Dee Gordon, and a refocused, Marcell Osuna in front of him. It seems that his bat skill and offensive upside are trending upwards and 2017 is the year it comes together.
Philadelphia Phillies: Vince Velasquez is a top-15 fantasy SP
Velasquez has the raw stuff to get anyone out in the league. Last season, he showed glimpsed of excellence, but also the tendency to fall victim to some blowups. He also suffered an elbow scare in 2016, but luckily that turned into nothing serious.
Armed with an explosive fastball, sharp breaking slider, and now with a higher usage of offspeed offerings in his curve and changeup, he has everything needed to explode. His command is still coming along, strikeout pitchers have to always battle trying to be economical.
Fantasy owners should believe in the 10.4 SO/9 and 11.2% swinging strike rate, as they are both solid SP rates. This season will be where he avoids the huge ERA inflating blowups and further develops into the fantasy stud he is. Look for a 3.60 ERA/200 K type of line.
Atlanta Braves: Mike Foltynewicz is an NL All-Star
We covered why Folty could be a fantasy breakout here, but things have only looked better this spring. Finally looking healthy, he has the raw stuff to dominate hitters. Like most pitchers, it will come down to fastball command, yet he has a four pitch mix that compliments his heat well.
The Braves are going to be better than what people think and Folty will be a huge reason why. Julio Teheran may be the team’s defacto ace right now, but Folty is coming on fast and 2017 will be the year that he emerges. Make it a point to target him.
Some of these predictions may be bold, some may be somewhat obvious. But, fantasy owners should keep these in the back of your mind during the last weeks of drafting. Good luck.