Predicting what is going to happen in the 2020 MLB season is going to be pretty much impossible, but we're in the prediction business here at CBS Fantasy. It's kind of the whole job. So, why not take some chances with our predictions? You can see our predictions for division winners, World Series, and league awards elsewhere, but our goal here is get bold.
What is a bold prediction? Maybe it's easier to define it by what it isn't.
"The Yankees will win the AL East," is decidedly not a bold prediction. "The Red Sox will win the AL East," is getting closer, but this is still a team with three legitimate MVP candidates in its lineup, so it probably isn't quite there.
"The Orioles will win the AL East," definitely is. "The Orioles will finish in third place in the AL East" might be a bold prediction, at this point. Sorry, Orioles fans.
So, a bold prediction is something that should probably knock your socks off. Of course, your bold prediction might be my baseline expectation — especially if your bold prediction has to do with Keston Hiura making the leap to superstardom. Here are the Fantasy Baseball Today team's bold predictions for 2020, beginning with one from each of us that we actually whole-heartedly believe in.
The boldest prediction you 100% believe
Scott White: Rich Hill will be a top-10 starting pitcher this year. Judging by his 3.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 over the past three years, we'd already regard him as such if he could just hold up over a full season. Turns out 2020 isn't anything close to a full season.
Frank Stampfl: Corey Seager wins NL MVP. Seager has dealt with injuries the past couple of years, but when he's 100% healthy, he can make a Freddie Freeman-esque impact. Add the fact that the Dodgers will almost certainly have the best record in baseball and voila, you have your MVP.
Chris Towers: Keston Hiura finishes in the top three in NL MVP voting. Some might point to Hiura's .402 BABIP as evidence that he has regression coming, but I'll point to the fact that there's plenty of room to improve on his 30.7% strikeout rate. Hiura has truly elite batted-ball skills (including a .378 BABIP in the minors), and if he cuts the strikeout rate to 25%, he's going to be one of the best players in baseball for a long time.
Adam Aizer : Robbie Ray will finish top three in Cy Young voting. Ray has all of the tools to be an ace, except control. He has changed his delivery to help stay in the strike zone and if the changes actually work then we could be looking at the next Blake Snell.
Three more bold predictions for 2020
Scott White's bold predictions
A. Nick Castellanos will outperform Nolan Arenado and J.D. Martinez. The underlying skills always suggested Castellanos was capable of so much more, and we saw it come to fruition when he left Detroit's crippling power alleys for Wrigley Field last year. Great American Ball Park promises to be even more inviting.
B. Corey Knebel will have more saves than Josh Hader. Knebel had 14.7 K/9 in the two years leading up to Tommy John surgery and already looked like the next stud closer with a 1.78 ERA in 2017. Manager Craig Counsell may not say he's moving Hader back to a versatile, high-leverage role, but it's where he also preferred the lefty.
C. Austin Riley will lead the Braves in home runs. It may not sound so bold to predict a team leader in home runs, but when you consider who else is on that team — i.e., Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman — it tells you the kind of output I think Riley is capable of. He has Pete Alonso-level power, as he showed after being called up last year, but he's a complete afterthought in Fantasy Baseball after floundering down the stretch.
Frank Stampfl's bold predictions
A. Joe Musgrove will finish as a top-20 starting pitcher in Fantasy. Wins will likely be hard to come by, but everything else will be there for him. Over his final four starts last season, he saw a big velocity jump and started using his secondary pitches more. This resulted in a 2.25 ERA and 11.8 K/9. So far during spring and summer camp, the velocity jump on his fastball has remained.
B. Franmil Reyes will lead baseball in home runs. He impacts the ball as hard as anybody in baseball and won't have to worry about switching leagues this year. In 2019, Reyes' 93.3 MPH average exit velocity ranked fourth in all of baseball behind only Aaron Judge, Miguel Sano, and Nelson Cruz. He's one slight uptick in launch angle away from being a premiere slugger, and I think it will happen.
C. Miguel Sano outperforms Pete Alonso. Sano has dealt with injuries in the past but if he can stay healthy for the shortened season, he will perform like one of the five-best sluggers in the game. Sano is coming off a season where he hit 34 home runs in only 105 games. That's a 52-homer pace over the course of a full season. The Mets lineup is good but the Twins lineup is even better. All Sano needs to do is stay healthy.
Chris Towers' bold predictions
A. Charlie Morton is the best pitcher in the American League. The competition? Gerrit Cole's got a new team in a homer-happy home park, so an inflated ERA seems possible; Justin Verlander is coming off groin surgery and a strained lat; Shane Bieber ... well, read on; Mike Clevinger has his own injury issues, and only one partial season of truly elite production ... And then there's Morton next up in ADP. His risk is overrated and his skills are underrated. Morton will carry your staff in 2020.
B. Jose Ramirez is a top-three hitter in Fantasy. How bold can it be when he just did it in 2018? Well, Ramirez fell to 25th in our recent podcast listeners points league, so apparently pretty bold. Ramirez's struggles in 2019 can be largely traced to adjustments he made to try to combat the shift; the fact that he hit .321/.356/.722 over the final two months after adjusting back seems like pretty good confirmation of that. He's an elite hitter, with speed to boot.
C. Shane Bieber has an ERA over 4.00. Admittedly, when it comes to pitchers, there may be no such thing as a truly bold prediction in 2020, given how small the sample size is — if Bieber has two starts with 7 ER over 4 IP and 11 more with a 3.00 ERA in 66 innings, his ERA would be 4.38, but nobody would really care too much. Still, I think there's plenty of room for Bieber to have a truly disappointing year, given how much quality contact he surrenders. He's walking a tightrope, and if the strikeout rate slips at all, Bieber could be one of the year's biggest disappointments.
Adam Aizer's bold predictions
A. Carlos Correa wins AL MVP. Correa had a .941 OPS in 2017 and a .926 OPS in 2019. With the exception of a bad 2018, he has consistently been an elite hitting shortstop. All he has to do is stay healthy for 60 games! If he can do that, he's going to mash and take home the hardware.
B. Yoan Moncada is a Top 10 hitter in Roto. Yes, Moncada was very lucky last season according to some of the advanced stats, but the arrow is pointing up for the 25-year-old. There is power, speed, and the potential for great counting stats in what could be a very good lineup.