Fake Pigskin: Fantasy Baseball Predictions for 2015

Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

Fake Pigskin’s Fantasy Baseball staff took the start of the Major League Baseball season as an opportunity to make some Fantasy Baseball predictions for 2015. Ben Rolfe, Jay Holmes, and myself selected our Fantasy MVP, Fantasy Cy Young, Fantasy Rookie of the Year, as well as a sleeper and a bust.

After the first quarter, the mid-season and three quarters of the way through the season, we will return to see both how are picks are doing thus far, as well as pick our award winners at each point in the season.

Fantasy MVP:

Jay Holmes Andrew McCutchen (OF) – Pittsburgh Pirates (OF)

In 2015, McCutchen returns to MVP status. His powers are not linked to his locks a la Sampson. McCutchen is a perennial 20/20 threat who hits over .300. I think McCutchen will bat .320+ and threaten the 30/30 in 2015, leading the Pirates to the National League Championship Series, and his 2nd MVP in three years.

Ben Rolfe Paul Goldschmidt (1B) – Arizona Diamondbacks

I love Goldy this year to be the best non-Mike Trout fantasy player because he offers a rare combination at first base of power and steals. 30 homers and 10 steals is a realistic expectation of the Arizona slugger. With the added potential to score and drive in 100 runs whilst hitting at an average a touch under 0.300 should see Goldschmidt come out on top of his positional battle with Cabrera and finish second to the amazing Trout.

Kyle Robert Jose Bautista (OF) – Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista is primed for a monster season north of the border. After playing 155 games last season, Bautista is finally past the injury bug that plagued him the previous two seasons. Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin have joined the Blue Jay lineup. Bautista will lead the majors in home runs with over 40. He will also hit over .300 and drive in 110-115 RBI.

Madison Bumgarner

(David J. Phillip/AP)

Fantasy Cy Young:

JH Sonny Gray (SP) – Oakland Athletics

Gray is the best pitcher, not only in Oakland, but in the AL West. I said it. Felix Hernandez lovers will burn my house down. 2015 is the year Gray makes a believer out of the rest of the world. I expect 200+ strikeouts and 20+ Quality Starts. If Oakland plans to make a deep playoff run, it will be on the back of Gray.

BR Max Scherzer (SP) – Washington Nationals

It is tough not to expect Scherzer to be as good in 2015 as he was in 2014 and there is a tremendous possibility he could be even better. Not only does he get to face the pitcher each time through the line-up now he is in the NL but he is going to get to pitch in a division that is really struggling for hitting talent. The Phillies and Braves look like they are set for a struggle on offence in 2015, the Mets always seem to be short of offseason and the Marlins are going to be quite hit and miss I feel. With Washington looking the most naturally dominant team in perhaps the whole of baseball Scherzer could win 20 games while striking out 275. If he puts up those numbers then it won’t even matter if he is ERA and WHIP are still higher than the likes of Price and Hernandez.

KR Madison Bumgarner (SP) – San Francisco Giants

Between Clayton Kershaw’s amazing 2014 and Corey Klubers coming out party, many missed how special Madison Bumgarner’s 2014 season. He had 18 wins with 219 strikeouts. His ERA was below 3 and had a WHIP of 1.09. He was able to dominate the playoffs and improve on his numbers. I expect to see those number carry over this season and be improved on. A 20 win season is in the cards for Bumgarner. He should also have well over 200 strikeouts this season but with a WHIP below one and and ERA in the low two’s.

Kris Bryant

(Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

Fantasy Rookie of the Year:

JH Kris Bryant (3B) – Chicago Cubs

I don’t have to wax poetic about Bryant’s spring. I think everyone knows by now what a Hall of Fame spring Bryant showed the world. If you haven’t, just ask his agent. He’ll tell you. However tricky this ‘situation’ is, it will be less tricky once Bryant returns. I’m guessing he appears before May, sticks, and runs away with the Rookie of the Year voting.

BR Rusney Castillo (OF) – Boston Red Sox

When Castillo got sent down a couple of days ago I nearly changed this pick but I don’t think he is out of the majors for long and when he does come back he has real 20/20 potential. Realistically we are looking at a guy who can hit .280ish, steal 25 bases, while mashing 15-20 homers. Depending on where he ends up in the order will decide whether he is going to be a provider of runs or RBI for your fantasy teams. If he slots in behind Betts then you could get the best of both worlds but more realistically he is likely to bat in the 6 hole giving him the chance to drive in Napoli/Ortiz and Hanley and provide you with a wealth or RBI to go with a combined 40+ steals and home runs.

KR Joc Pederson (OF) – Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers made room for Joc Pederson during the winter, when they sent Matt Kemp to San Diego. While the outfield is still crowded with Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, I expect Pederson to get a full workload in his first full season. Between Crawfords injury history and Ethier’s ineffectiveness, Pederson will play basically everyday and will play well. I expect a 20/20 season where he hits .250-.260 and drives in 70ish RBI.

 josh_harrison

Fantasy Sleeper:

JH Josh Harrison – Pittsburgh Pirates (3B/OF)

I predict Harrison will push the 20/20 club, but more realistically will land 10/15. The best part is Harrison will finish in the Top 50 of ESPN’s Player Rater again (he finished 46 in 2014) and he’s going 150+ in drafts.

BR Michael Taylor (OF) – Washington Nationals
I desperately wanted to pick him as my rookie but I am not sure the average will be there consistently. Taylor has the potential to be a roto monster with both power and steals potential. The issue will be whether he can find a spot in the line-up but that Washington outfield always seems to have an injury somewhere so he should find regular AB’s if he starts the year hot in replacement of Denard Span. He is going undrafted in many leagues meaning that for a late round pick you could get a player that can give you some power and steals to start the year with the potential that he could be close to a full time player in 2015. A full year and we could have a #3 outfielder on our hands potentially even better if he can make regular contact.

KR Jorge Soler (OF) – Chicago Cubs

It will be Jorge Soler, not Kris Bryant who will be garnering all the attention this season in Chicago. Soler is primed for an impressive season. I expect him to hit in the neighborhood of 25-30 home runs, while driving in 80ish RBI and scoring 80 runs.

 (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Fantasy Bust:

JH Justin Verlander (P) – Detroit Tigers

Verlander was hinting at a season-starting Disabled List stint, but has avoided it so far. He also posted some of the worst numbers of his career in 2014. He failed to reach 200 strikeouts since 2008, and his ERA ballooned to 4.54. A lot of players still draft players based on big names, but I’m the guy who’d rather get out a year too early, then hold on to the hope of the past.

BR Yoenis Cespedes (OF) – Detroit Tigers
I can’t really explain why but I just have this feeling that Cespedes is going to really struggle in 2015. The chance to bat behind a Miggy, v-Mart, J.D. Martinez combination should give him plenty of opportunities but in the 6th round of 12 team leagues I see massive bust potential. Yes 20 homers is almost a lock but batting at 6 means his stat total with be RBI heavy and a little run light. He isn’t likely to hit for a great average (0.250ish) and I just cannot see him living up to 6th round value.

KR Nelson Cruz (OF) – Seattle Mariners

With little expected from Nelson Cruz heading into the 2014 season, especially coming off of a PED suspension, he not only bounced back, but did so in a big way. The 40 home runs pop off the stat sheet. He also drove in over 100 RBI while hitting .270. As impressive as his 2014 was, owners should expect regression from Cruz for 2015. Heading to Seattle, Cruz should return to his typical homerun total in the mid twenties and a RBI total in the 70’s. Based upon ESPN’s Park Factor, Safeco Field had the least amount of runs scored in any MLB stadium in 2014.

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