We all know that Paul Goldschmidt is one of the most promising young power hitter in the games. In my recent look at the top first basemen 25-years old or younger (click here for the article) he came in at number four. However, does that mean that he’s bullet proof? Does it mean that he is a lock to excel on Opening Day and continue through the entire season? That thought leads us to today’s Wild Prediction (remember, these predictions are not necessarily things I believe, but things that I think have no more than a 20% chance of happening):
Wild Prediction: Paul Goldschmidt will spend at least 20 days at Triple-A prior to the All-Star Break
Goldschmidt was tremendous at Double-A last season (.306, 30 HR, 94 RBI over 366 AB). During his 1,178 AB minor league career he hit .317 with 83 HR and 264 RBI. However, he is still just 24-years old and never spent a day at Triple-A. With that in mind, if he struggles would it really be a huge shock to see the Diamondbacks send him down?
I wouldn’t think he was going to struggle in the power department. He showed in 2011 that he can hit Major League pitching with 8 HR over 156 AB (putting him on pace for around 30 HR in a full 600 AB season). The problem is his strikeout rate, which could force the Diamondbacks hand. Look at his numbers over his career: Read more
Jonathan Niese is a pitcher that clearly has a ton of ability. The 25-year old southpaw has shown it in his secondary numbers over the past two seasons, though his actual statistics have far from lived up to the hype. As we head into 2012 fantasy owners have to wonder what could be possible. It is a pretty good assumption that he is going to improve on his performance, but the real question is exactly how much?
Let’s take a look at our first wild prediction of the season (For new readers this is something I’ve done for the past few years. As you read these columns keep in mind that they are not my actual projections. Instead they are things that I believe have a chance of happening, though less than 20% of the time):
Jonathan Niese will post an ERA below 3.00
Niese is a pitcher that many viewed as a potential breakout candidate heading into 2011, though he ended up being a major disappointment by posting a 4.40 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. However, it wasn’t the skills that did him in: Read more
The Kansas City Royals are a team stocked with young talent. Finally, however, they appear primed to really take a look at Kila Ka’aihue, who will be 27-years old by the time the season begins.
Why do I say finally? Ka’aihue appeared on the precipice of making an impact in 2008 when he hit 37 HR in 401 AB between Double and Triple-A. However he got just 21 AB at the Major League level in a cup of coffee and was left to toil in the minor leagues for all of 2009 (where he ultimately struggled).
However, he made his presence felt once again in 2010 (24 HR in 323 AB at Triple-A), leading to 180 AB for the Royals (.217, 8 HR). Now he enters 2011 primed to share 1B/DH duties with Billy Butler and fantasy owners can only dream about what he can do, leading to today’s prediction:
Kila Ka’aihue will hit at least 35 HR in 2011
Considering how much he struggled when he finally saw AB in ’10, this certainly can be viewed as a stretch. However, something he did show was the ability to hit the ball out of the park. He has seen just 201 AB in the Major Leagues, but in his brief time he has posted the following HR/FB:
When you look at his numbers on the surface you may not see much to impress you from Jonathan Niese. He has a career ERA of 4.39 and a career WHIP of 1.49.
What exactly is there to like?
Well, by diving a little bit deeper into the numbers you see that there actually is a lot more to Niese then just those struggles. That leads to this prediction:
Jonathan Niese will post a WHIP of under 1.22
When you look at his underlying statistics, this actually isn’t THAT big of a stretch. First of all, his walk rate over the past two seasons have actually been incredibly respectable:
Considering his minor league mark of 3.10, there’s nothing unbelievable with the number and there is no reason that if he can’t replicate it in 2011. Even while struggling with injuries, he has still managed to continuously find the strike zone. Read more
Not too many players put up a season of 100 R and 100 RBI. Even fewer manage to go 110/110. What about 120/120? You are getting into extremely rare air. 125/125? Since 2002 you can actually count them using three fingers:
- Alex Rodriguez (2002) – 142 RBI, 125 R
- Gary Sheffield (2003) – 132 RBI, 126 R
- Alex Rodriguez (2007) – 156 RBI, 143 R
Several other players have come close, but fallen just shy. Albert Pujols was one run short in 2009 (135 RBI that season), as well as coming an RBI or two short on two other occasions. Alex Rodriguez came within a run short in 2005 and Vladimir Guerrero also came close once upon a time.
That’s it. It’s extremely rarified air, making today’s prediction one that is hard to imagine:
Ryan Braun will go 125/125 in 2011
How far-fetched is this? When you think about it, of all the players in baseball Braun could actually be in a position to deliver this type of gaudy numbers. Read more
As we head into 2011 it certainly isn’t unreasonable for someone to argue that James McDonald is the Pirates best starting pitcher. After being acquired from the Dodgers (as part of the trade that sent Octavio Dotel to Los Angeles), McDonald went 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. Those are good enough numbers, for sure, but not that most impressive.
In his 64 innings of work McDonald struck out 61, good for a K/9 of 8.54. Many would say that after finally being given a long-term shot in a Major League rotation, it isn’t surprising to see him deliver. Still, in reality, could anyone have really expected it?
The 11th round pick in 2007 has always had a strong minor league strikeout rate, which helps to lead to this prediction:
James McDonald will strikeout at least 180 batters in 2011
I wanted to push it even higher, but it is probably a long-shot that he throws enough innings to justify it. In 2010 he threw just 140.2 innings. In 2009 he was at 93.1 innings. He has a ton of upside and it is impossible to think that the Pirates are going to put him at risk and increase his innings to 200 or more. Read more