Wild Predictions: Beltran & Ceda

Once again, it’s time for my weekly “Wild Predictions”.  This week’s are pretty far-fetched, I have to admit, but remember that’s the point.  Let’s take a look at just how wild I am this week.

Carlos Beltran hits 45 HR
Considering he hit just 27 HR last season and his career high is 41, this is certainly a long shot.  The new ballpark is a real wild card, as word has been split as to if it will be a pitchers or hitters ballpark.  The truth of the matter is that we won’t really know until they step onto the field.

Beltran’s FB% took a significant fall in ’08, going from 46.6% in ’06 to 42.6% in ’07 to just 33.3% last season.  You have to believe that the number is going to rebound, instantly increasing his disappointing HR total from last season.

His HR/FB rate has been pretty consistent throughout his career, at 16.4%, except for his huge 2006 season, when he reached 21.1%.  While he’s not likely to get back to that number, if he can increase it back to the 18-19% range, this number is not unrealistic.

This is not very likely, but Beltran has shown the ability to hit HR at an elite pace in the past.  With an increase in his FB%, as well as getting back to the HR/FB rate he’s done in the past (17.9% in ’03, 17.1% in ’07), it’s not unrealistic to see him approaching this mark.

Chances of happening: 3%

Jose Ceda saves 25 games for the Marlins this season
I know, most people believe that Matt Lindstrom has little challenge to his role as the team’s closer in 2009, and to an extent that is accurate.  There is no one with major league experience who really stands a chance of surpassing him, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t look towards the minor leagues for a potential replacement.  Acquired from the Cubs in exchange for former closer Kevin Gregg, Ceda has all the makings of a potential dominant closer.

Converting to the bullpen full-time last season in Double A, Ceda posted a 2.08 ERA over 30.1 innings.  He did struggle with his control a bit, walking 4.15 batters per 9 innings, a number he certainly needs to improve to be successful at the major league level.  Still, I can’t overlook the K/9, of 12.46, a number that has elite written all over it.

Would it be surprising to see Lindstrom lose his hold on the job?  I know he’s been impressive thus far through his major league career, posting a 3.11 ERA over 124.1 innings, but he’s gone untested finishing off games with just 5 saves in his career.  He also was so bad in the first half (his ERA hit 5.18 on 6/22) that the team temporarily sent him down to Triple A to try and work things out.

If he proves unable to handle that pressure or gets off to another slow start, Ceda is the likely replacement, making this prediction possible, though not likely.

Chances of happening: 10%

Which of these do you think have a better chance of happening?  How unlikely do you see them?

In case you’ve missed them, here are the predictions I’ve made previously:

January 13 (click here to read)

  • Derek Jeter will hit below .280
  • Frank Francisco will pick up at least 40 saves while holding the closer’s job all season

January 20 (click here to read)

  • Brad Lidge will save 30 games or less
  • Edwin Encarnacion will hit at least 35 HR

January 27 (click here to read)

  • Erik Bedard will win at least 18 games
  • Willy Taveras will hit 5 HR

February 3 (click here to read)

  • Ichiro scores less then 90 runs
  • Rickie Weeks hits .290 or better

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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