In early February, I asked the best fantasy baseball community on the Internet to submit their predictions for the 2013 season. They did. We then took those results and polled the Cafe to determine the winner each playoff matchup, finally settling on the Cafe’s prediction for the 2013 World Series champion. You’ll find all our results below, as well as my own personal predictions, which have changed a little since contributing to the official poll. I’ll also throw in one bold fantasy prediction per team, just because you deserve it. Make your own predictions by visiting the 2013 Predictions forum before the season starts.
Also, Future Rookies columnist Josh Shepardson and I contributed to the eDraft 2013 Fantasy Baseball Preview. Do us a favor and check it out to find extended analysis of about 100 top fantasy commodities, further analysis of more than 500 players, positional rankings, a feature on why I’m not drafting Buster Posey this year and team previews by eDraft writers featuring player projections, impact rookies and more.
|Red Sox||Red Sox|
The Blue Jays are picked by many to win the division, but I’m not sure pilfering one of the worst teams in the National League really makes them that much better, especially since they didn’t get the Marlins’ No. 1 player (Giancarlo Stanton). It’s going to take 90 wins to take this division, and the Blue Jays had 73 last year. Do R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes and the rest make them 17 wins better? I doubt it. However, the Rays were a 95-win team based on Pythagorean wins, and a full year of Evan Longoria plus an eventual offensive boost by Wil Myers will go a long way toward overcoming the loss of No. 2 starter James Shields. With the Yankees expected to start slow thanks to their slew of injuries, the Rays seem like the clear favorite to win the East.
Anthony Gose is the second-most valuable Blue Jays outfielder in fantasy by season’s end. Kelly Johnson flirts with being a fantasy starter at second base early in the season, which could cost Yunel Escobar a job when Ben Zobrist is shifted to the infield to account for Wil Myers. Derek Jeter finishes outside of the top 20 at shortstop. Jason Hammel proves last year wasn’t a fluke, finishing in the top 50 at SP. Joel Hanrahan doesn’t finish the season as the Red Sox closer, and three guys finish with 10 to 20 saves for Boston.
The Tigers are probably the safest bet of any team to be back in the playoffs this season, and the return of Victor Martinez and addition of Torii Hunter can only help. The Royals are a trendy pick to grab a wild card spot after adding James Shields this offseason, but the rest of the rotation doesn’t really inspire confidence, and if any of the young talent on offense fails to take a big step forward, they could be in trouble. Also, Pythagorean record from last year showed the White Sox as an 88-win team, the Royals as a 74-win team and the Indians as a 64-win team. It’ll be hard for the Royals to overcome that deficit, and while I love the Indians as a sleeper, that’s also a lot of ground to make up to get in the race. So I’m sticking to last year’s final standings.
The biggest fantasy question in Motor City is “Who leads the Tigers in saves?” I think it’ll end up being Joaquin Benoit — sure, Jim Leyland doesn’t trust him pitching on back-to-back days, but even if he limits him in that fashion, he could still get upwards of 70 percent of the save opportunities. Mark him down for 25 saves. Salvador Perez exceeds the hype and finishes as a top-five fantasy catcher. Scott Kazmir excels in front of an elite outfield and is owned in more than 50 percent of fantasy leagues by midseason. Tyler Flowers hits 20-plus home runs while challenging for the homer title among fantasy catchers. Aaron Hicks challenges for Fantasy Rookie of the Year with a .290 average, 15 HRs and 30 SBs.
The Angels should be the prohibitive favorite to win the division, but I worry a little bit about their pitching depth. I’d like to see them add a reliable starter via trade at some point, even if it costs them a talented prospect or two that isn’t helping the team win for the next few years. With Josh Hamilton in tow, the goal should be to win now. The Athletics are the real deal, and even if the pitching regresses some from last year, the offensive additions will help keep them competitive. The Rangers are already hurting for pitching depth and will have to deal with losing Hamilton and not making any major additions to the offense. The Mariners are capable of threatening the 80 wins plateau. Without the addition of the Astros, this may have been the best division in baseball from top to bottom.
Ernesto Frieri leads the team in saves and finishes as a top-10 fantasy closer as Ryan Madson fails to stay healthy. Leonys Martin cracks the top 50 fantasy outfielders by season’s end. Brett Anderson stays healthy all year and makes a significant dent in the Cy Young voting race by finishing as a top-20 SP. Dustin Ackley shakes off a subpar sophomore year to have a breakout season, finishing in the top 10 at 2B. Chris Carter starts strong for the Astros, leading the AL in home runs in April before finishing with 35 homers by the end of the year.
This is how the standings ended in 2012, and I see no reason not to expect a repeat. The Nationals are probably the best team in baseball, while the Braves did as much as possible to weather the loss of Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn. The Phillies’ hopes could hinge on Roy Halladay avoiding turning into a pumpkin, as his spring foreshadows. I like the Mets pitching and think they are capable of making a run if they could find any offense outside of David Wright and Ike Davis. I’d call the Marlins a Triple-A team plus Giancarlo Stanton, but that would be a disservice to Triple-A teams. They’re my preseason favorite for the 2014 No. 1 pick in the draft.
Anthony Rendon plugs the only hole in the Nationals offense by usurping Danny Espinosa (a trade candidate?) at second base by mid-season and breaking out in the second half. Julio Teheran wins the Rookie of the Year with an ERA in the low 3.00s and nearly 200 strikeouts. Chase Utley posts one last big fantasy season to finish in the top five at second base. Ike Davis reaches the second tier of 1Bs with a 40-homer season. Every single one of Giancarlo Stanton’s 52 hits this season are home runs, as he swings for the fences on every pitch and refuses to delay the inevitable out by running to first on a ball that doesn’t leave the yard and getting stranded on base by the rest of the “offense.”
The Reds were remarkably healthy in the starting rotation en route to winning the division last year, but run differential shows the Cardinals were actually the better team. I like the Cardinals’ rotation depth over that of the Reds, especially with Aroldis Chapman limited to the bullpen. I also expect great contributions from Cardinal rookies this year. The Pirates are an up-and-coming team, and the Brewers would be sunk if forced to play a significant portion of the season without Ryan Braun, as could be the case depending on the outcome of the Biogenesis investigation. The Cubs are better than you think, but they have a lot of ground to make up in the Central to be competitive.
Adam Wainwright wins the Cy Young after posting a 20-win season with an ERA under 3.00 for the division winners. Tony Cingrani winds up being the third best starting pitcher for the Reds this season behind Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto. Wandy Rodriguez has a surprisingly effective year, earning him ownership in a majority of fantasy leagues. Jean Segura enjoys a breakout and establishes himself as a fantasy starter at shortstop. Edwin Jackson is the pitcher who outperforms his ADP the most in 2013.
How good are the Dodgers, really? They had the worst offense in the division last year, and despite all the additions the new ownership has made, they’re a team filled with uncertainty, especially if Zach Greinke’s elbow problems last. Outside of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, can you trust anyone on this team? I’ll take the Giants to repeat as division winners with their excellent pitching and underrated lineup. The Diamondbacks have very few holes when healthy and pitching depth to burn. They could be the Oakland A’s of this season as far as unexpected division winners go. The Padres and Rockies are clearly on the bottom level of the division, but I’ll put the Rockies last until I can see something positive out of their rotation.
Tim Lincecum re-finds his mojo to post a big comeback season and earn a big contract in free agency (from the Dodgers?). Carl Crawford earns the Vernon Wells Award for albatross contracts by becoming the team’s fourth OF as Yasiel Puig is entrenched as a starter by mid-season. Aaron Hill retains top-three value at the second base position with another .300 season. Jedd Gyorko finishes second in the Rookie of the Year voting with a 20-homer season. Josh Rutledge proves last year isn’t a fluke, hitting in the .280s with 15 homers and 15 stolen bases.
AL Wild Card Game: Rays over Rangers
AL Division Series: Tigers over Rays, Blue Jays over Angels
AL Championship Series: Tigers over Blue Jays
NL Wild Card Game: Giants over Braves
NL Division Series: Nationals over Giants, Reds over Dodgers
NL Championship Series: Nationals over Reds
2013 World Series: Nationals over Tigers
AL Wild Card Game: Yankees over Athletics
AL Division Series: Tigers over Yankees, Rays over Angels
AL Championship Series: Tigers over Rays
NL Wild Card Game: Braves over Diamondbacks
NL Division Series: Nationals over Braves, Cardinals over Giants
NL Championship Series: Nationals over Cardinals
2013 World Series: Nationals over Tigers
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to CBSSports.com's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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