Way back on April 2nd I wrote an article published here at Dynasty Sports Empire titled “Fantasy Baseball 2017 Kings Of The Hill.” I led off the article stating “today I am looking into my crystal ball and seeing who I predict to be the best in each of the five traditional Roto fantasy baseball league pitching categories.”
In the article I made my pick, and always it ended up being a player with a high probability to end up being the right pick. Call it the safe picks if you like. I get it. But, these talents have proven themselves worthy of legitimate consideration and, ultimately, were the ones I felt best positioned to come through for me.
However, we play fantasy baseball for multiple reasons. We play it for the trophies. We play it for the money. We play it for bragging rights over our friends and co-workers and countless people on the Internet that we’ve never met in person nor will ever be in the same room with. However, we also play it for the fun of the game.
So, when I wrote the article I didn’t just want to make the safe, logical picks. I also wanted to make bold predictions. Not stupid bold predictions that were completely out of left field. That’s like throwing darts blindfolded. No point in doing so. However, bold predictions that at least had a small possibility of maybe…just maybe coming true.
Well…we’re past three weeks into July. It’s time to check up on how the safe picks…and the bold predictions are doing.
The Pick: Chris Sale
Mr. Sale is tied with Jason Vargas for 2nd most MLB wins as of Monday morning with 12. Mr. Sale pitches for the Boston Red Sox and Mr. Vargas pitches for the Royals. Mr. Sale has established himself over the years to be a much better pitcher than Mr. Vargas. I like the odds of Mr. Sale finishing the season with more wins that Mr. Vargas.
The big problem is Clayton Kershaw has 15 wins already. I never like to see a player get injured, but Mr. Kershaw’s trip to the disabled list with a back issue opens up a window of time for Mr. Sale to gain on him. There have been reports that he might be out four to six weeks. If that is the case, well, it would not be a surprise to see Mr. Sale catch up and surpass Mr. Kershaw.
However, not only does Mr. Sale have to make headway on closing the gap between him and Mr. Kershaw. He also has to put some distance between him and 14 other players with 10 and 11 wins. I’m not going to list all those names here, but not surprisingly there are some proven and extremely talented starting pitchers amongst those 14.
The Bold Prediction: Lance McCullers
A big part of the reason I selected Mr. McCullers is I saw fantasy ace type talent that was ready to shine. The only question I had with him was whether or not he would be durable enough to get to 190-plus innings. Well, thus far he has 18 starts and has pitched 100.2 innings. He has a 3.67 ERA but check out his 2.85 FIP. Head on over to fangraphs.com (where my stats in these Kings articles are courtesy of) and check out the league leaders for pitching with a “Min IP:” of “Qualified” selected (the default). Sort the FIP column and you will find this top 5:
- Chris Sale: 1.97 FIP
- Corey Kluber: 2.47 FIP
- Max Scherzer: 2.79 FIP
- Lance McCullers: 2.85 FIP
- Clayton Kershaw: 2.94 FIP
The Houston Astros lead the American League in wins with 65 on the season. I saw a team that could produce a great amount of win possibilities. No Astros starting pitcher has been able to cash in big on that. Dallas Keuchel does have 9 wins though. Brad Peacock has 8 wins. Then there is McCullers, Charlie Morton and Mike Fiers with 7 wins apiece.
Mr. McCullers is having a great season. He just doesn’t have the wins to show for it.
The Pick: Kenley Jansen
Mr. Jansen is tied for 3rd in the MLB in saves with 24 on the season. He is tied with Craig Kimbrel and Roberto Osuna. He is chasing Brandon Kintzler (27), Alex Colome (28) and Greg Holland (31). He’s at least within striking distance.
It’s easy to see why I picked Mr. Jansen. He has proven himself over an extended period of time to be one of the best closers in the game. He also was tied for 2nd place in MLB in saves in 2016. I saw a situation in Los Angeles that would likely continue to give him a lot of save opportunities. He may be 7 saves behind Mr. Holland and chasing two others while trying to stay tied or ahead of many other closers, but I still like his chances. Mr. Jansen is that talented.
The Bold Prediction: Cam Bedrosian
Well, this selection was a complete failure. Sure, Mr. Bedrosian has pitched great with a 2.37 ERA and 1.68 FIP. However, he only has tossed 19 innings this season and only has 3 saves, making him a non-factor for the sakes of this prediction as this bold selection has gone ice-cold.
The Pick: Clayton Kershaw
As previously noted, Mr. Kershaw is dealing with a back issue now. He also is 3rd in total strikeouts at the MLB level with 168 this season. However, he trails Max Scherzer (192) and Chris Sale (200) by a good margin. This safe pick doesn’t appear likely to come through for me.
The Bold Prediction: Michael Pineda
Mr. Pineda had 92 strikeouts in 96.1 innings pitched prior to recently undergoing Tommy John surgery. This bold prediction is ice-cold.
The Pick: Clayton Kershaw
Mr. Kershaw has finished as the ERA King many times (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014). Well, he currently is the King this season with a 2.04 ERA. The next closest “Qualified” starting pitcher is Mr. Scherzer at 2.26. After that, well, it drops all the way down to Mr. Sale at 2.48. Mr. Kershaw just needs to get healthy and make that final push to be crowned the ERA King once again. I need him to stay as “Qualified,” otherwise, well, then this pick will end up being incorrect.
The Bold Prediction: James Paxton
With a 3.05 ERA Mr. Paxton could be the 8th lowest ERA amongst “Qualified” pitchers, if only he had enough innings pitched to be listed. Right now he has 94.1 innings pitched in 16 games started. Check out that 2.59 FIP he has though. This is just one reason why I loved him entering the season.
The Pick: Clayton Kershaw
It would have been a surprise to not select the safe pick in Mr. Kershaw here. He was the logical choice really. His 0.88 WHIP is second-best in MLB this season only to Mr. Scherzer (0.84) and he is barely better than Mr. Sale (0.89). Mr. Kershaw will need enough innings…and need to pitch well enough…to maybe get this honor. I admit, I’m concerned that he won’t get enough innings to get the honor.
The Bold Prediction: Tanner Roark
Well, this bold prediction has gone ice-cold. He has a 1.38 WHIP. Well, next year I don’t believe he will be my bold prediction.