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Armchair Roto's Gold Predictions

Everyone makes bold predictions, so to stand out from the herd I'm going to call mine "gold predictions." Not only is it notably different from the fantasy industry standard, it also gives me the opportunity to channel Kenny Bania.

While unlikely, the stars may align to produce these outcomes, so take them on board and enjoy.


1. Tony Santillan (Cin, P) Earns 20+ Saves in Cincinnati

When I looked at the Cincinnati bullpen in October, it struck me how easy it would be for a good reliever to stand out and remedy the hodgepodge closer disaster that plagued the team in 2021. Santillan came up in June 2021 and quietly put together a nice half season. He also got better as the months wore on. He logged a sub-2.00 ERA in 20 innings during August and September while striking out roughly 32% of batters. Santillan-as-closer is staring everyone in the face and nobody seems to see it. Sims is hurt. Amir Garrett is gone. Manager David Bell has said that he wants Santillan pitching high-leverage middle innings. It would not take much for those high-leverage middle innings to turn into high-leverage late innings.


2. Spencer Strider (Atl, P) Makes a Run at National League Rookie of the Year

Despite a top 100 prospect ranking in 2022 ZIPS, Strider isn't really on anyone's radar, but he should be. Atlanta loves him. In 2021, at age 22, Strider started out at level A, crossed four different minor league levels, and then made his MLB debut on October 1. He throws 100 mph gas and has struck out ten batters in 6.2 innings this spring, which earned him a spot on the opening day roster where he will likely serve as the sixth starter to begin the season. If he can stick there and perform like he did in 2021, he could really turn some heads.


3. Ramon Urias (Bal, IF) Will be a Top 20 3B

Though slated as the everyday 3B is Baltimore, Urias's primary position in 2021 was shortstop, and Steamer currently projects him as the 40th best shortstop in the league, per WAR. Urias is largely an afterthought in drafts, but I like him as a late pick in deep leagues and he's on my watchlists across the board. He hit only 7 home runs in 296 plate appearances in 2021, but it looks to me like there's something more here. If you filter 2021 stats for players with a similar hard hit rate (42.5%), barrel rate (9.7%), exit velocity (89.6 mph), and maximum exit velocity (112.7 mph), you get a handful of Trey Mancini- and Hunter Dozier-type players who can hit 20+ home runs given the opportunity. Ramon Urias figures to have that opportunity in 2022.


4. Manuel Margot (TB, OF) Has a 20/20 Season

I've loved Manny Margo for a long time. He has always shown the speed, swiping 20 bases in 2019 and logging double-digit steals five seasons in a row. There has always been a hint of power too, with double-digit home runs in three of the last five seasons. Margot made adjustments in 2021 and produced the best hard hit rate (40.2%) and barrel rate (5.1%) of his career. His 2019 launch angle of 14.2 degrees shows that he has the ability to lift the ball more if he so chooses. If he makes those changes and finally gets 550-600 plate appearances, 20 HR and 20 SB are there for the taking.


5. Wander Franco Hits 30 Home Runs

IF you read this, then you know I am not irrational about Wander Franco's power or speed. Neither his track record in the minors nor his underlying metrics in the majors suggest a major power breakout is imminent. To quote myself:

None of Wander Franco's Statcast metrics suggest a [Vlad-style power breakout]. However, he does have decent company. His hard hit rate of 37.6% is identical to that of Austin Meadows, and slightly better than both Nolan Arenado and Ozzie Albies. His Max exit velocity of 109.6 mph is slightly better than Marcus Semien (109.5 mph). The tools are there to take a step forward in the power department and it would not be shocking to see a 20+ HR season. I am hedging and projecting 19, which still leaves room for growth without raising the price tag too high.

So if it "would not be shocking to see a 20+ HR season," this gold prediction is for 30+ home runs. Wouldn't that be fun?


6. Juan Soto (Wsh, OF) Hits 60 Home Runs

Fifty just didn't feel gold enough. Soto has incredible power, but he hits it on the ground 50+ percent of the time. If he can go back to 2019's ground ball rate (41.6%), keep his career best hard hit rate from 2021 (52.4%), and approach his career best barrel rate from 2020 (17.5%), he can Frankenstein himself into something truly transcendent.


7. Myles Straw (Cle, OF) Steals 50 Bases

No player has stolen 50 bases since Billy Hamilton (59) and Dee Gordon (60) both reached that level in 2017. No projection system on Fangraphs projects more than 31 steals for Straw, but the guy stole 70 between AA and AAA in 2018. He's leading off, should get on base at a decent rate, and has no reason to hold back. He's going to reward those fantasy players who drafted him.


8. Edward Olivares (KC, OF) Will be Optioned to the Minors Fewer Than Six Times

I cheated and took a free one, but take a moment to celebrate the Olivares Rule in the new collective bargaining agreement.


9. Michael Lorenzen (LAA, SP) Stays Healthy and Finishes as a Top 30 SP on Pitcher List

Michael Lorenzen has not pitched more than 100 innings since he logged 113 in 2015. Now out of Cincinnati and in the Angels's starting rotation, Lorenzen will finally deliver the goods by pitching 150+ innings with a sub-4.00 ERA.


10. Giovanny Gallegos (StL, RP) Finishes the Season as the #1 Closer in Baseball

Haters, be damned. Gallegos is an elite reliever in a bullpen with no other elite relievers. He saved 12 games in one month to close out the 2021 season. They'll give him the ball in the 9th out of necessity and he wont give it back.


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Thanks for reading!


- Russell

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Anthony Pumilia
Anthony Pumilia
Apr 07, 2022

I will take the under on Lorenzen unless the Angels have some new pitching dev guys I don't know about

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