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Armchair Roto's Gold Predictions 2024

Kenny Bania is back by popular demand after taking 2023 off. You asked for Gold Predictions; you got 'em. A beautiful 60/40 split of hitter/pitcher Gold Predictions.

  1. Jesus Sanchez enjoys a breakout season and hits 30 home runs. Long-time readers will know I've long had an interest in Jesus Sanchez (See "Praise Jesus"). Sanchez has yet to play a full season or top 14 home runs, but across four MLB seasons he has a career 11.4% barrel rate, a 43.8% hard hit rate, and acceptable strikeout, walk, and contact rates. He is expected to handle a strong-side platoon role in right field, which should earn him a baseline 450 plate appearances if he stays healthy. Most of the projection systems predict something in the range of 17-18 home runs. At age 26, he could put things together and have a growth year. If he shows more consistency and beats the projected home run rate and gets an extra 50-75 plate appearances, he could be a major value.

  2. Carlos Correa has a career year. The narrative of Carlos Correa's career does not match up with reality. He's considered a disapppointment who has never quite lived up to his potential. He also has a reputation for being chronically injured. This led to a very affordable average draft position (ADP) of 244 in NFBC Main Event leagues. I think this is far too disrespectful of a 29 year-old player with 32.4 WAR over nine seasons in the majors. Starting with health, Correa has been far healtheir than most people realize, averaging more than 600 plate appearances over the last three seasons (and playing 58 of 60 games in the shortened 2020 season). He's a gamer who will play on one leg if he can. But what about performance? Yes, 2023 was dreadful, but a repeat of that line (60 R, 18 HR, 65 RBI, .230 BA) at pick 244 would not be a bust, and I think he can do more. Consider that as recently as 2022 Correa had a 140 wRC+, good for 19th among qualified hitters. That was coming off of a 133 wRC+ season in 2021, which was 24th among qualified hitters. 2023 was a major outlier, easily explained by plantar fasciitis. He looks healthy heading into 2024 and it would not surprise me one bit to see him challenge the previous highs of 2017 and 2021.

  3. Johan Rojas steals 50 bases. 96th percentile sprint speed. Good defense in center field. Major league experience (14 SB and a .302 BA in 164 PAs). What's not to like? Rojas looked like one of the biggest steals (!) in drafts going at an ADP of 402 in NFBC Draft Champions leagues before the calendar turned over to 2024. There was uncertainty about his role all draft season, and that continues with the recent decision by the Philly brass to carry both Rojas and Christian Pache after a poor spring by Rojas, but Rojas can take that job outright. If he does, in a best case scenario, blistering speed and 600+ PAs = 50+ SB. If he doesn't, he's Esteury Ruiz at a reasonable draft cost.

  4. Chas McCormick goes 30/30. Chas McCormick has three MLB seasons under his belt as a part-time player and his career wRC+ is 120. He has been a league average bat against righties (102 wRC+) and an absolute beast against left-handed pitching (163 wRC+). His K%, wRC+, xBA, OBP, SLG, Contact%, and Barrel% are all trending in the right direction. In addition to all the signs of growth as a hitter, he plays solid defense and can even pass in center if necessary. Dusty's gone. The job's all his. Chas is going to shine brightly in 2024.

  5. Nelson Velasquez hits 40 home runs. Velasquez hit 17 home runs in just 179 plate appearances in 2023. He did it with a 21.4% barrel rate which beat all qualified hitters (Velasquez did not qualify)! He has big time power and a full-time role in KC (projected by both Roster Resource and King Kurland's lineups). Dude is going to mash and you are going to want a seat on that ride.

  6. Jake Fraley is the most valuable Reds outfielder in fantasy. Fraley is my most-owned player heading into 2024 (21 Shares | 61.8% of teams). Though he has been dogged by injury, Fraley has always shown promise, and he partially delivered on that promise with 15 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 380 plate appearances in 2023. It is true that he can't hit left-handed pitching (Career .482 OPS v LHP), but he's a solidly above-average strong-side platoon bat for whom it would not be crazy to go 20 HR / 25 SB or better if given the full run against righties over a season. He was remarkably inexpensive during draft season (Post-300 ADP) because Cincinnatti had so much talent on the roster that Fraley was being projected as a bench bat. I felt all off-season that the Reds liked Fraley and would find a way to get him into the lineup and that things have a way of working out. Indeed, they worked out. A Noelvi Marte suspension and injuries to TJ Friedl and Matt McLain have unlogged the jam and Fraley now projects as a full-time strong-side platoon bat, hitting third or fourth when he's in the lineup. I'm ready to collect on this investment.

  7. Yusei Kikuchi has another career year. Kikuchi has always shown promise, but never quite delivered until 2023. He has teased with strikeouts, and punished with walks and home runs, resulting in a career 4.71 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. If you stopped and looked at his 2022 season (5.19 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 27% K%), you might have though okay, there's something here, but if he doesn't make a tangible, effective change to his approach, this just isn't going to work. Well, he made that change. Kikuchi ditched an ineffective cutter and introduced a very effective curveball, resulting in a completely revamped approach. He cut his walk rate nearly in half and though his strikeouts decreased slighly (27.3% to 25.9%), his K-BB% increased significantly (14.5% to 19%). I think Kikuchi can repeat his 2023 and has the tools to make further improvements. While his 2023 (3.86 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) "career year" isn't ace-level, it is quite helpful in a fantasy rotation and I expect it to continue and improve.

  8. Dane Dunning is the most valuable Rangers starter. After Jake Fraley, Dunning is my second most owned player in 2024 (16 Shares | 47.1% of teams) and there are several reasons why. As a simple matter, his ADP on the draft season was 365, which is quite inexpensive for an effective full-time starter with a very good offense behind him. The projection systems have Dunning as a rotation filler pitcher (Steamer: 4.57 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) and I'll pay a 365th pick for that every time. But Dunning was considerably better than 2024's projections last year. In 172.2 innings he had 12 wins, 140 strikeouts, a 3.70 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Solid season, but there's more to the story. Dunning fell apart in the second half, going from a first half 2.84 ERA to a second half 4.69 ERA. Despite that fall-off, other things were going on in the background. Dunning added a tick of velocity to his fastball in the second half, going from 90.6 MHP to 91.3 MHP. That helped bump his K% from 15.9% to 23.1%. And while a number of key metrics moved in the wrong direction from 1H to 2H, his xFIP decreased (4.60 to 4.15), suggesting that defense and bad luck played at least a factor in the second half decline. I don't think Dunning is the sub-3.00 ERA ace from the first half of 2023, but I also don't think he's the 4.60 ERA that the projection systems think he is. I think he's somewhere in the middle, and that 's good enough to outproduce Nate Eovalidi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, and SPs coming back from (hopefully successful) tommy john and back surgeries.

  9. Christian Scott is a top 50 pitcher. Scott throws gas. His fastball sits 95 MPH and touches 97 MPH. He's coming off of a 2023 season in which he pitched 87.2 innings across three levels, finishing with 62 innings at AA (77 K, 2.47 ERA, 0.84 WHIP). He has a low walk, high strikeout, high(ish) groundball rate profile. He gets plenty of swinging strikes. He gives up very few home runs. In short, he has the makings of an ace. He made the most of an invitation to spring training by absolutely shoving in two appearances, the second being a four-inning start against the Marlins in which he struck out seven and walked none. His fastball got seven whiffs in the start. This kid is coming to the bigs in 2024. Get ready to open that faab wallet.

  10. Davis Daniel is a top 100 pitcher. Less of a prospect than Scott, Daniel was a favorite end-game of mine in 50-round Draft Champions leagues. After logging 102.1 innings in 2022, he was sidelined by a shoulder strain and missed much of 2023. Upon his return in August, Daniel pitched 29.1 MiLB innings in which he logged 42 strikeouts and a 2.15 ERA. This earned him a September call-up to the big league club where he held his own, striking out 9 across three appearances with a 2.19 ERA over 12.1 innings. Daniel then got an invitation to the Arizona Fall League where he dazzled with 25 strikeouts, 5 walks, a 1.89 ERA, and a 0.789 WHIP over 19 innings. Nobody is talking about Daniel, but he'll get a shot for the Angels at some point in 2024 and he can stick.


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Thanks for reading!

- Russell

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1 comentario

Anthony Pumilia
Anthony Pumilia
6 days ago

6, 7, 8, and 9 still could happen. but ngl #1 made me think you were drunk when you started typing this

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