Staff MLB Predictions

The Fighting Chance Fantasy Baseball Crew will make their predictions for this shortened MLB season. Under each topic, you'll find our predictions. Some might be obvious and some might be under the radar. The MLB season will be wild and let's have fun with our predictions. 

American League MVP

Austin Meadows

Meadows broke out last season, in 138 games played he hit .291/.364/.558, with 33 HR, 89 RBI, 83 R, & 12 SB. He had a 45.4% hard-hit rate, and only a 13.3% soft hit rate. There is a lot of red in Meadows’ baseball savant page, and his only real fault is his defense, and strikeout rate. - Ted

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman had a career year in 2019 with 36 home runs, 102 runs, and 91 RBI with a triple slash of .249/.342/.506. He increased his walk rate and lowered strikeout rate. His 97.1 mph average exit velocity on FB/LD ranked 9th tied with his teammate Matt Olson. His 48.7% hard-hit rate was in the 94th percentile. Chapman’s Statcast data backup his career year and he’s my dark horse MVP candidate. Last year he was 6th in the AL MVP voting, and I could see him taking another leap forward in a shortened 2020 season. - Corbin Young

Francisco Lindor

Watch out for Paquito this season! He missed the first couple of weeks of the 2019 season but still finished 41st in 5x5 standard. This year he'll take on some of the weakest pitching staffs in all of baseball in the AL Central and should have Jose Ramirez back to form to help him out. - Riley 

National League MVP

Nick Castellanos

Castellanos was one of the best hitters in baseball after being traded to the cubs. Was it just a case of a change of scenery? I don’t think so, he played in one of (if not the) worst parks in all of baseball. In the 2nd half in 68 games, he hit .298, 18 HR, 52 R, & 40 RBI, & a 42.3% hard-hit rate. - Ted

Juan Soto

This one’s more chalky, but surprisingly Juan Soto finished 9th in the National League MVP voting last year. At 21 years old, Soto’s mashed the last two seasons to a World Series title in 2019. Last year Soto finished with 34 home runs, 110 runs, 110 RBI, and 12 steals. He slashed .282/.401/.548 with a 16.4% walk rate and a 20% strikeout rate. Soto’s OBP ranked fifth and 142 wRC+ ranked seventh amongst National League hitters last season. Soto’s one of the best hitters in baseball and he’s my pick for National League MVP. - Corbin Young

Cody Bellinger

I know, I know, I'm taking the guy who won the thing last year, but he's a top 3 NL guy for me and my feeling is this: He beat Acuna out last year so he's got a leg up on him this year, Soto is going to miss Rendon and I think the stats will show it, the Brewers lineup is less potent after their off-season losses and Betts won't drive in enough runs. You've got all of that and this, because it's a shortened season it might be hard to stray away from Bellinger when he picks up where he left off last year. - Riley

American League Cy Young

Tyler Glasnow

Inning for inning, Glasnow was probably the best pitcher in baseball last season. He introduced 2 new pitches to his arsenal this offseason as well. He had a 1.78 ERA, 11.27 K/9, limited walks at 2.08 BB/9, and had 6 wins in 12 starts. - Ted

Taylor Rogers

The shortened season will be wild and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a closer win the Cy Young award. Taylor Rogers finished 2019 with 69 innings pitched, 30 saves, 90 strikeouts with a 2.61 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He made 17 appearances for one inning or more, and nine of those appearances went for two-plus innings. Most times closers go one inning, but the Twins used Rogers for multiple innings to close the game. 

Rogers had a 32.4% strikeout rate and a 4% walk rate, both were career bests. His slider and curve were especially filthy with a whiff rate of over 35% on both pitches. One might think that he’s much better against lefties being a southpaw, but he threw 53 innings against right-handed batters. He’s not a lefty specialist, but an elite relief pitcher. Given the shortened season, there’s a chance an elite reliever wins the Cy Young in 2020. - Corbin Young 

Gerrit Cole

He was runner-up last year and has a chance to distinguish himself from Verlander this year. Oh and he's going to pitch SO well in the AL East. The O's won't be able to touch him, he'll give the Jays fits, the Rays are going to struggle off him and he should be able to handle the Red Sox lineup too - only JD Martinez concerns me vs Cole. - Riley

National League Cy Young

Chris Paddack

Paddack was excellent in his first showing last season, over 26 starts and 140.2 IP he had a 3.33 ERA, 9.79 K/9, and a 1.98 BB/9. He gave up a lot of home runs but given their ballpark, and, ideally that 14.6% HR/FB ratio can drop down a bit. - Ted

Luis Castillo

Luis Castillo’s my National League Cy Young pick. In 190.2 innings, he finished 2019 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 226 strikeouts. Castillo’s nasty changeup resulted in a 26.6% swinging-strike rate and a .194 xwOBA. His slider’s also nasty resulting in a 19.9% swinging strike rate paired with his four-seam fastball that’s almost 10 mph faster than both his changeup and slider. The Reds have one of the easier new schedules, and I expect Castillo to continue to dominate hitters in 2020. The main concern would be the 10.1% walk rate, but his changeup is unhittable. If he hones in his command and control a bit, then he’s on his way to winning the NL Cy Young. - Corbin Young

Walker Buehler

He will be the Dodgers best pitcher this year and that's not a knock on Clayton Kershaw, that's just how good Buehler is. The K/9 went up year over year, his swinging K % is up year over year...those are indications to me that the rise in ERA and WHIP from 2018 might be a blip and they get back to those levels this year. - Riley

Division and Wild Card Winners

Ted -

AL Central: Minnesota TwinsAL East: New York Yankees

AL West: Houston Astros

AL Wild Card: Oakland A's & Tampa Bay Rays 

NL East: Washington Nationals

NL Central: St Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card: Atlanta Braves & New York Mets 

Corbin - 

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays

AL Central: Minnesota Twins

AL West: Oakland Athletics

AL Wild Card: Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros

NL East: Atlanta Braves

NL Central: Cincinnati Reds

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card: Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres 

Riley - 

AL East: New York Yankees

AL Central: Cleveland Indians

AL West: Oakland Athletics

AL Wild Card: Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros

NL East: Atlanta Braves

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs.

World Series Prediction

Dodgers vs Twins (Dodgers win in 6 games)

Star power, great depth in hitting and pitching, hard to think the dodgers don't win it all with the talent and a great manager in Dave Roberts. - Ted

Athletics vs. Dodgers, Dodgers win 4-1

My World Series picks might be a little off the radar with the Oakland Athletics, but I like their chances. Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Ramon Laureano, and Marcus Semien will propel their offense. I think the A’s have enough pitching as I expect big things from Frankie Montas, A.J. Puk, and Jesus Luzardo (assuming full health). The Dodgers are just loaded with MLB ready talent paired with younger guys that can make an impact in Gavin Lux, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin. Therefore, I think the Dodgers will take down the A’s in five games since they have more playoff experience. - Corbin Young

Dodgers vs Yankees (Dodgers win in 7)

I'd love to see this World Series in general, and with everything that has gone on in the world, this would be the year for the storied rivalry to renew once again in October. When they meet it'll be a slugfest so it'll have to go 7. The talent is so supreme on both sides that it'll come down to who executes better or some untimely errors. I'll take the Dodgers to pull it out, they're going to have the "not again" drive after losing out in '17 and '18.

American League Rookie of the Year

Nate Pearson

80-grade fastball never had more than 3.02 BB/9 at any level of the minors in a brief 2-year career down there, and a plus slider, Pearson is my favorite rookie pitcher this year, even over Luzardo, Puk, & Gore. - Ted

Evan White

I wanted to put A.J. Puk and/or Jesus Luzardo here, but Luzardo dropped out for me due to testing positive for COVID-19. I made a last-minute switch to Evan White of the Seattle Mariners. Although he projects to bat eighth, I think he could move up the order. Do we think Tom Murphy should hit cleanup for them? His solid defense will keep him in the lineup, and he will hit 7-8 home runs with a .250 batting average in a shortened season. White's more of a bold prediction for AL Rookie of the Year. - Corbin Young

Luis Robert 

I am buying the hype, going all-in, drinking the kool-aid, you name it I'm doing it. The other day he hit a home run while falling. He's one of the highest-graded prospects by Baseball America coming into the season (70/80). He played at 3 levels in the minors last year and didn't have issues at any of his stops. He's going to be special AND he's in a great lineup now. He'll be surrounded by Anderson, Abreu, Encarnacion, Grandal, and Moncada to name a few. That means opportunities to drive in runs and be driven in a lot! - Riley

National League Rookie of the Year

Dylan Carlson

I had to put a cardinal somewhere in here! He raked in the minors last season, hitting .292, 26 HR, 95 R, 68 RBI, & 20 SB. He should gain a starting job over Dexter Fowler at some point, and hopefully, he takes off running with it. - Ted

Gavin Lux

I know Lux struggled in a short sample in the majors, but his hit tool and power will show up. His walk rate, batting average, and OBP have all been consistently high throughout the minors. Although he’s projected to bat ninth and platoon against right-handed pitchers, Lux will hit his way into everyday at-bats for the Dodgers. - Corbin Young

Gavin Lux

I'm with Corbin on this one. I'm a big Lux guy - maybe even more of a Lux guy than I am a Robert guy. I'm sweating typing about all of these Rookies that I love so much, I'm going to need a minute to compose myself...........Ok, I'm back. 78 hits in 49 games at AAA last year and now he enters a lineup, where unless you bat him 8th, you don't want to face the guy behind him, so he's going to get pitches to hit. He doesn't have the same power potential of Robert but he should hit for a better average and 20-25 homers (in a regular 162) is very attainable. I'm all in. - Riley

League Leader in Home Runs

Joey Gallo

You’ve all seen this man hit if anyone’s hitting 20 HR in 60 games, it’s Gallo. - Ted

Matt Olson

Olson’s 97.1 mph average exit velocity on FB/LD ranked 10th last season. Just a reminder that he sustained a hamate bone fracture which usually zaps power, and still crushed the ball in 2019. - Corbin Young

Josh Donaldson

Throw him into that AL Central and give him a chance to rake against the Tigers, Royals, and soft-tossing White Sox lefties? He'll have a shot at 20. - Riley 

League Leader in Steals

Mallex Smith

Back to back 40 steal seasons. - Ted

Adalberto Mondesi

I honestly planned on picking Byron Buxton, but I’ll go with my other guy - Adalberto Mondesi. I love speed and he’s my pick for leading the league in steals even with the red flags surrounding the plate discipline. - Corbin Young

Mallex Smith

I agree with Ted here. Mallex is going to have nothing to play for this season other than steal as many bases as possible. He might run as much as Ricky used to. I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to make it 3 years of 40 in a row. - Riley

League Leader in Batting Average 

Luis Arraez

Great contact profile, lowest BA in the minors was .298. - Ted

Bryan Reynolds

If I could pick Bryan Reynolds for NL MVP, then I would. However, I’ll plug him for leading the league in batting average. He had a pretty high BABIP in 2019 at .387, but he’s had pretty high BABIPs all across the minors. Reynolds is an underrated hitter that I’m a bit fan of. - Corbin Young

Christian Yelich

Since joining the Brewers all Yeli does is mash. He'll be in the running for the batting title - .326 in 2018 and .329 in 2019. He'll lose out if someone has a fluky .350+ performance which hardly ever happens these days but hey, its 60 games so who knows. - Riley

League Leader in Runs

Marcus Semien

Was 4th in R last season, hitting leadoff in a stacked A's lineup. - Ted

Mookie Betts

Another chalk pick, but I think Mookie Betts plays his heart out like he typically does and leads the league in runs. He’s only averaged 132 runs the past two years, oh, and did I mention that led baseball. - Corbin Young

Mookie Betts

I'm with Corbin - Mookie is going to score in bunches with all of the guys hitting behind him in the lineup. Throw in the fact that he's only got 60 games to remind everyone how good he is...he'll be motivated to get that payday. - Riley

League Leader in RBI

Josh Donaldson

Should hit 4th in arguably the best lineup in baseball. - Ted

Khris Davis

Khris Davis is one of my top bounceback candidates. Outside of an injury-filled season last year, he’s been one of the elite power hitters. From 2016-2018, Davis averaged more home runs and RBI than Nelson Cruz. - Corbin Young

Jose Abreu

Last year Abreu drove in 123 runs, second in all of baseball. Now he's got an improved line-up around him and he gets that soft AL Central pitching, minus the Indians of course. A lot of RBI for Abreu here. - Riley

League Leader in Wins

Shane Bieber

Pitches deep into games and has a good team with 3 very weak teams in the expanded division. - Ted

Lance Lynn

I know this one seems far fetched, but pitchers won’t have many wins this year. So I’m going with Lance Lynn because the Rangers’ pitchers are ready to go 5-6 innings already. - Corbin Young

Shane Bieber

Picking the wins leader isn't just about the pitcher, it's about the team and the division. With that in mind, it has to be a Cleveland starter and honestly, it's a coin flip between Bieber and Clevinger but I'll go with Bieber. He's got excellent control, a K rate of 10.9 last year, and a swinging k% of 14.3 which was up from 11.8 the year before. - Riley

League Leader in Saves 

Giovanny Gallegos

Cardinals won't be putting up a lot of runs this year, but their pitching should keep them in games, Gallegos should be the front runner for saves in a good bullpen. - Ted

Kirby Yates

It’s probably a chalky call here, but Kirby Yates ranked third with 14.98 K/9 and fifth with a 1.93 BB/9. Big strikeout reliever that limits walks with the four-seam fastball and split-finger combination and both pitches have a whiff rate above 34%. - Corbin Young

Josh Hader

It's Hader for me. 138 strikeouts in 76 innings with 37 saves in 2019. Velo was up from 94.5 to 95.6, S% was also up from 77% to 85%. The Brewers will be in a lot of close games this year so he'll get a lot of chances. - Riley

League Leader in Strikeouts 

Lucas Giolito

Strikeout machine, improved mechanics, and control should help Giolito continue growth. - Ted

Luis Castillo

I have to double down here and my NL Cy Young pick, Luis Castillo will lead the league in strikeouts. I think he will continue to improve his craft with the analytically driven pitching department with Kyle Boddy as the Reds’ pitching coordinator. Boddy is the president and founder of Driveline Baseball, and they're great with data-driven baseball player development. - Corbin Young

Mike Clevinger

I mentioned it in my SP Rankings, his velocity jumped 2 MPH from '18 to '19 and thus his swinging k% went from 12.4-15.7, and k rate jumped from 9.3 to 12.1. He's got a lot of Ks candidates in that AL Central too. - Riley

League Leader in ERA

Sonny Gray

Was on par with Flaherty and Darvish for 2nd halves last season. Quietest 2.12 ERA in the 2nd half ever. - Ted

Kirby Yates

Kirby Yates already led all qualified relievers in ERA last year with a 1.19 ERA paired with a 1.30 FIP. He limits walks, misses bats, and provides elite ratios. - Corbin Young

Gerrit Cole

I have him here for the same reason I have him winning the Cy-Young, the O's won't be able to hit him - it'll be a No-No watch in the first inning. He'll give the young Jays fits, the Rays hitters will struggle and he should be able to handle the Red Sox lineup. - Riley

League Leader in WHIP

Charlie Morton

Morton has been an ace for the last 2 years, debatably even the last 3. He strikes out a ton with few walks and gives up weak contact. - Ted

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu came off one of his best seasons last year where he threw 182.2 innings with a 2.32 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Although his 8.03 K/9 may be a bit low, Ryu never walks guys with a 1.18 BB/9, which ranked first amongst pitchers last year. Before 2019 Ryu hadn’t thrown more than 150 innings since 2014. However, he’s one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball. - Corbin Young

Justin Verlander

He's just too good right now and in just 10-12 starts, I don't think his age will impact his season. I expect him to pick right up where he left off last year when he posted a 0.80 whip. - Riley

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