Predictions for the 2008 season are beginning to spread like wildfire, so I figured I'd do some prognosticating myself. Of course, these aren't based on anything as noble as past statistics, player trends or even common sense. Nope, I'm predicting the below 2008 beasts and busts using only one criteria: All would be appropriately representative of the way things seem to go in the aggravating world of fantasy baseball.
Projected 2008 Beasts:
Andruw Jones -- I drafted this guy with the first pick of the third round in my money-league last year, and he went on to have his worst year ever, hitting .222 and belting only 26 home runs. Every day it seemed I checked the Braves' box score to find a brain-frying 0-for-4 next to his name. Obviously, I'm staying as far away from Jones as possible this season. And, of course, the fantasy gods will delight in helping Andruw rediscover his stroke in Los Angeles. Expect 45 round-trippers out of him.
Albert Pujols -- Early mock drafts have the former no-brainer-first-overall-pick going at fourth or fifth this year. And a few weeks back, some dipshit in New York named Jonathan Dienst reported a false Mitchell Report list with his name on it. You ever get the feeling Pujols is going to come into this season with something to prove and absolutely destroy every pitch he sees? I'm not exaggerating right there -- every pitch he sees. Expect a batting average of 1.000.
Ian Snell -- Last year I made a bet that he'd throw 200 strikeouts. Sadly, he fell 23 short. I now worry that both his arm and his psyche aren't strong enough to hold up over a full season, so I won't be going double or nothing this season. Thus, you should expect 220 Ks from the guy.
Alex Gordon/Mark Teahen/Billy Butler -- No matter how bad things got for my beloved Pirates, we could always take solace in the fact that Kansas City fans always had it worse. I'm thinking that might not be true anymore. I feel like crying.
B.J. Ryan -- In a twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan, the Blue Jays will lie again about B.J. Ryan's health this spring, saying he won't be ready to start the season. Yet, on opening day, B.J. will take the mound in the ninth and record his first of what will be a new Major League record for most saves in the month of April.
Projected 2008 Busts:
Jason Bay -- Two years ago I drafted Jason Bay in the first round, named my team "The J Bay Brigade" and rode my favorite real-world player to a fantasy championship. I guess I rode him too hard, considering the pathetic numbers he put up in '07. Some will tell you it was just an anomaly -- the random bad season. Others will tell you his ineffectiveness at the plate was the result of nagging injuries. But I know the truth: Jason gave it his all to win me a fantasy title in '06. And when it was over, the man had nothing left.
Aaron Rowand -- I love Aaron Rowand; think he's everything a ballplayer should be. I draft him almost every year ... except for last year, when the guy put up the best numbers of his life. How could I miss out on that? How could he do that to me, go all All-Star at the plate the year I don't take him? Well, this I swear -- it won't happen a second time. Aaron Rowand will be mine again, oh, yes. I will ignore the fact that he'll be playing in the baseball wasteland of San Francisco. I mean, how bad can it hurt him not having Ryan Howard batting in the same lineup? And Jimmy Rollins? And Chase Utley? Oh, boy ...
Ryan Braun -- Last year, this guy went from being on almost nobody's radar (Fantasy Sports magazine had him at #18 on their Rookie of the Year list, behind such fantasy luminaries as Andy LaRoche and Miguel Montero) to a complete-package fantasy stud all in the course of one season. Mock drafts for deeper leagues actually have him listed as a potential first-round pick this year. Now, seriously -- isn't a sophomore slump in order here?
Jeremy Bonderman -- I fearlessly project that, in '08, the guy will exert so much brain power trying to pitch a scoreless first inning, that he'll have nothing left for the second inning on. Expect an ERA of over 5.20. (Although, in fairness, he'll still end up with 14 wins because ... well ... have you seen the Tigers lineup?)
Hanley Ramirez -- 'Cause some are saying he should be drafted in front of Jose Reyes, and I refuse to believe that Hanley Ramirez is a better ballplayer than Jose Reyes. Also, he doesn't have Miguel Cabrera hitting somewhere behind him anymore. (Whoops! That last point started to approach common sense.)