Those I didn't pick last year, who ended up having an amazing 2011 season, were New England tight end Ron Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Rays starter James Shields, Tim Thomas of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and J.J. Barea, who, let's face it, made old LeBron James look pretty bad.
Really though, I'm good at predictions. I once predicted the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl and they did. I have had Matt Kemp on my fantasy baseball team the last three seasons and he has proved to the league that he is the best player in baseball. And I also predicted that Scotty McCreery would win American Idol, even though Haley Reinhart deserved the W!
So who are going to be the breakout athletes of 2012?
Here are my predictions.
Mike Stanton - OF - Miami Marlins
Last season was Stanton's first season in the outfield for the formerly-known Florida Marlins. Stanton, in 516 at-bats, served up 34 home runs while driving home 87 runs. Stanton only hit .262 (which would just about be tops amongst the Indians lineup), but since they are changing the name of the franchise to the Miami Marlins, moving into a new ballpark, and adding some nice pieces around Stanton, I see his batting average rising substantially.
Watch the first minute of this:
My prediction for 2012 - Stanton bats .290 and hits 40 home runs while driving in 110 runs.
Matt Moore - SP - Tampa Bay Rays
Moore will be in the rotation for his first full season and has incredible upside. Matt Moore has the potential to be the next Cliff Lee.
Michael Pineda - SP - Seattle Mariners
Pineda struck out 173 batters in 28 starts last season. If Seattle didn't suck so badly, his record and career would be out to an astonishing start.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - F - Edmonton Oilers
I'm putting hockey next because it is more important than the NFL and NBA. Nugent-Hopkins, as a rookie and member of the legendary Edmonton Oliers, has started his career by scoring 12 goals and tallying 17 assists in only his first 27 games. Stud! And it's only going to get better for Nugent-Hopkins. With superstars hitting the injury bug in the NHL right now, Nugent-Hopkins has his time to shine and is doing so. Oh, and Nugent-Hopkins is still only 18 years old.
Watch Ryan's first career hat trick. Oilers jerseys are awesome!
My prediction for rest of season - 30 goals, 50 assists and +3.
Tyler Seguin - F - Boston Bruins
The leading point scorer for the reigning Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins is 19 years old. Scary, huh?
Kyle Okposo - F - NY Islanders
I hate the Islanders with a passion and I can't believe I actually just typed their team name. Okposo is going to be good, a fact I hate.
Andy Dalton - QB - Cincinnati Bengals.
Some say Andy Dalton has already "broken out." Since QBs are judged more on Super Bowls than statistics anymore, it's hard to see Dalton win a championship in Cincinnati. I believe that Dalton is earning a chance for Jerry Jones to sign him and put a star on his head. Credit some of the success to A.J. Green, but Dalton is the next Brady, Brees, Manning (Peyton)-like quarterback in the NFL and he is only in his rookie season.
Welcome to the NFL, Andy!
My prediction - Wins three Super Bowls as quarterback for Jerry Jones in Dallas, eventually. Jerry is a smart man and will throw cash all day at Dalton.
Trent Richardson - RB - Alabama
Trent isn't in the NFL yet, but is the next good running back. If the Browns trade and take another Brian Robeskie-like horrible pick and pass on Richardson, it's time to give up hope Browns fans.
Von Miller - LB - Denver Broncos
Tebow is getting a lot of the attention. Denver defense, however, will be led by this guy for years to come. In his rookie season, Miller has 11.5 sacks and 50 of 63 tackles are solo tackles.
DeMarcus Cousins - PF - Sacramento Kings
Last year in his rookie campaign, Cousins scored 14.1 per game while yanking down 8.6 rebounds. As long as this guy stays in shape and keeps his focus on the floor, the upside is tremendous. Reminds me of players like Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Carlos Boozer, but will have a better career than all of them when it's said and done.
This is why Cousins will be good and Tyler Hansbrough is awful:
My prediction for 2011-2012 season - 21.5 ppg and 10 rebounds.
Jimmer Fredette - G - Sacramento Kings.
Some say the Kings drafted him only to put people in the arena, but Jimmer is for real, folks. The only thing Jimmer is going to be filling up is buckets around the league, leading the Kings back to the playoffs.
Eric Gordon - Traded as part of the Chris Paul trade to the LA Clippers, now a member of the New Orleans Hornets.
Gordon is going to become one of the premiere scorers in the league.
Misc. Monday Video of the Week
Published: December 26, 2011