Behind the Seams with Blake: 5 Surprising Hitters of Spring Training with Regular Season Predictions

Let’s check out some of the most interesting top performers of Spring Training 2021!

Hello again readers! We are just days away from opening day of the 2021 MLB season, and I am excited to say the least. As many in the baseball world agree, spring training stats can be taken with a grain of salt in most cases. Regardless, I always love to pick out a few players not many expected to be at the top of the leaderboards and think about how these performances will impact their roles with their team for the coming season. In this post, I will discuss five players who are having great springs, including three under-the-radar sluggers on non-contending teams, one franchise great who hopes to pack a punch as a bench bat, and finally a slugger who hopes to prove doubters wrong and be an everyday player with a change of scenery. Additionally, following in the footsteps of the hosts of MLB Tonight, I’ll be giving my bold predictions of what each player’s stats will be by the end of the 2021 season.

Bobby Dalbec – 1B, Boston Red Sox

We’re starting out with a boom. As of Friday, Dalbec is tied for the MLB lead with 7 spring training homers in 42 at bats. The 2016 4th round pick has been putting up big time power numbers in the Red Sox minor league system since 2018, so it was expected that his power would transfer to big league production. That’s not to say Dalbec doesn’t have room for improvement however, as he showed some worrying strikeout tendencies along with his 8 home runs in 92 trips to the plate during the short 2020 season. He’s struck out 18 times in his 42 spring training at bats, so limiting the strikeouts remains a work in progress, but we can’t ignore the massive power potential that he has shown. The Red Sox will hope that he figures out how to keep the Ks at a minimum during a 2021 season in which they’re not expected to be a contender. If he can do so, Dalbec will surely be key to the Red Sox next World Series run.

Prediction: .260 AVG, 36 HRs, 195 strikeouts

C.J. Cron – 1B, Colorado Rockies

I’ve been excited to see what Cron can do in Coors Field since the moment I saw the signing. The former first round pick is currently hitting .372 with 4 big flies in 43 spring training at bats and looks to have won the starting first base job for the Rockies over former Yankee Greg Bird. Cron has shown plenty of pop over recent years but has had trouble sticking with one team for longer than a season since his Angels days early in his career. He will look to firmly establish his value and do damage in the middle of the order for a rebuilding Rockies team that traded superstar 3B Nolan Arenado away in the offseason. I’m going big with this prediction because I can see each of Trevor Story, C.J. Cron, and Charlie Blackmon having good seasons and making the loss of Arenado a little less painful for Rockies fans.

Prediction: .288 AVG, 41 HRs in 150+ games played

Ty France – 2B/1B/DH, Seattle Mariners

I’m happy to include former Padre and SDSU alum Ty France in this post, as he’s proving why he deserves a starting spot in the lineup for the rebuilding Mariners this season. He has posted a .364 average with 5 homers in 44 at bats this spring, keeping with his strengths of having great contact ability and sneaky power. He was drafted by the Padres in the 34th round out of San Diego State in 2015, so he’s always been a player I’ve rooted for because of that underdog storyline and the fact that we attended the same university. I’m glad that he will get the chance to be in the lineup everyday this season, even though it won’t be for the Padres, with whom he was primarily a bench bat due to the significant depth they have at the positions he plays. Will we see the 2nd coming of the Louisiana Purchase in Seattle this year? I predict the answer will be yes; the Mariners will get a lot from France this year.

Prediction: .315 AVG, 24 HRs in 550 ABs

Ryan Zimmerman – 1B, Washington Nationals

The man they call Mr. National has demolished spring training pitching this season, hitting a sky high .455 with 5 home runs through a smaller scale 22 spring at bats. There was nothing to suggest this production from Zim this year, as he’s entering his age 36 season after sitting out the 2020 season. The career-long National was the first player ever drafted by the team in 2005, and he’s stuck with them ever since. Preseason heroics aside, Zimmerman isn’t expected to play a large role for the team in 2021, as the Nats went out to make a big splash acquisition of first baseman Josh Bell during the offseason. Their desire to acquire Bell is completely understandable given the low expectations for Zim entering the season, along with Bell’s history of being a top 5 first baseman in the game as recently as 2019, and he’s looking great in spring as well. While I don’t believe Zim will continue this magical level of production through the regular season, I think he will deliver some big hits off the bench for a Nationals team that hopes to contend this season.

Prediction: .295 AVG, 12 HRs in 245 ABs

Joc Pederson – OF, Chicago Cubs

Joc signed with the Cubbies in the offseason because he wanted the chance to play every day and hit against lefties; something the Dodgers didn’t let him do very often. So far, Pederson is looking great as a Cub, as he is tied with Bobby Dalbec for the lead in spring training home runs with 7, to go along with a .366 average in 41 at bats. He and the Cubs will hope that he continues to produce above average results in the regular season as well, as the Cubs look to compete with the Cardinals and Brewers for a playoff spot this season.

Prediction: .250 AVG, 32 HRs, 500+ ABs for first time in career

Honorable Mention: Bobby Witt Jr. – SS prospect, Kansas City Royals

One of the biggest surprises of the spring was seeing the impressive tools of Royals top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. Though he’s never played above Rookie ball, the 20-year-old proved that he could hold his own against higher level competition before being sent down to the minor league camp. His crowning highlight was when he launched a 484-foot home run, leaving fans and teammates in awe. It may be a stretch to say that he’ll be called up during the 2021 season, but the future is bright for Witt and the Royals organization.

Written by: Blake Koziel @thek0zy1 on Instagram

Photo Source: MLB.com