I made a lot of predictions this pre-season, from the most undervalued and overvalued players to those of the bold variety to individual player projections. I will try to review as many of those as I can and I’ll start with the 10 bold predictions that the rest of the staff has been recapping.
1. Hanley Ramirez hits 15 home runs or fewer, despite staying healthy all season.
The idea here was that Hanley was coming off of shoulder surgery, which is known to sap power, and moving into a new park which some thought would majorly benefit pitchers. One year park factors and home/road splits aren’t reliable, but the Marlins hit just 55 home runs at home, compared with 82 away. So it sure appears like the park crushed power as many worried. It didn’t affect Hanley much though as he hit 11 of his 24 homers at home. His FB% still remained low, but his HR/FB rebounded back to his 2010 level and marked the second highest of his career. 0 for 1.
2. Jose Altuve earns top 5 value among second basemen.
Surprisingly, Altuve actually performed pretty close to what I expected, but it still wasn’t enough to push him into the top 5 earners. His batting average and home run total was nearly identical to my projection, but a weak Astros offense hurt his runs scored and RBI total to give him that extra value boost. He also hit in the .260 range over the last two months of the season to bring his average below .300. Besides, it would have been difficult to outearn stalwarts like Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, and Dustin Pedroia. The idea here was right though, that he was a nice undervalued sleeper, but alas, another one incorrect. 0 for 2.
3. Emilio Bonifacio is worthless in 12-team mixed leagues.
Well this turned out to be right, but only because of injuries that limited him to just 244 at-bats. As expected, his batting average declined as his BABIP dropped, but he did steal an amazing 30 bases in his short time on the field. Given his pace, he’d likely earn some mixed league value if he remained healthy, so I hate to take credit here. But, it was true! 1 for 3.
Well, not quite. Goldschmidt did outperform Konerko in three of the categories, but fell short in home runs and batting average. The average was the one I was most concerned about, but Goldschmidt performed admirably there due to a nice improvement in contact rate and didn’t miss by much. However, if I knew Konerko would hit just 26 home runs, I would have been rather sure that Goldschmidt would have hit more than him. Just 20 home runs for Goldie was a disappointment, but it gives him nice upside next season if his line drives become fly balls and he boosts his HR/FB ratio a bit. 1 for 4.
Umm no. Possibly one of the most controversial predictions, this one wasn’t all that close. Embarassingly, I must admit that I actually valued Ichiro higher than Stanton in the pre-season, so for me, this wasn’t bold at all. Ichiro did see a small uptick in power as I had expected, but his batting average did not rebound much and his stolen base total took a dive. The Mariners offense also continued to stink it up, preventing Ichiro from tallying enough runs and RBIs. Stanton was hurt a bit by his home park and his runs and RBI totals were reduced by the time he missed from his knee injury. But, he made up for that by posting a career best HR/FB ratio and second year of improvement, and also hitting for a batting average that actually helped fantasy teams for a change. 1 for 5.
6. Mike Minor is the most valuable Braves starting pitcher.
Not quite. With Kris Medlen refusing to give up runs, it would have been difficult for any other pitcher to earn the most value on the Braves staff other than him. After a rough first three months that made this prediction look ridiculous, Minor finished the year with a 2.21 ERA over his last 93.2 innings. He’ll be a trendy sleeper next year. 1 for 6.
7. Chris Sale is not only the most valuable White Sox starting pitcher, but also outearns every member of the Diamondbacks rotation.
It was no secret that I loved Sale this year. Though he was merely human in the second half, Sale had the season I thought he was capable of. Jake Peavy actually made this somewhat close, but with Ian Kennedy disappointing and Daniel Hudson‘s season ending early, Sale didn’t have a whole lot of competition. I worry about Sale’s elbow and innings total heading into next year though and as big of a fan as I was, might want to steer clear depending on his price. 2 for 7.
Well this turned out to be more of a clear win than even I thought possible. Despite posting a nearly identical SIERA for the past three seasons, Bailey finally did have that breakout season I kept expecting. I think he even has further upside if his strikeout rate rises like his SwStk% hints at. Romero still has some intriguing skills given that high ground ball rate, so I wouldn’t completely give up on him. He could be a bargain in AL-Only leagues next year. 3 for 8.
9. Matt Thornton not only holds the White Sox closer role all season, he also leads the AL in saves.
Hahaha, oops. Obviously, nobody in their right minds thought that rookie Hector Santiago would open the season as the White Sox closer. When he predictably failed, the Sox decided to move on to fireballer Addison Reed and I don’t recall Thornton ever getting another shot to be the man. He garned a whopping three saves, the same as he did in 2011, when he actually did open the year as the closer. 3 for 9.
10. Bryan LaHair hits fewer than 10 home runs and loses the Cubs first base job by June.
This was so very close! After clubbing 10 home runs through May and coming off a .390 April, I looked completely done with this prediction. But then, he did lose his job to Anthony Rizzo and his own slump and he hit just six homers the rest of the season. The crazy part is that he still needed to BABIP .358 just to hit .259, and his HR/FB ratio was a rather high 20.5%. The prediction was wrong, but the idea that he wasn’t a great sleeper was right. 3 for 10.
So 3 out of 10 predictions officially correct, with 3 others (Altuve, Goldschmidt, LaHair) that were the correct idea, but ultimately proved wrong. I usually shoot for a 20% success rate with bold predictions (similar to my favorite segment on The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable radio show, Are You Crazy?), so I am satisfied. I also wrote up a “10 More Bold Predictions” article, so we’ll soon see if those turned out any better.