Another season is in the books and once again it is time to go back and revisit my pre-season 10 bold predictions for the fantasy year. Last year I tried to give myself credit for as many as four of my predictions, but that was a bit of a stretch.
This year, things look a bit better.
1. Ike Davis will be top five in baseball in HR. Do I even need to analyze this? Can we pretend I never said this? Can I even find a week in which he was top five in HR? Ugh.
Of course, as the ultimate Ike apologist, I’ll be back at it with him next year.
2. Justin Masterson will look more like an ace than a ROOGY. Nailed this one, but my rationale was a bit off. I wrote before the season that Masterson’s BB% and HR% would come down, creating a nice surplus value for owners who bought low. The HR rate did drop, from a HR/9 of .79 to .61, but the walk rate barely budged, dropping from 9.7% to 9.5%. So what changed? Well, luck is part of it – in 2012, Masterson apparently bunched his hits, leaving him with a 66.4% LOB rate. This year that moved back up to a more typical 75.4%. But the bigger change was a sudden spike in K-rate, from 17.6% to a career high 24.3%. His SwStr% jumped to 9.2%, perhaps a result of using his sinker a bit less and his slider a bit more. If he can maintain that SwStr and the related K%, 2014 could look a lot like 2013.
3. Dustin Ackley goes 20-15. Ackley went 4-2. That puts him on pace to put up 20-15 over a 7.5 year period. I am not as much of an Ackley fan as I am a Davis fan, but I did buy shares of Ackley during his late season spike (he hit .304/.374/.435 in the second half). That said, I am not expecting that 20-15 to come any time soon.
4. The most valuable SP in a deep Braves rotation will be Mike Minor. The results here are a bit mixed, but I think this is a win. Minor led the Braves rotation with 1001 Points in ottoneu leagues. He led all Braves pitchers in WAR (3.4; Medlen was next at 2.7). In my one non-ottoneu league, he was ranked 71st overall (Teheran and Medlen were 101 and 110 respectively). Medlen did have more wins and a better ERA, but Minor had more Ks and a better WHIP. The Braves rotation was as good as I expected, and Minor was the best of a very good group.
5. Josh Hamilton doesn’t get past HR #25. He stalled at 21 in his much-publicized down season. And he played 151 games, so this was not a case of the power being there but the PA lacking – Hamilton just didn’t have the pop people expected.
6. Chris Tillman will be a top-20 AL SP. Tillman finished just outside the top 20 (22nd) in ottoneu points leagues, but this is a format that really punishes homer-happy pitchers, far more than the typical format. In my non-ottoneu league, with much more typical stats (W, ERA, WHIP, K, K/9), Tillman was the #10 starter in the AL, #26 overall. For most fantasy players, buying Tillman was a big win. If you played in ottoneu 4×4 or points leagues, he wasn’t nearly as valuable, but I imagine not many Tillman owners were disappointed.
7. Cory Luebke will be this year’s Kris Medlen. So if you give up 0 runs in 0 IP, is that a 0.00 ERA? I am still a believer in Luebke’s stuff, but he obviously didn’t see the field this year and his injury set backs are worrisome. I’ll likely be targeting him in auctions next year, but far more warily than I was this year.
8. David Freese continues his climb and hits 25 HR. I noted in my original article that my first choice was to tout big improvements from Mike Moustakas, but I can’t even gloat about that. Both of these third basemen disappointed. Freese posted a .2 WAR in 17 games in 2009…and only barely edged that out with .3 in 138 games this year. I’ve never been a Freese fan, but changed my tune before this season. Luckily he was kept in all of my leagues and I never had the chance to act on my newfound optimism. Suffice it to say that is gone now.
9. Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn will combine for fewer than 55 HR. Konerko started the year as a dirt cheap 1B on my original ottoneu league team, and ended the year cut and not missed at all. The White Sox long-time leader put up a brutal year and contributed only 12 to this total. Dunn’s total of 34 was far more respectable, but represented his second lowest total since 2003, and left this pair well short of 55 total.
10. Kenley Jansen does not get double digit saves. For quite a while, it looked like Mattingly wouldn’t give him double-digit save opportunities (which is really what this prediction said – I never doubted his ability), but around the same time Mattingly turned himself into a Manager of the Year candidate, he turned Jansen into a full-time closer, and the strike out artist never looked back, posting 28 saves while blowing only four.
After a debatable 4 out of 10 in 2012, this year I put up a solid 5 out of 10, and did so (I think) without sacrificing boldness. Not bad. Not bad at all.