We’re recapping all the predictions we did make, but there’s a whole slew of crazy things that none of us predicted. So let’s see if we can learn something from the crazy things that none of us saw coming, even though we tried to be strange.
1) Chris Davis will hit over .280 and be an MVP candidate.
We all knew Crush had power, but he always struck out too much to have a season like this. Well, he still struck out too much, but when you have an isolated slugging percentage over .300, you turn some outs into hits. There have been 110 player-seasons since 1990 where a player has shown an ISO over .300, and Davis had the second-worst strikeout rate in that group (to Ryan Howard in 2007). The average batting average of that group was .308, so Davis’ flaws still showed. Even with a season like this in his back pocket, the contact makes me think it’s better to project 2012 numbers with a little more power than it is to start with 2013 numbers when looking at 2014 Davis. The group that struck out more than a quarter of the time had a .274 batting average, collectively.
2) Matt Carpenter will lead the entire league in two categories.
Sure, we had some bold predictions about Matt Carpenter. There was some love. But he led Mike Trout by 17 runs, mostly because he led the league in hits (199). We’ll write more about this in the coming weeks, but I think Carpenter has the Joey Votto genius going. He hits to all fields with enough power to make defenses guess. You may have noticed Mike Podhorzer post on the subject, but we’ll be trying to incorporate this skill into an xBABIP metric. Because it’s important *where* you hit it, too.
3) Josh Donaldson will hit over .300 and be worthy of any third-round pick.
If you look at his minor league numbers, none of what Josh Donaldson did this year seems impossible. He always walked more and struck out less in the minors than he had to date in the bigs, and he had always shown more power. Then you look at how he finished 2012 after his he was brought back to the bigs, and it makes sense what happened this year. But rather than take too much stock in late-season splits, what we should probably remember is that some players just take a bit of time to get adjusted, and we shouldn’t be so quick to poo-poo a young player.
4) Jed Lowrie will stay healthy all year.
Welp. What can you take away from this? We could agree with the player that his injuries were of the freak sort, but they could easily happen again. Someone stepped on his foot at second? He’ll be there again. He got hit by a pitch? Sure. Fact remains that it’s taken him some time to recover in the past, and that this was the first year that he managed more than 400 plate appearances. Considering that the output (.290, 15 homers) wasn’t so top-shelf, it might make sense to shop him after this bold prediction came true. As hard as it might be in your deep league to let a shortstop go.
5) Will Venable will finally put up the year Eno Sarris thought he would so long ago.
Shut up your face.
7) Pablo Sandoval, coming off a world series in which he had a three-homer game, will fail to hit 15 home runs in his followup.
Eh, you know, maybe this wasn’t so bold actually. Sandoval only hit 12 home runs in 2012, so he actually improved on his total. And injuries have been a factor his entire career, possibly related to his career-long battle with his weight. The stupid thing is that we know what sort of upside he has, and I’ve heard around AT&T Park that he thinks 28 is an important year for getting healthy. Who knows why that year in particular, but he’ll turn 28 next season and will be a free agent. Might be fun to bold predict him into a career-high in home runs and plate appearances next year. Oh how the Giants will squirm at those negotiations.
8) Bartolo Colon, at age 40, will put up the best ERA of his career.
You can harumph and cough and grind your teeth as much as you like — Colon has certainly earned ire by being caught with PEDs in the past — but what can you actually do when something like this happens. It could be luck (his strand rate was 80%) and ballpark (he had the lowest home run per fly ball rate of his career, and the lowest home run rate), but it happened. It won’t be worth a full-price bet next year, given all the scrutiny he’ll be under and his age, but he’ll probably be worth a flier. Just in case.
9) Despite giving up the most home runs in baseball, A.J. Griffin will be a valuable fantasy pitcher.
Also interesting is that numbers two through four on that list of homers allowed — R.A. Dickey, Chris Tillman and Bronson Arroyo — were also valuable, at least in stretches. Some leagues, like ottoneu points, really hurt you if your pitcher gives up a home run, but in 5×5 leagues, it’s not a big deal, particularly if your pitcher doesn’t put a bunch of people on in front of that homer. Yu Darvish was ninth in homers allowed, and he had a pretty good season. Fly ball pitchers usually get strikeouts, and if they have a homer problem, it means they probably have good enough control to survive with that homer problem. Or they wouldn’t be in the bigs. Survivor bias.
10) Under 25 year old starting pitchers will match the over 25 year old group.
From aging curves, we know that young pitchers have more gas. But we also know that starting pitchers don’t suffer so badly from lost gas, presumably because they learn how to pitch, not to throw. Well, it looks like the young guys are arriving in the big leagues with a sense of how to pitch. Look at the top ten under-25s, and then the top ten over-25s. I’d say they match the veterans blow-for-blow.