20 Bold Predictions for 2011: A Review

At the end of March, I posted a list of 20 predictions that I considered rather bold. On the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Show, we have a segment called “Are you Crazy?” in which the lucky roundtabler of the night makes a bold prediction. To be considered not crazy, the prediction should be expected to have at least a 20% chance of actually happening. I generally used this baseline when coming up with these predictions, meaning that the hope is I get at least four of these predictions right. Now let’s see how I did.

Rajai Davis hits 15 HRs- A spring training power surge and a move to home-friendly Toronto led to this prediction. Oops. He hit just one home run over 320 at-bats, reminding us once again that spring training means nothing! Wrong. 0 for 1

Brandon Allen hits 20 HRs- He only got 175 at-bats and obviously the hope here was that he would soon find himself with everyday playing time. That didn’t happen. He did hit 6 home runs though, which prorated over 525 at-bats would have resulted in 18. This could have been close if he got the playing time, but still, Wrong. 0 for 2

Casper Wells hits 20 HRs and tallies 10 SBs- Saw a nice playing time boost upon his move to Seattle, but that still only resulted in just a bit more than 200 at-bats. Like Allen, if you prorate his home run total over more regular playing time, he would have cleared the 20 HR plateau. The steals also would have been close. But alas, the at-bats just never materialized. Wrong. 0 for 3

Matt Joyce clubs 30 HRs- He did hit a career high 19 home runs, but that didn’t quite reach the level I predicted. Now I know this wasn’t exactly part of this prediction, but those fantasy owners whose eyes I opened to Joyce just by posting this certainly made a nice profit from their investment. Wrong. 0 for 4

Ichiro Suzuki posts a sub-.300 AVG- My first correct prediction! And this ended up being an easy win as Ichiro posted his first sub-.300 season by hitting well below that mark at just .272. There was just no way a hitter in his late 30′s could continue posting a BABIP in the mid-.300 range. Right. 1 for 5

Peter Bourjos hits 15 HRs and swipes 40 bags- Technically wrong, but like Joyce, for those following the predictions, Bourjos likely netted a nice profit for his fantasy owners. He could have pushed 15 homers if he had gotten a full 600 at-bat slate, but the steals were a bit disappointing. Still, he showed a nice power/speed combo and could still be undervalued next season. Wrong. 1 for 6

Dexter Fowler outearns Shane Victorino- This was no knock on Victorino, as I have been a fan, though he did disappoint in the steals category. However, Fowler did not outearn many as the speedster continues to steal dramatically fewer bases than you would expect. His contact issues remain a problem and will prevent him from ever helping a fantasy team’s average. And we’re still waiting for the home run power to show up, even just 10 to 15 would result in a nice boost to his fantasy value. Wrong. 1 for 7

Adrian Gonzalez swats fewer than 30 HRs- One of the most controversial predictions for sure as many pegged him as an MVP favorite. I, on the other hand, was very concerned about his shoulder and believed him to be massively overvalued in fantasy leagues. If he didn’t hit a BABIP-fueled .338, I would have been right about his fantasy value. But, I was right about his power anyway as he hit just 27, despite leaving power-sapping PETCO. Interestingly, his HR/FB remained identical to last season, but it was his FB% dropping to just about 32% that was behind the home run decline. Right. 2 for 8

Chris Iannetta earns top 5 catcher value- It is hard to be a top 5 catcher when you hit .238. Iannetta continues to find difficulty in posting a league average BABIP, which is logical given his fly ball tendency. However, with a better than league average 20.4% LD%, you would think his BABIP would be higher than just .276. The Rockies clearly aren’t big fans, as he actually posted a career best in at-bats, yet it was only 345. It is looking less likely that a big breakout is coming anytime soon, though it could be argued his 2008 represented a breakout given his .391 wOBA. Wrong. 2 for 9

Jason Heyward hits fewer than 20 HRs- Too many ground balls and a HR/FB ratio that was due for a drop led to this prediction, both of which were big factors in making it come true (he hit just 14 home runs this year). Injuries also played a role as Heyward is already close to getting tagged as injury-prone. That said, he does have massive talent and could explode any year. Right. 3 for 10

Alex Gordon hits 30 HRs- I was a big fan of Gordon heading into the season, but unfortunately did not draft him. His home run power is still below what many had expected when he was a rookie, but it has improved since his rookie year. Given his 45 doubles, this 30 home run prediction may very well come true next season. Wrong. 3 for 11

Clayton Kershaw‘s ERA exceeds 4.00- Accckkk. As many commenters no doubt made sure that I never forget this prediction, this one couldn’t have gone any worse. It wasn’t that crazy when looking at his previous SIERA marks, but he actually improved his skills enough so to drop his SIERA nearly a full run. Sad that I made this prediction since I was a huge fan when he made his Dodgers debut. Wrong. 3 for 12

Jason Hammel outearns Ubaldo Jimenez- It really wouldn’t have been hard to find a pitcher to outearn Ubaldo this season. But I somehow managed to do it. Jimenez was a major bust this year, but Hammel sucked too, and with his lack of strikeouts, generated even more negative value than Jimenez. Hammel is officially banned from my future sleeper lists given his mysterious drop in strikeouts, but Jimenez should rebound nicely next year, though that may be highly dependent on his velocity. Wrong. 3 for 13

Edwin Jackson earns top 20 starter value- After his trade to the NL, you thought you would never have to read me talking about Jackson again, didn’t you?! His ERA did drop from last season, but so did his K% and GB%, erasing the gains I thought would stick after his fantastic run with the White Sox during his 2010 second half. We’ll have to see where Jackson ends up next season before deciding how he may be valued in fantasy leagues. Wrong. 3 for 14

James Shields posts a sub-3.80 ERA- Shields made this prediction look pretty good. Amazingly, Shields had only posted a sub-3.80 ERA once in his career before this season. Another sub-3.00 ERA is unlikely, but he is truly a better pitcher than he has ever been. Only bad luck, like the .341 BABIP he posted last year, will prevent him from posting at worst a mid-3.00 ERA next year. Right. 4 for 15

Joe Blanton outearns Trevor Cahill- Wow, I managed to pick two disappointments here again (not much different than the above Ubaldo/Hammel prediction). Both also posted negative dollar values earned, though besides poor pitching when he took the mound, Blanton also did so because he only threw 41.1 innings. Cahill was a bust as I expected him to be, so the idea here was kind of right. That said, I am strict about calling a prediction correct. Wrong. 4 for 16

Jeremy Hellickson is the most valuable Rays pitcher- And here I thought David Price would be Hellboy’s stiffest competition for Rays most valuable pitcher. According to Baseball HQ, Hellickson earned just $2 less than Price, which is a lot closer than most everyone probably expected. But of course, Shields’ dominance ensured that Hellickson would not be close to being their most valuable pitcher in terms of fantasy value. Wrong. 4 for 17

Matt Thornton leads baseball in saves- Thornton lost his closer’s job after about 5 innings pitched. Yup, five. Every time he strung together a couple of scoreless outings, he would give up a run and push him further back in the pecking order. Of course, after losing his closer role, he reverted back to being Matt Thornton and ended up still posting a respectable 3.32 ERA, which in itself was still inflated by a .326 BABIP and ridiculously low 61% LOB%. I should have been better at factoring in terrible/crazy managers when making these predictions. Wrong. 4 for 18

Jason Motte leads the Cardinals in saves- Like some of the other “wrong” predictions above, the idea here turned out right, even though technically the prediction was wrong. Motte ended up second in saves for the Cardinals, and Ryan Franklin lost his job after saving just one game and ultimately getting released. Wrong. 4 for 19

Luke Gregerson saves 20 games- Heath Bell was never traded, making this prediction guaranteed to fail. Gregerson, though, had his best season yet from an ERA perspective, but mysteriously saw his strikeout rate cut in half. Wrong. 4 for 20

So 4 right out of 20, exactly at that 20% baseline I set for myself. Although this doesn’t make me particularly excited, I was pleased that I had the right idea on many of the wrong predictions. At the very least, those may have helped convince readers to go the extra buck on the players involved and still enjoy a nice profit.




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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He can be heard live every Wed. night at 9 PM EST on the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Show. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

7 Responses to “20 Bold Predictions for 2011: A Review”

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  1. Bobby A says:

    Interesting that 3 of your 4 correct predictions were when predicting poor performance. It seems easier, when making predictions, to point out guys with red flags and expecting their production to decline. This is no knock on the author, none at all, just an observation about individual player predictions.

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    • Kampfer says:

      I think it has to do with playing time. Easier to predict talent than the irrational decisions made by manager.

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      Yeah, I think there are a lot more ways a player could disappoint than outperform, so this makes sense. Breakouts are also just really hard to predict and playing time is one of the key ingredients to making them come true.

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  2. Kampfer says:

    I think even your misses had done some fantasy good on quite a lot of readers’ team. You should feel better for urself than 20% right.

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  3. batpig says:

    thanks for the review Mike, as others have noted it’s always refreshing to see a writer take an honest look at their predictions in retrospect.

    I think one lesson you can learn is that it’s way too easy to miss with a “pet favorite” who is really a mediocre player, most of the time those breakouts don’t materialize. Look at how many “misses” (especially many that were “right in theory” but wrong on specifics) involve mediocrities — Jason Hammel over Ubaldo, Blanton over Cahill, Fowler, Brandon Allen, Casper Wells…

    Playing time issues, poor track records, etc. all conspire to make those guys bad bets.

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  4. herve houchoua says:

    utilisez la traduction french…..england ( si vous le souhaitez )
    …………………………………………………………………………….

    BRAVO Mr Podhorzer pour l ensemble de vos posts et pour votre honneteté !

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  5. Ivdown says:

    “Clayton Kershaw‘s ERA exceeds 4.00- Accckkk. As many commenters no doubt made sure that I never forget this prediction, this one couldn’t have gone any worse. It wasn’t that crazy when looking at his previous SIERA marks, but he actually improved his skills enough so to drop his SIERA nearly a full run. Sad that I made this prediction since I was a huge fan when he made his Dodgers debut. Wrong. 3 for 12″

    I don’t want to say I told you so, but… ;)

    Like I was saying in the predictions back then I wasn’t expecting a Cy Young season, just a great season for Kershaw, but I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I don’t think anyone would have expected the walks to drop as much as they did, though I did mention his improved walk rate since may 2nd of 2010. After watching Clayton from 2008 to 2010 I never would have dreamed of a walk rate in the low 2s, just remarkable.

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