This is my first venture into the Rotographs “Bold Predictions” series and mainly I’m just hoping a big league general manager notices my predictive prowess and I rule baseball by August 2015. I will admit, I am a bit concerned I asked my Magic 8-Ball how spot on these prophecies were and I just got an f-bomb back in return. Oh well. Go big or go home.
So Billy Beane, can I have Jonah Hill’s job yet?
Clay Buchholz will be a top-25 mixed league starter.
Thank you, ERA and WHIP. By games played, Buchholz was the one of the American League’s top starters this year, however, another season marred by injury caused him to only toss 108.1 innings this season. However, those inning were insanely valuable, with Buchholz posting 12 wins (in 16 starts), a 1.74 ERA, and a 1.02 WHIP. With a nice spike in his K/9, even with the abbreviated season, Buchholz finished 20th on ESPN’s Player Rater. Win.
1 for 1.
Ike Davis will be a top-5 mixed league 1B… overall.
Normally, I would be most red-faced by this one, but the next one down was a pretty big swing-and-a-miss, too. Swing-and-a-miss — something Davis was good at this year. Davis’ BB% actually climbed this year, and some of his average dip may be explained by some BABIP luck, but his power completely evaporated, as his ISO plummeted from .240/.235 the last two years to .129 in 2013. The only good news here is that people didn’t burn a high draft pick on Davis, but he was a total whiff for those who pegged him as a round 10-12 sleeper.
1 for 2.
Pedro Alvarez will hit under 20 homers this season.
OK. This was bad. This was really bad. Pedro dingers (37 of them!). His walk rate fell, his batting average, too, but if you wanted homers, you got ’em.
1 for 3.
Count it! Motte was an immediate red flag once it became apparent he was dealing with an elbow flexor strain. The Cardinals kept implying that the injury was something that would be fine given a bit of rest, but guys like Colby Lewis and Ben Sheets had followed similar arcs. Eventually, Motte was shut down and sent under the knife, ending his season. Boggs was never a good fit in the ninth inning, but what was a little bit of a surprise was Edward Mujica nudging Trevor Rosenthal out of the way for the vast majority of 2013. Of course, it looks like St. Louis’ triple-digit flamethrower might finally have his chance in the ninth, but too late for owners in redraft leagues.
2 for 4.
No Orioles pitcher finishes inside the top-75 mixed league starters.
Erg. So close. Wei-Yin Chen? Same mediocre stuff and only 137 innings. Jason Hammel? Looks like that strikeout rate from 2012 was a mirage. Dylan Bundy? Ouch. Jake Arrieta? Traded. But the one guy I tried to stay away from in this rotation led to my undoing here. I’ll cop to being wrong about Chris Tillman. Still a below-average SwStr% but managed to get his K% up to 21.2%. Still regressed off his 2.93 ERA (2012) but also saw improvements in his xFIP/SIERA thanks to the additional punchouts and sustained velocity gains. Unlike the rest of the guys, he managed to stay on fantasy rosters all year, finishing 31st on ESPN’s Player Rater and 39th in standard Yahoo! 5×5 leagues.
2 for 5.
Victor Martinez will be the number one fantasy catcher (where applicable).
This one looked like a real longshot after V-Mart posted a .221/.290/.274 triple slash in April. However, he rewarded owners who stuck with him, singing to the tune of .361/.413/.500 after the all-star break, easily the best second half “catcher.” Was it enough to put him over the top for number one in aggregate, though? Not quite. I have Martinez 3rd in 5×5 leagues with average, and 4th with either OBP and OPS, tied up in an impressively close race with Yadier Molina, Mike Napoli, and Wilin Rosario. Like the above Orioles prediction, I want to take partial credit, but can’t.
2 for 6.
Jedd Gyorko is a top-3 National League second baseman.
Bet this one was a lot closer than the average reader thinks. Even though Gyorko only played 125 games, he still finished 6th in the National League, only trailing Matt Carpenter (ironically, the guy I had in this space before I flip-flopped to Gyorko), Daniel Murphy, Brandon Phillips, Chase Utley, and Martin Prado (where eligible). Gyorko surpassed even my lofty expectations with the homer total, knocking 23 out of the park, prorating to 30 HR/162 games. Unfortunately, even with 23 taters, the Padres second baseman only knocked in 63 runs; not enough to overcome his total lack of speed and .249/.301 BA/OBP. I’m still targeting him next year after the top 20 middle infielders come off the board, though.
2 for 7.
R.A. Dickey posts an ERA over 4.00 for the first time since 2009.
This was the one I probably took the most heat for. Maybe Dickey’s book had just come out? I won’t call out the random tweets or comments from my original post, but essentially I was met with “Dickey over 4.00 in the AL East? Are you insane? Have you seen how terrible the AL East will be?! Rabble, rabble, rabble!” Well, guess what? The AL East was the best offensive division in baseball again (yawn), taking four of the top twelve spots by wOBA. It appears Dickey found the sledding tougher in the Junior League, too, seeing his K% drop and his BB% rise, driving him to… his first 4.00+ ERA since 2009.
3 for 8.
This is the year Jed Lowrie finally shakes the Mr. Glass moniker and is a top-10 mixed league shortstop.
I projected a 20/75/75 line and he hit 15/75/80. Not too bad. We all knew Lowrie could put up elite SS numbers if healthy, and he delivered for savvy owners who scooped him up in the late innings, finishing eighth among big league shortstops. The question next year will be whether or not he is overrated in drafts.
4 for 9.
Half of the top-ten closers in baseball after the all-star break will have been undrafted in mixed leagues.
How I ranked the top 25 relievers after the all-star break in standard leagues:
Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland, Jim Johnson, Huston Street, Aroldis Chapman and Steve Cishek were all inside the top 200 players by ADP. Kenley Jansen was just outside, but probably scooped up in the most leagues at the tail ends of drafts. Koji Uehara, Danny Farquhar, and Jim Henderson were my “bet winners,” and they weren’t enough to give me a tally mark here. But I still think I proved my point. Latroy Hawkins, Joaquin Benoit, Rex Brothers, Mark Melancon all appear in the top 25. Plenty of saves to be found on the wire if you know where to look (and read the Bullpen Report nightly!)
4 for 10.
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