This one is going to hurt. For reasons I can’t explain at this time, I decided to write a 10 Bold Predictions article this season. I tried to convince myself it would be the easiest place for readers to see which players I was high on entering the season, and what players I thought could have value later in the year. I didn’t want to play it safe, and feel my initial predictions were bold enough. I did not expect to hit many of them, but hoped that I would at least be close enough on a few that readers would be happy if they selected players I highlighted. Boy, I was wrong.
1. Cameron Maybin hits 20+ home runs.
I began Maybin’s writeup with the following sentence; “Maybin is probably my biggest sleeper heading into drafts.” That backfired big time. Maybin received 57 awful plate appearances during an injury-riddled campaign. His final slash line was a laughable .157/.232/.235. As with most of my predictions, I felt the process was good here. Maybin had adopted a new stance in 2012, and looked good over the second half of that season. I contend that he would have had a nice breakout had he stayed healthy, but I don’t have that luxury. And while I would love to say he’ll be in the same position next year, wrist injuries are always worrisome. At least you didn’t have to spend a high pick on him.
2. Rick Porcello strikes out 20% of hitters.
This is about as good as it gets for me. Porcello finished the year with a 19.3%, and had the best season of his career. I bought into Porcello’s pledge to bring back his curveball for the upcoming season. He delivered, throwing the pitch 16.45% according to BrooksBaseball.net. However, it wasn’t an elite strikeout pitch, and actually had a slightly negative pitch value. So, while it gave him another offering to keep hitters off balance, it probably wasn’t the reason for Porcello’s elevated strikeout rate. The main problem here was Porcello’s ugly start. After a rough first month, I cut Porcello in two leagues only to have owners use him against me during the second half of the season. I’m guessing a fair amount of owners who took the risk did the same thing.
Verdict: B- (I came pretty close here.)
3. Salvador Perez becomes a top-5 catcher.
Perez was fine, and probably worth his draft slot, but I expected a big breakout. I liked what I saw from Perez in a limited sample, and he had put himself among some really interesting players after a promising 2012. In order for Perez to be a top-5 catcher, he would have had to hit 20+ home runs. Not surprisingly, his high HR/FB rate declined, leaving him with a good, but not great power season.
4. Rickie Weeks re-emerges as a top-5 second baseman.
Oh boy. Not sure I even want to talk about this one. The main reason for my preseason optimism was based on Weeks’ 2011 ankle injury. He didn’t look right at the plate for the entire first half of 2012, but rebounded nicely in the second half. The hope here was that he was still limited by the ankle over the first half, but got healthier as the year went on. If that was the case, it didn’t show this season. Weeks was downright awful to begin the season, and briefly lost his job before a hamstring injury mercifully ended his season. There’s early talk that Weeks has already lost his starting spot next year. This was easily my worst call of the year. If it helps, I paid for it. Weeks was on every one of my fantasy teams.
5. Jesus Montero hits .300 with 20+ home runs.
Wait, did I say Weeks was my worst call? Feast your eyes on my prediction for Montero. It was a disastrous season for the former prospect. Montero was bad enough to be sent to the minors, suffered a knee injury which required surgery and then accepted a 50-game suspension in connection with the Biogenesis scandal. I promise I wasn’t on peyote when I made these predictions.
6. Jurickson Profar gets close to 550 plate appearances in the majors.
This was far from my worst call, but I was still wrong. Profar finished the year with 324 plate appearances. While he was actually up fairly early in the year, Profar was used mainly as a bench player. There were times when Ron Washington mixed him in with Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, but it didn’t happen often enough. And while I was right about Lance Berkman missing time, Mitch Moreland was surprisingly useful early on. That kept Profar out of the lineup more often than I had anticipated.
7. Justin Upton becomes an MVP candidate again.
If only the season ended May 1. Upton hit a ridiculous .298/.402/.734 in April, before hitting .211 and .226 in May and June respectively. After clubbing 12 home runs during the season’s first month, he hit just 15 the rest of the season. While his .357 wOBA was an upgrade over 2012, it was hardly an MVP-caliber performance.
8. Ryan Zimmerman returns to 2009-2010 offensive levels
Nope. Zimmerman’s .353 wOBA was nearly identical to his .352 mark from 2013. And, honestly, it took a ridiculous September surge for Zimmerman to get there. If you were patient and Zimmerman the whole season, there’s a chance he carried your club through the playoffs and helped you win your league. That’s great and all, but he ultimately let you down early in the year, and didn’t return to his vintage offensive levels. If only I would have gone with Jayson Werth here.
9. Carlos Sanchez becomes a fantasy-relevant infielder.
You might be asking yourself; “who the hell is Carlos Sanchez?” That’s a fair question, considering he didn’t reach the majors this year. The White Sox middle infield prospect had a down year, hitting just .241/.293/.296 in 479 plate appearances. He couldn’t crack the majors on a team that employed Gordon Beckham, Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie as regulars. On top of that, Sanchez was passed on the depth chart by Marcus Semien, who will likely enter next year as a deep fantasy sleeper.
10. Trevor Rosenthal leads the Cardinals in saves.
The thinking here was Mitchell Boggs wouldn’t hold the closer role all year. While that proved to be true, Edward Mujica was the main beneficiary. Rosenthal eventually earned some saves during the final month of the year, but only closed out three games. He remains a candidate to close next season, but was ultimately a failure in 2013 for fantasy purposes.
Conclusion: When Rick Porcello is your only saving grace, you probably did a bad job with your predictions.
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