Though we haven’t fully closed the books on the 2013 regular season, the vast majority of fantasy leagues have concluded. It was an interesting season for me. I finished no worse than fourth in any of my four leagues, but I wasn’t able to bring home a championship this year. That needs to change in 2014.
More importantly, though, it’s time to reflect on my preseason bold predictions. Let’s see where I pointed fantasy owners in the right direction and where I erred:
(1) Starlin Castro will see his batting average fall under .275.
I avoided Starlin Castro in every fantasy league because I didn’t feel his ranking matched his likely production, but I didn’t see the 23-year-old shortstop completely imploding this year. He finished the season with a .245/.284/.347 slash line. His walk rate decreased and his strikeout rate increased. His .280 wOBA ranked third-worst among qualified shortstops this season.
That’s one correct prediction for yours truly.
Mike Trout continues to astound. In ESPN leagues, he was the second-most valuable player in all of baseball — slightly behind Miguel Cabrera. Predicting Trout’s continued success didn’t take too much skill, but I went out on a bit of a limb and prognosticated that Bryce Harper would take a massive step forward and become a force in fantasy baseball. That didn’t happen. Injuries certainly affected his overall value, but the real culprit for Harper’s lack of fantasy value came in the mere 11 stolen bases and low RBI totals. He wasn’t even a top-40 outfielder in standard leagues this year.
Thus, despite Trout’s dominance, this was fully incorrect.
(3) Jarrod Parker will be a top-20 starter in mixed leagues.
I adore Jarrod Parker as a pitcher. I owned him in every league after many owners dumped him midseason, and it served me very well. Aside from the month of April, in which he supposedly dealt with a neck injury, the right-hander posted a 3.38 ERA in 167.2 innings. He was useful fantasy starter, even if he didn’t live up to my preseason expectations. His strikeout rate didn’t increase — despite a solid 9.6% swinging-strike rate — and the long ball became more of a problem. I thought his improvement would hinge on those key areas. It didn’t happen.
(4) Jean Segura will hit at least .290 with 30+ stolen bases.
This one was a piece of cake. No one saw the early-season power production, but his ability to hit for a high average and steal a myriad of bases was blatantly apparent. He experienced heavy regression in the second half, hitting only .241/.268/.315 with one home run. While it was difficult to stomach for many owners, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that’s who he will be in 2014. He’s a safe keeper in almost every league — especially since he cost little-to-nothing last spring. Just don’t count on him for double-digit home runs. As I said prior to the season, he’s a Jose Altuve type player at shortstop, though with more upside.
(5) Ben Revere will hit his first big-league home run, but it will be an inside-the-park home run.
I feel cheated on this prediction. Revere suffered a season-ending foot injury that left him with only 88 games played. He missed the entire second half, including the three-game series last week in Miami. And let’s be honest. That’s where he was going to hit his inside-the-park home run.
I’m stubbornly classifying this prediction as “incomplete”.
(6) Al Alburquerque will accumulate the most saves of any reliever in the Tigers’ bullpen.
This was admittedly a crapshoot. Detroit’s bullpen was a mess — it even included the return of Papa Grande — and Alburquerque arguably has the best stuff of the bunch. After all, opposing hitters still couldn’t touch him. His 12.86 K/9 strikeout rate ranked seventh-best among qualified relievers, and he compiled a .212 batting average against. The right-hander still possesses severe command issues, stemming from a heavy reliance on his slider (64.8% usage). The walks made him near-unusable at times, and he ended the season with a 4.59 ERA.
(7) Brett Anderson finally stays healthy for an entire season, pitches 175 innings and is a top-30 starting pitcher.
A couple weeks ago, Chad Young wrote a column which was entitled “The Guys You Just Can’t Quit” and rumors have been swirling that it was inspired by my unwavering loyalty to Brett Anderson. Every year, I draft him. Every year, he gets hurt. He only pitched 44.2 innings this year before succumbing to ankle and back injuries — and that doesn’t even include his weird trapezius issue in spring training. If I make another bold prediction regarding the 25-year-old southpaw next season, someone contact Eno Sarris and get him to send help. Thank you in advance.
(8) Jeff Samardzija will be a top-ten starter in the National League.
The breakout season from Jeff Samardzija didn’t happen this year, but there are still things to like about the 6-foot-5 righty. He still struck out over a batter per inning. His swinging-strike rate was still above 10.0%. The walk rate wasn’t cataclysmic at 3.29, but unfortunately, opposing batters hit .254 against him and found some home-run success. Although he flashed dominance, he wasn’t able to sustain it. The strikeouts were nice, but Samardzija wasn’t even a top-50 starter in mixed leagues this year, much less a top-10 starter in the National League.
(9) Jonathan Sanchez will post a 20% walk rate this year.
Much like Ben Revere, this was simply a case of a player not getting enough time to fulfill his destiny. He had a legitimate chance to threaten a 20.0% walk rate if the Pittsburgh Pirates would’ve given him more than five appearances. His walk rate had steadily climbed over the past couple seasons, and the sample size was simply too small for his true colors to shine through. Still, he either walked or hit 13.3% of the batters he faced this year, which is almost double the league-average rate. That’s comforting.
(10) No starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins posts double-digit win totals.
This prognostication would’ve been unbelievably correct if it wouldn’t have been for the 21-year-old phenom, Jose Fernandez. Outside of him, no Marlins pitcher (starter or reliever) won more than five games this year. Five! That’s incredible. Of course, Jose Fernandez was truly special in 2013 — I’d be more upset if I didn’t thoroughly enjoy watching every one of his starts — and he ruined what was otherwise a wonderful prediction.
Ultimately, I went 2-7-1 on my predictions (the one being an incomplete, which was discussed above). I hope I inspired many of you to avoid Starlin Castro and go all-in on Jean Segura. Jarrod Parker and Jeff Samardzija were solid enough, but not to the level predicted in this space. Still, y’all deserve better than that. I’ll devote myself to sharpening my skills over the winter and hope to bat at least .500 next season. Until then, friends.