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Reviewing Some Preseason Predictions

Before the season we wrote a lot of player profiles here at RotoGraphs. The ones I wrote focused on fantasy impacts, frequently mentioning if a player was under or overvalued compared to his ADP. Now that the season is over, I would like to focus on ones that were particularly notable, both for good and bad.

The Poor Predictions

Mike Pelfrey
Prediction: “It’s not out of the question for Pelfrey to be a 15-game winner with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.275 WHIP. If he can maintain a 6.00 SO/9 rate, that would give him 133 strikeouts in 200 innings. And that makes him a top-25 starting pitcher.”

Reality: 10 W, 5.03 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 5.22 K/9 (107 Ks in 184.1 IP)

Notes: In six games in May, Pelfrey was 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP. His next lowest ERA month was July’s 4.84 and his next lowest WHIP was the 1.50 he posted in September.

Derrek Lee
Prediction: “Lee is a fringe fantasy starter in a 12-team mixed league. … What HR power Lee does possess at this point seems to be a Wrigley Field illusion.”

Reality: Last Player Picked has Lee as the sixth-best first baseman in 2009. He hit 35 HR this season, with 15 of those coming in road parks.

Notes: At the end of May, this forecast was right on, as Lee had a .248/.325/.411 line through 38 games. From June 1st to the end of the year, Lee hit .327 with 30 HR and 92 RBIs in 103 games.

Garrett Atkins
Prediction: “[I]t makes sense to target Atkins either at the end of the sixth round or beginning of the seventh. This is in line with what he did last year and if he just duplicates what he did in 2008 you are in okay shape. Yet you still have the upside potential of a healthy player not far removed from a $31 season.”

Reality: Atkins was one of the worst players in fantasy this year, with a .226-9-48-37-0 fantasy line.

Notes: There was one brief bright spot this year for Atkins, who hit .327/.393/.509 in June but the rest of the season was horrific.

Jorge Posada
Prediction: “Because of his previous level of performance, Posada has more upside than only a handful of catchers. But he is much more likely to repeat his 2008 numbers, which means fantasy players should look elsewhere.”

Reality: Last Player Picked had Posada as the fifth most valuable fantasy catcher.

Notes: Posada made 88 starts at catcher, his fewest (injury-shortened 2008 aside) since 1998.

Carl Crawford
Prediction: “Before you spend a late-second, early third-round pick on Crawford, be sure you are comfortable projecting the stats for him to return that value…. And before you decide he is a lock to steal 50 bases because of his fabulous success ratios, ask how likely it is that Tampa Bay will allow him to attempt the 60-70 steals he has previously in his career, especially since he no longer slots in as the team’s leadoff hitter.”

Reality: Last Player Picked had Crawford as the 10th-best fantasy hitter. Crawford attempted 76 steals and ended up with 60 SB.

Notes: Crawford had 668 of his 672 PA in the second spot in the lineup.

But there were many good predictions, too, even if the above are the ones that jump immediately to mind.

More Successful Ones

Asdrubal Cabrera
Prediction: “Cabrera will be an afterthought on Draft Day in most mixed leagues next season. But by the end of the season he will be on an active roster in most leagues. He is definitely someone to consider in the final rounds of your draft.”

Reality: He was owned in 84 percent of CBS Sports leagues at the end of the year after starting with an ESPN ADP of 260.

Notes: Cabrera will once again have eligibility at both 2B and SS in 2010.

Ryan Zimmerman
Prediction: “Because of last year’s injury problems and his lack of big HR numbers throughout his career, he’s likely to be under-valued in many drafts. And with a decent chance to approach triple-digits in Runs and RBIs, Zimmerman offers a lot of upside for a player apt to be available in the bottom half of most drafts.”

Reality: Zimmerman ranked as the 17th-best fantasy hitter according to Last Player Picked and finished with 110 R and 106 RBIs.

Notes: After three consecutive seasons of nearly identical HR/FB rates, Zimmerman had a career-best 15.9 percent mark in the category, which led to 33 HR, a personal best.

Prince Fielder
Prediction: “Fielder may be slightly undervalued by the mock drafting crowd (ADP: 26). The mockers prefer Justin Morneau, who on average is going six slots ahead of Fielder. Morneau provided much more value in 2008, but I would prefer Fielder’s power over Morneau’s RBI bat this season.”

Reality: Last Player Picked had Fielder as the fouth-best fantasy hitter while Morneau finished outside the top 50 after his mid-September injury. Fielder finished with 46 HR.

Notes: Fielder led the NL with 141 RBIs.

Cole Hamels
Prediction: “Hamels will have to improve on last year’s outstanding season to be worth a fourth-round pick. And there are enough warning signs around him to make passing on him in that slot an easy choice.”

Reality: Hamels fell off in all four categories from 2008 and was outside of the top 30 pitchers.

Notes: Hamels had an ADP of 41.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Prediction: “Would a 60-SB, 110-R season from Ellsbury be a surprise? Ellsbury is not going to be a big threat in either HR or RBI. But with above average production in runs along with one of the best SB totals in the game he should provide great value for fantasy players, especially given his current ADP (67).”

Reality: Ellsbury finished with 70 SB and 94 R en route to being the 14th-best fantasy hitter, according to Last Player Picked.

Notes: Ellsbury outearned Ichiro, with his 44 SB edge being more valuable than Ichiro’s 51-point AVG advantage.

Other predictions that turned out well included ones for Markakis, Bay, K. Johnson, Victorino, A. Soriano and Haren. I was more bullish than the ADPs for Choo and Mauer although both outperformed my expectations for them.