As I begin to write this, it’s still October, which means the statute of limitations on a HEY LET’S REVIEW MY BOLD PREDICTIONS FROM BEFORE THE SEASON piece has not yet come to pass. So, HEY LET’S REVIEW MY BOLD PREDICTIONS FROM BEFORE THE SEASON!
The week prior to Opening Day, each previously current member of the Dynasty Guru staff wrote eleven bold predictions for the upcoming season. The still current members of the team have already written their reviews, so it’s my turn. It’s going to be a roller coaster of emotion here, as some of these predictions not only came true, but look pretty great in hindsight. Of course, there are also predictions which make me want to erase all references to myself and this site on the internet.
So get out your smiting sticks (or whatever the kids are smiting with these days) and let’s dig in. Oh, and grades because everyone loves grades:
1. Alex Gordon blows the doors open and hits over .320 with 27 homers and 15 steals, finishing in the top-5 of MVP voting in the American League.
What I Said: I’m a big Alex Gordon believer, you guys know this already – and I think this is the year he takes that step forward into superstardom. Well, superstardom on a national level, as in reality, he’s been worth 12.4 wins above replacement over the last two seasons.
What Happened: Not exactly. Gordon ended up hitting 20 homers with 11 steals, but paired it with a .265 average. He will not get a single MVP vote.
2. Adam Wainwright finishes 2013 as a top-5 starting pitcher.
What I Said: Wainwright, fresh off inking a nearly $100m extension, was his usual self last season from a skills perspective; just not from a raw stats perspective. He’s my NL Cy Young pick, and think he leads the Cardinals back to the playoffs again in 2013.
What Happened: Totally nailed it. Wainwright finished as the #3 fantasy pitcher for 2013, and he led the Cardinals back to the playoffs. He has re-solidified himself as a fantasy ace and should be drafted as a top-five pitcher in 2014.
3. Xander Bogaerts hits at least seven major league home runs this season.
What I Said: Bogaerts will start the season in Double-A Portland, but with only Stephen Drew ahead of him, it’s not crazy to envision a scenario where he reaches the majors in August, a la Manny Machado, who hit 7 homers in 2012.
What Happened: Partial credit. Bogaerts did make it to the majors in August, but received sporadic playing time down the stretch and only picked up one homer for the season. However, I expect that number to increase by a huge amount in 2014–he is a future stud.
4. Andy Dirks outperforms Torii Hunter in every 5×5 category, except for runs scored.
What I Said: Hunter is on the way down in his career and Dirks is on his way up. I wrote about Dirks being one of my favorite endgame targets this past week at BP, and think he could be a 15-15 guy this season. Hunter has been money in the bank over the past decade, but his 2012 success was elevated by a crazy .389 BABIP, which he will not be able to repeat.
What Happened: Not a good showing. Andy Dirks only outperformed Torii Hunter in stolen bases, and even that was only seven to three. Hunter was able to reduce his strikeout rate by more than five percentage points and maintain a .344 BABIP–much closer to his 2012 than I was anticipating and the second-highest of his career.
5. Matt Harvey strikes out more than 200 batters.
What I Said: Two hundred is a very tough number for a young starter to hit because they are generally building up workload, but the combination of Harvey’s 170 innings from 2012 and his 10.6 K/9 (or 28.6 K%, if you’re into that) makes him worthy of being the exception. In fact, in the last 20 years, only eight pitchers have struck out more than 200 batters in either their first or second year in the majors.
What Happened: Things were looking so good here for the first four months of the season, but the wheels started to come off in August when Harvey’s strikeout numbers started to dwindle and he was shut down to due an elbow injury which eventually required Tommy John surgery. One more start might have gotten it, as he finished the season with 191 punch outs, but his 9.6 K/9 rate was great and I can’t be charged with predicting pitcher injuries.
6. Justin Morneau outperforms Paul Goldschmidt in every 5×5 category, except for steals.
What I Said: It’s no secret that I’m not a huge Goldschmidt guy, but this is more about believing in Morneau than anything else. Staying healthy last season was a far bigger deal than people seem to think, and he is finally 100% entering a season for the first time in three years. He can hit .280 with 25 homers and 100 RBI – which is better than what Goldy will put up if he doesn’t “bust out” (which I don’t think he will).
What Happened: Hey, what’s that over there! /jumps to next item on the list
Grade: F—. Ah screw it, I’ve been expelled.
7. Jean Segura steals 35 bases and finishes the year as a top-10 shortstop.
What I Said: All Segura does is put the bat on the ball. In his 166 plate appearances, after jumping over Triple-A, Segura only struck out 13.9% of the time. And this Spring Training, he’s struck out only twice in 56 plate appearances. Of course, that part doesn’t mean much, but he’ll make enough contact that he should be able to hit at least .280, which will essentially make him 2012 Alcides Escobar, who finished 7th among shortstops in value – with upside to spare.
What Happened: Ding ding ding–we have another winner! I made three predictions all within the same paragraph and all three came true in spades. Segura ended up hitting .294 on the season with 44 steals and finished as the top fantasy shortstop in baseball.
8. Josh Donaldson has more fantasy value than Todd Frazier.
What I Said: I’m just about all in on Josh Donaldson at this point. I’ve written about him here and here and here. It’s starting to become a little much, even. The other side of this is that I’m skeptical that Frazier will be able to maintain his 2012 level of production – and while a .260 average with 20 homers is pretty good, Donaldson should be able to match the raw numbers with a higher batting average.
What Happened: I’m on a roll now. I don’t think I wrote about any player this preseason as much as I wrote about Donaldson–and I was extremely happy to see him blow the doors off his expectations this year. Especially since I drafted him in so many leagues. He not only cleared 20 homers (24 to be exact) with an average above .260 (.301 to be exact), but Todd Frazier did not maintain his 2012 performance–making this an easier feat to accomplish than even I originally thought.
Grade: A+ with smiley face stickers
9. Zach Britton wins more games than both Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
What I Said: All three of these Orioles starters are on the outside looking in at the rotation to begin the season, but don’t sleep on Britton. He needs to rediscover his control, but starting pitchers with a 60% ground ball rate and 20% strike out rate don’t exactly grow on trees.
What Happened: I was wrong, but not by much. I was correct in guessing that Gausman and Bundy would not rack up fantasy value in 2014–in fact, Bundy did not pitch a single inning. But my undying love of Zach Britton again clouded my judgment. Even with his poor performance, he still would have been tied at two with Gausman if the rookie hadn’t picked up a win in relief on the final day of the season.
10. Trevor Cahill takes another step forward and finishes as a top-25 starting pitcher.
What I Said: I’ll go back to the well with Trevor Cahill, who has a 60% ground ball rate and has increased his strike out substantially over the last three seasons. This is the year he throws 220 innings, wins a whole bunch of games and gets comped to Brandon Webb WAY too much.
What Happened: Another poor performance. Cahill didn’t even finish within the top-125 starting pitchers for fantasy–though that was not helped by missing a month and a half during the middle of the season. But even so, a 3.99 ERA and 1.41 WHIP with diminished strikeout numbers is not the way to endear yourself to fantasy owners. I actually still like Cahill as a value pick in 2014, but expectations are going to be lower after this campaign.
11. Gary Brown steals more bases in the major leagues (this year) than Billy Hamilton.
What I Said: This is more about opportunity than anything else, but there’s a much better chance that Brown will usurp Gregor Blanco in San Francisco than Billy Hamilton doing the same with Ryan Ludwick (who I believe will continue to hit well in Cincy). He doesn’t have anywhere near the same stolen base acumen that Hamilton does, but given 350 at bats, he could steal 25-30 bases.
What Happened: Brown stole 17 bases. For Triple-A Fresno. And was caught 11 times. He’s just not a very good baseball player and all the opportunity in the world isn’t going to help that. Fortunately it looks like I was the last one to jump off this bandwagon before it crashed into the local tire fire.
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