Ben’s 11 Bold Predictions: Blind Squirrel Gets Nut Edition
Let’s skip the formalities/well constructed introductions.
In my last post, I covered four of my preseason predictions that stunk. In this post, I will cover the other seven that didn’t stink. In this way, I’m able to abide by two Internet Baseball Writing rules at once: I’ve revisited a preseason column, and I get to stretch this into a two-part series.
And to sweeten the deal, while I won’t copy
renowned colleague Craig Goldstein’s ploy and bring you GIFs, I will bring you each prediction headlined as though Scott Miller or someone of that ilk touched on the subject. Enjoy!
You can catch my original 11 Bold Predictions piece from March here.
Prediction No. 1: It’s Miller Time In Busch Stadium
What I wrote then: Shelby Miller will win 15 games for the Cardinals this season, to go along with an ERA in the mid-3.00s and 190 strikeouts in 180 innings … He’s really good, even if he’s overshadowed by the likes of Oscar Taveras. In related news, I have Miller in all but one of my redraft leagues this season. Happyface.
What happened: 15 wins, an ERA of 3.06 and 169 strikeouts in 173.1 innings. Let’s call a spade a spade, folks. I nailed this one.
What I say now: More of the same, really. There’s no reason to think Miller can’t do this again in 2014 and for the foreseeable future, and I think eventually you’ll see that K/9 rate tick up a bit more. With Adam Wainwright, Miller and Michael Wacha anchoring St. Louis’ rotation for the next five-plus years, both Cardinals fans and savvy fantasy owners are in good shape.
Prediction No. 2: Hosmer Gives Us Hope
What I wrote then: Eric Hosmer will decide not to crush my dreams and will blossom into one of the better young hitters in the game. He’s not going to hit for a .255 BABIP again, and a 16 K% is perfectly acceptable for someone with 30-homer power. I’m going .270/.355/.515 with 30 homers and 15 steals from Hosmer this season.
What happened: I was too optimistic about Hosmer’s power and too pessimistic about his average, but Hosmer’s final triple-slash ended at .302/.353/.449 and he swiped 11 bases, so I wasn’t too far off. Give me this one.
What I say now: Things looks bad for Hosmer early in the season, but he turned it around in June and never looked back. I remain convinced he’s poised for bigger things ahead, and I’ll probably draft him earlier than he deserves to be drafted next season as well. There’s potential for a monster season here, and Hosmer is close to tapping it.
Prediction No. 3: Dusty Trusts In Latos
What I wrote then: Mat Latos takes that final step forward this season, putting the Reds on his back and becoming a true ace worth between 4-5 WAR. His strikeout rate creeps back up to close to one batter per inning, his command improves a bit in his age 25 season and he grabs 18 wins for the 2013 NL Central champions.
What happened: Latos did indeed take a step forward, posting a 3.16 ERA and 7.99 K/9 in 210.2 innings. Latos also hit my projected WAR mark with an fWAR of 4.4, but fell short of 18 wins, notching just 14 as the Reds made the playoffs as a Wild Card entry.
What I say now: Provided that the bone spur in Latos’ elbow is nothing too serious, I don’t see any reason to project regression here. His FIP sat at 3.10 this year with his BABIP sitting at a reasonable .299, so even if he goes back to giving up one homer per nine innings, he’s an excellent fantasy starter.
Prediction No. 6: Olt-ly The Good Get Traded Young (I’ll See Myself Out)
What I wrote then: The Rangers are going to trade Mike Olt for pitching at the deadline, and it’s a decision that will haunt them as they lack a great option at first base and Adrian Beltre has a tendency to miss games. I fully understand that Olt isn’t the second coming of David Wright, but he’s also going to be a well above-average MLB third baseman for a long time.
What happened: Well, this two-thirds of this are true. The Rangers did indeed trade Olt for pitching at the deadline, and I do still believe that Olt will be an above-average third baseman. That certainly looks less likely than it did in March, though, as Olt had a stinker of a 2013 season. Overall, Olt hit just .201/.303/.381 in 432 PA, the vast majority of which came in Triple-A.
What I say now: Given the dearth of talent on the Cubs’ MLB roster, it’s not inconceivable that Olt wins their third base job right out of Spring Training. That would probably take a massive showing in the spring, though, and it’s likely that Olt will head back to the minors and try to prove himself in time for a June call-up. But, as I wrote here, with a bevy of third base prospects behind him, Olt won’t have long to establish himself.
Prediction No. 8: Modest Victories For Villar
What I wrote then: The first prospect who’ll be a part of The Next Competitive Astros team to cement himself in the majors won’t be Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton or George Springer: it will be Jonathan Villar, a man who I consider to be one of the most underrated infield prospects in the game. You want to go bold? He’ll be more valuable to Fantasy owners in the second half of the season than his MI counterpart, Jose Altuve.
What happened: This one went about 50-50. Altuve hit .287/.317/.377 with 14 steals in the second half, while Villar went .243/.321/.319 with 18 steals, so the advantage clearly goes to Altuve. As for the “first player to establish himself” comment, Cosart gives Villar a run for his money, but I was otherwise correct. Singleton’s suspension from doing the weed took him out of the picture, while Springer put together a season for the ages in Triple-A but never got the big league call.
What I say now: The Altuve statement was a bit much, but I was right in predicting that Villar would have some value in the second half. In some ways, he’s living on borrowed time with Carlos Correa progressing through the minors, but fantasy owners likely still don’t have to worry about that for the next two seasons. Villar isn’t very friendly on the AVG, but he has plenty of speed and some power and is a sneaky-good MI flier headed into 2014.
Prediction No. 9: The Prodigal Profar Disappoints
What I wrote then: Jurickson Profar – the best overall prospect in the game – will have only the third-biggest impact of any prospect on the Rangers this year. Leonys Martin will be the most important player, while Martin Perez will hold down the fifth spot in their rotation when he recovers from injury … He will loose his rookie eligibility, though, leaving room for Xander Bogaerts to profile as Fantasy’s No. 1 prospect in 2014.
What happened: Great success! Profar hit just .234/.308/.336 in a sporadic 324 PA, and he was indeed less valuable to fantasy owners than either Martin or Perez. He’s also lost his rookie eligibility, and anyone who’s read any of my columns knows that Bogearts will be my No. 1 prospect next season. Woot!
What I say now: The “what happened” section basically covers this, although I expect Profar to have a bigger role with the team moving forward. Let’s wait to see how the Rangers’ roster shapes up, but if Profar is handed an everyday job he’s clearly worthy of fantasy attention in every league.
Prediction No. 10: Farrell’s Winning Ways Rekindle Lester’s Fire (kills self)
What I wrote then: You can file this one in the “wishful thinking” department, but Jon Lester will return to form this year, posting an ERA in the mid-3.00s and a K/9 of right around 9. He’ll win 14 games, his homer rate will normalize and he’s going to log 210 innings.
What happened: Lester didn’t strike out quite as many batters as I hoped for/predicted, but other than that, this was spot on. Boston’s ace threw 213 innings, put up an ERA of 3.75 and won 15 games after a tremendously disappointing 2012 campaign.
What I say now: Part of what made Lester such an appealing fantasy target this season was that he was a relative bargain coming off his mess of a 2012. I think he can repeat his 2013 performance next year, but be careful not to overpay for him in drafts. He’s no longer an elite fantasy option, and that’s unlikely to change.