Eleven Bold Predictions Revisisted: How’m I doin’?

With the halfway point of the regular season for most teams rapidly approach I figured I’d take this opportunity to check in on some players of pre-season interest to me and see how the first half has treated them. For reference you can find my initial comments on each prediction here. Let’s see how things are shaping up:

1. LaTroy Hawkins will lead the Rockies in Saves

So far, so good. Hawkins has inexplicably held onto the closer’s role all season, managing to log all 14 Colorado saves to date. Those 14 saves, incidentally, are the least number of team saves in the National League. Hawkins has posted a strikeout rate under four-per-nine. His strikeout rate is better than just one other Major League reliever with at least twenty innings on the season, and he pitches in the worst ballpark on planet Earth in which to allow contact. Hawkins’ “success” is more about the collective failure of the rest of the Rockies’ bullpen, as nobody – including sexy pre-season pick Rex Brothers – has stepped up and forced the issue. For all intents and purposes it sure looks like Hawkins will maintain his standing at least until the trading deadline, which is a pretty telling commentary on the direction of Colorado’s season. Verdict: Thumb’s Up

2. Andre Ethier will be the most valuable Dodger outfielder in standard leagues

Mmmm, not so much. Ethier has been worth negative fantasy value on the season, and he currently checks in 104th among outfielders per the ESPN Player Rater. After six consecutive seasons posting a wRC+ between 120 and 134 Ethier’s stumbled his way to a mark of 87 thus far. While signs of decline were certainly present in his profile over the past couple seasons I think it’s fair to say that nobody – most of all myself – saw this degree of collapse on the agenda for Ethier. His groundball rate has skyrocketed to the boundaries of the absurd, checking in at 55% despite a career mark of 42%. The frustrations of the season appear to be affecting his approach as well, as he’s swinging at more pitches overall, with a particular emphasis on expanding the zone and swinging at more balls than ever before. This is in turn leading to less and weaker contact, and it’s just killing his fantasy value. Owners in deep leagues might as well ride it out, as his trade value doesn’t cover the deposit on a six-pack of beer.  Verdict: Not so much  

3. Brett Gardner will steal 40 bases and score 100 runs

Not looking like such a bad little effort, this pick. Gardner has rewarded the Yankees for committing longterm to him with an outstanding season to date. He’s excelled in all three phases of the game, which is great for fans of real baseball, but more importantly for our purposes he’s produced a well-rounded stat line that’s been 15th best among all outfielders in standard leagues this year. He’s hitting more line drives and ground balls this year, and appears to have built and improved on last season’s change in approach. He’s currently on pace for 99 Runs and 32 Stolen Bases, so he’s got some work to do in the second half to hit my numbers. But there’s nothing in his peripherals to suggest imminent regression here, and Gardner is a sneaky good player in al formats who should finally be earning his due recognition after a strong first half. Verdict: Thumbs basically up

4. Jose Abreu will lead the American League in Homeruns

Another one for the “so far so good” category. Despite missing a couple weeks with an ankle-related DL stint Abreu is all of one homerun behind league co-leaders Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz. PECOTA projects another 15 homers for Abreu the rest of the season (which would give him 38 on the year), and that projection strikes me as intentionally conservative given the lack of track record. He’s shown a provocative ability to make adjustments to how pitchers are attacking him, and his swing drips raw power to where even when he’s fooled he can still drive a ball off the handle or end into the seats. He’s been one of the most electric power hitters in the game from Day One, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep up his current pace of a homer once every 2.8 games. Verdict: Pat on the back

5. Denard Span will be a top-15 outfielder

Two steps forward, now one step backwards. Span’s profile suggests a Brett Gardner-like player, yet Span as once again found those last couple of steps to consistency elusive to date in 2014. An abysmal April pretty well torpedoed the possibility of a top-15 season, but more frustratingly after he started to show some serious signs of improvement in May he’s again stumbled to sub-replacement level performance in the current month. The plate discipline that underwrote his early-career success doesn’t look like it’s coming back, and while his oddly low BABIP suggests room to grow with a basic regression of luck he’s not sniffing a top-15 season. He currently sits 40th among outfielders, so owners should consider it a successful second half if he can meander his way into the top 30 instead. Verdict: Grrrrr…

6. Oscar Taveras will still be rookie-eligible at the end of the year

I feel like this one may just come down to the wire. Taveras’ first cup of coffee with the team saw him log 37 plate appearances, and even in the worst case of Taveras being made by Cardinal brass to bide his time all the way until roster expansion in September it may very well be close to the 130 at-bat threshold for retaining rookie standings. Given St. Louis continued offensive struggles it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Taveras back in St. Louis on the sooner side of later, but given Matheny’s comments that implied he wouldn’t be used in centerfield there would need to be some lineup space cleared – likely by injury – in either right or left. Verdict: To Be Determined

7. Jered Weaver will not be a top-75 starting pitcher

I yield, I give up. You have defeated me and my pretensions towards analyzing anything you do. As of this writing Weaver remains (barely) a top-35 pitcher in standard leagues despite barely topping out at a Moyer-esque 86. It’s a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon how this guy not only survives but continues to thrive with his diminished arsenal. I don’t trust him to produce similar second half value, but hen again what do I know when it comes to this guy? Verdict: Sigh…

8.  Josh Bell will enter 2015 as a consensus top-25 prospect

I was intentionally hyperbolic with this prediction as a means of shining a bright spotlight on Bell’s breakout potential, and so far it seems to be clicking pretty impressively for him this season. Bell is now raking to the tune of a .332/.382/.516 (.898 OPS) in a league where the median hitter is a year and a half older and averaging a .255/.321/.362 (.683) line. Bell isn’t quite going to make a Joey Gallorian leap into the top twenty-five, but he should be on the fringes of mid-season top 50 lists at this point, and that still marks a tremendous gain for the 21 year old. Verdict: Spirit of the call is looking correct despite the letter of it appearing elusive

9. Brad Peacock will be the most valuable pitcher in Texas

We don’t really need to get into this one except in order to note that Yu Darvish’s neck appears reasonably okay. Also: raise your hand if you had Collin McHugh and Jarred Cosart developing into legitimate mid-rotation options in medium-depth leagues. Peacock had shown signs of life leading up to his recent bout with food poisoning and missed turn, but he’s got a ways to go in establishing some consistency before we start talking about a generally rosterable pitcher. Verdict: Wishful Thinking

10. Grady Sizemore will log over 435 plate appearances

Ugly numbers. He looked great in the spring and held his own against live MLB pitching after debuting. But barring another team finding a roster post justification for so doing Sizemore’s bound to spend the next several months in no man’s land looking for work. Not exactly how I drew this one up. Verdict: Bummer

11. Brett Lawrie will enter 2015 as a post-post-post-hype sleeper after failing to break out again

Lawrie might just be the Jered Weavers of hitting for me. He’s had a weird year, with a bordering-on-historic streak of inept unluckiness through much of April giving way to headier days in May and, more recently, another period of pedestrian production. He missed a couple chunks of game time with the kind of nagging injuries now synonymous with his preferred style of all-out play, and he now sits on the Disabled List with a broken finger sustained via an unlucky HBP. His power output has propped him up as a top 20 option at third base, but he’s not running much at all anymore and the early-season plague is still doing unpleasant things to his bottomline stats. If things continue along their current path I’d say I will be in a position to claim another victory. His patience in the batter’s box continues to trend in the wrong direction, and between that and the aforementioned injury issues his price on draft day 2015 doesn’t appear like it’ll be entirely too inflated over this year’s bargain basement offerings.

The Author

Wilson Karaman

Wilson Karaman


  1. […] through the season, looks back at some of their preseason predictions to see how they are turning […]

  2. Chad
    June 27, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Is Danny Salazar worth a hold in dynasty or dumpable. I feel a bold prediction here and want to say a hold but getting healthy and need a drop. Arrieta or garza worth dropping over Danny? Have Waino tanaka Teheran Zimm Garrett Latos along w Heaney and t walker. Could drop Olt too. Thoughts TDG?? Thx

    • June 27, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      I certainly hope he finds his form, as I’m pot-committed to him in a couple long-term leagues. I wouldn’t drop either of those starters to find out, however I *would* drop Mike Olt in a heartbeat. Olt’s not going to hit a buck fifty-seven on balls in play forever, but his strikeout rate is and has been obscene for a very long time and he’s 25 already. I think a best case ceiling for him at this point looks not dissimilar to Chris Carter with less bombs. Salazar’s at least flashed a much higher ceiling than that at the big league level already. So unless you’re in win-now mode and absolutely desperate for dingers I’d absolutely roll the dice on Salazar at Olt’s expense.

      • Chad
        June 27, 2014 at 6:05 pm

        Thanks Wilson! I am in that boat of dumping Olt. He is last remaining piece of a trade I regret from a couple years ago. Held hope after the spring but have plenty of top tier talent for prospects to not worry! I imagine he will explode some year but never the .280 w 25 bombs he “could” do as he came up… Man I have other questions I wish I could ask but don’t want to ruin your Friday! Thanks again.

  3. […] progressing in June, and you can find my cares, worries, hopes, and dreams from the halfway point here. And now, with the regular season officially in our rear-view mirror, it’s time for the final […]

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