This was my first foray into the Bold Predictions (emphasis on bold) so let’s see how I did:
1.) Nathan Eovaldi breaks out in New York.
Eovaldi lowered his ERA and had a pretty 14-3 record but a 4.20 ERA and only 121 strikeouts in 154 innings pitched does not constitute as a break out. In spite of increased average fastball velocity (96.7 mph compared to 95.7 mph in 2014) Eovaldi’s ability to miss bats barely improved. His SwStr% rose a few fractions of a point and his K% jumped a point and a half to 18% but both marks are below the league average. I still hold out hope that Eovaldi can break out in the near future but it wasn’t in 2015.
0 for 1
This prediction looked fantastic early in the season when Semien was at .283 with 6 homers and 7 steals through May while Zobrist was struggling and coming back from injury. However, from June 1 on, Semien only hit .242/.301/.382 without an impressive homers and steals combo. Using the ESPN Player Rater, Semien finished as the 18th best SS, far from the top 10 and also below Zobrist who finished at 13th.
0 for 2
“Pulling and Alex Gordon” is a vague phrase but it suggested that Moustakas breaks out after years of disappointment. Moustakas only finished 13th among all 3B on the ESPN Player Rater but a .284 average with 22 homers and 155 R+RBI and 114th total on the player rater constitutes as “pulling an Alex Gordon” to me. Teams that took a flier on Gordon in drafts or as an early pick up were rewarded with solid production all year. The lack of steals prevents Moustakas from being as sexy as Gordon post-breakout but I’ll call this a win.
1 for 3
4.) Kolten Wong is not a top 20 second baseman.
This prediction caused the most fuss in the comments and for good reason. A top 20 second baseman is not a hard bar to clear, especially from a guy with Wong’s profile. Wong’s abysmal second half, .614 OPS and only 2 homers/5 steals wasn’t enough to offset the great start and he finished top 20 (12th on ESPN) among second baseman. I was trying to calm down some of the offseason Kolten Wong love fest as I wasn’t as high on him as some others, but I went overboard with this one.
1 for 4
5.) Jake Marisnick goes 20/20 and provides top 30 OF production.
Like Semien, Marisnick made me think this was possible after a hot start where he was batting close to .400 with tons of steals and few homers in May. But also like Semien it was all for naught as he cooled off and ended the season with very pedestrian numbers. He finished with 24 steals but only hit nine homers and ended with a 80 wRC+. Marisnick’s speed looks legitimate but his strikeouts sans power limit his fantasy potential. Marisnick is still young as he will still only be 24 on Opening Day and it wouldn’t shock me to see Marisnick have a moment, or a longer moment, at some point in his career but this bold prediction was way, way off.
1 for 5
6.) Chris Carter leads MLB in homers.
Chris Carter’s 37 homers last season placed him third in the league but there were warning signs it was somewhat flukey and that played itself out as Carter hit only .199 with 24 homers and a drop in wRC+ to 101. I was hoping Carter could pull a prime Adam Dunn season but it’s looking like Carter will more likely be “end of career Dunn” instead.
1 for 6
7.) The Texas Rangers are full of comebacks.
If I was smart, I would have just limited myself to saying Prince Fielder has a comeback. Instead, I had to say that Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo would do well and pass specific benchmarks. Prince missed out on my 30 HR/100 RBI guess but his resurgent year (.305 23 homers, 98 RBI, Top 10 1B) certainly was a comeback. Elvis Andrus finished as the third most valuable short stop but that’s mostly a playing time thing. Still, he was top-10 as I predicted even if he didn’t come close to hitting .300 and didn’t steal 30 bags and was largely boring all season long. Choo’s 127 wRC+ put him on par with his Cleveland days and he also hit 22 home runs but his four steals was way off from the 20/20 guess. This guess would have looked nicer as an arbitrary statement than with specific baseline performances that were missed.
1 for 7
8.) Christian Yelich hits 25 homers.
Yelich ended the season on a heater but that didn’t include homers and his seasonal total of 7 wasn’t close to 25. If I was prickly I could say that Yelich’s DL stint hurt his chances but this was never going to happen. Yelich still hasn’t turned 24 and has an impressive 117 wRC+ in 1,458 PAs but power just isn’t his thing. His high GB% helps him turn out above average BABIPs but it’s tough to hit balls over the wall when you’re leading the league in hitting ground balls. Yelich is an athletic 6’3” but he will have to change his approach if he’s going to improve in the HR category moving forward.
1 for 8
9.) Pedro Alvarez is the new Crush Davis-lite.
I guessed the Horace Mann graduate would hit 30 homers with an acceptable batting average and we got 27 homers at a .243 clip. Pedro Alvarez was a respectable fantasy hitter at 1B, 3B or Util and likely helped your team a bit if you had him but Crush Davis-lite he was not. On the plus side, Alvarez’ strikeout rate stayed at last year’s level (26.7%) instead of ballooning back to his 30%+ days. On the negative side, Alvarez hit far fewer fly balls and needed a 32.5% HR/FB rate to get to 27 homers. I don’t think anyone would fall off their rocker if Alvarez put it all together for a top 50 season, but it’s looking less likely moving forward.
1 for 9
10.) The Yankees rotation stays reasonably healthy.
This could depend on what “reasonable” means but C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka and Nathan Eovaldi all spent time on the disabled list so this has to be considered (another) fail. This prediction gets to epic failure proportions when you read the blurb: “Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow, C.C. Sabathia’s knee and Michael Pineda‘s shoulder hold up well enough for all to provide top 50 value among starters.” Tanaka ended at 22nd on the Player Rater, Pineda at 61st and Sabathia finishing at a cool 180. Sadly, at this point in his career a bold prediction banking on ERA > 5.00 or IP < 50 would be a more likely prediction than one on the positive side for C.C.
UPDATE: I just saw the news that C.C. Sabathia has checked himself into alcohol rehab. While these pieces are fun to write let’s hope C.C. gets himself back on track health wise before speculating on his baseball career.
1 for 10
Final Thoughts: If three hits out of ten makes one a Hall of Famer, then what does one out of ten make me? Is it even replacement level or am I a career minor leaguer? At best I got one prediction right and one could even make a case that Mike Moustakas did not pull an Alex Gordon. However, in some of the the predictions that I got wrong, the “spirit” of the prediction was…decent. Some hitters on Texas had resurgent years, Kolten Wong didn’t live up to preseason hype and Tanaka finished the year as a top 25 starting pitcher. I’m sure Eovaldi and Alvarez will be fantastic next year without either on my teams or in a bold predictions column. .100 is terrible but I’m content going for homers in this place than taking minor risks and calling them bold. Let’s hope I actually hit a home run in 2016.
When he's not focusing on every team's bullpen situation, Ben can be found blogging at Ben's Baseball Bias and on Twitter @BensBias