To me, the purpose of bold predictions is twofold – to say “bold” (i.e. crazy) things and to signal some unexpected outcomes I believe are more possible than others might credit. This season, I performed strongly on the signal portion of this challenge even if I didn’t get many right. I aim for a success rate of about 20-30 percent although it’s fair to say that some of these predictions were always likelier to come true than others.
1. Dominic Smith is the Mets top first baseman
Welp! Starting off strong. As I teased in the intro, the signal here wasn’t terrible. Smith was – at times – a rosterable talent in 12-team leagues. Unfortunately, he missed most of the second half with a stress reaction in his foot. He posted a .282/.355/.525 batting line with 11 home runs in 197 plate appearances. Around half of major league teams would have viewed him as their starting first baseman.
The Mets were not one of those teams. Part of what made this a bold prediction was the presence of Pete Alonso. Smith not only needed to perform well, he also had to overcome Alonso. And quite frankly, he didn’t come close.
2. Hunter Renfroe hits 40 home runs
I thought I had this one sewn up. Through the first half season, Renfroe had 24 home runs in 261 plate appearances. The modest workload was a concern – the Padres had to juggle Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, and Wil Myers through the corner outfield. Myers also spent some… ill advised… time in center. When the Friars dealt Reyes at the deadline, it seemed like Renfroe had a clear path to every day reps.
Instead, a slump and injury ruined the final months of his campaign. He topped out at only 33 home runs in 494 plate appearances. On the plus side, that’s an over-40 homer pace per 650 plate appearances. Another case of getting the signal right. Small consolation.
3. Tyler Beede is 12-team mixed relevant
I became a Beede truther after watching his performance during Spring Training. He was throwing 97 mph with a filthy breaking ball and improved (for him) control. I was most keen on him as a potential late-innings reliever. The Giants had other ideas – they shifted him back into the rotation where his fastball sat at a relatively tame 94 mph.
It took some time before he settled down as a solid major league asset. From late-May onward, he managed a 4.57 ERA and 1.37 WHIP with a little under a strikeout per inning. In any other season, that would have been hot sticky barf. In 2019, those numbers add up to an above average streamer. I’m claiming a win.
4. Martin Perez is the Twins best starting pitcher
Perez was perhaps the Twins best starting pitcher through the first quarter of the season. His first eight starts included seven wins, a 2.95 ERA, and nearly a strikeout per inning. Thereafter, he turned pumpkin to the tune of a 6.23 ERA and only three wins in 21 starts. His strikeout rate also cratered.
5. Ryan Pressly records more saves than Roberto Osuna
Pressly had a fantastic roto-relevant season, but he never came close to nabbing Osuna’s job. In fact, when Osuna stumbled, Will Harris was the guy on hand to temporarily carry the torch. Pressly did kick in three saves, two wins, and 31 holds to go along with his 2.32 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 11.93 K/9. If you picked him up hoping for saves, you still got positive value.
6. Anibal Sanchez is a top 50 pitcher in 12-team 5×5 mixed
Sanchez didn’t build on his fantastic 2018 campaign, but he did post above average numbers in 166 innings. These include a 3.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 11 wins. His strikeout rate slumped to only 7.27 K/9 which prevented him from reaching my projected valuation. He ended up as the 100th best pitcher according to our auction calculator. I feel in my soul that this was a win, but the numbers don’t back me up. Alas,
7. Trevor May is a top 10 closer
May was never seriously involved in the Twins closer committee. He recorded just two saves. Taylor Rogers locked down most of the club’s saves. His 2.94 ERA, 11.05 K/9, and 1.07 WHIP were modestly useful. He was especially potent in the final third of the season.
8. Miguel Cabrera Bounces
There was some reason to hope Cabrera might get his legs back as a DH-only slugger. He was healthy for most of the 2019 campaign, but it’s painfully clear he no longer has the lower half to drive the ball and do damage.
9. Adam Eaton is a dude
This prediction was intentionally vague in the headline. The description references a 15/15 season with 180 R+RBI and a strong OBP which I pegged as a borderline top-25 outfielder performance. Per the auction calculator, Eaton actually ranked 36th among outfielders. That lists includes some guys you probably used at other positions like Ketel Marte, Jeff McNeil, Whit Merrifield, and Kris Bryant. Once you cross off a few of those names, we’re close enough to top-25 for my liking.
Additionally, Eaton delivered exactly 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases. His 103 runs and 49 RBI fell a little short of my run production expectations as did his .365 OBP. Eaton didn’t get a lot of love in fantasy circles this year, but he was, in fact, a dude.
10. Willians Astudillo makes over 500 plate appearances
Injury and a slow start to the season left Astudillo with just 204 plate appearances. He remains the paragon for no-discipline (2.5 percent walk rate), high contact (3.9 percent strikeout rate) outcomes. There was some serious Astudillo helium during the 2019 draft season. The emergence of Mitch Garver and the return of Miguel Sano should lead to a much cheaper Willians in 2020.
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