Reviewing the Bold Predictions is always a fun time of the year. Sure, it’s great when you hit some homers, but I know a lot of you enjoy looking back at laughing at the huge misses.
Let’s see how I fared! (Here is the original piece if you would like to read the thought process behind these picks)
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Goes .300-35-100
Let’s cut to the chase: this is a loss. Gurriel Jr. went .276/.319/.466 with 21 HR and 84 RBI in 541 PA, so it’s pretty straightforward… however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how he turned his season around after a hideous 33-game start. He had just a .492 OPS to that point, but if you jumped off at that point then you missed 108 games of .879 OPS with 19 HR and 74 RBI, which would’ve paced to 28/111. Astute readers will notice that even that pace would be a loss, too, but as someone who was heavily bought in on Gurriel Jr., I feel alright about how he saved the last 4+ months of his season.
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It’s cliché to say “you know the drill,” but you do! You do, indeed, know the drill! The one thing about bold predictions that gets me up on my soapbox every year is what it means to be bold. There’s bold for shock value, bold to be bold. (Or, not bold enough—its own problem.) And then there’s sufficiently bold (per market sentiments) but readily achievable.
Much of this is qualitative, so “sufficiently bold” and “readily achievable” are eye-of-the-beholder types of descriptors. But we can at least measure sufficient boldness using average draft position (ADP) data. All fantasy baseball websites use them; I use National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) data because it involves high-stakes players. (Let it be known that high-stakes does not always equal high-talent, but that’s altogether another soapbox.) Moreover, we can filter NBFC ADP by date range, so I can leverage ADP specifically from the final week of spring training by which time ambiguous spring training storylines have solidified.
I’m proud of my success this year. I hope a few of these picks were worthwhile for you, if you happened to heed them exclusively because of this post. That’d be quite brave of you!
(“Year-end rank” courtesy of Razzball’s player rater.)
When I decided to create my bold predictions back in March my goal was to actually be, well, bold. They are called bold predictions for a reason after all. Once the article was posted there were a lot of comments about my predictions both good and bad and in fact, I had the pleasure of someone calling me the Stephen A. Smith of Fangraphs. I have to admit, it did make me giggle out loud and caused my wife to look at me like a crazy person. I wanted to push the boundaries and create conversation while also supporting my takes and it looks like I accomplished that.
Now let’s look back on these predictions see what we got wrong and right as well as the lessons we learned!
1) Zach Eflin is the Matthew Boyd of 2020.
What I meant by this comparison, back in 2019 Matt Boyd had a fantastic first-half breakout, stumbled in the second half, and still left people excited due to the increase in K%. Plenty of people pegged Matthew Boyd as a fantastic “sleeper” and he only disappointed in 2020 with a 6.71 ERA.
Eflin had a nice little breakout campaign in 2020 where he pitched to the tune of a 3.97 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and 3.50 SIERA. Most notably his strikeout rate rose from 18.3% in 2019 to 28.6% in 2020. I essentially state that his arsenal was suspect and something we couldn’t quite trust. Elfin finished 2021 with 105.2 innings pitched (injury) a 4.17 ERA and a 22.4% strikeout rate. According to Razzball’s player rater, he was worth $-4.9 and only hurt your team.
2) Aaron Civale is the number two pitcher in Cleveland.
Let’s look at the 2021 stats for Cleveland’s pitcher’s.
Now let’s look at their 2021 dollar values:
I liked this prediction in the first place because I was a little suspect of Plesac’s just because of the super small sample we had of him. I won’t lie I liked the skill set but clearly most of us were wrong. I also thought Civale would fix his sinker location issue and truly break out but that didn’t quite happen either. The wins gave him a big edge here and while this is considered a win I definitely had luck on my side with this one.
3) The Miami Marlins win the NL East.
Yea this one didn’t turn out so hot. I figured maybe with their pitching they could sneak in a bunch of wins leaning on that but it certainly wasn’t the case. The NL East was easily the worst division in the league but the Marlins still finished 22 games out of first. A clear loss here.
4) Trevor Bauer is not a top 20 pitcher in 2021.
This likely wouldn’t have been correct but due to off-the-field issues, it ended up coming true. We will give me half a point.
5) The Toronto Blue Jays have a top-five bullpen.
In my prediction, I mainly pointed out Kirby Yates, Jordan Romano, and Rafael Dolis. Yates ended up not even seeing the field due to injury, Romano became the clear cut closer, and Dolis had a horrific season. But does that mean their bullpen still wasn’t top five?
Some arms did pop up to help out the Blue Jays like Tim Mayza and Adam Cimber but this prediction still fell short. Their bullpen ranked 15th in ERA, 13th in K-BB%, 25th in WAR, and 9th in WHIP. In other words they weren’t even close to being a top five bullpen. On a good note, they only had 18 blown saves, the second-fewest in the league.
6) Yusei Kikuchi is a top 30 starter.
Kikuchi started the season off strong, in the first half he pitched 98.1 innings with a 3.48 ERA, and a 1.09 WHIP. My thinking process behind this prediction was his upside. His first-half numbers truly showed his potential, the increase in velocity and addition of the cutter seemed to help Kikuchi make big strides in 2020.
The second half was a completely different story though as he clearly hit a wall and struggled with the long grueling season. His fastball velocity went from being 96/95 MPH to 94/93 MPH in the second half. This certainly brings into question his durability and one would have to think the Seattle Mariners limit him next season.
7) Tyler Glasnow has over a four ERA for the second season in a row.
This is a big loss here. I wrote an article on here about Tyler Glasnow and how the two-pitch mix just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I knew he was adding the slider but adding a new pitch doesn’t always work or at least work right away. Unfortunately, Glasnow had to get Tommy John surgery and we won’t be seeing much of him anytime soon. He finished 2021 with 88 innings pitched, a 2.66 ERA, and a 0.93 WHIP.
8) Mike Minor has a better season than Triston McKenzie.
Coming into 2021, Minor’s fastball velocity was back up and he seemed prime to accumulate a ton of innings. After only a handful of starts, his velocity quickly dipped back down and it lead to a lackluster season as he pitched his way to a 5.05 ERA.
Triston McKenzie seemed to struggle with his fastball velocity in his first MLB stint. In his first few starts, his velocity clocked around 95 MPH and it eventually dipped to just 92 MPH a few starts later. That was a major worry for me and it held true in 2021 as well. His fastball velocity was all over the place, he had a four-start span where his velocity was near 93 MPH. In that span, he had a 1.44 ERA, 1.41 FIP, and 27.3 K-BB%. In his last 3 starts it dipped to 91.9 MPH and in that span, he had an 11.81 ERA, 10.11 FIP, and 1.8 K-BB%.
Mike Minor was going roughly 70 picks later than Triston McKenzie according to 2021 ADP. According to the Razzball player rater Mckenzie finished as the 333rd ranked player with a $-2.8 value. Minor finished as the 315th ranked player with a $-2.2 value. Neither really helped and both disappointed but Minor was indeed more valuable.
9) Alec Mills becomes the SP1 for the Chicago Cubs.
This one, to me, was the boldest of all of my predictions. I figured Mills would outproduce Jake Arrieta, Zach Davies, and Trevor Williams easily but the real challenge was surpassing one of the most consistent pitchers in recent history in Kyle Hendricks.
Kyle Hendricks certainly took a surprising step back and all we needed was Alec Mills to pitch halfway decent to make this prediction come true but that didn’t happen. He started the season in AAA and eventually got the call but finished with just 119 innings pitched and a 5.07 ERA.
10) The Royals make the playoffs.
I was semi-correct on this prediction, well the half right on my reasoning. I really like their offense with Merrifield, Benintendi, Perez, and Mondesi. But I also thought they had a talented pitching staff. Oof.
“Their pitching staff has some talent to it as well. Danny Duffy can be serviceable as long as he stays healthy. Brad Keller was great last season and is able to take on a big workload. The addition of Mike Minor gives them a veteran presence that is much needed. His velocity is back this spring and he could easily be the SP1 they needed. Brady Singer made strides towards the end of last year by featuring his slider more. Kris Bubic definitely needs some work but has shined at times. They even have Jakob Junis who has a great slider and is working on a new pitch. A lot has to go right here but the talent is there and the solid base of Keller and Minor can be big for them.”
Tough one there for you, Michael. The Royals finished with just 74 wins and came nowhere near making the playoffs. Maybe next year Royals fans! Likely not though.
Bold predictions are one of my favorite parts of those last days before the season starts. Nothing is settled, anything is possible, and we get a moment to put a stake in the ground on something outside expectations. This year, my predictions were, as always, a mixed bag.
Yesterday, I reviewed my 2021 bold hitter league leaders. It wasn’t pretty. Today, I’ll recap my 2021 bold pitcher league leaders. These are slightly easier since pitchers could luck into category wins with help from their defense, bullpen, and/or lady luck, whereas luck plays a much smaller role in hitter category wins. As a reminder, I don’t bother boldly predicting wins. It’s possibly the dumbest baseball stat and not worth the effort of trying to guess.
Yesterday’s bold prediction review was slightly embarrassing, but hey, if I got too many right, I may have been accused of not being bold enough! Those are hard enough, but my bold league leaders are even more difficult. Striking the right balance between realistic, but unexpected for a singular league leader is a challenge. Let’s see how I did on the hitter side.
The full one hundred and sixty-two major league season has now concluded. After two whole tumultuous years, it is with great joy, that I am able to utter this sentence once again. After just a 60-game short season in 2021, completing the full schedule docket is a sparkling achievement.
It is now time to check back on how we fared during the past season. Here at RotoGraphs, that tradition starts with reviewing our pre-season bold predictions.
As always, I will remind my readers that we will never succeed in perfectly mining all of our bold predictions, nor should we. If this was simply a contest to obtain high precision, then we would have filled our lots with easy guesses. “Gerrit Cole will strike out 180 batters” – is an amazing baseball accomplishment, but it is far from bold. In fact, ATC was the low projection system on Gerrit Cole, and predicted an expected 257 Ks. Forget bold – the statistics may have suggested a probability of circumstance close to 60-75%.
Bold predictions are meant to be a far more remote event. They are meant to be unlikely.
At the other end of the spectrum, bold predictions are also not meant to be impossible. “Albert Pujols will steal 25 bases,” is not within the realm of any reasonable possibility. That is a prediction into the weird or absurd – which is NOT the purpose of these columns.
This author perennially suggests that bold predictions should lie in the 70th to 90th percentiles. In other terms, we should be boldly calling events that are 10-30% likely to occur. In return period speak – an occurrence that should unfold every 1 in 3.3 to 1 in 10 years. It should be a prediction that would happen once, twice or thrice a decade.
The point of the exercise is to highlight certain undervalued (or overvalued) players by choosing a few unlikely, but achievable outcomes. By doing so, the goal is for the reader to pay the player(s) in question a bit more (or less) attention than the market would suggest.
Another wild, wacky, and crazy season has concluded, so it’s time for pre-season prediction reviews! I’ll start with everybody’s favorite, the bold predictions. Let’s see how I did.
The Bold Predictions Episode of the Beat the Shift Podcast – a baseball podcast for fantasy baseball players.
Guest: Scott Pianowski
Podcast (beat-the-shift): Play in new window | Download
Bold prediction season is the best. Just a chance to lay it on the line and lean in on the guys I am most excited about (or most unexcited about). For my bold predictions, going to go with an Ottoneu focus. And let’s get right to it.