Chad Young’s 10 Bold Ottoneu Predictions Revisited

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.

1. Nick Castellanos is a top 10 FanGraphs Points OF. Good start, right? Castellanos put up 970 points, good for 7th among OF-eligible players and one of the guys ahead of him (Fernando Tatis, Jr.) wasn’t really being used in the OF much. If you prefer your rankings on points per game, Castellanos’s 7.03 was 9th among OF and 5th among OF with 400+ PA. In April, I said I expected he “brings the strike outs back down, gets better batted ball luck, and breaks out in a big way.” His k-rate came down from 28.5% last year to 20.7% this year; his BABIP went from .257 last year to .340 this year; and the breakout definitely followed. That .340 BABIP feels a bit high, and his .371 xwOBA does suggest he was hitting a bit over his head by posting a .391. But that .371 would still be excellent and his last six years his xwOBA has been between .360 and .380. I would bank on another .370 next year.

2. Rafael Devers won’t be a top 10 FanGraphs Points 3B. Yikes. Devers was third in total points at 3B and was second in P/G. My big miss here was expecting him to settle back into the 25%+ range for his strikeout rate – instead he was at 21.5% thanks to a much-improved chase rate. I won’t doubt him again. I was even getting ready to call this a moral victory, or a repeat prediction for 2022, when his second half started to look weak, but he came back with a great September and, well…yeah, Devers is a star.

3. Sam Hilliard leads the Rockies in HR. Can I blame the Rockies for this? I can, right? Hilliard spent much of the year putting up a .354 wOBA in Triple-A before finally getting a measly 238 MLB PA. His 14 HR were 6th on the team, but he led the team in HR/PA. Basically, Hilliard would have been the team leader in HR if they had just trotted him out there in the OF all season and let him work on his game against MLB pitching. Now, I can’t blame this entirely on the Rockies. Hilliard continued to really struggle with strikeouts, which limits his value. Despite the impressive HR rate, he had just a .318 wOBA. He has way too much swing and miss in his game right now, which will continue to keep him off the field.

4. Randy Dobnak strikes out a batter per inning. Consider this my reminder that Spring Training stats are nonsense. And maybe that the Twins are not as smart as I think they are. The Twins helped him change his slider, he struck out 18 in 13.2 Spring innings, and the Twins signed him to an extension, suggesting they believed in the change. Then he came out and basically stunk. Only 50.2 IP with a 7.64 ERA and 5.70 FIP. And his K/9 was 4.80, basically half of my prediction. His 11.8% k-rate was a career low. So whatever changed, it didn’t stick or it didn’t help or both.

5. Craig Kimbrel is a top 5 FanGraphs Points RP. This comes down to how you define “top 5 FanGraphs Points RP,” as Kimbrel finished 12th in total points among RP, but 3rd in the more important P/IP. I’ll let you decide if this is a W or an L, but I’ll say this – if you bought on this prediction, you came out way ahead. Kimbrel came cheap before the season started and re-established himself as one of the best in the game as the season went along. And he managed to post that impressive season despite closing for a struggling team and then losing his closing job when he was traded mid-season.

6. Trevor Bauer isn’t a top 15 SP in FanGraphs Points. I am not going to spend a ton of time on this, given the circumstances of Bauer’s season. But even before the early end, Bauer was not a top-15 guy. Among SP with 100+ IP this season (Bauer got to 107.2), Bauer ranked 29th in P/IP.

7. Josh Naylor becomes a staple in Ottoneu starting lineups. His season also suffered an unexpectedly early end, but Naylor also had not established himself as a starter just yet. He had a really nice run in May and was trending back up when he got hurt, so I still have high hopes. I am sure he’ll be on some of my rosters for 2022.

8. Jeff McNeil posts a wOBA over .375. Nope. Not even over .300. If you look at 2021 vs. his 2019, when he did in fact post a wOBA over .375, the difference is a much lower BABIP (.276 vs. .337) and HR/FB rate (6.5% vs. 15.4%), despite similar exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and barrel rate, plus a higher max EV. But with the new ball, his xStats were down across the board. I still like McNeil, but I think he benefited greatly from the rabbit ball and I have to adjust expectations accordingly. 2022 will be better than 2021, but not as good as 2019.

9. Randy Arozarena is not a top 40 OF in FanGraphs Points leagues. He finished 21st in total points among OF and 30th in P/G. He was the 22nd most expensive OF in first-year leagues before the season, so in the end, he was about appropriately priced, maybe a little too expensive given the P/G? But not bad. He also came on strong in the second half, suggesting he may be making adjustments and improving. My guess is he sneaks through arbitration this year and stays a decent value next year as a solid top 20-25 OF option.

10. Willi Castro hits 25 HR. Castro was not good this year and didn’t come close to this, even including his time in Triple-A (where he hit only one HR anyway). His nine homers for the Tigers were only three more than his 2020 shortened-season total, despite getting more than 3x as many PA. He still posts impressive max exit velocity, but he cannot seem to tap into it regularly enough to be a useful power source. He has a 95th percentile max EV, but his average EV is 5th percentile, his hard-hit rate is 7th percentile, and his barrel rate is 23rd percentile. There’s an impressive bat hiding in there, but I am not sure he can bring it out.





A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

newest oldest most voted
airforce21one
Member
airforce21one

“Hilliard would have been the team leader in HR if they had just trotted him out there in the OF all season and let him work on his game against MLB pitching. Now, I can’t blame this entirely on the Rockies. Hilliard continued to really struggle with strikeouts, which limits his value…”

This is what I don’t get about the Rockies. Perhaps the answer to him struggling with strikeouts is, I don’t know, needing more ABs against major league pitching? Who cares about his value now – the Rockies obviously aren’t contending in that division any time soon.

Anon
Member
Anon

No room for Hilliard but plenty of room for Yonathan Daza’s 75 wRC+ (71 starts in the OF) and Raimel Tapia’s 76 wRC+ (113 starts and it would have been more if Tapia hadn’t been hurt for part of the year). Hampson was bad also but at least he’s a legit prospect. You wonder if Hilliard would have seen the majors at all if Chris Owings (career 70 wRC+) hadn’t gotten hurt.

The Rockies are just so poorly run. . . . .