Josh Shepardson’s Bold Predictions – A Review

Last year, I finished with 3.5 out of 10 bold predictions correct. This year, I hoped to at least match that while also providing bolder predictions. I failed. In fact, I failed miserably and doled out what was probably the worst bold prediction in the history of the series. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the outcome of my bold predictions.

1) The Nationals produce two top-5 overall ranked players.
This proved to be one of my better wrong predictions. Max Scherzer finished fourth on ESPN’s Player Rater, so I got halfway home. Stephen Strasburg was the next highest rated member of the Nationals checking in 14th overall. We’ve now reached the what-could-have-been portion of the analysis with Trea Turner ranking 33rd despite hitting the DL after Washington’s June 29 contest and not returning until August 29. Turner played in just 98 games and still cracked the top-35 overall. Sigh, a fully healthy season might have been enough to get this prediction home. Veterans Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Zimmerman had career years and ranked 36th and 42nd, respectively, and Bryce Harper brought Washington’s top-50 players total to six. Harper didn’t duplicate his 2015 NL MVP season, but he was a stud slashing .319/.413/.595 with 29 homers, 95 runs, 87 RBI and four stolen bases in 492 plate appearances. I might choose to run this one back come Bold Predictions time in 2018.

Verdict: Wrong (0 for 1)

2) Julio Teheran is not a top-50 SP.
I’m on the board! This one wasn’t a cheap hit, either. Teheran stayed healthy and started 32 games spanning 188.1 innings. He recorded a 4.49 ERA that managed to best his fielding independent numbers (nothing new for him), and backed that with non-helpful numbers such as a 1.37 WHIP and 18.6% K%. Overall, his total package resulted in a SP78 ranking in this year’s offensive-friendly climate.

Verdict: Correct (1 for 2)

3) ByungHo Park swats 30 or more homers.
Park hit only 14 homers in 455 plate appearances this year … for Triple-A Rochester. Yikes. This might literally be the worst prediction in the history of the Bold Predictions series.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 3)

4) Sean Manaea is the most valuable SP in the American League West.
Manaea failed to build on a strong finish to his rookie season. The sophomore southpaw dug himself a hole in five starts in April tallying a 5.18 ERA. His 1.19 WHIP and 25.7% K% in the season’s opening month meant the five starts weren’t a total loss, but the way he started the year coupled with the hot starts of fellow AL West southpaws Dallas Keuchel and James Paxton provided him an uphill battle to make this prediction true. Manaea hit the disabled list after exiting his last April start early, but then he strung together a nifty 14-start stretch from the middle of May through the end of July in which he spun a 3.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.1% BB%, 22.7% K%, and 12.4% SwStr%. I had no delusions that he’d make a run at top AL West SP honors even during that solid run, but it did provide optimism for his 2018 outlook, and then August happened. In five August starts, Manaea was smashed for a 9.17 ERA and 2.26 WHIP, and his strikeout rate and SwStr% collapsed to 7.5% and 6.5%, respectively. September kinder to Manaea, but there are still some troubling numbers in his September work, and I’ll be digging into his PITCHf/x data before draft season before determining whether or not he’ll be on my radar. Getting back to the topic at hand, Manaea wasn’t even a top-5 SP among AL West hurlers.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 4)

5) The Cubs produce four top-25 SPs.
The Cubs had one top-25 SP, Jake Arrieta. The next highest rated SP for the Cubs who was on their roster to start the year — thus, not counting Jose Quintana who ranked as SP34 — was Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks checked in as SP50.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 5)

6) Daniel Norris is a top-50 SP.
I give up on Norris, at least for now. He failed to parlay his solid finish in 2016 into a strong 2017. Instead, he pitched poorly, hit the disabled list in early July, and then couldn’t find the strikezone with a 20.0% BB% in a half-dozen starts at the Triple-A level. The southpaw rejoined the Tigers when rosters expanded in September and made four relief appearances before closing the year with a couple of starts. The 24-year-old’s control woes didn’t follow him back to The Show with a 7.1% BB% in September, but his 10.0% K% and 6.7% SwStr% fail to move the needle.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 6)

7) Kendrys Morales hits more than 30 homers, records more than 100 RBI and hits north of .290.
Morales hit only 28 homers with 85 RBI and a .250 AVG. The switch-hitter hit none of the benchmarks I set forth in my prediction. Ouch.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 7)

8) Eric Thames hits more homers in 2017 than former Brewer Chris Carter hit in 2016.
Carter slugged 41 homers in 2016. Thames smacked 31 long balls this year. I was wrong. If I had dropped the “hit in 2016” part, I would have been correct. It also wouldn’t have been a bold prediction, though. Thames got off to a fast start with 11 homers in April, but his single-month high for homers after that was six in June. It was a season of peaks and valleys for Thames, but he slashed .265/.382/.551 with 25 homers, a 21.1% LD%, 42.1% FB%, 2.9% IFFB%, and 43.6% Hard% against right-handed pitchers this year. He often sat in favor of Jesus Aguilar against southpaws, but depending on what Thames’ ADP is come draft time, I might draft him again next year. Anyway, this was another miss.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 8)

9) Adam Ottavino is a top-10 RP.
I basically conceded the L on this one when my Bold Predictions were published. At the time of writing, it appeared Greg Holland might not start the year as the closer while he shook the rust off from a missed 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. As the Bold Predictions post sat scheduled in the back end over night, it was speculated that Holland would open the year as the closer, and he did just that. Regardless, Ottavino was awful this season. His control completely fell apart (16.1% BB%), and a surge to a 1.35 HR/9 helped fuel a 5.06 ERA.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 9)

10) Someone steals 70 or more bases this year.
Turner’s injury once again rears its ugly head. Dee Gordon led MLB with 60 stolen bases, and Billy Hamilton was the only other player to steal more than 50 bases with 59. Checking in third was Turner, who stole 46 bases in 98 games. That pace was one stolen base in every 2.13 games played. At that pace, he would have needed to play in 150 games to reach the 70 stolen base threshold. Alas, he didn’t stay healthy, and this was another whiff.

Verdict: Wrong (1 for 10)

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You can follow Josh on Twitter @bchad50.

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Can you really go by the ESPN rankings? They have Elvis Andrus 20th!? And Anthony Rendon 58!! Come on.