Last year was my first attempt at making bold predictions here at RotoGraphs, and it didn’t go very well (1/10 correct, with Kyle Hendricks my lone win). This year things looked better at mid-season, but let’s take a look at the final results!
1) Kyle Schwarber will finish as the #1 catcher in all formats
The bad news is Schwarber never did qualify at C in ottoneu leagues, and even if he had he would have finished with just the eighth most points in FanGraphs points leagues. The good news is Schwarber hit very well in the second half (.373 wOBA) after a weak first half (.302 wOBA). There’s a lot to like with Schwarber going forward, but his days as a backstop are likely over.
0 for 1
2) Greg Bird hits 30+ HR, and finishes as a top six first baseman in points leagues
It feels like 30-40% of all bold predictions are subject to injury attrition every year, making it hard to judge whether the prediction was flat out wrong or just hindered by bad luck. Bird did not hit well at all this year (.303 wOBA), but how much of that performance was tied to his talent and how much was due to his various maladies? Like Schwarber, Bird was much better in the second half (.365 wOBA), but it was a limited sample of 98 plate appearances. I still believe in Bird as a potential breakout for 2018.
0 for 2
3) Derek Dietrich finishes as a top twelve second baseman in points leagues
Nope, I won’t even bother to figure out where he actually ended up because I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count that high. I thought Dietrich would pull a Wally Pipp on Martin Prado, but instead Dietrich struggled early before showing signs of life at the end of the summer. At this point Dietrich is what he is, a bench bat/utility infielder that plays a lot and is a league average hitter, but whose usefulness is limited in ottoneu.
0 for 3
4) Tim Beckham is fantasy relevant in all formats
This prediction looks a whole lot better than the first three, and even though I wasn’t nearly specific enough with my prediction, I’m counting it as a win. Beckham finished as the 12th highest SS in FGPts and the 18th best SS in 5×5 per the ESPN Player Rater, which made him not just relevant but a starting MI in ottoneu. Not bad for a player we didn’t even rank in our top 40 SS for ottoneu or the top 40 SS staff rankings.
1 for 4
5) Justin Turner has a career year and finishes as a top three third baseman in all formats
The first part of this prediction was arguably correct (career best .400 wOBA), but injuries prevented Turner from finishing as a top three 3B. He did finish with the sixth most FGPts among 3B eligibles in ottoneu (behind Arenado/Ramirez/Bryant/Rendon/Freeman), and the 10th best 3B in 5×5, but ultimately I will judge this as a loss (though a win in spirit!).
1 for 5
We’re back to the stupid portion of my bold predictions, though in fairness to me Benintendi was performing better than Stanton through the first month or so of the season before Stanton decided to make a run at 60 HR. Stanton ended up as the second highest rated OF per the Player Rater, while Benintendi finished a respectable 24th in his first full season in the majors. It’s quite possible I was just a year too early with this prediction.
1 for 6
7) Michael Brantley shrugs off his shoulder issues and finishes as a top 25 outfielder in all formats
This prediction was oh so close and yet so far away from coming true. Brantley did prove to be over his shoulder issues this season, and was in the Indians lineup right out of the gates in April. Brantley played 66 games in the first half of the season with a .346 wOBA, but his season was undone by lingering ankle issues that first cropped up in May and resulted in him missing 72 games on the year. The bright spot here is that Brantley should go into 2018 healthy, and should be a valuable OF in ottoneu.
1 for 7
Loki, the trickster god, reached out and tripped Thor early this season, and he was only able to make one token appearance to wrap up the year after missing most of the season with a lat injury. It’s a shame, too, because Clayton Kershaw looked human this year and I think Syndergaard would have had an excellent chance to match up with Max Scherzer’s performance in ’17. This is another prediction that may very well have just been a year too early.
1 for 8
9) Aaron Sanchez validates his projections and finishes outside the top 75 starting pitchers in all formats
Well, technically Sanchez did fall well outside the top 75 SP, but I’m not comfortable calling this a win since he really didn’t validate the projections as much as he just couldn’t get healthy due to blisters and nail issues on his throwing hand. Just like with Greg Bird, it’s hard to know how much of Sanchez’s poor performance (4.25 ERA but a 5.74 FIP/5.30 xFIP) was due to his injury issues.
1 for 9
10) Alex Wood avoids the bullpen and finishes as a top 50 starting pitcher in all formats
Yes, a clear win! Wood did begin the year in the Dodgers bullpen, but finished with the 24th most FGPts among starting pitchers (despite just 152.1 IP) and was the 10th best SP in 5×5. Wood faded a bit down the stretch, but his 3.32 FIP/3.34 xFIP were remarkably similar to his career 3.32 FIP/3.44 xFIP (which includes 37 relief appearances). He may not ever be a guy you can count on for 200 IP, but he’s clearly one of the best five SP on the Dodgers and is still just 26.
2 for 10
All told I had a much better set of predictions this year, especially given there were two more (Turner and Sanchez) that you could reasonably count as wins as well.
Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.