Justin Vibber’s 2017 Bold Predictions- In Review

‘Tis the season for reviewing bold predictions, let’s check in and see if my second year of predictions is going any better than my first did (1 for 10):

1) Kyle Schwarber will finish as the #1 catcher in all formats
This prediction was a case of me being too cute, and has gone wrong on multiple levels. First, Schwarber has zero starts at catcher and only three appearances, a far cry from the five starts or ten appearances needed for ottoneu eligibility. Next, Schwarber has struggled mightily all season (.302 wOBA) which led to both a demotion from the leadoff spot and a short demotion to AAA. This prediction is a bust.

2) Greg Bird hits 30+ HR, and finishes as a top six first baseman in points leagues
Just like last year, a few of my bold predictions have been undone by injury. Bird missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury, mashed in spring training, has been terrible in 72 PA this year (..220 wOBA and just one HR), and hasn’t played for the Yankees since May 1 due to ankle and knee issues. I still believe in Bird’s talent, but health is a skill and it seems to be one the Yankees young first baseman lacks. This prediction is also a bust.

3) Derek Dietrich finishes as a top twelve second baseman in points leagues
Dietrich isn’t playing for the Marlins any more frequently than he did last year, and he’s hitting worse than he has in three years (.311 wOBA vs .340+ the past two seasons). Not only has Dietrich not been a top twelve second baseman, he’s outside the top forty. This was a plain whiff on my part, and I’m just about done with Dietrich in ottoneu.

4) Tim Beckham is fantasy relevant in all formats
Beckham has been the primary shortstop for the Rays, as Matt Duffy is still not back with the team. In the process Beckham has been the 18th best SS in ottoneu points leagues, and is also ranked as the 18th SS per the ESPN player rater (5×5). Beckham isn’t lighting the world on fire, but he’s been worth owning in any deep format (like ottoneu), so this prediction is plausible at this point.

5) Justin Turner has a career year and finishes as a top three third baseman in all formats
Another prediction harmed by an injury, as Turner has just 65 games and 274 PA due to a hamstring injury. The good news is that Turner is having a career year on a rate basis with a .447 wOBA and is currently the eighth best third baseman in ottoneu points leagues and seventh best per the ESPN player rater (5×5) despite the missed time. Assuming Turner is healthy the rest of the way, I’d say this prediction is possible.

6) Andrew Benintendi will outperform Giancarlo Stanton in 5×5, even if Stanton is healthy
For the first couple months of the season this prediction was looking good, as Benintendi was tracking higher than Stanton. As of the all star break that is no longer true, as Stanton ranks as the 10th best OF per the player rater, and Benintendi is 27th. In order to catch Stanton Benintendi will need to raise his average (currently .279), continue to steal bases (9 so far), increase his R/RBI rates (44/51 currently), and show a bit more pop (12 HR). I have a feeling that the young Red Sox OF will turn things on in the second half and narrow the gap, but I still have to judge this prediction as unlikely.

7) Michael Brantley shrugs off his shoulder issues and finishes as a top 25 outfielder in all formats
Brantley has not made it through the first half unscathed, but his lone DL stint this season was due to an ankle injury, and not a flare up of his shoulder. Due to his missed time Brantley has just the 72nd most points in ottoneu, but is 43rd on a per game basis. Brantley is also just the 54th best OF per the player rater. He was hitting much better before he injured his ankle in May, but this is another prediction that is unlikely to come true, though I may give myself partial credit.

8) Noah Syndergaard wins the NL Cy Young and finishes as the top pitcher in all formats
I’m sorry Mets fans, this is the second year in a row I made a favorable prediction for a Mets starting pitcher (or in the case of last year, a trio), and once again it has gone wrong in the worst way. The man known as Thor has just 27.1 innings pitched this year, and now there are rumblings that he may pitch out of the bullpen when he returns from his lat strain. This prediction is yet another massive bust.

9) Aaron Sanchez validates his projections and finishes outside the top 75 starting pitchers in all formats
To be fair to Aaron Sanchez, he’s struggled with injuries this year (just six starts and 26 innings), and that wasn’t really part of my prediction. To be fair to me, Sanchez has been awful when he has pitched (4.85 ERA/ 6.38 FIP/ 5.44 xFIP), though it’s admittedly a very small sample. I think the missed time alone makes this prediction probable, but it’s too early to tell if the spirit of the prediction (that Sanchez would perform to his projections /peripherals) is true.

10) Alex Wood avoids the bullpen and finishes as a top 50 starting pitcher in all formats
I guess I saved my best prediction for last, and as is often the case with these bold prediction hits in hindsight I wasn’t bold enough, as Wood has been brilliant in the Dodgers rotation after a short stay in the bullpen (1.67 ERA/ 2.03 FIP/2.57 xFIP) . Wood currently has the 11th most ottoneu FG points of any starting pitcher (despite having 13 fewer IP than any other pitcher in the top ten), and is the 5th highest SP per the player rater. At this point even a major injury might not prevent Wood from finishing in the top 50 , so I will call this prediction virtually certain.

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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.

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What’s this about Thor out of the bullpen? Just for rehab (kind of expected), or more of a permanent move (5-alarm fire)?