Paul Kastava’s 2016 10 Bold Predictions (Mid-Year Review) by Paul Kastava July 15, 2016 My colleagues have been reviewing their Bold Predictions this week, so I figured I would follow suit. Here is the link to my original Bold Predictions piece. I am going to take a slightly different approach when reviewing them, however, since most of mine turned out to be pretty brutal. If I were to give legitimate odds on most of these, giving them a 1% chance of working out would be rather optimistic. So I decided to break down each prediction three-fold: What works with this prediction? What doesn’t work with this prediction? What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? 1.) Chris Carter will break 100 R.B.I.s What works with this prediction? This was by far my closest prediction and the one that has the most chance of coming to fruition. In 85 games, Carter has 51 RBIs and even that pace would leave him slightly under 100. Some factors that have helped are the performances of Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Jonathan Villar who have gotten on-base ahead of him. Lucroy and Braun were somewhat expected, but Villar has been a pleasant surprise. Carter started off the year red-hot and sits just two home runs shy of his total from last year (22 in 2016, 24 in 2015). What doesn’t work with this prediction? If he were to lose either Lucroy, Braun, or both to injury or trade, that would certainly hurt his RBI opportunities. May was a relatively cold month for Carter as he batted .198/.235/..450, yet the power was still there keeping his RBI total respectable for the prediction. What happens when he gets ice cold and there is no power? It seems inevitable at some point and he doesn’t have enough RBIs in the bank to help carry him there. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? 90 RBIs. And even that may be optimistic given the variability of RBIs. 2.) Joc Pederson will be a top 3 CF according to WAR What works with this prediction? So far, Pederson is only 1.9 fWAR back of 3rd place with 1.4 fWAR (Jackie Bradley Jr. and Marcell Ozuna are tied for third with 3.3). There is still the possibility he can get super hot like he did in the first half last season. What doesn’t work with this prediction? The defense metrically hasn’t improved too much and he has hit right around where he did last year with a better average and more power, but not a lot more. The injury didn’t help matters as this prediction is playing time dependent, but Ozuna or Bradley would obviously have been the better prediction if we are playing the hindsight game. In fact, Pederson does not have enough bats to even qualify as a CF so far. That could change, but it’s worth noting. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? Top 15 would be the easy pick, where top 10 can be left to the optimist. 3.) Wilmer Flores will have over 550 PAs What works with this prediction? The injury bug has hit the Mets, as both David Wright and Lucas Duda have missed significant time. Wright will miss the whole season, and Duda is said to not be very close. With the recent Flores hot streak, this should (or should have) opened the door for some extended playing time. Still a little less than half a season to play so if he stays hot, the PAs will come. What doesn’t work with this prediction? I don’t feel too bad about this prediction because a few things happened that not many people could or did anticipate. For one, Flores hit the DL, which is once again detrimental to a playing time prediction. Secondly, I cited a potential platoon with Neil Walker to justify my argument and Walker got with hitting coach Kevin Long to crush lefties to start the year, solidifying himself as the everyday second basemen. Then instead of going with Flores full-time, the Mets found replacements for Wright and Duda in Jose Reyes and James Loney. Loney has been exceeding expectations as he has been hitting with some power for the first time since LA, and Reyes seems to really appreciate his second chance opportunity with the Mets. Flores will still get at-bats as a super utility player, but is well off-pace for 550. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? 400 is conservative, so I will go with 450 PAs. That means he needs 264 PAs with 74 games left when he managed to have 186 PAs in 58 games. That’s an increase of .3 PAs per game, and as we all know, thirds of PAs are definitely real things. 4.) Johnny Cueto will post an ERA higher than 4 What works with this prediction? Umm, his xFIP is almost a full point higher than his ERA? (ERA: 2.47, xFIP: 3.39). What doesn’t work with this prediction? Yeah, this was bad. His K% is better than his career (22% vs. 20%), and he’s already almost matched his career best WAR (4.7) with 3.7. He looks comfortable and AT&T is playing to his strengths even more than I envisioned as his HR/9 is a career best 0.41. I was probably still bitter about his Game 2 performance in the World Series. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? If I were a cynic, maybe that he won’t break 2.50? Or if I was really negative, that he won’t break a 3.00 ERA. Oh wait, it’s an even year, my bad. Ugh, let’s just move on. 5.) Lucas Duda will be a top 5 fantasy 1B What works with this prediction? Is this the point where I immediately regret writing this article? Anyway, the only saving grace with this prediction was that first basemen seemed to slump mightily until June rolled around, so if Duda had stayed healthy and performed like he has in the past, this was an attainable goal. What doesn’t work with this prediction? Well, the fact that we don’t know when Duda is coming back is one. Even when he was playing, he wasn’t hitting very well as his walk rate was down and his ISO was slightly below his career average. Not saying he wouldn’t have adjusted and bounced back, but he was nowhere near a top 5 fantasy 1B this season when healthy. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? Top 50? I don’t know where to begin since we don’t know when he’s coming back. Note to self: Stop predicting things for your favorite team. You are a jinx. 6.) Marcus Semien will be a 20/20 guy this year. What works with this prediction? Ok, here’s a prediction that probably won’t come to fruition fully, but I feel comfortable with at least half of it. He has 19 HRs, so he should be able to reach 20 HRs, unless I truly am the jinx of jinxes, which would then require me to reevaluate my writing ventures. His ISO has shot up almost 100 points which is excellent and it is exciting to see Semien reaching his power potential, as a lot of the writers at FG and RG have been very high on him. What doesn’t work with this prediction? He only has 5 SBs. I knew when I made this prediction initially that the SBs were going to be the tough part, and even lamented over it with Paul Sporer. He could go off in the second half, but it’s not like he was caught stealing a lot in the first half and just needs to raise his conversion rate (he was already 5 for 6). What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? Dare I be bold and say 30/10? Keeps the total number of outcomes the same, just changes how they are allotted. 7.) Jake McGee will have 40 saves What works with this prediction? McGee was 15 of 18 in converting saves and although his ERA was up and his Ks were down (what do you expect, he’s in Colorado?), he seemed to have a solid grip on the closers role and was on-pace to get his 40 saves. Was, is the key word. What doesn’t work with this prediction? Well, here comes that word that seems ever so common: injury. McGee got hurt and upon his return found that Carlos Estevez took his job and has it for the time being. I wrote that McGee had a solid grip above, but some would argue that “solid” is being too generous as Estevez was creeping up prior to the injury. Oh, and Adam Ottavino is back. Awesome. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? Predicting saves moving forward is extremely difficult. If he were to get the closer’s role back at some point, 25? 8.) Justin Verlander will win the AL Cy Young What works with this prediction? Over the past calendar year, Verlander is third in the AL in fWAR behind David Price and Jose Quintana by 0.2 and 0.1, respectively. So over the past calendar year, he has been one of the better pitchers in the AL. And it’s not like he just has more innings and accrued more fWAR than the guys below him, like Chris Sale and Corey Kluber who have pitched a similar amount of innings. He has just been a more effective pitcher according to fWAR, whatever that is worth to you. What doesn’t work with this prediction? The numbers above refer to the past calendar year, which does not impact the Cy Young race. He is ranked 8th in AL according to fWAR, and has an ERA over 4.00 and ranks 14th in Wins, which are typically the big categories when it comes to Cy Young voting. Mar/Apr and June really hurt him as he had ERAs of 5.46 and 4.73, respectively. May was nice (3.16 ERA) and July has been so far (2.13 ERA), but he really needs a big second half to enter this conversation. Note to readers: I know ERA is not the most optimal tool to analyze pitching performances, but I am thinking of Cy Young voters and ERA, I would argue, is weighted more heavily than some of the more intuitive statistics. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? The win total really hurts the outside Cy Young chance, but there is still a whole second half. He should be able to be a top 10 vote getter, whereas a powerful second half would get him a top 5 finish. 9.) George Springer will go 30/30 What works with this prediction? He has 19 HRs so the first part of the prediction is on-pace to come true, especially if he matches his ISO in the 2014 season, which is higher than this season (.237 vs .211). Regarding his six stolen bases, he had his most in June (3). Ok, that’s stretching it. What doesn’t work with this prediction? The stolen bases are way off, and even if he was perfect in his attempts, he would still only have 12. His percentage and amount of stolen bases increased each month, but it’s not enough of a dent to say he will get up to 30 bags. Even a 30/20 prediction would look really dire. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? 30/10…30/15 if he lets loose. 10.) Trea Turner will lead the Nationals in stolen bases. What works with this prediction? Bryce Harper leads the team with 13, so it is not an insurmountable number to overcome. The other guys who I thought would run more, like Ben Revere and Michael Taylor, haven’t stolen that many bases. What doesn’t work with this prediction? Well, considering Turner has zero, that’s a start. Admittedly, this was my biggest reach since it was my last one and I was struggling to find another bold prediction. I knew Dusty Baker did not have a great history of playing young players over veterans, but I was really just hoping he had gotten over that and circumstances would force his hand to play him, which it really hasn’t. Ryan Zimmerman stayed healthy for most of the first half, and even if he had been hurt more frequently, Clint Robinson has been next in line instead of moving Daniel Murphy to first base. Danny Espinosa has been the real issue with this prediction, as he’s been the 7th most valuable SS according to fWAR. He’s been an above average hitter exhibiting the power he hasn’t shown since his inaugural year. So barring an injury or a major drop-off, Espinosa has strong hold on the SS job. Oh, and he ain’t moving to 2B. Daniel Murphy has been pretty, pretty, pretty good this season. What would be the more reasonable prediction at this point? Still a lot of season left and Trea Turner should see some action in the big show. I think he somehow gets into the team’s top 10 in stolen bases by season’s end, especially when rosters are expanded in September.