With the 2019 season in the books, it’s time to go back and look at my bold predictions and see how they fared. I had to get a little liberal with the scoring last year for my 2.5 out of 10, but let’s see if we can best that without playing fast and loose with the rules.
Ramón Laureano goes 25 HR/40 SB
I’d like to blame injury for missing this one, but even if he played more than the 123 games we saw, he wasn’t chasing down 40 SB. I even vowed to stop making SB predictions after last year and yet my very first one of 2019 included the notoriously fickle stat. Laureano went 24 HR/13 SB in his 481 PA and might’ve gone 30/20 with a full season. The point of bold predictions is to highlight players who could far exceed their draft value (and won’t come close to it if it’s a negative one) and Laureano did that so I feel like it’s a win, but it’s not worth a point here.
Rafael Devers goes .300/35/100/100/10
Devers had a brilliant 2019 season and actually came up just 3 HR and 2 SB short of reaching all five marks I outlined: .311/32/115/129/8, but you damn well better believe I’m taking a full point here. Laureano and Devers were also both featured in my list of 10 hitters with 1st round upside and Devers was the big hit from that piece.
Andrew McCutchen is a top 10 OF
It’s impossible to say if this had come through based on just 59 games. But Cutch was pacing for 28 HR, 80 RBI, 124 R, 4 SB and a .256 AVG when he tore his ACL. The steals and AVG were light at that time, but a couple steals would’ve changed that pace and batting average wasn’t why I liked him in the first place. Anyway, this an auto-loss once he got hurt, but I was feeling pretty good about drafting several shares of him for the 2-plus months we did get from Cutch.
Chad Pinder clubs 30 HR
This was the right year to tab a relatively obscure player for 30 HR, but he just wasn’t the guy. I should’ve picked Eduardo Escobar or Max Kepler or Renato Nunez or freakin’ Yuli Gurriel! Those all would’ve qualified as bold, ranging from relatively bold (Escobar/Kep) to Pinderesque (Nunez/Gurriel). Pinder never really secured a full-time role even when there were opportunities to do so and his strength of hitting lefties waned while he remained rough against righties.
Austin Barnes is a top 5 C
Jameson Taillon is a top 5 SP
Another injury loss. He wasn’t pacing for this when he got hurt, toting a 4.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, but I was still fully confident in a huge season. Plus, pacing anything from a pitcher off 7 starts is useless. Taillon could’ve been a gem as his HR suppression might’ve allowed him to combat the juiced ball and ascend up the rankings. With mid-August Tommy John, he’s unlikely to do anything in 2020, and now his long-term prospects are in doubt as he’ll return at age-29. I won’t quit him, though. Feel better soon, Jameson!
Ross Stripling is a top 15 SP
Wrong Dodgers backend breakout (Hyun-Jin Ryu finished 7th). The Dodgers just didn’t trust Stripling to be a full-time starter. He opened the season in the rotation and posted a 2.65 ERA and 1.09 WHIP through six starts before being pushed to the pen. He’d make nine more starts over the remainder of the season, but mostly as a super-opener (3-5 IP instead of the normal 1-2). All told, it was still a strong 90.7 innings of work (3.47 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 93 Ks), but the uncertain role limited him to being an NL-only and very deep mixed league play.
Reynaldo Lopez has a sub-3.30 ERA, sub-1.20 WHIP, and K-per-IP
Picked the wrong White Sox breakout. Lucas Giolito (13th) was positively amazing while teased, taunted, and toiled, eventually winding up with the most earned runs allowed in baseball, exactly where Giolito was last year. Perhaps the craziest part about Lopez’s 5.38 ERA is that he had non-overlapping runs of 2.95 ERA (7 starts) and 2.82 ERA (9 starts), but he always found away to undercut that good work.
His three starts after the first big run yielded a 12.83 ERA and he closed the season with six starts of a 6.82 ERA after the nine-start run and that actually included 9 IP/1 ER and 8 IP/1 ER gems. His volatility was positively maddening. I’ll probably buy him back for a buck in 2020, though. I just think there’s real talent here and he could still develop into something quite good.
Jeff Samardzija is a top 30 SP
I said in the original piece that this was a bet on health and so if you had told me that Shark would log 181.3 innings back in April, I’d have felt good about this one. And he did in fact cash for me, slotting 26th on Auction Calculator among SPs. He didn’t get his 2017 strikeouts back with just a 19% rate, but he kept the bases clean (1.11 WHIP) and posted a strong 3.52 ERA.
Adam Conley strikes out 100 batters
There were eight relievers with at least 100 Ks and five others at 96 or more, but Conley wasn’t close. He labored through a brutal year and notched just 53 Ks in 60.7 innings. It was a year of right team, wrong player for my picks because teammate Nick Anderson was one of the biggest breakout relievers of the year, eventually being traded to Tampa Bay and now looking to make his mark in the playoffs.
Not too bad, two hits and definitely feel good about anyone who invested in Laureano based on my love for him.
Did y’all have any big bold predictions come through for you this year?