Paul Sporer’s Bold Predictions for 2021: A Review

Reviewing the Bold Predictions is always a fun time of the year. Sure, it’s great when you hit some homers, but I know a lot of you enjoy looking back at laughing at the huge misses.

Let’s see how I fared! (Here is the original piece if you would like to read the thought process behind these picks)

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Goes .300-35-100

Let’s cut to the chase: this is a loss. Gurriel Jr. went .276/.319/.466 with 21 HR and 84 RBI in 541 PA, so it’s pretty straightforward… however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how he turned his season around after a hideous 33-game start. He had just a .492 OPS to that point, but if you jumped off at that point then you missed 108 games of .879 OPS with 19 HR and 74 RBI, which would’ve paced to 28/111. Astute readers will notice that even that pace would be a loss, too, but as someone who was heavily bought in on Gurriel Jr., I feel alright about how he saved the last 4+ months of his season.


Mark Canha is a Top 25 Fantasy Outfielder

Who wants to dig into gamelogs again? Yaaay, I knew you’d want to! I felt good about this one as the summer got going, but then Canha was felled by a hip injury that sidelined him through the All-Star break. At the time, he had a .255/.375/.450 line with 11 HR and 7 SB (24/15 pace) but managed just a .206/.340/.319 line (w/6 HR & 5 SB) after returning from the IL. The downslide prevented him from bringing home a win here, but I’m still happy with drafting him and getting the 42nd-best OF on the year.

Using Kris Bryant as an analog (.265/25/10), it’s reasonable to suggest Canha had a great shot at hitting this prediction had he remained healthy and on pace. Bryant was 27th with those numbers and the extra 5 SBs from Canha would’ve likely countered the 10 fewer points in AVG and gotten him inside the Top 25. I don’t point that out to finagle points or beg for credit, but that rather to show that the process was on the right track. A positive bold prediction is encouraging everyone to draft the player in question and your teams were bettered if you scooped Canha.


Tommy Edman Leads the NL in Stolen Bases

This is another loss by the letter of the law as Edman’s 30 SBs came up 3 shy of besting Trea Turner’s 32, but I feel great about recommending him throughout draft season. He added 91 R, 11 HR, and 56 RBI to those SBs while hitting .262 en route to the 24th spot among OF and 12th among 2B. Another process win, but I can’t count it for the bottom line.


Austin Riley Hits 40 HRs

At the risk of being redundant, we find ourselves in the same process-over-result spot as the last two. Riley “only” hit 33 home runs in an excellent breakout season that made him the 23rd-most valuable hitter in fantasy but since I called for him to hit 7 more than that, it’s a loss. If I got you on the Riley train by hyping him on the podcast or putting him in the Bold Predictions, it was a massive win, but the scoring for this piece is a binary yes or no.


Tyler O’Neill Goes 30 HR / 15 SB

Let’s go!!! My second Cardinal prediction was a smash hit by both process and result. His late round price made him an easy guy to invest in even if you don’t totally think 30/15 was coming, but then he ended up being one of the biggest breakout players of 2021 with 34 HR, 15 SB, and a healthy .286/.352/.560 line in 537 PA. Gimme the win!


Vidal Bruján Comes Up Ahead of Wander Franco; Nabs 15 SB

I want to be clear that this was never an anti-Franco angle. I was definitely concerned about when the Rays would bring him up given his youth. They have a history of slow roasting their prospects and while he is a transcendent mega-prospect (and he showed why this year), I just worried they would hold him back. Bruján didn’t even come up ahead of Franco let alone contribute on the base paths once in the majors. He had an uninspiring 10-game debut (-63 wRC+ in 26 PA) and remained in the minors the rest of the way. He did have 44 SBs in Triple-A so I’m definitely not out on the 24-year-old, but this was a fat loss and Wander is a superstar!


Pablo López Logs 200 Strikeouts

He got hurt and torpedoed this one in July, but if you don’t think I’m going to mention that he was pacing for 199 strikeouts before the injury then you clearly didn’t read the first several entries. I am still happy with the recommendation.


José Urquidy is a Top 15 Starter

He only pitched 107 innings, so he never really had a shot, but his finish as the 41st SP wasn’t too bad all things considered. His playoff performance on the other hand…



Héctor Neris Leads the NL in Saves

Another stone-cold L. Neris got off to a great start with a 1.96 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 27 Ks, and 9 SVs in 23 IP through May, but lost the job with four blown saves in June and had a 4.38 ERA/1.25 WHIP over his final 51.3 innings.


Jonathan Loáisiga is Fantasy Relevant as a Stud Middle Reliever

We are ending with a bang! My guy Johnny Lasagna was a stud as the Yankees fireman. He had a 2.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 69 Ks in 70.7 IP with 9 Ws and 5 SVs. That was enough for a top 20 season among RPs.


When putting these together, we are usually looking for a 20-30% success rate so I’m happy to have hit hard on a pair of these with a few others doing their job in terms of highlighting the upside of a player. The idea for Bold Predictions – at least for me – is something that certainly can happen, but it isn’t expected to and would definitely require a new level from the player in question to be achieved. Only Brujan truly flopped here as Neris still had a 3.63 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 98 Ks in 74.3 IP to go with his 12 SVs. You almost certainly cut him once he lost the job – and understandably so – but he wasn’t a total washout performance-wise.

One aspect of these I will change for next year is posting them earlier. They usually focus around guys I have discussed all offseason so I’m not hitting you with someone out of the blue, but I understand the desire to read these while draft season is still going as opposed to toward the end. You can also check out my Roster Review series for a bunch of Bold Prediction-esque calls via the “Hot Take” section.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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7 months ago

Great work all year, Paul — the process is sound!