In March, I made some bold predictions. I thought they were fairly bold, so I was ready to award myself the participation ribbon no matter what. In July, the predictions, somewhat predictably, looked bad. And they still look bad now.
But I don’t feel so badly about them. Many of them were pretty dang close, and I’m proud. But a win-loss record doesn’t care about minutiae, and the win-loss record ain’t so good.
1. Giancarlo Stanton finishes outside the top 10… outfielders.
Forty-seventh. He finished 47th.
Granted, he only recorded 316 plate appearances but still smacked 27 home runs and recorded 67 RBI, prorating to 51 homers and 127 RBI across 600 PAs. Prorating is not predictive, but it certainly tells us what kind of season Stanton was having before he broke his hamate bone.
But his injury was exactly the point. From my original post:
He’ll find his way to the disabled list again
… Just as he does every year. The injury obviously proved far more serious than expected, but still: the dude simply seems more prone to injury than the rest of the top 10 by average draft position (ADP).
1 for 1, a beautiful small-sample batting average
2. Steven Souza produces more value than every member of the Nationals’ outfield individually.
So this was a bust. This bet largely hinged on Bryce Harper a) not taking on his Super Saiyan form yet and b) getting injured like he always does. Neither happened.
However, it was not a collossal bust — collossal, being the word I intended to use to describe said bust — if you compare Souza’s ESPN Player Rater score to the rest of the Nationals’ outfield:
Zimmerman doesn’t count, considering he played literally one inning in the outfield this season. That leaves Souza to be outperformed by only Taylor, for whom I maintained high expectations for performance but low expectations for playing time. It proved to be a double-edged sword: Span, despite having a solid season, hit the shelf repeatedly, providing ample playing time for the toolsy Taylor.
In my heart, I chalk this up as a half-win. Souza outperformed two of the Nats’ three starters on paper, and Taylor performing well is an added bonus. If this prediction had applied only to human beings, Harper would be disqualified, too, bringing me ever closer to a “W.”
1 for 2, still a quite-excellent average
3. Michael Taylor records a five-homer, five-steal April.
This prediction wasn’t as close as I hoped it’d be. He’s more of a three-homer, three-steal-per-month kind of guy. Still, he’s the Nationals’ new Souza — power, speed, and a swiss-cheese swing — but with far more upside and added defensive prowess. With Span (very likely) walking this offseason, Taylor looks to assume the Nats’ centerfield role for years to come.
1 for 3, and I’ll extrapolate my rate now if you let me
4. Khris Davis hits 30 home runs and ends up a top-15 outfielder.
I gave this prediction a 0.01-pecent chance of hitting in July. But then Krush gave his best Carlos Gonzalez impression thereafter, hitting 20(!!!!) home runs in August and September and giving my prediction a legitimate chance with each passing day.
The power is real, folks, although I don’t know if he’ll ever actually hit 30 home runs. I got a little too bold with the top-15 part, though. Even 27 home runs could propel him to only 50th among outfielders on ESPN’s Player Rater, as his counting stats immensely suffered from an anemic Brewers lineup.
1 for 4, declining to league average
5. Justin Verlander finishes the season outside the top 60 starting pitchers and top 200 overall.
In light of how I gave this prediction a 99-percent chance to hit, I’m stunned. Verlander will finish the season 211th overall (score!) and 57th (ugh) among starting pitchers. Something clicked, but the numbers don’t really show any kind of abrupt peripheral improvement. You’ll be quick to tell me “he’s finally healed,” but as a man who appreciates evidence to support claims, I’d like to see it, and I don’t, really.
It’ll be interesting to see how his value plays out for drafts in 2016. Projection systems will likely underrate him because of a mediocre 2013, horrible 2014 and underwhelming June and July of 2015. But from August onward, Verlander was excellent, posting an 8.61 K/9, 2.36 BB/9 and 2.12 ERA (albeit with a 3.79 xFIP).
I’ll probably avoid him regardless unless he’s the best $1 pitcher on the board. The 35-percent ground ball rate (GB%) scares the daylights out of me and explains the inflated xFIP.
1.5 for 5 so what is that, an infield hit?
6. Jose Ramirez is a top-10 shortstop.
He busted, and he busted hard. But it’s not all as bad as it looks. With almost as many walks as strikeouts, the sharp plate discipline Ramirez demonstrated in the minors was still there. It’s the .231 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) that wrecked him.
Moreover, his counting stats pace out to 10 home runs, 17 steals, 46 RBI and 85 runs. Whether batting leadoff or second leadoff (aka ninth), he probably won’t be expected to knock in many runners. But he could score a lot of runs himself, especially if he can cozy up to BABIP and get on her good side.
With double-digit potential in power and speed plus above-average on-base skills, Ramirez could still wind up being a solid shortstop. Of course, his role with the Indians depends largely on Francisco Lindor’s development. Still, I’ll probably make this same prediction next year.
1.5 for 6, league-average again
7. Dellin Betances is a top-3 closer.
Betances notched 131 strikeouts this season. One hundred and thirty-one. That’s insane.
A fall from grace — or, really, just command issues in April — cost him the closer job, and it was all downhill from there in terms of fantasy value. He regained the role briefly when Andrew Miller hit the disabled list, but it wasn’t enough to recoup the losses.
Betances will probably return to a permanent setup role. But in a saves-plus-holds league, he’s among the game’s best.
1.5 for 7, spare me
I’ll be honest, I thought I may have gotten this one right. Wilson ultimately had the playing time advantage over Heaney, and Heaney’s first-half magic failed to sustain him enough. (According to ESPN, Wilson finished 82nd among starting pitchers; Heaney finished 92nd.)
It was a matter of counting stats, as Wilson generated twice as much value in strikeouts and wins due to sheer volume, even though Heaney generated double Wilson’s value in the ratios. I still likely Heaney more than Wilson, both for next year and long-term.
1.5 for 8 ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh
9. Wrigley Field installs “Soler Panels” in a thinly-veiled attempt to cater to environmentalists.
There’s always next year.
1.5 for 9
10. Somehow, some way, Alex Guerrero hits 15 home runs.
What a brutal, brutal tease. After hitting nine home runs through 99 plate appearances, Guerrero hit only two more prior the All-Star Break and none thereafter, finishing the season with 11 bombs across a meager 231 PAs. To me, it’s a devastating blow.
Among Cuba’s recent defectors, Guerrero posted the third-best isolated power (ISO) — behind only Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes — during his final three seasons in the Cuban National Series. Although the power showed up in turbulent spurts, it was real, as real as things that have truly, actually happened tend to be.
The Dodgers are content with relegating their Scott van Slykes to premium bench roles. It’s an unfortunate development for a talented infielder whom the Dodgers are paying eight figures and would benefit from more reps but will likely see very few of them due to the presence of Corey Seager and Jose Peraza, among others.
1.5 for 10
Although no one ever earned half a hit, so…
Record: 1 for 10
Unfortunately, Davis, Heaney and Guerrero were victims of circumstance. Then again, aren’t we all?
Looking forward to 2016! Probably due for some offseason predictions now.