This was my first year publishing my bold predictions, and I have to admit that it was difficult to balance making truly bold predictions while still offering useful insight for fantasy owners. Let’s take a look and see how my predictions look now:
1) Travis d’Arnaud will be a top-3 catcher in all formats
Yikes! This bold predictions business is hard. This particular prediction failed on multiple levels as d’Arnaud once again failed to stay healthy, and even when he did play he wasn’t very good (.247/.307/.323 triple slash). The only thing I got right about this was the tangential comparison to Kyle Schwarber, but not because d’Arnaud hit as well as Schwarber, but rather because he was similarly broken. Let’s hope I did better with the next one.
0 for 1
2) Byung-ho Park will hit 35 home runs this season
Nope. Park did hit 22 home runs on the season, but that includes the 10 he hit in AAA after being demoted. The power showed in flashes, but the inability to make consistent contact far outweighed it. I still have some faith in the Korean slugger, but not enough to recommend him as any more than a high risk bench bet next year.
0 for 2
3) Rougned Odor will be a top-4 second baseman in all formats
I feel a bit conflicted about this prediction. I did mention that Odor was “an excellent bet to hit 20+ home runs to go along with 10+ stolen bases and a .275 batting average” and the Rangers young second baseman did hit .271 with 33 HR and 14 SB, but it wasn’t nearly enough to be a top-4 second baseman in rotisserie or linear weights formats. Odor came in as the 10th best second baseman in my review of 2016 FanGraphs Points actual dollar values as the position overall saw a surge in production this year.
0 for 3
4) Trevor Story will hit 20 home runs and steal 20 stolen bases
Hey now, this one is almost a win! While Story failed to go 20/20, I’m sure anyone that owned him was thrilled with the 27 HR 8 SB and .380 wOBA he put up in just 97 games played. I correctly guessed that Story would hold down the Rockies shortstop job even after Jose Reyes came back from suspension, and while I was a bit too optimistic about the stolen base potential I actually undersold Story’s power.
0 for 4
After back to back reasonable predictions we arrive back to the land of the absurd. I’ve been a self-admitted Sano apologist, but I must have been kicked in the head when I decided to include this as one of my bold predictions. It certainly can’t be criticized for not being bold enough, but Sano struggled with injuries and under-performed projections while Arenado had the best season of his young career.
0 for 5
6) Nelson Cruz will hit fewer than 25 home runs and finishes outside the top-30 outfielders
This was my only pessimistic bold prediction, and once again I look stupid in hindsight. Cruz is 36 now, and will have to decline at some point, but his 2016 was virtually identical to 2015 with just a slight decline in batting average driven by BABIP regression. This is now three seasons in a row over 40 home runs for Cruz.
0 for 6
7) Domingo Santana will hit 25 home runs and steals 10 bases
Santana makes the fifth player so far in my predictions to miss significant time due to injuries. Unlike d’Arnaud and Sano, when he did play Santana was valuable as he tallied 11 home runs and two stolen bases with a .343 wOBA in 77 games. Even at a full season pace that’s still less than the 25 home runs and 10 steals I predicted, but I remain a big believer in Domingo for 2017.
0 for 7
Another bold prediction undone by injuries. I was right to highlight Syndergaard as a top-10 starting pitcher as he finished fourth in ottoneu FGPts and twelfth in rotisserie per ESPN’s player rater, but Harvey and deGrom finished well outside the top ten as that whole Mets rotation seemed to be snake bitten this season. I think Syndergaard and deGrom could be fantasy aces in 2017, but Harvey will have a hard road ahead coming back from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
0 for 8
9) Kyle Hendricks will be a top-30 starting pitcher in all formats
Finally, a no doubt win! I was a bit worried my Cubs bias was coloring my love of Hendricks, but he performed so well in 2016 that my top-30 starting pitcher prediction looks not bold enough in hindsight. Hendricks finished as the ninth best starter in ottoneu FGPts and seventh in 5×5. Hendricks has been mentioned as a Cy Young award candidate, which makes the rumblings last off season that he might not stick in the Cubs rotation look especially silly.
1 for 9
We wrap things up with a true clunker. We all have sleepers that we irrationally believe in, and Blackburn is (or rather was) that guy for me over the past few seasons. There were opportunities in the Giants rotation this year for someone to step up, but those opportunities went to Albert Suarez and Matt Moore as Blackburn had his worst season as a professional with a 4.36 ERA/ 4.86 FIP in AAA. Blackburn actually was called up briefly in May by the Giants, but was sent back down without making an appearance in the majors.
1 for 10
All in all I’m happy with my picks of Hendricks, Story, Syndergaard, and Santana but I made some really bad predictions even accounting for the bad luck due to injuries.
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.