Reviewing Mike Podhorzer’s 2014 Bold Predictions

Another regular season of baseball has been completed and it has been a disappointing one for my fantasy teams. But that doesn’t mean that everything went wrong. So let’s take a look at what I boldly predicted in March and find out how well my crystal ball was working. For a refresher, these were my original 10 predictions with explanations. For the last two seasons, I have hit on three of my 10 predictions, so the hope is that at some point I’ll nail four of them. Perhaps this will be the year.

1. Carlos Carrasco is the most valuable Indians starting pitcher.

Hooray! For the second year in a row, my favorite starting pitcher sleeper delivered. After being banished to the Indians bullpen following just four poor starts to open the year, Carrasco returned to the rotation in August and posted a microscopic 1.30 ERA and 2.17 xFIP over 10 starts and 69.0 innings. Of course, even a 2.55 overall ERA in 134.0 innings wasn’t enough to earn the most dollar value out of Indians starters, thanks to some guy named Corey Kluber. That said, he sat comfortably in second, as no other Indians starter even earned positive 12-team mixed league value. I’m very curious to find out what the general opinion of him is heading into drafts next year. Will he end up being a stealthy undervalued potential ace or did he do enough to get himself fairly valued? 0 for 1

2. Oswaldo Arcia launches 30 home runs.

Arcia was limited to just 410 plate appearances after missing nearly two months with a wrist injury just a couple of days into the season. But when he was on the field, he continued to display excellent power as he upped his HR/FB rate to nearly 20%. Assuming the same rates, he would have needed 558 at-bats to reach the 30 homer plateau and make good on my prediction. That would have been a full, healthy season, so the prediction was right on from a rate perspective. Arcia did lose about 13 feet of batted ball distance, so heading into next year, I would expect some decline in his HR/FB rate. However, given his much better minor league strikeout rates, the potential is there for better contact which could offset a decline in HR/FB rate. 0 for 2

3. Billy Hamilton is demoted to Triple-A by the end of May.

At the end of May, Hamilton sported a measly .279 wOBA. He was performing as terribly as I predicted, but with a lack of any other reasonable options, it wasn’t enough to lead to a demotion. Since the end of May, he wasn’t much better, as he posted just a .291 wOBA. By UZR/150, his defense in center field was fantastic, so that’s likely what has kept him in the lineup and in the Majors. I can’t imagine that he remains in the lead-off spot much longer though. It’s pretty hilarious that a guy with a sub-.300 OBP was penciled in there all season long. And he strikes out far too often for someone with such limited power. I would stay away from him in leagues next year. 0 for 3

4. Drew Hutchison wins a rotation spot out of spring training and earns positive 12-team mixed league value.

Hutchison returned from Tommy John surgery and the word in spring training was that his velocity was up. That was indeed the case, though the spike wasn’t as dramatic as I expected it to be once the games began to count. He did indeed earn a rotation spot out of spring training, but posted a disappointing 4.48 ERA. The 1.26 WHIP was more palatable though and he did strike out nearly a batter an inning for a total of 184. Heading into yesterday’s games, Hutchison was the 65th most valuable starting pitcher according to CBS, which easily equates to positive value in 12-team mixed leagues. His SIERA was almost a full run lower than his ERA, which is strange considering none of his luck metrics were out of whack. Perhaps his LOB% was a tad low, but certainly not enough so that would explain the ERA/SIERA discrepancy. He’ll be undervalued next year. 1 for 4

5. Marcus Semien outearns Anthony Rendon.

Hahahahahaha. This was both a comment on how much I liked Semien as well as how I felt that Rendon was being overvalued. Semien only came to the plate 255 times, struck out a ton and suffered a power outage. Rendon, on the other hand, was the second most valuable second baseman according to CBS as his power jumped and he ranked second in baseball in runs scored. But perhaps the biggest driver of his fantasy value surge was his sudden interest in swiping bases. He attempted all of two steals last year, but decided to make me look silly by going for 20 thefts this year, and succeeding on 17 of them. He would still have been quite valuable without those steals, but an additional 10-15 steals dramatically boosted his value. I have no idea what to project for next year, though the odds are there’s some regression. How much, I don’t know. 1 for 5

6. Alex Wood is this year’s Andrew Cashner and earns top 45 starting pitcher value.

Wood was even better than he was during last year’s debut, as he cut his walk rate while increasing his strikeout rate, resulting in a slight dip in his SIERA. In an effort to limit his innings, the Braves moved him to the bullpen temporarily for a month beginning in early May, but I would assume that he shall have no limits next year. Because of poor run support, he finished with just 11 wins and amazingly 11 losses as well. Obviously, he hasn’t yet acquired the knowledge of knowing how to win. Still, Wood was ranked as the 30th most valuable starter thanks to his excellent ratios and solid strikeout total. I would expect a strong follow-up, though not quite sub-3.00 ERA level. 2 for 6

7. Matt Kemp is worthless, again, in 12-team mixed leagues.

He may have been heading that way after his first half performance, but thanks to a 16-homer second half that saw him bat .303, Kemp was actually the 15th most valuable outfielder. The concern was about the various injuries he has suffered in recent years, but he’s proving that his health is returning. His batted ball distance rebounded, jumping 16 feet and his ISO is back over the .200 hump, while his HR/FB rate inched back up to near 2010-2012 levels. With just eight steals in 13 attempts, it appears that his days of big steal totals are truly over, but those extra steals still add value. 2 for 7

8. A) Brett Anderson throws 150 innings, B) Brett Anderson is the most valuable Rockies starting pitcher and C) Brett Anderson earns positive 12-team mixed league value

That’s funny. Even moving to the thin air of Colorado wasn’t enough to get me off the Anderson train. But hey, he posted a 2.91 ERA in his 43.1 innings! 2 for 8

9. Corey Dickerson goes 25/10, or hits 25 long balls and swipes 10 bases for those confused readers.

So so so so so very close. Dickerson swatted 24 long balls and swiped 8 bases (it took him 15 attempts to do so!), but those totals came in just 478 plate appearances. That’s because the Rockies were juggling 50 outfielders and he didn’t really see regular playing time until the end of May. Nothing in his performance was all that surprising. He has shown excellent power in the minors and backed up his power this year with a batted ball distance that ranked 20th among all hitters. One would assume that he’ll open next year on the strong side of a platoon, getting benched against southpaws, which makes it annoying for weekly leaguers. But I wouldn’t expect that much regression of his rates. 2 for 9

10. Jered Weaver posts an ERA above 4.00 for just the second time in his career.

This was the second year in a row of predicting collapse for Weaver, and while it hasn’t exactly happened yet, he’s trending in that direction. His 3.59 ERA this season is the highest mark he has posted since 2009 and his HR/FB and HR/9 rates were both the highest of his career. The concern is that for a pitcher who relies on suppressing what we deem the luck metrics, age is going to be unkind to those abilities. Because he possesses just a mediocre skill set beyond those BABIP and HR/FB suppression abilities and his always high LOB% marks, there’s a whole lot of downside risk that seemingly could be realized at any time. 2 for 10

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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In the spirit of the predictions, you did well with 7 and 9. Dickerson delivered pretty much the projection, esp on a rate basis and how many original owners was Kemp worthless to? I’d guess many, as he was probably dropped or dealt as a sell-low after that first half.

mario mendoza
mario mendoza

Yeah, go ahead and give yourself the Dickerson call.