I’m not sure I have this whole bold predictions thing figured out. As has been the case for me in the past, several of my predictions this season produced useful fantasy advice. In particular, avoiding Jake Arrieta and drafting Jose Berrios, Dylan Bundy, Ender Inciarte, and Luke Weaver would have helped your team. But that was not enough to make any of my predictions actually correct.
1. Jake Arrieta will have an ERA over 4.00
This prediction was looking pretty strong after the first half, when Arrieta was sporting a 4.35 ERA in just over 100 innings. But after the break, Arrieta had a cool 2.28 ERA and pulled his seasonal rate down to 3.53. What’s interesting is that Arrieta’s FIP and xFIP were much more similar in his two halves of the season, and he finished north of the 4.00 mark in both in total in 2017. My prediction was centered on the excellence of the Cubs defense in 2016, which I believed was unsustainable. And Arrieta did see the 10th-biggest spike in his groundball BABIP among the 91 starters who threw for 100 innings both last year and this year.
You were likely glad you avoided Arrieta in drafts if you did, but this prediction was incorrect. 0/1
2. Kendrys Morales will hit 35 home runs
Morales fell a bit short of my prediction of 35 home runs, and, in fact, his 28 home runs were 2 fewer than he hit in 2016 when he played in the pitcher-friendly confines of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. So much for park factors. It is weird, but Morales actually hit more home runs in 2017 on the road, 15, than he hit at home in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre, 13. That was probably a fluke. 0/2
3. Jose Berrios will strike out a batter per inning with a sub-3.25 ERA over 20+ starts
This felt a lot closer than it ended up being. Berrios had a tremendous start to the season, quickly erasing memories of his disastrous 2016 campaign that featured 5.4 walks per nine and an ERA over 8.00. He struck out 60 batters over his first 9 starts this season, which was just a touch shy of a batter per inning. Over the course of the full season, road struggles prevented him from reaching the benchmarks I established, but 8.6 strikeouts per nine and a 3.89 ERA over 25 starts makes Berrios one of the steals of the season given where he was going in drafts. Technically still incorrect, this bold prediction likely produced my best fantasy advice. 0/3
4. Dylan Bundy will also strike out a batter per inning with a sub-3.25 ERA over 25+ starts
I bet most people believed the 25+ starts part of this prediction would be the least likely for Bundy to achieve, but it turns out that was the piece he did accomplish. Meanwhile, Bundy’s peripherals like his 8.1 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine look pretty decent. A 4.24 ERA is nothing to write home about, but it was enough to make him a top-50 starter even with just 169.2 innings pitched. I expect another step forward for Bundy in 2018, but this is another loss. 0/4
5. Daniel Norris will be a top-50 starting pitcher
Norris was excellent in his limited big league opportunities in 2016, but this year, he saw massive declines in his strikeout rate (7.6 per nine, down from 9.2 per nine) and walk rate (3.9 per nine, up from 2.9 per nine) that catapulted his ERA to 5.31. Needless to say, he was not a top-50 starter. I do wonder how much leg injuries contributed to his poor season. They did limit him to just 101.2 innings on the season and likely precipitated the team’s decision to move him into the bullpen upon his return from the disabled list in September. Hopefully, he can bounce back healthy in 2018. 0/5
6. Shelby Miller will also be a top-50 starting pitcher
I was pretty excited about the early-season velocity spike Miller was seeing, and at least over his first few starts, that was leading to more strikeouts. Tommy John surgery ended up that. 0/6
7. Ender Inciarte will lead MLB in hits
Continuing with my run of good advice on incorrect calls, Inciarte finished tied for third in baseball with 201 hits.
Inciarte was actually a pretty awesome fantasy player this year. He hit .304 over 662 at-bats, scored 92 runs, stole 22 bases, and even added 11 home runs to make him a bit more palatable than some of the other average-and-speed guys. Inciarte was similarly valuable in fantasy to players like Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain but went many rounds later in drafts. Don’t sleep on Inciarte next season. 0/7
8. Luke Weaver will win NL Rookie of the Year
Weaver lost this bet when he failed to get a call-up before July, but he was excellent from the day he finally arrived. The AL was loaded with productive rookies like Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi, but Weaver trailed the NL rookie pitcher WAR leader (German Marquez, 2.4 WAR) by just 1.0 WAR despite 100 fewer innings pitched, and Cody Bellinger was the only standout NL rookie hitter (4.0 WAR). I’m convinced that Weaver would have won the prize if the Cardinals had given him the chance to. But that’s less important. Just make sure you snag Weaver and his 10.7 strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine for your fantasy squad next year. 0/8
9. Joe Kelly will save 10+ games for the Red Sox
I expected Kelly to continue to produce high strikeout rates with his full-time conversation to a relief pitcher this season, but his strikeouts per nine fell to 8.1 per nine. It wouldn’t have mattered in any case because Craig Kimbrel produced a vintage Kimbrel season. 0/9
Tommy Johned again on Burdi, and while Gallegos did earn 20.1 innings in the Yankees’ bullpen, his 4.87 ERA can make no claim to be elite. I still have optimism for Gallegos’ future. After all, he struck out 14.3 batters per nine in a bigger dose of Triple-A innings, and his 9.7 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine in the majors hardly matched his ERA. Of course, the Yankees’ bullpen is absolutely loaded. Gallegos was 1 of the team’s 9 relievers who struck out at least a batter per inning over 20+ innings. A fantasy-relevant future remains a long-shot. 0/10
Scott Spratt is a fantasy sports writer for FanGraphs and Pro Football Focus. He is a Sloan Sports Conference Research Paper Competition and FSWA award winner. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter – @Scott_Spratt