One time, I made some bold predictions about the 2015 season. They were, by and large, pretty terrible, as most bold predictions usually go. However, not all of them were complete losses, and it seems appropriate anyway to review them at the season’s midway point. In addition to brief analyses for each player where applicable, I also provided completely arbitrary percentages of probabilities that my remaining predictions will hit.
1. Giancarlo Stanton finishes outside the top 10… outfielders.
Dude swings so hard, he fractures his wrist. It’s incredible, and aside from getting hit in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball last year, Stanton has suffered non-freak injuries in all of his professional seasons that have caused him to miss significant time — hence, the basis of this prediction. He ranks third of all outfielders, according to the ESPN Player Rater, and six weeks of missed time gives me a solid chance here. A wrist injury is by no means a death knell for a hitter’s power, but there’s reason to believe, aside from reasons related to regression, he doesn’t match his production through the season’s first three months — as in he hits closer to 10 or 12 home runs rest-of-season rather than 15 to 20.
2. Steven Souza produces more value than every member of the Nationals’ outfield individually.
We tried, Steve. We tried. Bryce Harper was supposed to wait another year to finally find his groove and Denard Span wasn’t supposed to recoup his value so quickly after his stint on the disabled list. Still, Souza ranks 36th overall despite a Mendozian .210 batting average. Despite whiffing (ha) on this one, I’m satisfied with the outcome, as Souza has contributed to fantasy rosters and his ballclub despite his (quote, unquote) advanced age. The concerns with his plate discipline are legitimate, but the walk rate helps keep him afloat. Souza has essentially been a poor man’s Justin Upton. A very, very poor man’s Justin Upton. At this point, what you see is what you get, especially until he tightens up his approach.
3. Michael Taylor records a five-homer, five-steal April.
He was already at a disadvantage with the season starting April 6. Ultimately, he only ended up playing 13 games and recording 50 at-bats. Still, he hit two home runs and stole two bases, and ended up with three homers and four steals through his first 25 starts. With Jayson Werth still out, Taylor continues to start in left field and fill the stat sheet, albeit modestly. Kiley McDaniel tabs Taylor for a future value of 50 (on a 20-80 scale), but it’s his poor plate discipline that primarily weighs down the rest of his tools, which all grade out above-average to plus. Really, he’s just a younger Souza. Taylor’s going to swing and miss, but he will hit for power and run a lot. He hit 23 home runs and stole 37 bases (with questionable plate discipline) across 110 Minor League games last year, reminiscent of the George Springers and Joc Pedersons of yesteryear.
Probability: 0% (Incorrect)
4. Khris Davis hits 30 home runs and ends up a top-15 outfielder.
Here’s a line from my original predictions:
Or he could just, you know, not do any of that.
And that pretty much sums it up. There’s almost no chance Krush makes up an incredible amount of lost ground after he returns from his injury; still, even without the injury, he didn’t really stand a chance. His pull rate (Pull%) and hard-hit rate (Hard%) fell off big-time since last year; his elevated fly ball rate (FB%) helps mitigate these problems, but not enough to make Davis much of a fantasy asset. I remember people expressing concern over his plate discipline when he debuted, but his strikeout rate was never, and continues to not be, all that bad. Moreover, his walk rate sits healthily in the double digits; he could end up being a nice cheap source of power for the rest of the season if he starts hitting the ball with more authority. Otherwise, I think he’s a late-round flyer next year with the hopes everything falls into place.
5. Justin Verlander finishes the season outside the top 60 starting pitchers and top 200 overall.
According to ESPN’s PLayer Rater, Verlander ranks 263rd overall… for pitchers. At this point, I have no idea what it will take for Verlander to prove me wrong short of three straight perfect games. He’s owned in a truly astounding 71.9 percent of ESPN leagues, almost as if three-fourths of fantasy owners sat at the roulette table and bet on zero.
6. Jose Ramirez is a top-10 shortstop.
I don’t know what one might call Ramirez’s calling card, but his plate discipline made him a very attractive option to not only hold his own but also succeed at the Major League level while Francisco Lindor seasoned in the Minors. Unfortunately for me and many other RotoGraphers, Ramirez got blasted by bad luck on balls in play with a .205 BABIP, although he wasn’t really hitting the ball with much authority, either. He stole a few bases, but it wasn’t anything near enough to offset the damage already done. He’s back at AAA now, where he’s walking almost three times as often as he’s striking out with 11 stolen bases in a mere 105 plate appearances. Now that Lindor is entrenched (a term used loosely here, as he hasn’t yet demonstrated proficiency, let alone overwhelming dominance) at shortstop, Ramirez constitutes more organizational filler at this point than anything else. I still see a speedy high-average shortstop, and I would still gamble on him, but he no longer has a timeline.
7. Dellin Betances is a top-3 closer.
Well, that was an interesting development: Andrew Miller injured his forearm, temporarily vacating the closer role. Now, Betances and Miller sit 7th and 14th, respectively, on the ESPN Player Rater for all pure relievers. Unfortunately for me and Betances owners, Miller just started his rehab assignment and could be back by the All-Star Break. I imagine the Yankees give the job back to Miller almost immediately, but hey! Who knows. Part of me holds out hope. Also, there’s no reason to think Betances is anything but the dominant setup man we saw last year. April was rough, but he quickly righted the ship and once again began humiliating hitters while bolstering his ratios through an above-average number of appearances for a relief man.
Aside from a couple of brilliant starts in June, Wilson has been his typical unreliable, greasy-haired self. Still, quantity outweighs quality at this point, and Heaney trails Wilson in value by wide margin. The early returns on Heaney have been promising, notching 12 strikeouts and three walks through his first 13 innings as an Angel and replicating his Minor League history of solid stuff and control. Jered Weaver is due back from the DL soon, so Heaney’s time is likely running out (unless the Angels move Matt Shoemaker to the bullpen). The long-term prognosis is bright, however, as I think Heaney can evolve into a reliable mid-rotation guy as soon as, well, now.
9. Wrigley Field installs “Soler Panels” in a thinly-veiled attempt to cater to environmentalists.
10. Somehow, some way, Alex Guerrero hits 15 home runs.
Guerrero finally forced the Dodgers’ hand, putting on a power display after numerous outfield injuries gift-wrapped him a provisional starting role. For two weeks in April, this prediction looked like easy money. Guerrero’s pace slowed significantly, however: he hasn’t hit a home run in more than a month amid weekly, rather than daily, starts in left field. Moreover, Guerrero’s plate discipline concerns me: he looks like a low-average, low-OBP power hitter — the kind of description that suits a Mark Trumbo comparison more than a Yoenis Cespedes one. His best bet to maximize his value moving forward would be to regain middle (or any) infield eligibility next season; otherwise, he is, at best, a low-end outfielder in shallow leagues next year should a role open up for him permanently. He’s a solid stash, but I would no longer rely on him for production in 2015. As for my 15-homer prediction, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll see enough playing time to reach the threshold, but his frequent pinch-hit appearances will certainly make it exciting.
It looks like I am a lock for probably one bold prediction and have a chance at another two. And I’d like to think some of the misses came fairly close. Not so bad, but I put my money where my mouth is in a lot of cases, which helps explain my especially miserable fantasy squads this year.