Hey folks, Ben Pernick here and it’s time for a retrospective of my 10 Bold Predictions from prior to the 2017 season. I’ll tell you now, in hindsight, they look pretty bad! But the positive takeaway is I still somehow ended up with the PitcherList Writer’s League championship (woohoo!), so one can be wrong a lot and still end up okay. With that said, hold your nose, because here we go!
1. Byung-Ho Park makes a triumphant return, smacking 30+ longballs with a .240 AVG
Hoo boy, we’re off to a great start. It’s hilarious to see how bad this one looks now. My reasoning seemed sound, as his Barrel % and FB/LD exit velocity from 2016 were actually nearly identical to the rates put up by Matt Olson this year. And he was so on fire in the Spring. I still think it was unfair that he wasn’t given a chance given he damn-well earned it in ST before being bumped by a no-name swingman. But in the minors, he was a mess, hitting just .253 with 14 Home Runs and dealing with injuries and never earning a MLB call-up. I still believe in the ability but he needs his confidence back.
WRONG – 0 FOR 1
2. At age 37, Matt Holliday will hit more homers than he’s hit in the past 10 years
This was a bet on health and a power-happy ballpark, and going into the All-Star break, with his 15 HR I was feeling pretty smart. He only needed 29 homers to make it a win, after all. But then the inevitable happened and he went down with an injury, and was pretty punchless upon coming back with just four dingers the rest of the way.
WRONG – 0 FOR 2
3. Tyler Saladino outperforms Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada
Haha yikes. This bet needed 3 things to happen:, and arguably none of them happened (you could make an argument that Moncada wasn’t mediocre, but was better in OBP formats. My skepticism in Anderson seemed warranted until he turned the tide in the second half, and Moncada also had a big September. Meanwhile, the bottom really fell out for Saladino, and was so punchless all-around that he may soon become a Saladinosaur.
WRONG – 0 for 3
4. Yasiel Puig will finally make fools of his doubters and hit .300 with 40 combined homers and stolen bases
Finally, a ray of hope! Looking back, I had the boldness on this prediction way too high, as predicting ANYONE to hit .300 probably won’t turn out too well, especially for someone who only did so once in his career. But while he hit a merely solid .263, I was correct about the second half of the prediction, as his 28 Home Runs and 15 Stolen bases combine for 43, the first time he has done so in his career (previous high was 30 combined HR + SB from his rookie campaign). He did make fools of his doubters and become a significant fantasy aspect of the Cespedesian mold, so I will award myself a half point.
Kinda – 0.5 for 4
5. The Rays, despite owning 2 closers, will end the season with an unlikely man in the 9th: Danny Farquhar
Well, this is why you don’t bet on relievers. I was floating on some wind that Farquhar was due for a resurgence due to a pitch mix change, but it must have just been hot air. He had a 4.20 ERA and still struggled too much with his control to be useful. Guess I was Farquhar off with this one.
WRONG – 0.5 for 5
6. Tyler Flowers will outproduce Matt Wieters
DING! DING! DING! At long last! Flowers blossomed this year despite limited playing time, hitting .281/.378/.445 with 12 Home Runs, 41 R and 49 RBI, compared to Wieters hitting an abysmal .225/.288/.344 with 10 Home Runs, 43 R and 52 RBI. This was a bet where I was betting on two things to happen and both DID happen! Even though Flowers wilted some in the second half, this prediction was still a win. I guess the lesson here is always bet against Matt Wieters.
CORRECT – 1.5 for 6
7. 2017 AL Cy Young Winner: Lance McCullers
Ugh. I was feeling SOOO proud of myself in April and May for this prediction. Well, you know what happened next. Injury, followed by ineffectiveness, followed by more injury and that’s all she wrote. Never underestimate the durability required to pitch a full season, because that’s what needed for the Cy. In the end he looked like a Lance McDullard.
WRONG – 1.5 for 7
8. Jett Bandy ends the year as a Top 15 catcher
Lol nope. His K rate nearly doubled and became the second catcher pretty quickly. I never would’ve thought he’d be outproduced by Maldonado. Jett Bandy is still a cool name though.
WRONG – 1.5 for 8
9. Shelby Miller figures himself out again, and posts a sub-3.50 ERA and 160+ Ks
This is why I hate betting on pitchers. Shelby came back looking good and I got my hopes up with his 3.57 FIP, and then after 22 innings he goes down and needs Tommy John. It didn’t go as planned, but at least he was good while he lasted.
WRONG – 1.5 for 9
10. A.J. Reed and Yulieski Gurriel both become top-15 First basemen
A.J. Reed was a top first baseman… out of all the 1st basemen in Triple-A! He did lead all minors hitters in home runs with 34, which was good to see after a weaker 2016, but he only earned 6 major league At-Bats in their loaded lineup. Lesson learned on betting on players without guaranteed playing time.
BUT! Gurriel had a strong season, hitting .299 with 19 Home Runs and even with all the breakout first baseman this year, the high batting average in a power-saturated landscape makes this possible. While he comes in at 18th on the Player Rater, once you remove the players on the list who do not play 1B as their primary position (Posey, Murphy, Bruce, Shaw) he makes the cut! Another half-point, because without that optimism this list will make me cry myself to sleep.
Kinda – 2 for 10
FINAL SCORE: 2 for 10
At least you tried…..