Opening up the previous year’s bold predictions is a bit like opening a time capsule. Will we find that we accurately represented the things that were really important to us? Or a pair of Reebok pumps and a Milli Vanilli cassette?
I’ve found the exercise worthwhile as a way to “test” and refine my draft process each year. With the information I had at the time, would I make the same decision, or can I identify biases in my approach? Let’s find out together!
1. Mike Trout is a Top-3 Player
Not the worst pick we’ll review (which should tell you something about how these are going to go), but Trout finished 29th in Razzball’s player rater at the end of the season. Ultimately this was a bet that Trout is close to as good of a hitter as he’s usually been, and that was the case. Unfortunately for fantasy teams, Trout is absolutely not running anymore and his team’s performance behind him prevents gaudy run and RBI numbers. I’d expect largely the same next year.
0 for 1
2. Amed Rosario goes .275/20/20
Close, kind of! Rosario hit .283 with 18 stolen bases. Rosario in the second half of 2021 was pulling more fly balls and had a power surge, so I was banking on that carrying over. In the end though, Rosario hit 11 home runs, the exact same as his 2021 number in nearly 100 more plate appearances. Still, Rosario is 26 and his floor is a good source of average and steals. I wouldn’t mind drafting him as a bench middle infielder and seeing if the power develops at some point next season.
0 for 2
3. Fewer than five pitchers record 15 wins or more
I’ve been predicting a cliff for wins for the past two seasons now, and it hasn’t happened, but the trends still seem to be going in that direction. This year, 11 pitchers reached the 15 win mark, which is a lot more than five (math), but is also tied for the second fewest in baseball history (2021 actually set the record). At any rate, with the pitch clock coming and (perhaps) more balls in play with rule changes next season, expect the trend to continue.
0 for 3
Another close one! Bellinger and Yelich finished with 33 combined homers, but I don’t think you can say you were steered wrong here. Yelich did contribute 19 steals, but not much else for his draft price, and Bellinger hit just .210. I’ve been skeptical of a bounceback before, but I can’t imagine drafting either at any price in 2023 and will be happy for them if they get back to their pre-2021 levels.
o for 4
5. Strikeouts are back, baby!
Oof. If I had a chance at one, I thought this was it. 2021 saw the league-wide strikeout rate dip for the first time in 15 years. I thought that was a blip on the radar and we’d see it tick back up, but it’s now down for a second straight year! MLB wants to move away from the three true outcomes, so maybe they’re on to something or players have simply adjusted for more contact.
0 for 5
6. Carlos Rodón wins the Cy Young
I was absolutely high on Rodón coming to a pitcher-friendly park with the league’s best defense behind him. Rodón delivered, even if the Giants defense took an unexpected and drastic fall. Drafted as the 29th pitcher off the board on average, Rodón was the 9th most valuable pitcher in fantasy in 2022. He was not announced as a finalist for the NL Cy Young, but last year I called him a top-1o pitcher and he was that.
0 for 6
7. Ke’Bryan Hayes breaks out
My prediction here was that Hayes’ bat came around to his minor league trajectory and would make him a top-5 third baseman. He finished 29th. It’s now two nearly-full seasons since Hayes’ dream 2020 debut where he has produced under 10 homers and just average on-base skills. The breakout could still come but I’m not drafting for it.
0 for 7
8. The Blue Jays win the AL
They did not. I thought Canada’s vaccine requirements for entering the country would provide an outsized advantage to the Jays, and maybe it did, but the team never really took off and missed the playoffs anyway.
0 for 8
9. Joey Gallo is a top-20 player in OBP leagues
Yikes. Gallo finished as the 172nd-best player on the Razzball player rater for OBP leagues. For whatever reason, Gallo never quite took off and his on-base percentage, always strong for a player with as much swing-and-miss as Gallo features, has essentially evaporated. He’s striking out more and walking less, but there are very few players that stand to benefit more from the shift going away next season than Gallo. Fair warning: I may double down on this prediction next year. Gallo could be a sneaky good under the radar signing for a team where lefty bats play up, and for fantasy OBP leagues.
0 for 9
Yes! Yesssssss! Well, well, well. Looks like I’m a baseball genius after all! You all doubted me, but who’s laughing now?
In all seriousness this wasn’t the prediction I quite thought it would be, but I’ll take a win. Grossman was the 587th-best player on the player rater, which is (checks notes)…not great. But Kelenic in a disappointing 2022 finished 1,141st. Still, Kelenic was being drafted as a top-100 hitter, and fantasy managers who drafted him there probably regretted it. Kelenic could be a talented major leaguer, but I’m going to let other managers take that risk.
1 for 10
Overall I feel pretty good about my process for the bold predictions. Only one was technically correct, but the spirit behind drafting Carlos Rodón earlier than he was going or avoiding Bellinger or Yelich at their draft prices would probably be decisions any fantasy manager would make again in hindsight. Others, such as Amed Rosario contributing and the decline of pitcher wins will still probably inform my decisions this year.
If there’s a bias here it’s probably toward players I’ve rostered in the past (Gallo and Trout), who have had disappointing seasons. That’s probably a form of loss aversion bias on my part. After all, I drafted them and knew what I was doing, didn’t I? Didn’t I?
For drafts this year I’m going to collapse the “name” column of my projections spreadsheet as I’m making my initial pass at rankings, and then question if it’s name value that causes any reordering as I re-rank them.
Making bold predictions is fun (at least until you have to reckon with your 1-for-10 publicly!), but it’s also a useful exercise for examining your own biases, which every fantasy manager could benefit from better understanding.
(Photo by Icon Sportswire) Adapted by Shawn Palmer (@PalmerDesigns_ on twitter)