As an eventful 2017 season winds down here at Pitcher List, it’s time for us all as a staff to look back at what we took a stance on before the season started and see how we faired with our bold predictions. I usually don’t need reminders that putting faith in the Mariners is a terrible life choice, but it seems like ‘pre-season me’ could still use a wakeup call. I’ll be sure to use the past 16 years of sadness to not be so optimistic for any Mariner’s fantasy outlook for 2018. Live and learn – I guess. And by learn, I mean keep coming back with blissful ignorance that your hometown team will finally put it together one year. But probably not. Let’s get into it!
1. Felix Hernandez returns to form and finishes as a top 10 SP
Yikes. Ian, what in the world were you thinking? Your Mariners needed a healthy Felix to return to a fraction of his past self to make it down the stretch for a playoff push. That’s like a guaranteed reason for it to never happen – you should know these things by now! Look, I remember in Spring Training Felix was flirting with 94mph on his Fastball. That got me excited. He didn’t have to get all the way back up to 98 like his Cy Young days. 94 would be enough if everything else clicked. It did not click. Nothing did. Hernandez saw all four of his pitch types dip in velocity as the season wore on and encountered injuries, such as shoulder bursitis, that kept him off the field for lengthy stretches of time.
Needless to say, I missed big time on this one. Hernandez did not finish as a top 10 SP. He didn’t even finish as a top 100 SP. Among all the players that qualify as a SP, Felix Hernandez finished #110 on the player rater.
WRONG – 0 for 1
2. Alex Bregman finishes outside the top 20 for 3B
I was feeling really good about this one for the first half of the season. Bregman was constantly on people’s “buy low” lists throughout the year as he struggled to get going early on. As I mentioned in the prediction, it’s tough for a rookie to come up and succeed right away. The Astros kept faith in the young third baseman and allowed him to work through his kinks as 2017 progressed and it paid massive dividends. Bregman finished the regular season batting .284 with 19 HRs and 17 SBs. He finished as the #9 3B on ESPN’s player rater.
WRONG – 0 for 2
3. Edwin Diaz finishes the season as the #1 Closer
Oh boy. Do I need to go into detail on this one? Diaz struggled with command constantly this year and his performance was that of a roller coaster. He was removed from the role in order to get his mechanics/mental approach back on track more than once. It was tough to watch such a young and talented kid struggle to find himself during a year where the Mariners’ window seems to be nearly shut. Diaz finished strong, however, and ended the year with 34 saves, 89 Ks, a 3.27 ERA, and a 1.15 WHIP. That’s not a bad season by any means, but it’s a far cry from being fantasy’s #1 Closer. Edwin Diaz finished 2017 as the #14 RP.
WRONG – 0 for 3
4. Andrew Benintendi finishes outside the top 50 OF
Another solid prediction, Mr. Post. I prefaced this one with the wise words: “I can see myself looking back at this prediction 6 months from now and laughing hysterically at how dumb I am – and I’m OK with that.” Well here we are, and unfortunately, I’m not laughing. I also wrote in the original prediction, “What exactly is the upside here? He doesn’t show ridiculous power or speed, but rather a good average and a reliance on counting numbers in Boston’s lineup. So what am I spending this pick on, the chance that he’s Michael Brantley-lite? No thanks.” I wasn’t too far off here. Benintendi was much like Michael Brantley, except he was much better than a “lite” version. A solid .271 BA with 20 HRs and 20 SBs to go along with 80 Rs and 90 RBI is a fantastic season. Good enough for Benintendi to finish as the #24 OF on the player rater.
WRONG – 0 for 4
5. Keon Broxton finishes as a top 20 OF
Broxton was someone that I was really rooting for this year. Just some minor improvements in contact and K% would give him a shot at being a fantasy super star. Unfortunately, Keon did not improve in that regard, and he fought for playing time amid demotions and replacements for a large part of the season. His K% stayed roughly where it was last year – nearing a ghastly 38%. He started swinging at pitches outside the zone more often (27% compared to 22% last year). He also dipped in contact percentage on pitches inside the zone from 76.6% last season to 68.6% in 2017. This all resulted in a .220 BA. Broxton also saw his BB% fall from a healthy 14.8% in 2016 to 8.6% this year. The power/speed combo remained though, as Keon still ended up as a member of the 20/20 club with 20 HRs and 21 SBs. The counting stats and BA kept him from making this bold prediction a reality as Broxton finished as the #65 OF on the player rater.
WRONG – 0 for 5
6. Jarrod Dyson is the Mariners most valuable fantasy OF
As silly as this sounds just reading it back again, Dyson actually finished as the 2nd most valuable fantasy OF on the Mariners. Nelson Cruz continued to do Nelson Cruz things and dropped 39 bombs to go with 119 RBI, giving him the top spot. Dyson was unable to significantly increase his number of plate appearances that would allow him a shot at 50 steals and a large sum of runs. He played in just 111 games and didn’t even reach 400 PA’s.
WRONG – 0 for 6
7. Rich Hill makes 25 starts and finishes inside the top 15 SP
Finally, some good news. Sheesh. Hill was someone I was targeting in all my drafts around the 120-range as a solid #3/#4 SP. Everyone knows what he’s capable of when he’s healthy enough to pitch and sure enough that’s what we saw this year. Albeit with a literal total of 25 starts, Rich Hill struck out 166 batters in just 135 innings (11 K/9). He totaled 12 Wins and kept a solid 3.32 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He finished 2017 as the #20 SP on ESPN’s player rater. Seeing as this is likely my only shot at a correct prediction for 2017, I’m going to forgo the 5 extra spots on the player rater and give myself full credit for this one. Let the sad Mariners fan have something you heathens!
RIGHT – 1 for 7
8. Kyle Seager is the most valuable Seager in fantasy for 2017
You see what happens when you put faith in your Mariners, Ian? I ranted and raved about how Kyle’s only been trending up and improving with each year he’s been in the big leagues and what does he do? He disappoints and finishes as the #30 3B – that’s what he does. Was it due to injury and missing time? Nope. Kyle played in 154 games this year. He still managed to hit 27 bombs, but his BB% fell, his K% rose, and he had the worst BA of his career so far sitting at .249. Kyle has also slowly stopped running as the years go on and only totaled 2 steals in all of 2017. Corey did what Corey does and finished as the #8 SS, which is miles ahead of where his older brother Kyle landed by seasons end.
WRONG – 1 for 8
9. ‘Beef’ Welington Castillo is a more valuable fantasy catcher than Gary Sanchez
I remember writing that the catcher position in fantasy is a crapshoot outside of Buster Posey. I think Posey just earned some company in that regard in Gary Sanchez. Sanchez was a ‘baby bomber’ to the truest form and dropped 33 bombs while batting .278 and finished 2017 as fantasy’s #1 catcher. Welington didn’t do so bad himself, finishing at #8, but this is clearly a hot take ‘swing and a miss’ on my part.
WRONG – 1 for 9
10. Jerad Eickhoff is a top 25 SP
Much like Keon Broxton, Eickhoff was a guy I was really hoping would take a step forward in 2017 and build upon his makeup as a player, but ultimately, he took two steps backwards and had a terrible season. Eickhoff went from having 4 pitches in his arsenal to becoming mostly just a 2-pitch pitcher with his Fastball and Curveball. He completely ditched his Changeup and threw his Slider 5% less than last year. His swinging strike rate fell for the second straight season and ended at a paltry 8.8%. Eickhoff also nearly doubled his walk rate from 1.92 BB/9 last season to an abysmal 3.73 BB/9 in 2017. These struggles, along with a rebuilding Phillies offense, lead to Jerad winning just 4 games in 24 starts. In case you were wondering, no, he did not finish as a top 25 SP – he finished all the way down at #171. Yikes.
WRONG – 1 for 10