Oh boy. It is days like today that make me thankful my fantasy baseball reputation is still in its infancy. My hope is that all of you read my bold predictions article back in March and swiftly wrote me off as a jamoke and then went on with your drafts no worse for the wear.
My predictions aged like milk, but I’m here to answer for them because gosh darn it, that’s how we learn. So let’s look back at some truly awful takes from a half a year ago and curse the fact that hindsight is 20/20.
1. Trea Turner Wins the NL MVP
As far as predictions go, this is sadly one of my best. Turner likely cost you a first- or second-round pick in March, and the young speedster did not return value. A big part of that failure was because of injury early in the season that caused him to miss all of April and a big chunk of May. Outside of his time on the IL, however, Turner was a reliable stud. He matched his home run total from 2018 despite playing in 40 fewer games and stole only eight fewer bags.
There’s still upside for Turner to be a 25-homer, 50-steals player, but he has to prove he can stay on the field and keep it all together for a full season. It will be interesting to see where the public likes him heading into 2020, but I think he’ll again be a very early selection with a very real ability to deliver on the hype.
2. Stanton and Judge Combine for 90 Dingers
Well … 90 is the new 30 … right?! This is another prediction that was derailed quickly because of injury. The Artist Formerly Known as Mike Stanton missed all but 18 games in 2019 and managed to clear the fences only thrice. Judge himself barely eclipsed 100 games and looked sluggish at the start of the season before finishing strong, swatting in 16 combined dingers in August and September. He finished with 27 total, not even spitting distance from his rookie total of 52.
Injuries or not, this one wasn’t close. Thoughts and prayers for the owners who felt good about grabbing Giancarlo in the third. I think people will have an even harder time trusting this guy moving forward. The power is frightening; unfortunately, so is his durability.
3. Severino Wins the AL Cy Young, Cole Runner-Up
Nailed it. Once again, injuries struck down a perfectly good prediction here, and hey, the latter half could very well be right on the money. Gerrit Cole will almost certainly win or finish second in AL Cy Young voting after a massive season in which he tallied 326(!) strikeouts. He was a true dominant ace all year long, so I’m taking half credit for this one.
Severino was a tragic figure in fantasy baseball as he essentially missed the entire season with injuries that seemingly wouldn’t heal. He looked good in three limited starts in September, but that doesn’t mean a darn thing to most after a whole season without a guy drafted in the first three rounds. Even from all the way out here on the West Coast, I’m rooting for Sevy to return to form. At his best, his stuff is some of the most fun to watch in the league. Perhaps in 2020 this prediction won’t look so absurd.
4. Adalberto Mondesi Will be Virtually Unowned by Season’s End
I’m claiming a win on this one, even if it’s on a technicality. Most owners probably dropped Mondesi when his shoulder surgery was announced late in September, right?! Mondesi had an injury-plagued 2019 as well (Did I somehow create a curse?!), but when he was healthy, he was essentially what everyone hoped he would be. He swiped 43 out of 50 bags in just 102 games while managing to hit north of .260. The OBP fell flat at .291, but everyone knew the guy lacks patience at the plate.
Ultimately, Mondesi showed he is indeed a big league ballplayer and a devastating speed threat who has enough pop to differentiate from the Dee Gordons of the world. Depending on how his shoulder rehab goes in the offseason, we should see Adalberto more reliably ranked as a legit fantasy asset moving forward.
5. Corey Knebel Leads the League in Saves
Seriously, I’m cursed. Sorry for causing the Tommy John, Corey. Speedy recovery, pal.
Bum only had nine wins, so I’m claiming another partial victory, but both pitchers proved that neither is near being done.
Kershaw wasn’t quite his old elite self, but he showed reliability and durability throughout the season and was an SP1 when I didn’t expect him to be. Bumgarner’s numbers were less exciting but still much more than serviceable, and he returned nice value for owners who snagged him in the middle rounds. On any other team, he comes out of this year with something closer to Kershaw’s win total. Bumgarner may have that chance as he steps into free agency this winter.
7. Eloy Jimenez Beats Out Vladito for AL Rookie of the Year
Yordan Alvarez is going to run away with this award because of his repeated hatred for baseballs, but for the sake of argument, let’s take a look at how Eloy and Vladdy stack up head to head.
Neither of these two young studs lit the world on fire like Alvarez in 2019, but Jimenez’s torrid finish to the season gave him a massive bump in the power department. I won’t take much credit on this one as neither will win the AL Rookie of the Year, but Eloy’s numbers give him a clear edge this season. Moving forward, it may be a different story.
8. Kevin Gausman Finishes as a Top-40 Starter
I wish I could put all of the yikes of this prediction on injuries, but even in the 102 innings Gausman managed on the season, he was almost wholly unrosterable. He was relegated to a relief role late in the season and manged only six quality starts on the year. Any way you slice it, this one wasn’t even close.
9. The Phillies Will Outscore the Marlins by 400 Runs
The Miami Marlins were predictably bad on offense, finishing last in the National League with 615 runs scored. In my prediction, I said I’d take the under on 600 runs, so that’s an L there, and the Phillies turned out to be unworthy of the hype surrounding them after the Bryce Harper signing and acquisition of J.T. Realmuto. They managed only 176 more runs (deplorable) than their NL East counterparts and will be watching postseason baseball from their own couches.
Another bold prediction: Gabe Kapler won’t be back next year.
10. Michael Brantley Stays Healthy and Finishes as a Top-75 Player
Admittedly the least spicy of my hot takes, this also came closest to fruition. Brantley played 148 games and, dependent on your league scoring, probably finished right at or near 75 in the ranks. Despite a disappearance of his speed threat, he set a career high in home runs with 22 and was a reliable run producer and scorer in the potent Astros lineup. So I’ll claim this as my lone win for the road and hope to be better next year.
Remember, it’s not about how you start, but how you finish.
(Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)