Austin Bristow’s 2018 Bold Predictions in Review
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
Everyone loves to try to come up with crazy baseball predictions. Last March I made ten bold predictions for the 2018 season. Let’s see how they look six months later.
1. Jesse Winker finishes the season as the Reds’ 2nd best hitter
This one was on the right track. Winker was hitting .299 with a .404 on-base percentage with 7 home runs in 89 games when his season was cut short by a torn labrum. According to ESPN’s Player Rater, Winker wound up finishing as the Cinncinatti Reds‘ 7th best hitter, but more surprising was the order of the batters ahead of him. Cinncinatti’s perennial all-star and Hall of Fame candidate Joey Votto had one of his worst seasons in recent memory, hitting only 12 home runs, despite a 41% hard-hit rate. His on-base skills were definitely still there, earning him a .417 OBP and distinction of being the Reds’ 5th best hitter. Meanwhile, Scooter Gennett, Jose Peraza, and Eugenio Suarez each had a career year, earning the 1, 2, and 3 spots respectively. Billy Hamilton comes in at the 4th spot because the Player Rater values the rare stolen base very highly. 0/1
2. Anthony Swarzak will lead the Mets in saves
Relievers are so volatile and fickle. So it was for Anthony Swarzak, though his dip in production was likely due mostly to a myriad of injuries that plagued him throughout the 2018 season. I expected the Mets to contend for the NL East title (lol) and Familia to lose his role early after struggling. Familia did lose the New York closer’s role after being traded to the Oakland Athletics, but Mickey Callaway turned instead to Robert Gsellman in his absence. Meanwhile, Swarzak battled injury and finished the season with a 6.39 ERA. Womp womp. 0/2
3. Marcus Semien finishes as the 7th best SS
Marcus Semien was a popular choice within the Pitcher List bold predictions. I truly believe my piece, Sneaky Value of Marcus Semien, had something to do with that, but that doesn’t look great at this point either. Semien posted his lowest ISO of his career, at 133. He went 15-14 (HR-SB) in 156 games this season, after putting up a 10-12 total in only 85 games in 2017. The stolen base rate obviously went down and the power followed. All of that means that Semien finished as the number 16 shortstop, on the Player Rater A down year for sure, but I may not be out on Semien quite yet. 0/3
4. The Mets will finish fourth in the NL East
My expected standings in March of 2018:
|2||New York Mets|
WELP! This one is technically correct, though my thought process in reaching this point was about as flawed and incorrect as could be. The Nationals flopped in a big way, while the Braves and the Phillies surged, leading the Bravos to their first NL East Pennant since 2013. The Nats will finish second, the Phils third, the Mets will indeed finish fourth, and the fish are in the basement.
I’d also like to take this moment to note that the Washington Nationals have never won a playoff series. 1/4
5. Danny Duffy earns 14 wins, despite pitching for the worst team in the AL
I’ve looked back at this one and thought, “Why did I even say this?”
I think I was just trying to be super duper bold. I didn’t even like Danny Duffy, and I still don’t! Whatever the reason, it was very wrong, as Duffy earned only 8 wins and the Kansas City Royals were not the worst team in the American League. Not even close. 1/5
Damn you Jon Lester, and your improbably successful season! The #GreatRegressionOf2018 didn’t bring him all the way out o the top 50, as he finishes 32nd on the Player Rater. Johnny Cueto, meanwhile was not good in 9 starts, before having his season end early with a Tommy John’s surgery. Cueto finished 136th, right in between Framber Valdez and Hector Velazquez. 1/6
7. No Dodgers pitcher will record more than 150 innings pitched
UGH!! SO CLOSE!! I was right about almost everything! Nearly every Dodgers starter spent some amount of time on the Disabled List, Walker Buehler made his debut, and Dodgeritis continued plaguing the team. However, at the end of the day, Clayton Kershaw pitched 156.1 innings and Alex Wood pitched 150 on the dot. The addition of Ross Stripling gave the Dodgers 7 fairly effective starters that they switched back and forth throughout the entire season.
Man, can I go back and change this one to 160 innings? 1/7
8. Trevor Bauer finishes the year as a top 15 SP
There we go! Trevor Bauer was my favorite breakout candidate for 2018, and I hit the nail right on the head with this one. Bauer excelled this year, posting a 2.26 ERA & 1.10 WHIP in 171.1 innings while striking out 219 batters. The Swinging-strike rate jumped up to 13.3, pushing the K-rate up to an elite 31.2% mark! He earned the “Aces Gonna Ace” denotation along the way, and I’ll be looking to him to perform to a similar level next season. This may have been his ceiling, but he’ll definitely be in my top 15 SP rankings for next season. 2/8
9. Randal Grichuk puts it all together, hitting .270 with 40 home runs
While he was nowhere near the mark that I set in March, Randall Grichuk did take a step forward this season. He posted a 112 wRC+ and lowered his K-rate to a career-low 26.5%. He was a very popular sleeper pick last draft season, which doesn’t really make him a sleeper, but this year he will legitimately be a sleeper. I don’t expect him to be drafted in many leagues, but I think he’s still worth a late-round flier. 2/9
10. The Atlanta Braves finish 2018 with a top 10 starter’s ERA
This one was one of the more interesting predictions I made. It seemed plausible with all of the pieces sort of there, just a long ways away from coming true.
Well, look at me and the Braves starters now.
The Braves starters finished 4th this season in ERA with an impressive 3.52 mark. That placed them behind only the Astros (3.19), Dodgers (3.21), Indians (3.39), and tied with the Cardinals for fourth place. Mike Folynewicz broke out in a big way while Anibal Sanchez was unexpectedly really good. Sean Newcomb and Julio Teheran had up-and-down years, but both finished with ERA’s south of 4.00. Mike Soroka and Kevin Gausman each impressed in their respective short stints in the Atalanta rotation.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Braves starters are capable of in the Postseason and what their rotation will look like in 2019. 3/10