I'm both happy and sad that the 2013 fantasy baseball season is over. I joined Fake Teams in August 2012, so this was my first full season since throwing my hat into the writer's ring. I competed in a total of seven leagues (up from my usual one or two), finishing in the top three in five of the seven while finishing 12th (out of 15) in the Yahoo! Fantasy Blog Wars and dead last in a first-year dynasty league that I blame entirely on B.J Upton.
Back in March, I made 10 bold predictions for the 2013 season and as you're about to see, I didn't do so hot. On the plus side, I didn't set the bar high for 2014. So there's nowhere to go but up.
1) Jeff Samardzija will be a top-25 starting pitcher.
My Cubs bias got me here. Samardzija finished as the 97th starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater, going 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 214 strikeouts in 213 2/3 innings. I was foolish to think Chicago's offense could support Samardzija enough to get him the wins necessary to finish as a top-25 starter, but The Shark wasn't far from his 2012 performance (3.45 xFIP, up from 3.38). Two hundred innings and 200 strikeouts are a big hurdle for Samardzija and I'll once again be all-in next season. But this time, at a discount!
2) Adam LaRoche will lead the Nationals in home runs (again).
LaRoche tied Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond with 20 home runs, but it was Ryan Zimmerman who led the Nationals with 26 -- thanks to a crazy, hot 11 home runs in September. LaRoche hit 33 bombs in 2012 and I thought the 33-year-old would surprise again. Not this time. I think Harper leads Washington in 2014.
3) Nelson Cruz hits more home runs than Giancarlo Stanton.
Yes! And this came after the news of Biogenesis. Cruz out-homered Stanton 27-to-24 in eight fewer games -- 108 games total -- and was on his way to a career year before suspensions were handed down from the almost-but-never-retired Bud Selig. You can certainly argue that Cruz's power was fueled by something of the unnatural kind, but a win is a win and I'll take it.
Remember when Detroit needed a closer super bad and anyone and everyone that's ever played connect-the-dots predicted Marmol to the Tigers? Ha. You schmucks. Looking back, I should have predicted 30 saves for Kevin Gregg. Drat.
5) Yu Darvish finishes outside the top-30 starters.
Yu laugh, but Darvish finished as the 30th starting pitcher in 2012, so this wasn't entirely crazy. (OK, yes it was.) The Rangers ace finished the season at No. 5 overall, striking out 277 in 209 2/3 innings and finishing with an ERA (2.83) of a full run better. Lesson learned. Darvish will be my No. 2 SP in 2014 after Clayton Kershaw.
This one was easy. The Rutledge hype train fell of the tracks quickly, as the middle infielder hit .235/.294/.337 with seven home runs, 45 runs, 19 RBIs and 12 steals in 87 widely-spread games. Rutledge bounced between Colorado and Triple-A Colorado Springs all season long and will try to secure a starting spot again in the spring.
Mike Trout was awesome. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton? Not so much. Trout led the way with 27 home runs, Hamilton smacked 21 and Pujols clubbed 17. It marked the first time Pujols has failed to tally 30 home runs or more in 13 years. I fell only 35 home runs short of meeting this prediction. D'oh.
8) Danny Espinosa leads the league in strikeouts.
Who? Espinosa played in only 44 games for Washington and struck out 47 times. Chris Carter led baseball with 212 strikeouts, followed by Chris Davis (199) and Adam Dunn (189). Espinosa was so bad he didn't even get a chance to succeed at sucking. I'm giving myself one-third of a point on this one. Because baseball.
B.J. Upton? Check. Jason Heyward? Double check. Justin Upton? Damn. Injuries really slowed Bourn down and that's not a particularly good thing when your value is tied almost entirely to speed. Among outfielders, Justin Upton finished the highest at No. 24, followed by Bourn (49), Heyward (80) and B.J Upton (160). I'm giving myself two-thirds of a point here.
With the All-Star Game in New York, I should have thought this one through a little more. David Wright was probably a lock to go in his home city, but I just didn't see Matt Harvey coming. Niese made 24 starts, going 8-8 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 105 strikeouts in 143 innings. My Niese love has since turned into Dillon Gee love.
So there you have it. I went 2-for-10 and scraped together another full point because the official scorer was feeling generous.