Today, I take a look at how my preseason American League bold predictions fared this season. I perform this exercise every year to prove that baseball is so unpredictable, but that is what makes the game so great.
American League East
The Orioles recently signed shortstop Everth Cabrera, and more than likely he will play more second base than shortstop with J.J. Hardy set at shortstop. I predict that he leads the American League in stolen bases with 47 this season.
Orioles starter Kevin Gausman has a breakout season winning 16 games with 207 strikeouts and a 3.08 ERA.
Neither Gausman or Cabrera came close to meeting my bold predictions. I think Gausman will break out once he is traded away from Baltimore.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez is old, but he shows he still has one more good year in him hitting .260 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI playing some third base, first base and designated hitter.
Yankees starter Michael Pineda has a breakout season, ending the season as a top five starting pitcher, winning 18 games with a 2.78 ERA and 195 strikeouts.
Rodriguez finished the season hitting .252 with 33 home runs, 83 runs scored and 86 RBI. Winner!
Pineda didn't come close to my prediction, as he won 12 games with an ERA over 4, but he did strike out almost a batter per inning.
Young reliever Miguel Castro leads the team in saves with 24, after Brett Cecil is ineffective in May.
New Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson disappoints fantasy owners, hitting just .243 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI.
Castro did close for the Blue Jays, but that was very short-lived and now he is pitching in Colorado as he was included in the trade that brought Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto. I couldn't have been more wrong with Donaldson as he probably win the American League MVP award after hitting .298 with 41 home runs, 122 run scored and 123 RBI.
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has a Hanley Ramirez-like season hitting .310 with 27 home runs and 90 RBI, ending the season as the top fantasy shortstop.
No Red Sox starting pitcher wins 10 games, and the Red Sox finally cave in to the demands of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., dealing catching prospect Blake Swihart and pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez for Phillies ace Cole Hamels.
While Bogaerts did make strides at the plate this season, the power just isn't there yet for him. The Red Sox ended the season with three 10 game winners, but had a very disappointing season in 2015. They should have a nice rebound season in 2016.
New Rays outfielder Steven Souza underwhelms fantasy owners hitting just 254 with 12 home runs, 51 RBI and 9 stolen bases, a far cry from the 20+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases some have projected for him.
Jake Odorizzi is the Rays best starter in 2015, winning 14 games with a 3.25 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 195 innings.
Souza was a hot preseason sleeper and he did underwhelm, hitting just .225 with 16 home runs, 57 runs scored, 40 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 109 games with a strikeout rate over 34%.
Odorizzi had a nice breakout season, but he was not the Rays best starter, as Chris Archer had an even better breakout season and is now one of the best starters in the American League. Odorizzi was the Rays second best starter according to fWAR, winning 9 games with an excellent 3.35 ERA and struck out just under eight batters per nine innings.
American League Central
I have been beating this drum all offseason, and Michael Brantley makes me look good, as he disappoints hitting .265 with 9 home runs, 58 RBI and 13 stolen bases.
Indians young starter Trevor Bauer has a breakout season and the the team's best starter, winning 15 games with a 2.88 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 33 starts.
Yeah, I was wrong on Brantley, as he had another excellent season at the plate, hitting .310 with 15 home runs, 68 runs scored, 84 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 137 games.
Bauer didn't come close to a breakout season, as he still has command issues and gives up too many long balls.
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera has the worst season of his major league career, hitting .281 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI. The end of season stat line is solid, but falls short of fantasy owners' expectations.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos has a breakout season, hitting .300 with 26 home runs and 85 RBI, ending the season as the top third baseman in the American League.
I was right about Miggy having his worst season as a big leaguer. Despite hitting .338, Miggy hit just 18 home runs and drove in 76 runs.
Castellanos didn't come close to having a breakout season, but his power did improve slightly in 2015, as he hit 15 home runs and drove in 72 runs.
New designated hitter/first baseman Adam LaRoche hits 34 home runs, five more than first baseman Jose Abreu. LaRoche enjoys the change in ballparks and new lineup, driving in 94 runs to go with his 34 homers.
Micah Johnson wins the White Sox second base job and finishes the season second in the American League in stolen bases with 44.
Laroche signed with the White Sox and put up his worst season at the plate as a major leaguer, while Johnson managed just 114 plate appearances with 3 stolen bases in 2015, spending the majority of the season in AAA.
Now that I don't own him anywhere, first baseman Eric Hosmer finally has an MVP season, hitting .305 with 26 home runs, 98 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
The Royals bullpen disappoints with Kelvin Herrera leading the team in saves with 18 after Greg Holland loses the closer job in early June.
While Hosmer won't win the AL MVP award, he did improve at the plate, hitting .299 with 18 home runs, 98 runs scored and 93 RBI.
While Holland did lose the closer job, he did lead the team in saves with 32.
Outfield prospect Byron Buxton has a bust of a season hitting just .230 with 8 home runs and 12 stolen bases.
Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia hits just .238 but hits 32 home runs and drives in 84 runs, finishing in the top five in home runs in the American League.
Buxton performed well in the minors, but under-whelmed in the big leagues, hitting just .216 with 2 home runs, 16 runs scored, 6 RBI and 2 stolen bases in 133 plate appearances. Arcia wasn't much better.
American League West
Second baseman Robinson Cano has the worst year of his career, hitting just .260 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI.
Catcher Mike Zunino ends the season as the top fantasy catcher, hitting .285 with 25 home runs and 82 RBI.
Cano isn't the same hitter he was when he was in pinstripes, but he didn't come close to having the worst year of his career, as he hit .287 with 21 home runs and 79 RBI.
Yeah, that Zunino prediction was bold, eh?
Outfielder Mike Trout can't cure his strikeout problem as he leads the American League in strikeouts, striking out in 33% of his plate appearances, but still manages to hit 31 home runs and steal 34 bases.
First baseman Albert Pujols hits 30 home runs by the All Star break, and finishes the season with 44 home runs and 115 RBI.
Trout has another MVP-like season, hitting .298 with 41 home runs, 103 runs scored, 90 RBI and 11 stolen bases. He probably won't run much anymore, but the increase in power is a very nice substitute.
Pujols didn't hit 30 home runs by the All Star break, but he did hit 40 home runs and drive in 95 runs this season. I might be cheating just a little, but I will count this as a win.
Shortstop Marcus Semien has a breakout season in his first full season in the big leagues, hitting .287 with 22 home runs, 79 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
Starter Jesse Hahn is the A's best starter, winning 15 games with a 2.71 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 185 innings.
Semien had a good season at the plate, but I wouldn't call it a breakout season, as he hit .257 with 15 home runs, scored 45 runs and stole 11 bases.
Hahn had a season ending injury and wasn't closet to being the A's best starter.
I have a #mancrush on outfielder George Springer, you know that. But he exceeds even my wildest expectations, hitting .287 with 45 home runs, 120 RBI and 28 stolen bases.
Dallas Keuchel finishes the season as a top ten starter in the American League, winning 18 games with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP.
Springer missed 61 games due to a leg injury, so he didn't come close to the monster season I predicted.
Keuchel, on the other hand, will probably win the AL Cy Young award as he went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA and 216 strikeouts in 232 innings this season.
Shin-Soo Choo puts up a normal Choo season, hitting .300 with 20 home runs and 22 stolen bases, and driving in 76 runs.
First baseman Prince Fielder ends the season as a top 3 AL-only first baseman, hitting .298 with 35 home runs and 110 RBI. He even adds 9 stolen bases after he shed weight in his offseason conditioning program.
After a very slow start to the season, Choo ended the season hitting .275 with 22 home runs, 92 runs scored, 82 RBI, but with just 4 stolen bases.
Fielder had a solid season at the plate, hitting .305 with 23 home runs, 96 RBI, but didn't steal a base.
To summarize, my bold predictions went 5-25, for a 17% win percentage. I have to say I am happy with that result, as bold predictions are the go against the crowd type predictions. This exercise shows you that anything can happen over a 162 game season, and I enjoy looking back at how a crazy idea/prediction actually come true.
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