You guessed it! With the fantasy season wrapping up, it’s time to look back. To cry over a Story (get it?) ending too soon, injured Mets aces, the complete collapse of James Shields and Shelby Miller, and bold predictions gone very wrong. I’m going to walk you through all ten of my prognostications from April and see how I did. There were some big misses and, perhaps surprisingly, some hits. It’s all in fun, I hope.
While I’ve got your attention, a quick side note. I would like to join Timothy Finnegan and Ray in paying my respects to a great player with a great attitude that was lost far too soon. Whatever you think about his on-field demeanor, he made the game more alive, more interesting, more exciting, more passionate. That will leave a big void. José Fernández will be sorely missed. All thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, the Cuban community, and all his fans in Miami.
Ok, back to the main focus of today’s post. Let’s evaluate my predictions. Note that all stats are up-to-date through September 29, so when I say “he ends the season with 13 steals,” I mean he was at that mark through that date, with only four games left in the year.
1. Neither Drew Smyly or Adam Wainwright throw more than 100 innings this season
Both easily topped the 100 inning mark, with 175.1 innings for Smyly and 192.2 for Wainwright. These two are still injury risks, with Smyly missing some time this season, but they did blow past my predictions. Neither pitched very well, though, with ERAs worse than league average. Their fantasy relevance has become tenuous at best. Still, this one was definitely wrong.
2. Carlos Correa will not finish as the #1 fantasy SS
Despite well-deserved pre-season hype and a stellar debut last season, Correa has struggled this season. He’s still been worth owning and putting up excellent numbers for a shortstop with 20 HR and 13 steals. Still, it’s not what owners were hoping for in drafting him in the first round. Playing through two different injuries may have hurt his numbers, so it is possible he will be an all-star again in 2017 and again worthy of a first round pick. This year, he finishes as the #11 shortstop on the ESPN Player Rater, so this prediction came true.
3. Jake Lamb will finish as a top 10 3B
I listened to smart people like Keith Law who were saying Lamb was primed for a breakout season and was pleasantly surprised to see him take the league by storm in the first half (0.983 OPS). The second half was a disaster (0.669) but the total season was still a success. He racked up 29 homers, 6 steals, 80 runs, 90 RBI, and very good rates. Add it all up and he’s the...#16 third baseman on the Player Rater. Ouch. I thought he would be higher. It looks like his second half swoon killed this prediction. I was looking great at the mid-way point. Sigh.
4. Tony Zych gets more than 10 saves
Injury derailed his chances before they even started. He had such promise. His 13.2 innings this year continued what he started last year, for the most part. Edwin Diaz has taken his spot as the Mariners’ flame throwing reliever with great stuff that took the closer job. Zych did come back from his injury briefly, but is now too far removed to be in the saves picture. Maybe later in 2017 if Diaz falters or gets hurt. This one is a fail.
5. Tyler White gets more than 400 ABs
This one was looking really good in April, when White was dominating the competition. He hit 0.298/0.369/0.632 from April 5 to April 22. That included 5 homers and 12 RBI. Since April 22, he hit 0.165/0.258/0.257 and was demoted on June 17. With AJ Reed’s promotion, the acquisition of Yulieski Gurriel, and the return of Evan Gattis (who was hurt in April), he lost most of his playing time opportunities and became a bench bat. It was a great ride, but unfortunately, he returned to being a AAAA player. He made it to 267 ABs.
6. Ketel Marte is a top 10 SS
This one is just as bad as the last one. He finished at #40 with the likes of Daniel Descalso and Jordy Mercer. He missed time due to a thumb injury and a bum ankle. When he was healthy, he refused to take walks, limiting his chances for runs and steals. When combined with a mediocre 0.258 average, there just aren’t enough opportunities for him to take advantage of his skills. I was counting on a strong walk rate near 10% like last year to propel him into the top 10 by helping him get to 25+ steals. This one’s another bust.
7. Byron Buxton finishes outside the top 50 outfielders
I think this guy will still be a great fantasy asset someday, but not this year. He is still overmatched against MLB pitching, despite dominating AAA pitching. His 0.217/0.271/0.399 line is one of the worst in baseball among non-pitchers. A 36% strikeout rate isn’t helping. He still might be the fastest player in baseball, but this 22-year-old isn’t quite ready to be startable every day in fantasy. For the record, he ended at #125 among OF on ESPN. His late season power surge was nice to see, but came with continued poor plate discipline so he is still not a finished product. I got this one right, even if his struggles make me sad.
8. Byung Ho Park finishes outside the top 200 hitters
I had huge reservations about him when the Twins signed him. The recent successes of Korean and Cuban imports inflated his hype to the point where it wasn’t reasonable. He does possess power, but his contact skills aren’t very good. He should have been viewed more as Chris Carter than Jose Abreu. He was quarantined in AAA after his 79 wRC+ got him demoted. He will now have to compete with Kennys Vargas and others for ABs in Minnesota, whenever he gets back up to MLB. Since he finished at #347 on the player rater among hitters, this one is another one in the win column.
9. Carlos Carrasco is a top 5 starting pitcher
I fell in love with Carrasco’s elite peripherals last season (2.66 xFIP, for one) and thought he could make the leap to the best of the best this year. Unfortunately, his strikeouts have taken a big step back, making him just a good starter. His 3.32 ERA was very good for an AL starter, but his 3.72 FIP isn’t quite as shiny. His SwStr% is also down, although still very good. This version of him is just a top-30-ish pitcher. Add to that the fact that his season ended early with a hand injury, and it was a down year for this talented righty. Another loss for my predictions.
10. Taijuan Walker finishes outside the top 50 starting pitchers
Walker was a popular sleeper in the preseason, but ultimately disappointed. He finished with a decent 7.97 K/9 and 2.48 BB/9, but his ERA, FIP, and xFIP all start with a “4”. He suffered from a bad home run problem as well. Due to a midseason injury and some very short starts (5 starts of 4 innings or fewer), he only made it to 134 innings, which isn’t great. Put that all together and he ended up at #85 on the Player Rater among starting pitchers. I don’t think he will be a popular sleeper next year, although he does still have potential and is only 24.
Final tally: Four correct predictions is a new career high for me, so I have that going for me. I’ll take it. I hope you had a successful year of fantasy baseball! Enjoy the real playoffs and check back as I start my offseason coverage. Tschus!