On March 29 of this year, just five days prior to Opening Day, I tried my hand at some bold predictions. Predicting what will happen in any given at-bat is a fool’s errand, as one can’t simply predict baseball, so taking such a long view is fraught with peril. Or, more accurately, it’s a fine way to either look incredibly smart or staggeringly stupid under the guise of hindsight. And so I throw myself at your mercy in this exercise, without any pretense - or further ado.
01. Jonathan Schoop will be a top-three second baseman.
Schoop is not in the top-three in anything among second basemen, though he is eighth in RBI and ninth in HR. He is a decidedly middle-of-the-pack player at the position, and he currently sits 13th as per ESPN’s Player Rater. Schoop is a solid regular in both the real world and fantasy, and my faith in him was not totally off-base - but this was a whiff on my part.
02. Zack Greinke will not be a top-25 starting pitcher in most formats.
Greinke currently sits outside of the top-50 in most formats, due to a 4.54 ERA and a lack of strong peripherals to make up for it. His strikeouts and WHIP are just about league-average, and, while the 12 wins are nice, that’s not enough to push him back up to his previous lofty heights. Moreover, his 140-plus IP are a hindrance in fantasy term, particularly in rotisserie leagues.
03. Trevor Story will be a top-five shortstop, and threaten 20/20.
Can I call this one a win? ESPN has Story as the 11th best shortstop right now, and he has not played since July 30. He still ranks second among shortstops in HR, 6th in RBI, 7th in R, and 11th in SB. Story was raking in July, as well, batting .288/.367/.625, with 20 R, 8 HR, 22 RBI, and 3 SB. He is largely a product of Coors Field, but that doesn’t matter to your fantasy team.
04. Aaron Sanchez will be the best starting pitcher on the Blue Jays.
Sanchez is leading the team in ERA, is second in wins and WHIP, and fourth in IP and strikeouts. He has undoubtedly been the team’s best real world pitcher, but it is a bit murkier in fantasy leagues. His lead in ERA is substantial, at nearly half a run, and he is behind J.A. Happ in wins and Marco Estrada in WHIP, so no one is clearly ahead of him. This feels like a win, too.
05. Aaron Hicks will be the Yankees best outfielder.
Ha! Hicks was the team’s best outfielder in August, but he was so awful for the first four months of the season that it doesn’t matter in the slightest. And the baseline here is so low that I am doubtful that anyone will pass Carlos Beltran, who currently plays for the Texas Rangers.
06. Hunter Strickland will lead the Giants in saves, and end up as a top-20 relief pitcher.
No, and no. Strickland is 28 saves behind Santiago Casilla for the team lead, and Derek Law has been the team’s best reliever otherwise. Strickland has been a solid reliever, but that’s about it.
07. The Angels will somehow manage to have three (or, more accurately, two and a half) worthwhile starting pitchers.
Ha, part two! Matt Shoemaker came the closest, as a top-fifty-ish fantasy starter, but his season may well be over due to a frightening head injury. Garrett Richards went down for the season in May, Nick Tropeano went down with an elbow injury on July 18, Tyler Skaggs didn’t get started until July 26, and Andrew Heaney made one start before succumbing to an elbow injury. Ouch.
08. Chris Carter will hit around .230, but will still end up as a middle-of-the-pack first baseman.
Carter is currently batting .228 with 70 R, 33 HR, and 78 RBI (and 3 SB, just for fun). Put that all together and he ranks ... twentieth among players qualifying at first. That is semi-unfair, though, as many of the players ahead of him (Daniel Murphy, Mark Trumbo, Buster Posey, and Brad Miller in particular) play elsewhere most of the time. If you squint, this is a moderate win.
09. Chris Archer will be the best pitcher in the American League, and a top-five pitcher overall.
Archer has been awesome in the second half, but that cannot make up for the 4.66 ERA and 1.44 WHIP that pervaded the first three and a half months of the season. Even now he sits at 8-17 with an average ERA (4.00) and WHIP (1.26), with only his league-leading 211 K (10.8 K/9) buoying his cause. I am still all-in on Archer going forward, but this season was a tremendous disappointment overall.
10. Kyle Gibson will have a breakout season, and rank among the top-20 pitchers in the American League.
Gibson decided to have his worst full season instead. He ranks 112th in baseball in ERA, 115th in K/9, and 118th in WHIP. I am all-out on Gibson.