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Reviewing my 2017 bold predictions at the All-Star break

It’s time to check in on my 10 bold pre-season predictions and laugh at how wrong some look now. Oh, and some are actually looking good right now, so, you know, blind squirrels and all that.

88th MLB All-Star Game Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With the great void of the All-Star Break upon us, it is time to re-evaluate your rosters, propose some trades, prep for the the trade deadline, and...look back at your bold preseason predictions to see where they are at.

Here is my original post from March. I’m just going to go through each prediction one at a time and check the score.

1. Greg Holland finishes as a top 10 closer

After many were debating whether Adam Ottavino or Holland would be the closer in Colorado this year, it was not clear that Holland would even get saves, let alone be one of the best closers. But, here were are and Holland sits at #4 among RP on ESPN’s player rater. He has 28 saves and a 1.62 ERA pitching half the time in Coors Field, so, yeah, I’m feeling good about this prediction.

2. Jose Abreu finishes outside the top 12 at first base

I was low on Abreu coming into the season and saw the declining skills, especially power, and bet the under on his initial rankings. It appears I was wrong. He is the #9 1B on the player rater right now and has a 0.299 average, 16 HR, and a shocking 58 RBI in a poor lineup. I thought he would have less power and fewer R and RBI. He could still get hurt or slump enough to fall out of the top 12, so this one isn’t decided yet, but he’s been solid.

3. Jose Berrios is the most valuable Twins pitcher

At the time this seemed bold since Berrios was not on the opening day roster and was awful in his 2016 debut. I certainly didn’t expect a crazy Ervin Santana run (10 wins, 2.99 ERA), but I thought there was a chance someone other than Berrios ends up on top. Despite Santana’s clear advantage on the player rater right now, I still think Berrios ends up on top by the end of the season. He has looked good so far and Ervin is due for some major regression (4.79 xFIP), so don’t be surprised if they flip.

4. Greg Bird finishes as a top 10 first baseman

This one just comes down to health. I don’t believe Bird was ever fully healthy this season and that led to poor performance and lots of DL time. He’s on the road to recovery and could be back later this month, but far too late to crack the top 10. This one’s toast.

5. Logan Forsythe finishes ahead of Jose Peraza, Jonathan Schoop, and Ben Zobrist on ESPN’s second base player rater

Injuries strike again! Schoop has been far better than I thought he would be, so he’s way out front. Peraza and Zobrist have mostly disappointed, so they aren’t much of a challenge. Forsythe was mainly doomed by lots of missed time. He’s only up to 214 PA, but his 30 runs scored put him on pace for over 90 runs in a full season, which is what I expected in that lineup. Schoop is too far out front and Logan’s missed too much time to close the gap. I’m still a Forsythe fan, though.

6. Yoan Moncada disappoints and finishes behind Pablo Sandoval, Travis Shaw, and Danny Valencia on ESPN’s player rater at third base

This one is all kinds of messed up now. First, Moncada hasn’t debuted yet, so he’s got a 0 score on the player rater. Second, that actually puts him ahead of Sandoval (-2.92), who is basically done. Shaw has exceeded even my optimistic projections and is making the Sox regret that trade every day as they frantically search for a viable third baseman. Valencia has been ‘meh’ in near-full time action. I expect Moncada to debut in September. If he falls really hard in his second cup of coffee, he might be able to fall below Sandoval and make this prediction right, but it’s going to take some really bad play to pull it off.

7. Justin Upton finishes outside the top 35 outfielders

My first thought was, oh crap, Upton’s been much better this first half than last year and is probably making this prediction look stupid. He’s got 15 HR, 51R, 54 RBI, and 6 steals with a decent 0.265 average. He must be in the top 20 OF. Wrong. The bar has been raised for offense with the homer binge and he’s only #31 on the player rater. Technically, this prediction is currently wrong, but it’s not far off. He could easily slip out of the top 35. Heck, remember how great Eric Thames was early this season? He’s down at #36, just behind former light-hitting infielder Chris Taylor. Watch out Justin, you’re on the brink.

8. Jake Arrieta doesn’t bounce back and finishes outside the top 30 starting pitchers

When evaluating starting pitchers, I first look at xFIP, SIERA, and FIP, and then jump to K%-BB% and SwStr%. Even if a pitcher has a good K%-BB%, however, if their BB% is well above 8% or so, I tend to avoid them. Just look at Dellin Betances or Trevor Rosenthal to see what happens when strikeouts can’t overcome walk issues. Fear of poor control led to this prediction. I did not like Arrieta’s walk rate increase last year and thought it would hurt him this year as well. Here we are. Actually, his walk rate has come down some and is now just league average, so I guess I was worried about the wrong thing. His strikeouts are also up some.

So why are his ERA and FIP both over 4? Well, a 7% decrease in ground balls coupled with a 4% increase in HR/FB means way too many balls in the air and too many homers. Oh, and his BABIP went from crazy good last year (0.241) to normal (0.300). And his swinging strike rate is pretty mediocre at this point also. So, this was a long way of saying he’s just morphed into a good, not great pitcher. This is what he is now. Above average. Nothing more. He sits at #43 among SP on the player rater. Another one looking good.

9. Aaron Nola finishes as a top 15 starting pitcher

Stupid injuries! I love Nola and wanted so much for him to succeed. A month-long DL trip early in the season has kept him at only 80 innings. However, he has looked very good in that limited showing with a 3.59 ERA, 3.4 FIP, and 3.59 xFIP, with good walk and strikeout rates. It’s too late to crack the top 15 this year (for reference, Jacob deGrom sits at #15 right now), but I’ll still be high on him for next year. For those playing at home, Nola is at #41 now.

10. Jonathan Villar finishes outside the top 10 shortstops

I didn’t see anything in Villar’s profile indicating the kind of power he showed last year and his previous track record did not show sustained speed like he displayed in 2016. I expected regression in both homers and steals. That led to this prediction. What I didn’t expect is that his BABIP (over 0.340 for his career coming into the year) and batting average would also crater. His power has been OK, with 8 homers, but his steals are way down (only 16 and we are more than halfway done).

His average is a poor 0.221. Oh, and his walk rate and strikeout rates are trending in the wrong directions as well. Nothing is going right for Villar this year while everything goes right for his team. He’s at #15 on the player rater, so it will take a very good second “half” to crack the top 10.


Let’s go to the scoreboard. Mo!

pausing for fellow Millenials to get my reference

hint: Mo is a British woman in a referee shirt

Ok, here we go.

In good shape: Holland, Arrieta, Villar

Not yet, but in contention: Berrios, Moncada, Upton

Not gonna happen: Abreu, Bird, Forsythe, Nola

My record is 4/10 for a season, so I just need to pick up one of the “in contention” to match that. It could be worse. We’ll check once more in October for the final tally. Tschus!