Just hours before the start of the MLB post-season, I am throwing it back to the start of the regular season. Back in July, we at Points Above posted our bold predictions, and now it is time to hold myself accountable for my predictions.
- Travis Shaw leads the Blue Jays in HR. Sometimes predictions, particularly bold ones that are meant to be high risk, are literally wrong but directionally right. In fact, this is often my goal with my bold predictions: go so big that it’s highly unlikely I’ll be right, but use the hyperbole to direct readers to buy or sell a guy they should buy or sell. This prediction…uh…well…it was just wrong. Not only did Shaw not lead the team in HR (Teoscar Hernandez and his 16 HR did that), he hit only six, two fewer than his projection. I rostered Shaw everywhere and it did not go well. I might be back for more punishment next year, too. His exit velocity was up, his barrel rate was up, his hard hit rate was up, his plate discipline was improved, but the results weren’t there, as his HR/FB rate did not return to previous levels.
- The top hitter, starter and reliever in ottoneu FanGraphs Points leagues this year will be guys projected outside the top 10 when the season starts. This was basically a projection that we would see chaos in a short season, and while this prediction was too bold, that chaos did, in fact, play out. While the top hitter by P/G was Juan Soto, who was projected to be third, there were plenty of surprises. Six projected top ten bats couldn’t sniff the top ten (min. 50 PA): Giancarlo Stanton (47th), Cody Bellinger (70th), Alex Bregman (81st), Christian Yelich (86th), Nolan Arenado (148th), and J.D. Martinez (179th) couldn’t sniff the top ten, while a 7th (Yordan Alvarez) would have been 11th, but only played two games. Meanwhile, the top ten included guys like Ke’Bryan Hayes and Marcell Ozuna, who no one would have projected top ten at their position, let alone overall. On the pitching front, Shane Bieber was not projected to be a top 10 P/IP SP, but finished on top. Of the top ten projected SP, only one (Degrom, 5th) was in the top 10 among SP with 25+ IP. Seven others underperformed (Tyler Glasnow, 28th; Gerritt Cole, 37th; Walker Buehler, 53rd; Max Scherzer, 57th; Jack Flaherty, 60th; Charlie Morton, 66th; Blake Snell, 70th), while two others (Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg) combined for only 11 IP. Meanwhile, the top ten includes Corbin Burnes, Drew Smyly (skewed by two relief appearances), Tony Gonsolin, Yu Darvish, Trevor Bauer, Ian Anderson, and Kenta Maeda, plus a guy we will talk about in point four below. For RP, the top dogs were not surprises. The top three RP by P/IP, minimum 10 IP, were all among the projected top 10 – Nick Anderson, Brad Hand, and Liam Hendriks. Josh Hader (12th) was right on the verge of the top 10, while the others didn’t reach expected heights (Edwin Diaz, 24th; Kenley Jansen, 30th; Aroldis Chapman, 31st; Taylor Rogers, 51st; Craig Kimbrel, 94th) or struggled and got hurt (Kirby Yates, 4.52 P/IP and only 4.1 IP). The actual top ten was a combination of breakouts (James Karinchak and Devin Williams), rebirths (Trevor Rosenthal and Zach Britton), a popular pre-season pick (Drew Pomeranz), and two pure surprises (Jesse Hahn and Jake Diekman). In total, the chaos occurred, and a lot of teams were sunk because their supposed stars (Arenado, Martinez, Yelich, Verlander, Scherzer) didn’t carry their weight.
- Ok, fine you want me to get really specific, here are the guys who will end up on top, starting with Ronald Acuña, who will be the top hitter in P/G. This one was close, as Acuña finished eighth. I thought he might get carried by a combination of BABIP and HR, and the HR came true (career high 32.6% HR/FB rate and on a 50 HR pace if he had as many PA this year as he did last). He would have needed about a .400 BABIP (his was .302) to get up to second overall. Soto put first completely out of reach.
- The top SP in P/IP will be Dinelson Lamet. Lamet finished 3rd in P/IP among SP. This is a perfect example of a case where the prediction was too bold, and therefore false, but the advice (go get Lamet) was really good.
- The top RP by P/IP will be Austin Adams. Adams took too long to get healthy and only threw four innings in three appearances. Plus, he gave up only three FB but one managed to get out of the park, leaving him with just 5.38 P/IP despite a great K-rate. I suspect he’ll have a really strong post-season for the Padres and be a hot bullpen selection in ottoneu drafts next year. I know I plan to roster him.
- Didi Gregorius is a top 10 SS in P/G. In this write up, I noted that he was 20th by average salary and 15th by projected P/G, so he was already a good target. But I expected even more. Instead, he ended up 16th in P/G. The basic advice here – he is underpaid and is a solid target – was accurate, but I expected way too much. Didi faded hard late, and I wonder if the Phillies rode him too hard given all the time off (only 82 games last year, then the COVID delay this year). He was at 5.7 P/G as of the 50 game mark, and ended up at 5.3 after playing all 60 for Philly.
- Gavin Lux is a non-factor in FanGraphs points leagues. I thought he would take a little while to get called up (first game one month in – check), and then fail to perform well quickly (.259 wOBA over the season, only .244 over his first seven games – check), and as a result never hold enough of a regular job to be relied on in fantasy (12 starts in the last three weeks of the season – check). The problem for fantasy managers now is what to do with Lux NEXT year. He still has the pedigree, he presumably gets a job, the season should be less…weird. But man, he was bad. BABIP was part of the issue, but he also didn’t hit the ball very hard and struck out too much.
- Fernando Tatis is not a top 10 SS in P/G. Let’s…uh…I didn’t really say this, did I? Tatis was third among SS. I won’t doubt him again.
- Someone hits 30 HR. Luke Voit hit 22 to lead the majors. I wish I had predicted him as MLB leader – I was a big Voit fan pre-season and have him on multiple rosters. But he didn’t come close to 30.
- Dominic Smith leads all Mets in P/G from Aug. 1 on. I said he would grab a job on August 1 and be a stud after that. I thought Yoenis Cespedes would not stay in his way and that he would outperform his competition for regular PA. And, oh yes, he did that. Smith put up 7.08 P/G over the season. Michael Conforto was a 6.88, Pete Alonso at 5.62, Brandon Nimmo at 6.07, Robinson Cano at 5.74, and Jeff McNeil at 5.34. The Mets hit. But Smith was the best. In fact, after August 1, he was even better. Before August 1, he played in only three games with only two starts, and put up 13.6 P/G (pretty great in just 8 PA), meaning that after August 1 he was at 7.22 P/G. If you look from August 5th on (August 4th was his last day as a PH), he was at 7.58 P/G over 43 games, all starts. Smith is a legit stud and the best hitter on the Mets. If the NL does not keep the DH, the Mets are going to have to decide what to do with Alonso, because Smith is better than him, offensively and defensively.
All in all, not too bad. I nailed two of these (Smith and Lux), two more I feel good about (Acuña and Lamet), another couple feel okay (Didi and the chaos in the top ten), while only four (Tatis, Shaw, Adams, and 30 HR) were just really bad.