Holding Myself Accountable

After reviewing my 10 bold predictions, it occurred to me that I should hold myself accountable for more of the advice I give. It took some time, but I went back through each of my posts this season, and pulled out every player I gave advice on, and reviewed whether I was right or wrong, or if the jury is still out. I covered X players and here is my judgement on each.

On July 17, I analyzed a trade of Matt Boyd for Adam Eaton. I acquired Eaton, with expectations that he would help my weakened OF and gave up Boyd, despite his potential for a secondary breakout. Eaton was awful this year. After posting OBP of at least .361 every year since 2013, he posted a .285 this year. He stopped walking and his BABIP plummeted and…that’s bad for OBP. Boyd was bad, too. I didn’t really give advice here, more just pointing out that you can use risky upside to acquire a bankable stat, but that stat turned out to not be bankable. Selling Boyd though, had I sold him for the right piece, would have been great!

On July 27, I wrote a “Hot Right Now” column looking at the most added and most auctioned players across the ottoneu universe:

  • Kwang-Hyun Kim was being auctioned as a closer, I doubted he would keep the job. He didn’t! I was right! Also, he turned out to be a surprisingly effective SP. I still don’t believe in Kim, but had you ignored me and bought him, you would have been glad you did so.
  • Ryan Helsley was also maybe the closer, I also said to stay away, and this was very right – he was not the closer and he was not good.
  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa was a popular early pick, and I was intrigued but urged a little caution, suggesting you aim to get him for <$3 as a backup catcher who plays daily. And he basically did that. He wasn’t great, but he was 17th in P/G among C with at least 50 PA. And while some of those above him played in less than half the games and a bunch more played 30-40, Kiner-Falefa played in 58.
  • I was high on Nick Burdi. He was an injury risk, given his history. He got hurt. Still think he is a stud if he is ever healthy enough to show it.
  • I was all out on Tyler Rogers. He lacked K’s and while he avoided walks, the role wasn’t clear and I just didn’t see the reason to bet. The upside just wasn’t that high given the risk. Well, he pitched quite well! He reached his upside, netting three more saves and eight more holds after I questioned acquiring him! But he still didn’t strike many out (8.68 K/9 for the year) and his 6.46 P/IP was 83rd among RP with 10+ IP. There were better options out there and staying away was the right call.
  • I was all in on Brady Singer. He posted 4.5 P/IP as a rookie. It was not always smooth, but he was super useful and there is more upside.
  • Vince Velasquez has been on these lists before and will be again, cause he flashes skills. My advice: “At some point this year, enough of my pitchers might get sick or opt out and I might get desperate and give him a start in the right matchup, but we’re not close to that point yet.” He actually posted a decent FIP, but his 3.78 P/IP still wasn’t good and he was, at best, a high risk spot starter. I actually did pick him up and use him for one start, in the right matchup, in one league where I needed K’s down the stretch. He was just what we knew he was.
  • I was very excited about Oliver Drake. Before I wrote, he had one good appearance, then he had another couple solid ones, then his velocity dropped, and he was given a week off, then his velocity dropped more and he ended up on the IL. When he came back, he was homer-prone, couldn’t get K’s, his velo went back down, and he ended up being nothing close to the top 30 RP I projected.
  • I somewhat lumped Austin Nola with Kiner-Falefa as a backup C who can play more regularly than most, due to positional flexibility. I said to buy…but also said I liked Kiner-Falefa more. So…half a win?
  • I suggested riding the Kiké Hernandez hot streak while it lasted. It didn’t last at all. If you grabbed him, played him a couple games and then moved on, you did fine.
  • I was super worried about Greg Holland’s walk rate, which was bad last year and started terribly this year. In two innings over two appearances before I wrote, he had walked two (22.2% walk rate). In 26.1 IP over 26 appearances the rest of the way, he walked only five (4.9%). I did not see that coming.
  • Jose Peraza was a hot name coming out of Summer Camp and ottoneu owners were buying in. I wasn’t. I thought the upside was a borderline startable MI and he likely wouldn’t reach that. He…didn’t.
  • Victor Caratini looked like a guy who can hit but had playing time questions. In the early going, he and Willson Contreras were both playing daily and I was intrigued. Caratini did play plenty, appearing in 44 games, but he never hit, mostly because his power just dried up.

On July 28, I looked at Colin Moran, whose three HR in four games were drawing attention. I did not expect him to maintain that torrid pace (he didn’t), but I saw some things I liked and suggested buying, saying, “I am going to gamble on Moran…If the changes stick, great. If not, I move on with little lost,” based on targeting him for <$5. As long as you moved on, you were fine. From the day I wrote through the end of the season, Moran posted a 100 wRC+, completely league average. Worthwhile gamble, as long as you moved on.

On August 18, I wrote a buy low/sell high article based on Statcast data, and covered four players:

  • As of 8/18, Evan Longoria looked washed, with a .274 wOBA, but his .392 xwOBA suggested he might be better than he looked. For the next three weeks, this looked great, as he posted a .365 wOBA. But he couldn’t maintain it and ended up at just .311 from 8/19 through the end of the season. Interestingly, his Statcast data continued to look good, but he’s now on two years with wOBAs that look bad and xwOBAs that look excellent.
  • I covered Moran here, as well. Same advice, same result.
  • Paul Goldschmidt had seemed to return to form, posting a .418 wOBA through 8/18, looking like the elite bat he had previously been. With his Statcast data looking bad, I suggested selling high and that advice was not bad. He posted a .379 wOBA the rest of the way, which is still very good, but that was the difference between a top two 1B vs. a top six 1B. If you were able to cash in Goldy to someone who thought he was an MVP candidate again, you did quite well.
  • I suggested flipping Rio Ruiz and his .336 wOBA while you could. He posted a .284 the rest of the way.

A week later, I did a deep dive into Kyle Lewis, suggesting he would fall off but still post strong OBP with solid power. But boy did he struggle down the stretch. From the day of this article on, he had a .147/.268/.284 slash line over 112 PA for a .252 wOBA. He continued to walk, but his K rate jumped from 23.1% before my article to 36.6% after. BABIP (.440) inflated his first “half” stats, and then deflated (.194) his second half. The overall line (.364 OBP was 11 HR in 59 games) looks an awful lot like what I predicted, so I think another deep dive might be warranted.

Then I looked at Hunter Renfroe, who was really struggling after being a popular pre-season pick. I saw some good signs and said he was “a very useful player about a third of the time and a guy you can plug in as needed, but no more, the rest of the time.” The rest of the way, he got only 17 PA vs. LHP, but posted a .515 wOBA in those PA. That’s too small a sample to matter, but I still think if he had a job starting against LHP, he would be useful.

I did another xStats buy low/sell high on September 4, covering five more players:

  • David Bote looked like a guy who, if he played enough, could help put you over the top in some leagues. He got 50 PA over the next three weeks, but a .185 BABIP just destroyed any hope of Bote helping you.
  • J.P. Crawford’s xwOBA suggested he might do more down the stretch, as his 3% HR/FB rate was too low for a guy with a 42nd percentile HH%. Well, his HR/FB rate nearly doubled to 5.6%, but he was still not good.
  • Tommy Pham only got 30 PA after returning, but his EV went up (and was already good) and he brought down the K% a bit. His BABIP stayed low, so nothing shows up on the surface, but I still think he’s a buy low for 2021.
  • Willy Adames had made people believers with a power outburst, but I didn’t think he could sustain it. He was awful (.235 wOBA) down the stretch, but he did maintain his power, hitting three more HR in 68 PA. He strikes out so much, he might just be BABIP dependent, but he’s another who deserves a deeper dive.
  • Brian Goodwin had been good; he looked like he might stop being good. He stopped being good.

Finally, I took a look at Josh Bell, whose season ended up looking odd. From Opening Day until 8/26, he had a .223 wOBA. From 8/27 through 9/15, he was up to .413! From 9/16 through the end of the year, he was back down to .208. Those 78 PA in the middle give me hope, but man that finish was ugly and the overall season looks bad, too.

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