2018 Bold Predictions, Revisited

November 20, 2018
 
With the MVP votes finally tallied and the chatter about the annual Hall-of-Fame vote ready to kick off, I thought it high time to revisit the bold predictions and prognostications I made at the start of the season, to see where I landed. And as a bonus, I’ll revisit some of the bold predictions of the BJOL readers, to see if any of you should get this gig next year.
 
1.             Mike Trout will have a historic season.
 
Nope. While Mike Trout’s season was very, very good, it is hard to call it historically remarkable. Sure, he posted a career-high .460 on-base percentage. And he was 22-for-24 on stolen base attempts. But he’s not even going to win the AL MVP award, which is the bare minimum for a Mike Trout Historic Season. 
 
I was really basing this prediction on Trout’s insanely low strikeout rate during spring training (it was zero, by the way. Zero percent of his spring training at-bats had ended in a strikeout.) But Trout’s regular season strikeout rate actually jumped up a little in 2018. Which is a shame, of course. Here’s hoping he can get his act together and do better in 2019. 0-for-1.
 
2.       A Braves rookie will get votes in the NL MVP balloting.
 
When I made the prediction, I said that either Albies or Acuna would get votes for the MVP. I hadn’t realized that Albies has blown through his rookie-eligibility in 2017, so this was a little bit of a typo.
 
Anyway…halfway through the year, Ozzie Albies had this prediction locked up. Coming into the All-Star break, Albies was sitting on 20 homers, 74 runs scored, and the league lead in total bases. But he cratered in the second-half, hitting just four homers in the last two months.
 
Thankfully, Albies’ decline almost perfectly paralleled the moment that Ronald Acuna decided that he wanted to put to rest all of this talk about Mike Trout being the best player in baseball. After a decent start, Acuna went bonkers over the second-half, posting a .323/.402/.625 triple-slash line while carrying Atlanta to the playoffs, where he hit the first-ever grand slam in an 0-4 count. In addition to the NL ROY, Acuna wound up received some back-of-the-ballot support in the MVP vote, netting 19 points in the vote, and finishing 12th. 1-for-2.
 
3.       Adam Eaton will lead the NL in runs scored.
 
Adam Eaton’s 2018 season, by game:
 
Game 1: 1 run scored
Game 2: 4 runs scored
Game 3: 2 runs scored
Game 4: 1 run scored
Game 5: 0 runs scored
Game 6: 2 runs scored
 
In the season’s first six games, Adam Eaton scored 10 runs, which had him on a pace to score a robust 270 runs on the season. Unfortunately, the last of those ten runs resulted in a leg injury that would take Eaton out for most of April and May, and limit him throughout the season. But for a week I had this one nailed. Ugh. 1-for-3.
 
4.       Aaron Judge gets demoted to the minors.
 
My annual pessimistic take on a Yankee didn’t pan out. Aaron Judge is legit. I am an idiot. 1-for-4.  
 
5.       The Mets will finish fourth in the NL East.
 
Ding.
 
This seems a lot less surprising in retrospect than it was at the start of the year, when the bulk of the prognostications had the Mets as the second-best team in the NL East, and a Wild Card contender. Those prognosticators looked a lot smarter than me when the Mets opened the year 11-1. Mercifully, they fell utterly and completely apart after that, spiraling to fourth place and wasting a generational season from Jacob deGrom in the process. God, they were awful. 2-for-5.
 
6.       The best infielder on the Cleveland Indians will be Jason Kipnis.
 
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaahahaahahaa…no.  
 
That did not happen, obviously. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez played like MVP’s. Jason Kipnis played like a thirty-one-year old middle infielder who was once a very underrated player, but is now rated exactly as he should be. 2-for-6.   
 
7.       Gary Sanchez will not lead AL catchers in homeruns.
 
Not only was I right on this one, but I correctly predicted the two players who would outpace Sanchez: Salvador Perez and Mike Zunino. 3-for-7.  
 
8.       Scott Schebler leads the NL in homeruns.
 
Scott Schebler hit seventeen homeruns, which wasn’t quite enough to pace the Senior Circuit. That said, if I had to take a failed prediction to re-run next year, I’d be tempted to go with this one. The dude ropes dingers, and his park helps. 3-for-8.
 
9.       Tyler Chatwood is the second-best starter on the Cubs.
 
Tyler Chatwood had a 5.30 ERA for the Cubs, which pretty much guarantees he wasn’t the second-best starter on the team. There was no silver lining in this one: he was awful all year. 3-for-9.  
 
10.   Mookie Betts hits sixty doubles. wins the AL MVP!
 
Counting four postseason doubles, Mookie came surprisingly close to this prediction, collecting an impressive 51 doubles in the 2018 baseball season. He’ll have to settle for the AL MVP and a World Series ring. Good consolation prizes, I suppose. 3-for-10.  
 
*          *          *
 
I finished .300, which is a tolerable batting line, all things considered. And my VoPB (Value over Projected Boldness) was 173.9, which is almost certainly a record.
 
So how’d the rest of you do? 
 
Reader hotstatrad predicted that the Tigers would lose 105 games. The Denizens of Detroit only managed to lose 98 games, and actually finished third in an AL Central that was a giant dumpster fire in 2018.
 
Markdiane34 correctly predicted an MVP-type season for Brewers OF Christian Yelich. Not only did Yelich have an MVP-type season, but he had an MVP-actual season. 
 
Klamb819 guessed that George Springer would pace the majors in catcher interference calls. I spent more time than I wanted to spend trying to look up catcher interference numbers for 2018, but I couldn’t find anyone. Does anyone know who led the majors in catcher’s interference calls in 2018?
 
Finally, Ventboys posted his ten predictions, which are worth going through:
 
1. Trevor Bauer will win the AL Cy Young award. This one came very close, with Bauer having a breakout season. I’d give it half-credit.
2. The Minnesota Twins will play Cleveland in the ALCS. This one was less close than the last one. 
3. Byron Buxton will become the new BJ Upton, hitting 20 homers, stealing 40 bases and striking out more than Frasier Crane at an NBA groupie party. Buxton hit zero homers, and stole five bases. He did strike out a lot, but this is a no.  
4. At least one of you yahoos will mention that BJ’s name is Melvin now. I predict that it will happen, even though I predicted that it will happen. Astonishingly, none of the readers did this.
5. The Chicago Cubs will return to the World Series and win, 4-2 over the Indians, who will then set Lake Michigan on fire. Nope.  
6. Most of you won’t get that joke. I got the joke. You don’t have enough faith in us.
7. Mike Trout will win the slash triple crown. Jose Altuve will finish second in all three categories. Nope, and nope.  
8. David Price will win 17 games and strike out 230 batters. 16 wins, 187 K’s. Half credit.  
9. The Cleveland Indians 5-man opening day rotation will combine for 1,000 strikeouts. Four of the five held up their end, but not enough to carry the 5th starter over the line.
10. The Phillies will make the playoffs. For a while they were contending for it. Slipped at the end.
 
VB finished 1-for-10 on the year. Maybe next year, Terry. 
 
*          *          *
 
Another projection I do every year is try and figure out which teams will surprise in a given baseball season.
 
This year I picked the Phillies and Braves to be the National League’s surprise teams, with the Phillies a little ahead of the Braves. Both teams did surprise for a while, but it was the Braves whose surprise status endured.
 
I’m bringing that article up not to clap myself on the back, but to make an observation that surprised me. In March, I wrote:
 
We’re in an era of Super Teams, and that takes the air out of the sails for potential upstarts. One of the criteria I look for is a losing team that has a good month or two, but if you’re playing in a league with two or three really strong teams, it’s a little more difficult to go on a sustained run. There are fewer wins to spread around: the top teams are holding most of them.
My thesis was that the presence of Super Teams in every division in baseball made it less likely for surprise teams to come to the fore. I wonder, in retrospect, if that’s correct. The Nationals didn’t win. The Cubs didn’t win. The Dodgers needed a Game 163 to win. The Indians were in a division of losers… and they won a paltry 91 games.
 
I thought that the slanted distribution of talent would make it harder for teams to surprise, but it’s possible that that slanted distribution actually makes it easier for a surprise team to happen. A lot of divisions had one good team…and if they faltered someone would have to fill the gap. There were seven Super Teams coming into 2018….it shouldn’t surprise us when a couple of them don’t live up to expectations.
 
Anyway…I picked the Oakland A’s as the surprise team in the American League, which turned out to be correct. It was a pretty good year for that article. I’m hoping to make a more official formula before next year, but I’ve been promising that for a long time, and it hasn’t happened yet. We’ll see what happens.
 
Dave Fleming is a writer living in western Virginia. He welcomes comments and questions on this site, and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 

COMMENTS (11 Comments, most recent shown first)

those
Three people so far giving Dave credit for picking Mookie Betts as AL MVP, even though Dave didn’t actually predict this.
10:11 PM Nov 26th
 
FrankD
Not too bad on predictions by you, considering how far out you went on various limbs. I commented back then that I thought the Twins might do a little better (massive failure by me) and I also predicted the the Dodgers would do worse. The Dodgers did poor early, had a worst record than 2017 but they made it to WS again, so another failure by me. Next year I'll strive to get at least one prediction right!
8:00 PM Nov 26th
 
benhurwitz
Dave's Bold Predictions (and follow-up), year in and year out, are by far my favorite non-Bill content on this site.
8:34 AM Nov 26th
 
shoewizard
Here is something Historic about Trout's season. It was his 3rd 10 WAR season. No player before him has ever had three 10 WAR seasons by age 26. Mantle, Williams, Hornsby, Ruth, & Cobb each had 2 such seasons by age 26. Trout also has most 9 war Seasons through age 26, with 5. Hornsby and Cobb had 3, Mantle and Ruth had 2. I'd say this is pretty historic actually.

bbref.com/pi/shareit/BgvGu
11:26 AM Nov 25th
 
evanecurb
Mookie's MVP is full credit. Mookie's doubles prediction is close, but wrong. Dave is 4 for 11. I've checked with the proper authorities and this score has been entered as his official score in The Official Book of Dave's Life. He can score it however he wants to, but this is the official tally.
10:32 AM Nov 22nd
 
ventboys
I agree with hotstatrat, Dave, you were too easy on me and too hard on yourself. You are getting too good at this; you are going to have to get even loonier next year.
11:02 AM Nov 21st
 
chrisbodig
You should get at least half credit for predicting Mookie's MVP even if his doubles total was a little short.. You simply didn't forecast him turning some of those doubles into taters.
10:22 AM Nov 21st
 
bearbyz
This is always one of my favorite articles of the year. Thank you.
7:12 PM Nov 20th
 
chuck
p.s. The catcher interference stat is found on BB-Reference in the baserunning/miscellaneous batting section.
5:39 PM Nov 20th
 
chuck
Klamb was right on. Springer was tied for the MLB lead in drawing catcher interference, with 4. The other two were David Freitas (Seattle) and Tommy La Stella (Cubs). Freitas managed to get 4 in just 106 PA, which seems pretty remarkable.
5:38 PM Nov 20th
 
hotstatrat
Dave, you are too hard on yourself, but too easy on us readers. That is a little patronizing. Trevor Bauer came in 6th in Cy Young votiing and you gave Ventboys a half a hit on that. David Price fell short of 17 wins by just 1 win, but 17 wins is not an outrageous number of wins whatsoever. Yet, you gave yourself no credit on the Mookie Betts prediction which was completely half right (he did win the MVP award) and, no, he didn't hit any 60 doubles, but he did set a career high and finished 2nd in the league in that hitting category. By your standards with VB, you hit .375.

(Sorry, we baseball nerds demand accuracy even when we aren't being completely serious.)
3:04 PM Nov 20th
 
 
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