50 Fearless Forecasts, Reviewed

November 6, 2013
For Opening Day, I offered up fifty fearless forecasts for the 2013 baseball season: now that the season is over, it’s time to see how many of those predictions came true. Instead of listing them in order, I’ve gone ahead and sorted them by their relative accuracy. Onto the reckoning:
1. Giancarlo Stanton will out-homer his teammates. While Stanton did manage to  lead the Marlins with 24 HR’s, it was an injury-plagued season for the slugger, whose teammates managed a combined 71 dingers.
2. Justin Upton will be the least valuable player in the Atlanta outfield. While the injured Jason Heyward still managed to out-produce Justin Upton (at least according to some metrics), B.J. Upton’s catastrophically terrible year makes this an obvious ‘no.’
8.  Anthony Rizzo will break the single-season record for most homeruns by a guy with a double-z in his name. The Double-Z record remains 41 homers, held by Mike Piazza.
9. Desmond Jennings will score at least 100 runs in 2013. Nope. 82 runs scored.
10. Adam Dunn’s cumulative WAR will be the lowest among White Sox regulars. Dunn posted another impressive Three True Outcomes season, hitting 34 homers, walking 76 times, and collecting 189 strikeouts. He led the anemic White Sox offense in numerous statistical catagories, which makes this another whiff.
11. Paul Konerko will bounce back and have a Paul Konerko-esque season. As it turns out, Paul Konerko was probably the worst White Sox regular, posting an anemic .669 OPS in a hitter-friendly environment. I’m just going to leave the White Sox out of next year’s picks.
16. This whole Aroldis Chapman story isn’t finished. This prediction suggested that the Reds would try moving Chapman into the rotation in 2013. It didn’t happen, which is probably a good thing.  
17. Starlin Castro: breakout superstar. Did you know that philosopher William James coined the term ‘multiverse’? I mention this because Starlin Castro breaking into super-stardom in 2013  is reliant on  the existence of infinite parallel universes, in which all possible events occur. In our universe, Castro’s season was a wave function collapse, which killed Schrodinger’s cat.
19. Nick Markakis will get AL MVP votes. This is another one that’s easy enough to predict: Chris Davis, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado will all get MVP votes. Nick Markakis won’t.
 21. Mike Moustakas will replace Chili Davis as the answer to a trivia question. Chili Davis was the last Royals to hit 30+ homers in a season. He remains the last Royal to get halfway to Maris. Moustakis hit 12, in a bust season.
22. The Astros will lose fewer than 100 games. Ugh. The ‘Stros crossed the century mark with room to spare. I still like the direction this team is heading in.
24. Felix Hernandez will have a bad season.  Certainly, Felix will have a bad season someday. But it wasn’t 2013. Maybe if I make more predictions about the Mariners, I can get on top of things.
25. The Mariners will contend for the AL West. I guess this depends on your definition of contending. As the Mariners were in the AL West, they were, by default, contending for the AL West.
26. Either Justin Smoak or Jesus Montero will make the ‘leap’ in 2013. Over the first half, Smoak posted a .272/.372/.431 triple-slash line, which gave me brief hope I’d get this one. A .203/.294/.392 second half ruined it. Regarding Jesus Montero: I think it’s safe to say that the winners of the Montero/Pineda trade are the 28 teams who weren’t involved in the deal.  
27. The Twins will play a season of baseball in a very nice ballpark, in a beautiful city. The actual prediction was that Joe Mauer would hit 20 homers. He hit eleven. I still love Minneapolis.
32. Stephen Strasburg will win Pitching Triple Crown. Nope. Strasburg did lower his ERA from 2012 to 2013, while managing to maintain most of his peripheral numbers. He was pretty good last year, but obviously not the best pitcher in the NL.
33. Yovani Gallardo will win back the Silver Slugger. This isn’t going to happen: the NL Silver Slugger is going to Zack Greinke, who had a sterling .328 batting average this year. What’s more impressive is Greinke’s high walk rate (9.7%), and extremely low strikeout rate (13.9%), both league-leading numbers among pitchers. He also stole two bases. Travis Wood of the Cubs led the majors in HR’s, but Greinke has been the most valuable hitting pitcher in baseball in 2013.
34. Micah Owings will play at least one game as an offensive starter this year, and make at least one appearance as a pitcher.  Again, no. Micah Owings didn’t play in the majors in 2013.
35. The most valuable player on the Rockies will be Dexter Fowler. Nope. Car-Go and Tulo were the stars in Denver, as any reasonable person would’ve expected.
39. The Mets will win more games than the Yankees. This should’ve happened, but it did not. Years from now I don’t know that we’ll be any closer to understanding how a Yankees team that had Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells hitting 4-5 most of the year managed to contend in a stacked AL East.  
40. Jackie Bradley wins AL ROY. Probably won’t happen.
41. Carlos Santana will lead American American League players in HR. The second American was insurance against Toronto sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion grabbing the HR crown in the frozen north. I didn’t anticipate Chris Davis taking a shot at Roger Maris. 
42. Joey Votto will win at least two out of three legs of the NL Triple Crown. Unless walks and on-base percentage are Triple Crown catagories, this is a ‘no.’
43. Adam Eaton will win the NL ROY. No, he won’t. Jose Fernandez should win this one.  
44. Alex Gordon will lead all AL offensive players in overall WAR. Nope. Gordon’s hitting dropped off a bit in 2013, though he continued to play superlative defense.
45. Joe Nathan will lead all closers in saves. Nope. Nathan finished fourth, with 43 saves. For my own future reference, it’s a big mistake to make any predictions about closers.
46. Ernesto Frieri will have a better K-rate than Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel. Frieri averages 12.84 strikeouts per nine innings, which was behind seven pitchers in baseball, including Chapman (15.83) and Kimbrel (13.16).
47. Jeff Samardzjia and Jeremy Hellickson will each be top-20 starters in 2013. Nope and nope.
48. Cliff Lee will walk less than one batter per nine innings. While Lee did lead the majors in fewest walks per nine innings, he wasn’t under 1.00.
50. Mike Trout will hit .400. This didn’t happen. He did have a .479 on-base percentage over the second-half of last season, which is one more for the file of insane statistics that Trout has put up over two seasons.   
Here’s a list of players who went between #1 pick Stephen Strasburg and #25 pick Mike Trout in the 2009 draft: Dustin Ackley, Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez, Matt Hobgood, Zack Wheeler, Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Jacob Turner, Drew Storen, Tyler Matzek, Aaron Crow, Grant Green, Matt Purke, Alex While, Bobby Borchering, A.J. Pollack, Chad James, Shelby Miller, Chad Jenkins, Jiovanni Mier, Kyle Gibson, Jared Mitchel, and Randal Grichuk.
Here’s a list of the teams who passed on Trout: Mariners, Padres, Pirates, Orioles, Giants, Braves, Reds, Tigers, Nationals, Rockies, Royals, A’s, Rangers, Indians, D’Backs, D’Backs again, Marlins Cardinals, Blue Jays, Astros, Twins, and White Sox.
Another mind-bender: the Nationals, who grabbed Strasburg with the #1 overall pick, could’ve drafted Trout with the 10th overall pick. That would’ve given the Nationals a core of Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout. They went with Drew Storen instead.
3. Brett Gardner will lead all Yankees players in WAR in 2012. I’ve made this prediction two years running, and it hasn’t worked out yet. Gardner posted a solid 4.2 rWAR this year, but was passed by the superlative Robinson Cano. If someone other than the Yankees signs Cano in the off-season, this prediction is coming back for a third go-around.
6. The Blue Jays will lead the league in homeruns, but their cumulative runs scored will be about average for the AL. Another close-ish prediction. The Blue Jays hit 185 HR’s, which was fourth in the AL, behind Oakland (186) Seattle (188) and Baltimore (212). A healthy Jose Bautista would’ve pushed them into second, though Baltimore is well in front. The Jays scored 712 runs, which is very close to the AL average (702).
Also: Seattle was second in the AL in homeruns?! 
7. The Dodgers will be worse than you think. This actually happened, right up until mid-June. Then they were much better than every team ever.  
28. Alexi Ogando will be a top-20 starter in the American League, at least by metrics that adjust for park effects. This is a strange one to judge. Ogando was injured for much of the year, managing only 104.1 innings pitched. He posted a terrific ERA of 3.11: set against the ballpark he plays in, it’s an impressive mark, good enough for a 133 ERA+. But Ogando’s peripheral stats declined markedly: his strikeout percentage went from 25% to 16%, while his walk rate jumped from 6.5% to 9.6%. As much as I enjoy watching Ogando pitch, his low ERA was luck-driven: he wasn’t a top-20 starter in the AL.
30. Julio Teheran and Kris Medlen will have a better combined year than John Smoltz and Tom Glavine in 1991. Teheran and Medlan pitched very well, tallying rWAR’s of 3.2 and 3.3 respectively. If I had said that Teheran and Medlan would’ve been better than the 1990 versions of Smoltz and Glavine, I’d  have a point here. But I went a little too wild on this one.
37. Yoenis Cespedes will eclipse Bryce Harper in at least four of the five traditional fantasy baseball categories this year. Just missed. Cespedes  beat Harper in runs, homers, and RBI, but was behind in batting average and stolen bases.
5. Paul Goldschmidt, 30/20. Soooooo close. Goldy had an MVP-caliber season, hitting 36 homers and stealing 15 bases.
23. The Tigers will not win the AL Central division. Cleveland finished a game behind Detroit. And the Royals made a fun run at the Tigers. This was close.
29. All five Tigers starters will have an ERA+ of 110 or better. Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, and Sanchez posted Adjusted ERA’s of 121, 145, 115, and 163 respectively. Rick Porcello was the odd man out, posting an ERA of 4.32 during the year. That said, if we take out Porcello’s third start of the season, a terrible outing in which he allowed 9 earned runs in 0.2 innings, Porcello’s ERA would be 3.88. Adjusted for park effects, that’d be an ERA+ of111.
31. Dom Brown will hit 30 homers, steal 10 bases. Another really close prediction: Dom Brown hit 27 homers, and stole 8 bases. Had he not missed 20 games with heel problems, there’s a good chance he would’ve crossed both lines.
49. Prince Fielder will hit fewer than 25 homeruns in 2013. Prince hit exactly 25 homeruns in 2013, a drop off that broke his trend of hitting tons of homers in odd-numbered seasons. I wonder if Fielder’s giant contract is tettering towards Pujols/Howard/Hamilton territory.
4. Boston wins the AL East. Nailed this one.  I was cautiously  optimistic about Boston’s chances this year.
12. Roy Halladay will not bounce back. Correct, sadly.
13. The Nationals will not win the NL East. Prior to the start of the season, there were more than a few people predicting that the Nationals would win 100 games. They had a late surge, but struggled for most of 2013.
14. Chase Utley will be healthy and HOFer-y. I’ll give this one a ‘yes.’ Utley led the Phillies offensive players in both measures of WAR (3.5 rWAR, 3.9 fWAR). The  131 games played and 125 OPS+ were both the best totals Utley has posted since 2009.
15. Mariano Rivera will get some Cy Young votes. We won’t know about this one for another week, but I’m confident that Mariano will get at least a couple of votes. The Cy Young Award voters get five spots on their ballots: the obvious candidates are 1. Scherzer, 2. Chris Sale, 3. Felix, and 4. Yu Darvish. Two other starters, Iwakuma and Colon are worthy candidates, but no one paid any attention to Seattle, and Colon has that pesky steroids thing going against him. Among closers, the league leader was Jim Johnson, who was pretty ineffective this year, despite those 50 saves. Greg Holland and Koji Uehara were brilliant, but it’s doubtful that they’ll get too many votes. I think Mariano will show up on a few ballots.
18. Ry-Braun gets suspended. Yep.
19. Alex Rodriguez will get suspended a bazillion games, but he'll appeal, and end up playing a key role for the Yankees in their improbably run at a Wild Card spot. This happened, too. I totally saw it coming (note: no, I didn't). 
20. The Indians will have average pitching this year. This happened, too. Cleveland pitchers notched an Adjusted ERA (ERA+) of 99, which is a point off the league average. This doesn’t mitigate the team’s terrible cartoon logo. 
36. Carlos Quentin will hit more homeruns than Ryan Howard in 2013. Yes, though barely. The San Diego brawler, in between DL stints, managed to hit 13 homeruns in 2013, two more than Ryan Howard. The spirit of this prediction is a tad off: I was expecting both players to be productive in 2013. But…a win is a win.
38. Hyun-Jin Ryu will outpitch Greinke. This depends, a little, on your source. While bb-ref  has Greinke ahead of Ryu in WAR (3.9 to 3.3), Fangraphs gives Ryu the  advantage (3.1 to 2.9). Our own Pitching Win Shares gives a slight edge to Greinke (14.6 to 13.0). Nothing conclusive. Given that a) Ryu tossed 15 more innings that Greinke, and b) this prediction set a pitcher with no major league experience against a former Cy Young winner, I think this one is a solid ‘yes.’
That’s a tally of 9 correct predictions, and 5 more that deserve half-credit.  11.5 out of 50 brings the batting average up to a respectable .230 this year.
Dave Fleming is a writer living in Wellington, New Zealand. He welcomes comments, questions, and argument about the DH here and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com. 

COMMENTS (12 Comments, most recent shown first)

And, again, your comment is true but not accurate.

;- )

Mauer's 11 homers came in 103 games. His SLG rebounded to .476 and his power was the 3rd-highest of his career.

Fleming alerted us to the idea that Joe Mauer, heading into 2013, was not becoming a punch-and-judy hitter. But let's just focus on giving him another F, right?
8:09 AM Nov 14th
Regarding #27: He actually made a real prediction after writing that. He wrote the following in his original article: "I know….bold. I’ll add a really bold prediction: Joe Mauer will hit 20 homers." Mauer, despite having another nice season, only hit 11 home runs.
10:24 PM Nov 12th
He didn't really bat .230; he was hilariously tough on himself. But … by batting .005 he would have led the blog-o-sphere in hits, seeing as everybody else is scared to go back and grade themselves. :- )

Grading #9 as a fail is -- > "true but not accurate" as they say at Boeing. It was a big insight in the first place to point out that Desmond Jennings was better than his 2012 slash line (.246 AVG without much power) … and Jennings did make a nice leap in his wRC+, from 98 to 112. That's a pretty nice wRC+ for a player of his type. Very possible that next year he'll actually score 100 runs, but in any case, I now realize that Jennings is a cool run-scorer. ::golf clap::

Many of the "fails" contain interesting insights. Many of those did manifest the ideas on the field, even if the math didn't hit the tripwire.

On this general topic, did anybody notice that Dave gave himself a fail for #27? … :- )

3:56 AM Nov 12th
Who said .230 was respectable? I bet five monkeys throwing darts at a board of predictions could get .230.
9:44 AM Nov 11th
Taosjohn, I'm not getting it. They were both better at home than on the road (which you'd expect when playing in that park) and they both had better first halves than second halves. Cuddyer's main advantage seems to be his batting average but Tulo makes up for that with his ability to hit for more power and draw more walks. Not to mention, he's a shortstop doing this. I'm trying to figure out which shortstops had a better year than Tulo and I can't come up with anyone (maybe Hanley even though he only played 86 games).
6:59 PM Nov 8th
Pale Hose

"11. Paul Konerko will bounce back and have a Paul Konerko-esque season. As it turns out, Paul Konerko was probably the worst White Sox regular, posting an anemic .669 OPS in a hitter-friendly environment. I’m just going to leave the White Sox out of next year’s picks."

I love Paulie and will miss him when he's gone, but, I left the Sox out of this year's consciousness, and am considering doing the same for next year. Someone send help.
7:50 AM Nov 8th
Izzy, I think if you compare Tulo and Cuddy's 1st half/2nd half and home/road splits you'll see why I think actual Rockie fans/observers would choose Cuddyer.

And while I don't think Cuddyer is god's gift to RF, I think there's some sort of illusion in the advanced metrics. He covers ground well, gets good jumps, doesn't drop the ball, and throws very well. Its a bit difficult to see why he gets bad numbers; though I will say the defensive positioning preferred by the Walt Weiss regime sometimes puzzles me.
9:39 PM Nov 7th
I would have no problem with giving you half-credit on the Tigers prediction EXCEPT that the Tigers cruised to the title, clinching with like a week to go. Then they happened to lose all of the meaningless games and the Indians fought like, er, tigers to make it very close indeed at the end. But truly, the Tigers won the division with ease. That the Indians made it that close in the final tally is an under-publicized fact.
11:17 PM Nov 6th
I woulda walked through walls to read #17. Awesome as always, Dave.
8:56 PM Nov 6th
taosjohn, it looks to me like Tulowitzki had a terrific year. He played 126 games (4 less than Cuddyer) and was arguably a more valuable hitter than him despite playing shortstop. Defensive metrics also really hate Cuddyer's fielding. I don't watch the Rockies so I have no clue if the metrics are missing something.
7:35 PM Nov 6th
Just a carp; I think almost anyone who watched most of the Rockies' games this year would choose Cuddyer as their 2013 MVP. Tulo missed a big chunk of games and was very tentative on defense when he came back (broken ribs,) and Cargo only made 100 starts, some of those at DH.
7:06 PM Nov 6th
Thanks, Dave. I love these articles.

There is no way I give you full credit for Greinke or half credit for the Tigers when you specifically said they wouldn't win the division.

I think your Ryan Braun prediction was most impressive followed closely by selecting the Red Sox to win the division after every pundit dismissed their chances.
6:13 PM Nov 6th
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