Polo Grounds

Polo Grounds

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Assessing my 2016 Predictions

So on March 30, 2016 I posted a blog (which can be found here) making 15 predictions for the upcoming 2016 season. With that season now in the books, let us take a look at those predictions and the ones I got right (yay Cubs!), and more importantly the ones I didn't get right (booo Byron Buxton).

1. Miguel Cabrera finishes the season with .330/30/100. (not quite, 0/1)

I knew at the beginning of the season that this was an ambitious goal. Basically, Miggy would have to play a full season to reach the 30/100 mark, and playing a full season while hitting over .330 is a challenge. Miggy hadn't gone .330/30/100 since 2013, but he came pretty close this season, blasting 38 home runs and driving in 108, while managing a still very good .316 batting average. Great season, but didn't quite meet the lofty prediction I made for him.

2. Byron Buxton plays a full season, shows why he is a top prospect. (nope, 0/2)

On April 24, Byron Buxton went 1/5 with 4 K's, bringing his slash line on the season to .159/.208/.289 with 0 HR, 2 RBI's and 24 K's in 45 at-bats. Buxton, understandably, was sent down to AAA at this point, where he remained for about a month until he returned on 5/31. From 5/31 until 8/5, Buxton hit .204/.257/.322 with 1 HR and 56 K's in 46 games, slightly better than his early season woes, but still less than ideal. Buxton went down to AAA again, and came up when rosters expanded in September. From 9/1 until the end of the season, however, Buxton hit .287/.357/.653(!) with 9 home runs and 38 K's in 29 games. My prediction was obviously wrong, as a "full season" was not met and his .225/.284/.430 slash line certainly isn't good, but his late season push gives some hope that the former top prospect isn't going to be a complete flame out.

3. Jonathan Schoop finishes with 25+ home runs. (yay! 1/3)

I predicted that Schoop's 16 home runs in a half season in 2015 would translate into an increased power stroke this year, and hitting toward the bottom of a loaded Orioles line-up would help him get some fastballs to hit over the wall and lo and behold, that's what happened. He barely made it, hitting exactly 25 home runs, but look for the young second basemen to continue to develop his power stroke in the future.

4. Marcus Stroman is the 2016 AL Cy Young winner. (yikes. 1/4)

Yikes.Stroman looked primed to build off of a strong postseason last year, and I felt his first full season would lead to close to 20 wins and nearly 200 strikeouts. Instead, Stroman struggled mightily against the power heavy AL east, having many of his starts against the loaded Red Sox and Orioles offenses. While he managed to pitch a full season (32 starts) he only managed a 9-10 record, a 4.37 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 166/54 K/bb ratio. Not exactly Cy Young numbers from the young righty. 7 of his 32 starts were against either the Red Sox or the Orioles, yet 36 of his 104 total runs were surrendered in those games. One positive if you are a Blue Jays fan is that Stroman had a 4.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 6.4 K/9 in the first half of the season, but managed a 3.68 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 in the second half, leading me to believe that he can build off of that and look more like the pitcher he was in the 2015 play-offs next season. 2017 Cy Young seems like a stretch, but maybe I'm just a year off.

5. Nick Castellanos finally breaks out, becomes big piece for Tigers. (yay! 2/5)

I'm going to give myself a point on this one, even though looking at his full season stats from last season to this season don't look dramatically different.
In 2015 Castellanos slashed .255/.303/.419 with 15 home runs, 73 RBI's and a 0.5 WAR in 154 games.
In 2016, Castellanos slashed .285/.331/.496 with 18 home runs, 58 RBI's and a 1.6 WAR in 110 games.
So while the home runs only increased slightly and the RBI's went down, Castellanos did manage to improve his WAR by 1.1 while playing in 44 less games, and improved his batting average 30 points, his OBP 28 points and his slugging percentage 57 points.(!) Digging more into the data, Castellanos' first half of the 2016 season looked like this:

85 games, 354 PA, 17 HR, 51 RBI's, .302/.342/.534

A wrist injury derailed Castellanos' second half, which kept his season numbers down. However, Castellanos was on pace for a 30 home run, 100 RBI season with over a .300 batting average. It's hard to say whether he would have achieved that (he only hit .217 in the 93 PA's he had in the 2nd half) but it's clear that a full season from a healthy Castellanos would have been a big step up from his 2015 numbers. If he manages to be healthy next year, I would expect to see something like .280/.340/.480 with 25 home runs and 85 RBI's. He will never be an elite fielder at 3B, but those offensive numbers paired with at least average defense should merit a 2.5 WAR.

6. Didi Gregorius hits more home runs that Alex Rodriguez. (Wow! 3/6)

""I have to have one ridiculously, comically bold prediction each year, mainly for the one time I get it right and can tell everyone I called it."" - my words when this blog was posted 3/30/16.

Hooray! I can finally say I called it. I predicted Didi's flyball % would increase which would lead to an increase # of HR, and without many internal candidates to replace him at SS, that he would get a lot of at-bats. With 597 plate appearances this year, Didi was able to launch 20 home runs on a 40.3 FB%, up from his 34% the year prior. I also predicted that A-Rod would end up losing playing time to Tex and Beltran at DH. As we all know A-Rod really limped to the finish line this year, hitting only 9 home runs in 65 games, falling 4 short of 700 for his career. His season was cut short by the Yankees who announced he would be getting cut during the season, letting him play out one more game before cutting him loose. It was a sad ending for a brilliant, but very tainted career for A-Rod. 

7. Ichiro falls just short of 3,000 hits. (nope (hooray!) 3/7)

Super glad I got this one wrong. My prediction was basically that Ichiro would hit somewhere around .260 with 200 or so at-bats, which would leave him 10-15 hits short of 3000. However, Ichiro was given 327 at-bats in 143 games, and hit .291, his best batting average since 2010. This led to 95 hits on the season, including his 3000th on August 7th. What a ride for Ichiro it has been, here's to hoping he sticks around for another year or two.

8.  Adam Laroche plays in the MLB this season. (nope, 3/8)

Back in March Adam Laroche abruptly left the White Sox organization, due to disagreements with management's insistence that he not parade his 14 year old son, Drake Laroche, around the clubhouse as much. This caused a lot of controversy, as many players felt that the GM's rules were too strict and Laroche should be allowed to hang out with his son, while others felt that bringing your son to work every single day is unnecessary (word also came out that Drake was rarely attending school, instead spending time with his dad). Anyway, at the time it seemed likely that once this blew over Laroche would catch on as a DH or left handed bench bat for a contending team, but he seemed pretty content to not return to the game, and appears to have full on retired with 255 career home runs over his 12 year career.

9. Zack Greinke is not the best SP on the Diamondbacks. (nope, 3/9)

This was basically a two part prediction that I only really got half correct. I said that Greinke would struggle with the pressure of his new contract and would not pitch nearly as well as he did in LA. His 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 101 ERA+ confirmed that - however I also expected that one of Patrick Corbin or Shelby Miller would step up and out pitch Greinke over the course of the season. That part did not come true, as both Corbin (5.15 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 85 ERA+) and Miller (6.15 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 71 ERA+) faltered this season, which along with Greinke's pedestrian season helped lead the once promising Diamondbacks to a 69-93 record and another missed playoff berth. However, Greinke statistically still looked to be the best SP on the Diamondbacks this season, making my prediction, while half-true, technically false. Bummer.

10. Carlos Rodon finishes with 200+ strikeouts. (nope, 3/10)

This prediction was based off of the fact that Rodon is capable of holding a 9.0 K/9 for a full season, so a 200 inning season would net 200 K's. However, a brief spell on the DL meant that Rodon only threw 165 innings. He did, however, strike out 168 hitters for a 9.2 K/9. Had he been able to make 32 or 33 starts, he may have had a chance. I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a few seasons over 200 K's when all is said and done.

11. Kyle Schwarber hits 40 home runs. (so close, 3/11)

I was only 40 off. An April 7th collision in the outfield cut Schwarber's season dramatically short, but the young slugger made his triumphant return in the World Series, showing the promising bat that caused many (including myself) to predict a power breakout. Here's to hoping he comes back 100% next year and makes this prediction come true, a year late.

12. AL Play-off teams: Astros, Tigers, Blue Jays. Rangers and Royals in the Wild Card.
(2/5. 5/16)

I anticipated that the Indians and Red Sox were not quite ready to make the jump into the postseason, and clearly I was wrong. The Indians surprised everyone by actually having an offense, with Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana each blasting over 30 home runs and rookie Tyler Naquin providing some oomph as well. Meanwhile the Red Sox made rebuilding look real easy, as their young core, led by Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley jr and Xander Bogaerts, mashed all season and pushed them into the play-offs. The Astros and the Tigers faded down the stretch, and injuries bit the Royals pretty hard, leaving only the Blue Jays (who actually won the wildcard) and the Rangers (who actually won the division) as my only correct choices. Better luck next year. 

13. NL Play-off teams: Giants, Cubs, Mets. Nationals and Dodgers in the Wild Card. (5/5, 10/21)

Not bad huh? So I'm giving myself credit for getting all five teams right, but in actuality the Giants and Mets played for the wildcard while the Nationals and Dodgers each won their respective divisions. Semantics right?

14. Blue Jays and Cubs play for the World Series. (1/2, 11/22)

Damn. The ALCS came down to the Indians and the Blue Jays, but strong pitching from the rotation and an MVP type performance from Andrew Miller helped the Indians advance and crushed my dreams of predicting the World Series correctly way back in March. Still, I feel good about my two World Series teams being in the championship series, and getting 1/2 ain't bad.

15. I'm gonna do it. I'm going to make this prediction. Cubs win. (12/23)

Boom. 108 years of misery finally washed away by a victory in what will go down as one of, if not the best, game seven in baseball history.

Bonus 16th prediction: Will Ferrell dresses as Harry Caray and yells "Cubs win! Cubs win!" and it becomes an internet sensation.

Haven't seen this yet, but the memes of "happy Bill Murray" and the Budweiser commercial (featuring Harry Caray) that aired right after Game 7 basically count, right?

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