It’s only fair that we return to our Bold Predictions from before this season. We checked up on them during the All-Star Break, and now we’ll see just how silly and wrong we were. That’s what happens when you try to predict baseball, after all.
Feel free to chime in with your own ideas for things we missed under the “Should’ve been”s!
Angels: Vernon Wells will be the most productive centerfielder in the league
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Well, at least we were bold. With a 76 wRC+ and an absolutely-terrible-no-matter-what-position-you-play .248 OBP (!!!!), Vernon Wells was one of the worst players in baseball. In addition to that, Vernon Wells only played center field a handful of times, the last time of which was July 19. He was mostly a corner outfielder. So yeah. We were very wrong.
Should’ve been: Peter Bourjos can actually kinda hit; they’ll finally give up on Brandon Wood.
Astros: They’ll finish behind the Pirates.
That they did – by like fifteen games. The Astros: they bad.
Should’ve been: Bud Norris puts up a nice little year; JA Happ finally stops drastically outperforming his peripherals; Mark Melancon is a more-than-competent closer after Brandon Lyon is not.
Athletics: Hideki Matsui will play 50+ games in the outfield.
Nope, less than 30. Though we’re still amused at how Matsui’s played more games in the outfield at YSIII with the Angels and Athletics than he did with the Yankees.
Should’ve been: They won’t even come close to competing; Josh Willingham is a 30/100 man or close to it; Brandon McCarthy is terrific; Rich Harden actually pitches.
Blue Jays: No one on the team will hit 30 HR.
Sorry, Mr. Bautista.
Should’ve been: Jose Bautista is even better; Aaron Hill actually gets worse from 2010; Brandon Morrow strikes out over ten batters per nine innings, and still has an ERA over 4.50.
Braves: Neither Lowe or Hudson will be better than a 105 ERA+.
Lowe finished the year with a 75 ERA+, leading baseball in losses. Ouch. Hudson finished with a 118 ERA+, which renders this prediction moot. Atlanta had a rough end to the season (NSS!), but Hudson’s not to blame.
Should’ve been: Does Dan Uggla’s entire year apply here? Jason Heyward’s? Jair Jurrjens’?
Brewers: Yovani Gallardo will outproduce Zack Greinke.
Greinke was injured the first month of the season and missed time, and then had an oddly bad start to the season due to strange BABIP issues. They both finished the season strong. Greinke had a higher ERA than Gallardo by about thirty points and pitched about thirty fewer innings, but looking at their peripherals, I can’t say Gallardo truly outproduced him. They both had great years, though.
Should’ve been: Nyjer Morgan will actually be pretty darn good for them; Casey McGehee will be terrible (and get 600 PAs!).
Cardinals: Chris Carpenter won’t be the team’s best/most valuable pitcher.
Carpenter didn’t start his year off well, but he rebounded very well in the second half, the final exclamation point a two-hit complete game shutout with eleven strikeouts to send the Cardinals to the postseason in the very last game. Kyle Lohse (!!!!!!!!!) and Jaime Garcia also had nice years, but they weren’t quite as good as Carpenter, by traditional stats or higher-level ones.
Should’ve been: So many things. The Cardinals were one of the most fascinating teams in all of baseball to me. The good years they got from certain guys, the bad or injury-plagued years they got from others, the fact that they got off to a hot start, then completely fell back, then got right back in it to make the playoffs on the last day after losing pretty spectacularly to bad teams in a few games that looked huge at the time… maybe I’ll write a post about them.
Cubs: Starlin Castro has more homers than errors.
Ten home runs. Twenty-eight errors. Nope.
Should’ve been: Aramis Ramirez will have a terrific, bounce-back season; Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will be pretty terrific.
Diamondbacks: Their bullpen won’t suck, and they’ll still lose 95+.
Their bullpen didn’t suck. As for the rest of this prediction, ummmm, well. You didn’t see that coming either!
Should’ve been: THEY’LL WIN THE FREAKING NL WEST.
Dodgers: Matt Kemp finishes top ten in NL MVP voting.
MVP voting doesn’t come out for a while, but if Kemp isn’t in the top five, it’ll be a major shocker. He might win the whole thing, and probably should.
Should’ve been: RIP Jonathan Broxton? At one point, they will attempt to use Vicente Padilla as a closer.
Giants: At some point in the year, Brian Wilson shaves off his beard.
Never happened. Was this the silliest prediction of all?
Should’ve been: Ryan Vogelsong is awesome!
Indians: Carlos Santana will out-WAR Joe Mauer.
Mauer rebounded from a rancid and terribly injured start to put up a .287/.360/.368 line. That’s not Joe Mauer, but it’s pretty good. He might not be a full-time catcher at all any more, but it’s acceptable. According to Fangraphs, Mauer was worth 1.7 WAR. Santana’s low batting average obscures his otherwise strong line: .240/.350/.458. He was worth 3.7 WAR. So yay, we were right.
Should’ve been: With Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo as near non-factors, they’d stay competitive until early August; Justin Masterson will be a terrific starter; Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indian.
Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki is not their most valuable position player.
Suzuki collapsed in 2011; his .273/.310/.337 line, good for a 92 wRC+, is by far the worst he’s ever put up. The Mariners’ hitters are almost uniformly absolutely awful, but Dustin Ackley was far more valuable than him in a little more than half the PAs. Fun with WAR! According to Fangraphs, so was Franklin Gutierrez, who had a 52 wRC+ in less than half the PAs. Defensive stats are interesting, aren’t they.
Should’ve been: They’d be okay until mid-July; Chone Figgins would be even worse; Erik Bedard would actually pitch for them, and be pretty darn good.
Marlins: Mike Stanton leads baseball in SLG.
No, but a .540 SLG this year is hardly anything to sneeze at. (Please bring back steroids?) Additionally, his .277 ISOP was third best in all of baseball, behind only Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson.
Should’ve been: They’ll be right there with the Phillies until the beginning of June, then completely collapse; Hanley Ramirez won’t OPS+ 100; Emilio Bonifacio will, while batting nearly .300.
Mets: R.A. Dickey has a sub-3.50 ERA again.
3.28, with pretty good peripherals. Oh, and he was 8-13.
Should’ve been: Jose Reyes will stay a Met the whole year; Carlos Beltran won’t, but will still lead the team in HR and RBI; Ike Davis will be absolutely terrific in limited time, and then hurt himself; and remember when Dillon Gee was 7-0, and 8-1?
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg pitches this year.
I told Jordan he was crazy for predicting this, but what do you know. I’m also the one who predicted the Vernon Wells thing, so maybe you shouldn’t listen to me.
Should’ve been: Michael Morse’s year; Chien-Ming Wang actually pitches; Jason Marquis isn’t bad!
Orioles: Mark Reynolds won’t set a new AL record for strikeouts (currently 197).
Reynolds struck out 196 times. Oh so close!
Should’ve been: JJ Hardy will hit 30 home runs; Matt Wieters, while not quite MATT WIETERS, will begin to show major improvement; Zach Britton will be an awesome hitter in interleague; Koji Uehara and Jim Johnson will be great.
Padres: Cameron Maybin will have a good year (100 OPS+ or better, with very good defense).
Maybin finished at .264/.323/.393 (and .294/.349/.457 away from Petco), which isn’t great but is a 103 OPS+ considering no one hit this year and he plays in the Grand Canyon. He wasn’t elite defensively, but he wasn’t bad either. We’re gonna say this one came true.
Should’ve been: Chase Headley will put up a slugging under .400 and will still somehow have a 120 OPS+, thanks Petco; I don’t even know because the poor Padres, not only are they bad, they are boring.
Phillies: None of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels wins 20 games.
Indeed, none of them did. Halladay came the closest with 19.
Should’ve been: Shane Victorino will be awesome; Jimmy Rollins will have one of the best years of his career; Michael Martinez will get more PAs than Domonic Brown; Vance Worley’ll be awesome; Kyle Kendrick‘ll be mostly awesome.
Pirates: They’ll come closer to .500 then they have in a while.
At the All-Star break, the Pirates were 47-43; after that, they went 25-47. Ouch. Still, their 72-90 record is their best since going 72-89 in 2004, so depending on what your definition of “a while” is, this is true, I guess.
Should’ve been: They’ll be in first place in July; they’ll acquire Brandon Wood; Pedro Alvarez will have a horrible bust of a season; Joel Hanrahan will be awesome and Jose Veras will be tolerable; Charlie Morton will be pretty good by basically aping Roy Halladay’s delivery.
Rangers: Josh Hamilton won’t lead the team in home runs.
He didn’t; Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz had more home runs than he did. And yes, Hamilton missed time with injury, but Beltre, Cruz, and Napoli all had fewer PAs than he did.
Should’ve been: Without Cliff Lee, they’ll win more games than they did last year; Ian Kinsler’s weird year; Mike Napoli’s year because whoah.
Rays: Joel Peralta will be closer by the end of the year. He’ll be good.
If by “Joel Peralta” you mean “Kyle Farnsworth” then, uh, sure. And they’re going to the playoffs. They were nine games behind the Red Sox in early September. NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANY MORE.
Should’ve been: Well, see above.
Red Sox: Adrian Gonzalez’s OBP will be below .370.
Wrong, it was .410 (good lord).
Should’ve been: Jacoby Ellsbury will hit thirty home runs; THEY WON’T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS OH MY GOD THIS REALLY HAPPENED.
Reds: Aroldis Chapman won’t hurt himself.
He already did in the first half, though he came back much stronger in the second.
Should’ve been: Drew Stubbs will lead the universe in strikeouts; Bronson Arroyo, more home runs than walks allowed; remember how during Spring Training when everyone thought the Reds just had too much pitching?
Rockies: Todd Helton has a 115 OPS+, proving he’s not finished.
A .302/.385/.466 was “only” good for a 119 OPS+, but Helton’s resurgence was one of the few bright spots for the Rockies in 2011.
Should’ve been: Giambi’s still a monster; yikes, Ian Stewart; Kevin Millwood will be a competent starting pitcher for them at some point this season.
Royals: They’ll have an All-Star not named Joakim Soria.
Soria’s year was not Soria-like from the beginning, and indeed he wasn’t their All-Star. That was, uh, Aaron Crow. Not Alex Gordon and his 139 wRC+. In related news, the way they pick All-Stars is really dumb.
Should’ve been: Alex Gordon finally breaks out; Melky Cabrera finally breaks out.
Tigers: Max Scherzer will be Detroit’s best starter.
It’s not like Scherzer was bad but uh, Verlander says no.
Should’ve been: Alex Avila will be the best catcher in the AL; Doug Fister will be the best acquisition of the trade deadline.
Twins: Nishioka will bat higher than .310.
Orrrr he’ll hit .226/.278/.249 and miss a ton of games due to injury. That could happen too.
Should’ve been: Everyone will suck and die.
White Sox: Adam Dunn WILL set the new AL record for strikeouts – while hitting fifty home runs.
With “only” 177 strikeouts, Dunn didn’t set the strikeout record, primarily because he didn’t play enough. Since 2004, the fewest PAs he’s had in any year was 632 in 2007; in 2011, he had only 496 PAs because he was so terrible and benched semi-frequently. As for the fifty home runs… um… try eleven? Swing and a miss here, though probably not as strong as poor Adam.
Should’ve been: Omar Vizquel, Mark Teahen, Brent Lillibridge, and Juan Pierre will have a better OPS than Adam Dunn.
Yankees: Mark Prior will pitch in the Bronx.
I have no idea what happened to Prior this year, though I know he pitched a couple of times in the minors and shockingly enough, spent some time on the DL there. Anyway, it didn’t happen.
Should’ve been: Bartolo Colon will pitch 165 innings of 4.00 ERA ball; Curtis Granderson, lefty-killer; AJ Burnett wouldn’t get better, and Phil Hughes would regress in a major way, and they’d win more games than they did last year.