With the season rounding out this weekend, I felt it appropriate to take a quick retrospective look at the bold (and oft foolhardy) predictions I made in 2010. This week we will look at my 10 best/most accurate fantasy suggestions. Next week, we will look at my 10 worst.
1. Alex Rios‘ true talent line
Despite a first and second half that were as different as day (.305/.361/.518, 22.7 PA/HR, 14.8 PA/SB, 6.2 PA/R, 7.0 PA/RBI) and night (.258/.301/.383, 46.0 PA/HR, 25.1 PA/SB, 8.1 PA/R, 7.1 PA/RBI), Alex Rios’ overall season line of .284/.334/.457 with 21 HR, 34 SB, 89 R and 88 RBI over 617 PA almost exactly mirrors my preseason projection of .286/.331/.443 with 20 HR, 30 SB and 85 R/RBI. Though Rios is overpaid for his real life services, his 141 ADP on Yahoo entering the season made him an undervalued asset who provided the precise kind of fantasy gold I expected overall in 2010. I hope you were able to sell high on Rios in July. I wasn’t.
2. Max Scherzerwill be a top shelf pitcher
The Dirty Scherz was one of my top sleeper picks for 2010. Yahoo ranked him as the No. 261 player overall, which should have been illegal. (I had him ranked as a top 15-20 starter.) Despite expecting a decline in strikeouts from the NL to AL move, I expected Scherzer to end the season with a 3.78 ERA with a still strong 8.62 K/9.
Though he struggled through the first five weeks of the season (and needed to spend sometime in Triple-A), I begged owners to hold on and buy low to shares of his stock. Since his return to the majors, the Dirty Scherz has been nothing short of electric. His season ERA of 3.40 is solid, but it does not do justice to his second half dominance: 97 innings of 2.23 ERA, 93:32 K/BB (2.91), 1.09 WHIP baseball.
Some have lauded Justin Verlander‘s September performance (39 IP, 13 RA/9 ER, 41:4 K/BB (10.25), 2.39 xFIP on the heels of an atypical 52 percent GB rate), but Max Scherzer (38 IP, 11 RA/ER, 39:8 K/BB, 3.2 xFIP with a 40.8 percent ground balls has been just as filthy and posted batted ball peripherals in line with his career norms. Next year may be the last year you can get the him at some discount and I’d recommend exploiting that opportunity. Scherzer has some of the best stuff in baseball and he still has upside… call him a must-keep keeper. I’ll just tell you I told ya so.
3. Jake Peavy‘s poor ERA for the White Sox
One of my bigger and bolder (and surely the most criticized) preseason projections was my utterly bearish line for Jake Peavy: a 4.22 ERA with a sub-8.5 K/9. Though Peavy was perhaps starting to find his AL groove when he went down with injury, his season ended with a 4.63 ERA with a K/9 of 7.82, winning me a pair of bets. Heading into 2011, even if Peavy proves healthy, I stand behind my plus-4.00 ERA prediction for Peavy.
4. Jayson Werth‘s true talent line
Early in the season, I argued with a friend over what Jayson Werth was worth in fantasy. That is, what was he capable of? I initially projected a .284 BA with 27 HR, 74 RBI and eight steals. I later updated that projection slightly to reflect a 25 HR/10 SB plateau. Jayson Werth has more or less assented to my prediction, posting a .292 AVG with 25 HR, 12 SB and 79 RBI thus far.
Though he remains, as I noted, an elite outfield option and a top free agent this offseason, I felt I had my thumb pretty well on his pulse this year. Heck, I was dead on with his first half numbers. (His first half was .282 AVG, 13 HR, 5 SB over 81 games). Granted, I was simultaneous way off with Ichiro (who was the other part of the Jayson Werth discussion). Can’t win them all, I suppose.
5. My ridiculously high expectations for Ryan Madson
In one of the first weeks of the baseball season, I traded Ryan Madson (then closing for the then-and-always injured and oft ineffective Brad Lidge) for Kendry Morales. Despite the fact that I had Prince Fielder and Joey Votto occupying my 1B and UTIL positions (no CI in this league) and needed Morales only as a reserve player for off days, my league was in uproar. A non-closer for “that 2009 stud” Morales? People were ready to burn me at the stake for allowing the trade (I am the commissioner of this league). Things calmed down after a few weeks: Morales went down with a freak injury that cut his season short, and Madson went on to do great things.
Madson has a 2.28 ERA, a 63:13 K/BB ratio (4.85) over 51.1 IP and a 1.05 WHIP to go along with six wins and five saves. His ERA (1.66) and WHIP (0.92) on my opponent’s team are even better (six wins, two saves, 43 IP). Considering the amount of punch Madson provided fantasy owners this season over a mere 51.1 innings with a legitimate chance at stealing the closer role (via injury or ineffectiveness or both) from Lidge, I would say that I was, more or less, right about Madson. Say what you will, he’s a damn good reliever (much more valuable and more reliable than, say, Tyler Clippard).
6. Colby Lewis is very good at pitching
Heading into the 2010 season, I was big on Colby Lewis. Thanks in part to Patrick Newman of Fangraphs bringing my attention to him sometime in January, I took a close look at Lewis’ numbers in Japan and concluded there was strong value to be found. I boldly forecast 13 W, 170 IP, 3.72 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and a 1.32 WHIP. Though Lewis has arguably succumbed to fatigue in the past few weeks (though his most recent outing was brilliant), his current season line stands at a 3.72 ERA, an 8.82 K/9 and 12 wins. I really only underestimated Lewis WHIP and innings potential. Otherwise, he came as advertised.
7. Geovany Soto is (still) very good at hitting
I have long been a big fan of Geo Soto. I bought his jersey (No. 18!) in 2007 and have not looked back since. I found plenty of reason for explanation for his 2009 sophomore struggles (power zapping injury” and poor batted ball luck) and reasons to be optimistic in 2010. Heck, I even ranted about him in an AL Waiver Wire column.
In the offseason, I boldly predicted a .270 AVG, a .370+ OBP and 20-plus homers (with upside to spare) for Soto. In fact, I went so far as to bet that he would out-homer both Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer to likely end up as the home run leader among catchers. My strong prediction of rebound proved correct and if not for Lou Piniella‘s unfounded love for Koyie Hill, Soto would probably have been the major league leader in catcher home runs.
Soto’s season ended early with a September injury, but he posted the highest walk rate (16 percent) of any major league player with 300-plus PA this year. This, combined with a ridiculous .280/.393/.497 (.385 wOBA) line resulted in +3.5 WAR over less than 400 PA. Only three catchers (Brian McCann +5.9, Joe Mauer +5.2, Victor Martinez +3.9) posted higher WARs than Soto and each received between 140 and 200 more plate appearances. The Cubs need to lock my boy up long term now, before it’s too late (and “costly”).
8. Brennan Boesch is NOT good at hitting
From day one on my job with THT, I did not believe in Brennan Boesch. Not even two months later, while he was still raking, did Boesch have me fooled. I did not peg him as anything more than a .272/.305/.425 hitter (see week 7). As apparent by his full season .261/.327/.426 line, Boesch did not disagree. Dontcha just love that feeling when everything is right in the world?
9 Gio Gonzalez is a post-hype sleeper talent with fantasy value
A lot of people scoffed at me when I tried to sell Gio Gonzalez as a legitimate pitcher and fantasy asset. A post-hype sleeper, with tons of strikeout upside, poor control and plenty of groundball induction, I saw Gio as a sub-4 ERA strikeout-capable pitcher with WHIP in the 1.30 range and wins upside. In my inaugural THT post, I predicted a 3.90 season ERA with a 8.65 K/9 and 4.40 BB/9 (1.96 K/BB).
His numbers have been better than expected (3.35 ERA, 14 wins) and though his strikeout rate (and swinging strike percentage) is lower than expected, his control has been unexpectedly better as well. His actual K/BB on the season (1.86) is quite close to what I predicted it would be (1.96). Gonzalez, along with Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Dallas Braden, is living proof that Billy Beane‘s still got that team-building talent. 2011 looks bright for Oakland fans.
10. Carl Pavano will rebound and have a useful fantasy season
Maybe it is the Luigi (from Mario Brothers) mustache, but Carl Pavano has been quite solid for the Twins this season. His ERA on the season (3.83) is good, though that number is slightly inflated by a poor September (6.18 ERA). In Week 9 of my AL Waiver Wire companion, I predicted Pavano’s talents worth a 3.80 ERA, a 6.00 K/9 and a 1.23 WHIP. His line so far is remarkably similar (3.83 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), but I seem to have oversold his whiff ability (4.79 K/9). In the offseason, I lauded Pavano as a solid SP4/5 option for fantasy. Those 17 wins are just gravy.
-Jim Thome and the White Sox 2010 DHing situation (as further established, controversially, in a THT Live post).
-Jim Edmonds probably still has some gas left in the tank.
-Kris Medlen has great stuff and needs a starting spot in the Braves’ 2010 rotation.
-Kelly Johnson is better than the Braves gave him credit for (and the Cubs should have signed him).
-Jose Bautista can keep up his power surge (see Bautista watch).
-Predicting Luke Scott‘s hot streaks (Booyah).
-My often skeptical, but endearing love of Brandon Morrow (see it fluctuate by week: week 7, week 10, week 15, week 19). He and I, like Jonathan Sanchez and I, have a love-hate relationship that goes way back.