Opening the previous year’s bold predictions is a bit like opening a time capsule. Will we find that we accurately represented the things that were truly important to us? Or a pair of Reebok pumps and a Milli Vanilli cassette?
I have found the exercise useful as a way to “test” and refine my draft process each year. With the information I had at the time, would I make the same decision or can I identify bias in my approach? Let’s find out together!
1. Mike Trout is a top 3 player
He’s not the worst pick we’ll review (which should tell you something about how they’ll fare), but Trout finished 29th in Razzball player rankings at the end of the season. Ultimately this was a gamble that Trout was as close to as good a batsman as he usually was, and he was. Unfortunately for fantasy teams, Trout runs absolutely no more and his team’s performance behind him prevents flashy runs and RBI numbers. I would expect largely the same next year.
0 for 1
2. Amed Rosario goes .275/20/20
Near, more or less! Rosario hit .283 with 18 stolen bases. Rosario in the second half of 2021 was hitting more volleys and had a power surge, so I was counting on that carry. Ultimately, though, Rosario hit 11 home runs, exactly the same as his 2021 number in nearly 100 more appearances. However, Rosario is 26 and his floor is a good source of media and steals. I wouldn’t mind picking him as central bench and see if that power develops at some point next season.
0 for 2
3. Fewer than five pitchers record 15 or more wins
I’ve predicted a spike in wins in the last couple of seasons now, and it hasn’t happened, but the trends still seem to be going in that direction. This year, 11 pitchers have reached the 15-hit mark, which is far more than five (math), but it’s also the second fewest in baseball history (2021 actually set the record). Either way, with the arrival of the field clock and (possibly) more balls in play with rule changes next season, expect the trend to continue.
0 for 3
4. Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich finish with under 30 home runs…combined
Another neighbor! Bellinger and Yelich finished with 33 homers combined, but I don’t think you can say they were led badly here. Yelich contributed 19 steals, but not much else for the price of him drafting, and Bellinger hit just .210. I’ve been skeptical of a rebound before, but I can’t even imagine the draft at any price in 2023 and would be happy for them if they return to pre-2021 levels.
or for 4
5. Strikeouts are back, baby!
Phew. If I had a chance, I would have thought this was it. 2021 saw the league-wide strikeout rate drop for the first time in 15 years. I thought it was a blip on the radar and we would see it come back up but now it’s down for the second year in a row! MLB wants to get away from the three true outcomes, so maybe they’re doing something or the players have simply adapted for more contact.
0 for 5
6. Carlos Rodón wins the Cy Young
I was absolutely thrilled that Rodón would arrive at a pitchers-friendly park with the best defense in the league under his belt. Rodón performed well, even as the Giants defense took an unexpected and drastic fall. Drafted as the 29th pitcher off the board on average, Rodón was the 9th most valuable pitcher in fantasy in 2022. He hasn’t been announced as a finalist for NL Cy Young, but last year I called him a top pitcher -1o and it was That.
0 for 6
7. Ke’Bryan Hayes breaks out
My prediction here was that Hayes’ bat came close to his minor league trajectory and would make him a top 5 third baseman. It’s now been almost two full seasons since Hayes’ dream debut in 2020, in which he produced under 10 homers and only average on-base skills. The breakout may still come, but I’m not preparing for it.
0 for 7
8. The Blue Jays win the AL
They didn’t. I thought Canada’s vaccination requirements to enter the country would provide the Jays with a huge advantage, and maybe they did, but the team never got off the ground and still missed the playoffs.
0 by 8
9. Joey Gallo is a top 20 player in the OBP leagues
Damn. Gallo finished as the 172nd best player in the Razzball Players Ranking for the OBP Championships. For whatever reason, Gallo never quite took off, and his on-base percentage, always strong for a player with as much swing-and-miss as Gallo’s characteristics, basically vanished. He hits more and walks less, but there are very few players who will benefit more from the shift that goes away next season than Gallo. Fair warning: I might double that forecast next year. Gallo could be a sneaky under-the-radar good that he signs to a team that plays lefty bats and the OBP fantasy leagues.
0 for 9
10. Robbie Grossman earns more than Jarred Kelenic
Yup! Sisssss! Good good good. Looks like I’m a baseball genius after all! Y’all doubted me, but who’s laughing now?
In all seriousness this wasn’t the prediction I thought it would be, but I will win. Grossman was the 587th best player in the player rankings, which is (check notes)…not great. But Kelenic in a disappointing 2022 finished 1,141st. Still, Kelenic was drafted as a top 100 hitter, and the fantasy managers who drafted him there probably regretted it. Kelenic may be a talented major league player, but he’ll let other coaches take that risk.
1 for 10
Overall I feel pretty good about my process for bold predictions. Only one was technically correct, but the spirit behind picking Carlos Rodón before he went either to avoid Bellinger or Yelich at their draft prices would likely be decisions any fantasy manager would make again in hindsight. Others, like Amed Rosario’s contribution and pitching wins decline, will likely still influence my decisions this year.
If there’s a bias here it’s probably towards the players I’ve fielded in the past (Gallo and Trout), who have had disappointing seasons. This is probably a form of loss aversion bias on my part. After all, I drafted them and knew what I was doing, didn’t I? It is not true?
For drafts this year I’ll be collapsing the “name” column of my projections spreadsheet as I’m making my initial switch to the rankings, then wondering if it’s the name value causing a shuffle as I re-rank them.
Making bold predictions is fun (at least until you have to publicly reckon with your 1 in 10!), but it’s also a worthwhile exercise in examining your own biases, which any fictional manager could benefit from a better understanding.
(Photo by Icon Sportswire) Adapted by Shawn Palmer (@PalmerDesigns_ on twitter)