Before the season began, I went on record with 10 Bold Fantasy Predictions. More a fun exercise than anything else, “bold” was defined as events that had no more than a 20 percent chance of occurring. Today I wanted to take a look back on these crazy and potentially ill-fated predictions to see which worked out and which couldn’t have been farther from reality.
Clayton Kershaw maintains a BB/9 below 2.75
Noting his “shift away from a tougher-to-control, big-breaking curve and toward a tighter pitch that he can spot more easily in the zone,” I predicted that Kershaw would keep most of his 2011 control gains (2.1 BB/9 following years of 3.6 and 4.8 BB/9). Indeed, Kershaw’s 2.5 BB/9 was very good and well within the limits of this prediction.
Danny Duffy is a Top 25 AL-only starting pitcher this year
Pitching beyond the middle of May might have helped Duffy in achieving this one. Duffy’s great stuff translated into plenty of strikeouts (9.1 K/9) in the six starts that he made, but all of those walks (5.9 BB/9) might have made it hard for him to be a Top-25 starter anyway.
Tommy Hanson makes fewer than 10 starts
Hanson experienced the worst season of his major-league career in 2012, but he made 31 starts. The prediction was wrong, but I’m happy I stayed away from him.
Grant Balfour leads the AL in saves
It was an absolutely crazy year for closers. By May, the number of closers who had lost their jobs had already exceeded the levels we’ve seen over the past decade—not outpaced, actually exceeded entire seasons. Balfour ultimately wound up 10th in the AL with 24 saves, losing the closer’s job in May but taking it back in August, picking up 16 saves between August 11 and the end of the season. His overall numbers were excellent; it’s just a shame he had a couple of rough outings early that bumped him from the ninth inning for so long.
Javy Guerra notches 15 more saves than Kenley Jansen
Again, crazy year for saves. Usually, incumbent closers are much stronger investments than they were this year—even ones as bad as Guerra. He wound up saving just eight games to Jansen’s 25.
Yu Darvish will be a Top 5 AL-only starting pitcher
The spirit of this prediction worked out—Darvish was an excellent pitcher this year—but he wound up as just the 12th-most valuable AL-only starter, according to our PFM. Had his 3.90 ERA been closer to his 3.29 FIP or 3.52 xFIP, he might have approached the top five.
Raul Ibanez hits 30 home runs in 2012
Similar to the Darvish prediction, the sentiment was right; Ibanez just didn’t reach the heights predicted. But that’s the nature of this exercise, to really push limits and try to find something that’s conceivable but not too obvious or likely. Ibanez wound up hitting 19 home runs in just 425 at-bats, so anyone who drafted him surely got their money’s worth.
Yoenis Cespedes spends a portion of the year at Triple-A
This was an enormous miss (unless you want to give me credit for his three rehab games). We had some reason to believe Cespedes would be good, but there were also a lot of question marks. It turns out his plate discipline was much better than expected, and his power and speed were exactly as good as expected. Very good fantasy season for the rookie.
Add everything up, and we wind up with two hits and eight misses: a 20 percent success rate. That’s exactly what I was going for when coming up with these. It would have been nice to do a little better than that, but I guess my handicapping skills are calibrated pretty well.