A check in on my 2016 bold predictions at the midpoint.
1) Brandon Crawford finishes outside the top 20 at SS.
Crawford currently sits at 18th on SS player rater. The basis of my prediction was a drop in HR and RBI. So far, one of those has been correct. Crawford has 8 HR in 82 games as his HR/FB has fallen into a more justifiable level. However his RBI have remained high and he is currently on pace to approach 80+ RBI yet again. If Crawford paces at his current rates, he’s likely going to borderline top 20. Any drop off and I should have this one easily.
2) Gregory Polanco finishes as a top 15 OF.
I might actually get one right. Polanco is the 11th overall OF as of now with 12 HR, 50 R, 50 RBI, 9 SB and a .297 BA. The best part is that his numbers are all pretty sustainable. Polanco increased his BB rate up to 11.5% which is one of the drivers behind his breakout. An OBP of .374 means lots of opportunities to score runs. His .346 BABIP might be a bit high, but his 26.7% line drive rate makes me believe that number more than doubt it. HRs are a slight concern. His HR/FB rate is up to 16.7% even though his career number is only 9.2%. His fly ball distance is up from 273 to 296 which is the one thing that makes me somewhat buy the increase in HR/FB. I wouldn’t double his HR total and call that his new projection, but he should get close to 20 HR. I’d also like to see a higher success rate in steals as he’s fallen from 73% in 2015 to 64% in 2016. But that’s probably nitpicking at this point. Polanco is on pace for nearly 20/20 with healthy R and RBI totals and a good average. He has fully broken out at this point.
Status: Very Probable
3) Yan Gomes finishes as a top 3 C.
Not only is Gomes outside of the top 10, but he’s outside the top 30 at catcher. He has been brutalized by a 0.204 BABIP but his line drive rate has plummeted to 15.8% and his IFFB rate has risen to 13.3% so it’s not really surprising that his BABIP is low. It has to come up even if it doesn’t match his career 0.296 mark. The only thing keeping Gomes ownable this year has been the 8 HR. About the only good news I have on his first half is that the HRs are legit. Unlucky or not, this was a big miss. Catcher has been terrible this year, and Gomes has been one of the worst regulars.
Status: As likely as Philip Humber’s perfect game
4) Billy Hamilton steals 80+ bases.
Hamilton has dealt with a lot of injuries that have hurt his SB output but either way this one is not going to happen. With only 26 SB attempts in 70 games played, he just never had a chance at 80+ or even 70+. Prorated out over 162 games he’s only pacing for 60 attempts. Hamilton hasn’t been as bad as last year, but he’s definitely disappointed.
Status: As likely as Yadier Molina hitting an inside the park home run
5) Aaron Hicks goes 20/20
Hicks’s 2016 line: 3 HR, 18 R, 16 RBI, 0 SB, 0.203 AVG. This was a dumb prediction. I was hoping for more playing time due to either injury or Hicks flat out earning the job, but neither of those things have happened. Even when he has gotten a chance, he just hasn’t done anything with it.
Status: What an idiot
6) Either Max Scherzer or Carlos Carrasco win the Cy Young this year
This one has no chance for two reasons: 1) Clayton Kershaw pitches in the NL and 2) Carlos Carrasco missed over a month with an injury. Both Scherzer and Carrasco have been great though so at least I got the spirit of the prediction right. Scherzer has increased his K rate to 32.8% but has also seen a rise in BB rate to 6.8%. His 3.21 ERA is backed up with a 3.23 xFIP and 2.95 SIERA so he’s likely pitching close to his skill level. Scherzer is definitely an elite SP but Kershaw is unhuman. Carrasco’s been just as good on the surface with a 3.15 xFIP and 3.34 SIERA. However his K rate is down to 25.4% and he has a strand rate of 92.6% so there might be some rocky starts coming. He also has a HR/FB rate of 21.7% which certainly won’t last. He hasn’t pitched as well as his 2.56 ERA but he should be able to hang in the 3-3.25 range pretty easily.
Status: As likely as Clayton Kershaw not taking home hardware in October.
7) Mookie Betts beats either Mike Trout or Bryce Harper on the player rater this season
What if I told you that Mookie Betts is currently beating both Trout and Harper? It’s pretty surprising, I know. Betts is currently 3rd overall on the ESPN player rater behind only Altuve and Kershaw. Trout sits at an uncomfortably close 4th and Harper is all the way down at 44th. Harper certainly has the skills to catch Betts but he has a major hole to climb out of. Betts is doing a bit of everything this year with 18 HR, 71 R, 57 RBI, 13 SB and a .296 AVG. On a per game rate, he’s pacing for 35 HR, 140 R, 112 RBI and 25 SBs. That is absolutely ridiculous line. He won’t hit those numbers but 25/25 is reachable with 100+ runs and rbi. Betts is a superstar at 23 and should be a top 5-10 pick for the next decade.
Status: Very Probable
8) Xander Bogaerts hits 20 HRs
This should surprise no one but Bogaerts has yet again altered his batted ball profile adding five points to fly ball rate. He has also increased his HR/FB to 10.3% and his average flyball distance from 269 ft to 287 ft. This explains how he has already surpassed his 2015 HR total of 7. Bogaerts is still 11 HRs away from 20 with a little more than half the season finished. It will take a run for Bogaerts to reach 20 (he’s currently pacing at around 15-17) but I wouldn’t put it past him.
9) Cory Spangenberg finishes as a top 15 2B
Spangenberg has only seen the plate 53 times all season with a nagging quad injury that he suffered way back in April. 53 PA is a miniscule sample size, but he wasn’t particularly great when he played. He currently sits at 67th on the player rater with almost no shot to hit top 15. Top 40 might be a stretch considering he isn’t due back until after the break. It would have been interesting to see a full season out of Spangenberg but this prediction was pretty poor either way.
Status: What an idiot part 2
10) Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke finish outside the top 10 SPs.
With Greinke’s oblique injury he is almost certainly not going to make the top 10 for SPs. He wasn’t having a particularly dominant season but he has put together some good starts recently. His ERA is 3.62 but it’s backed up with a 3.51 FIP, 3.79 xFIP and 3.9 SIERA. That earned him a 22nd spot on the player rater and little chance to move into the top 10 even without the injury. Jake Arrieta is a different case. Arrieta has objectively been a worse pitcher this year with a poor 9.6% BB rate. His 2.33 ERA is great but he has a 2.89 FIP, 3.4 xFIP and 3.67 SIERA. There are likely darker days ahead for Arrieta if he can’t lower that BB rate. A lot of Arrieta’s player rater value is coming from his 12 wins. It always helps to be on the best team. Overall, I think there’s an outside chance at this happening but if Arrieta continues to pile up wins, he’s going to finish inside the top 10 for sure.
Status: Possible but not likely
Overall, that’s two that should hit barring injury, two that I’m still in the running for, one that has an outside shot and five that are downright awful. Not too bad.