Preseason Predictions Versus 2017 Actual Stats
Image courtesy of Daniel MickFor each player below, I will provide the link to their prediction article as well as the statistical predictions. Below that, I will share that player’s actual 2017 statistics and some notes on the player’s season. Again, last year when I did this, I pretty much looked like an idiot. I was overly optimistic on most everyone. This year, I think that my predictions much more closely aligned with what happened.
Predictions: 390 at-bats, .228/.302/.372 (.674), 20 doubles, 0 triples, 12 home runs.
Actual Stats: 356 at-bats, .242/.333/.378 (.720), 22 doubles, 0 triples, 10 home runs.
Notes: While a .720 OPS isn’t exactly exciting, Castro’s OPS and OPS+ (93) were his best since his All Star 2013 season. His home run on the season’s final day gave him double-digit homers for the fifth straight year. According to Baseball Reference’s Similarity Scores, his #4 most similar player is none other than Tim Laudner. So, I was a little low in my prediction. I was a little shy on batting average and a little more on his solid OBP. Combined with his pitch framing stats, it was a successful first season for Castro in a Twins uniform.
Predictions: 381 at-bats, .281/.350/.404 (.754), 19 doubles, 2 triples, 9 home runs.
Actual Stats: 525 at-bats, .305/.384/.417 (.801), 36 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs.
Notes: One of the best things about the Twins 2017 was the return of Joe Mauer to near-Mauer numbers. The home runs were down a little, but he led the team in doubles with 36 which was always his forte. And, he got back above .300. Easily his best season since 2013’s concussion. Many thought I was a bit over-optimistic in predicting a .754 OPS after three straight seasons where he didn’t hit that mark. However, in 2016, he had an .801 OPS until mid-August when he hurt his quads but kept playing. We talked a lot about how he needed more days off to stay fresh and if those days off were strategically determined - meaning mostly against lefties - he could put up decent numbers. He played in 141 games and was healthy the whole season minus a quick DL stint that was coordinated with the All-Star break. His .801 OPS was 16% higher than average and he deserves to become just the third player in MLB history to earn a Gold Glove at multiple positions (Darin Erstad and Placido Polanco).
Predictions: 574 at-bats, .261/.328/.458 (.786), 37 doubles, 2 triples, 24 home runs.
Actual Stats: 617 at-bats, .269/.357/.496 (.853), 30 doubles, 4 triples, 34 home runs.
Notes: I predicted that Dozier would be given a few extra days off in 2017. I predicted he’d play 152 games, and he played in 152 games. Sure, we all assumed he’d regress a bit from his 42-homer 2016 season, he still hit 34 homers. In 2016, he was pretty well bad for the first two months of the season before taking off. In 2017, he was much more consistent through the first half before again taking off in the second half. He hit .301/.391/.587 (.978) with 21 homers in the 2nd half. My prediction for Dozier in 2017 was a bit more regression, but he kept his batting average up, improved his walk percentage and continued to produce a ton of extra- base hits. Still leading off for whatever reason, he scored over 100 runs for the fourth straight season. His OPS was 26% higher than average.
Predictions: 553 at-bats, .253/.346/.506 (.852), 32 doubles, 3 triples, 34 home runs.
Actual Stats: 424 at-bats, .264/.352/.507 (.859), 15 doubles, 2 triples, 28 home runs.
Notes: Sano was on pace to put up some fantastic season numbers until he fouled a ball off of his shin in mid-August and missed the season’s final six weeks. It limited him to just 114 games on the season. When he played, he provided power. As you can see from the numbers above, his rate stats were very close to my predictions. Had he played those final six weeks, he probably would have out-homered my prediction, though he didn’t have as many doubles as I guessed. Of course had he not missed the final six weeks, it’s very possible, maybe likely, that he would have crushed the MLB single-season strikeout record. His .859 OPS was 27% above average.
Predictions: 456 at-bats, .287/.333/.436 (.769), 23 doubles, 6 triples, 11 home runs.
Actual Stats: 488 at-bats, .256/.313/.410 (.723), 30 doubles, 3 triples, 13 home runs.
Notes: While he didn’t hit for the batting average that I thought he might, Polanco had a terrific season. Consider where he was at the end of July. He was actually benched for four games. It was really the first time in his career that he fought that kind of struggle. When he started to play again, he took off. So yeah, his 93 OPS+ isn’t that impressive for the season, but over his final 55 games, he hit .316/.377/.553 (.931) with 15 doubles and ten homers. He became the team’s third hitter and thrived in the role.
Predictions: 516 at-bats, .274/.306/.452 (.749), 29 doubles, 6 triples, 17 home runs.
Actual Stats: 542 at-bats, .290/.328/.507 (.836), 33-doubles, 2 triples, 27 home runs.
Notes: Sometimes even a little improvement goes a long ways. While you can still see that he doesn’t like to walk, it’s important to note that he walked more in 2017 than he did in 2015 and 2016 combined. In finding a way to swing at fewer pitches outside the zone, Rosario was able to contribute much more consistently throughout the year. It allowed his talent to shine through and he responded in a big way. He set career highs in doubles, homers and RBI. He was a big threat in the lineup. His platoon splits again show he was fine from both sides. His OPS was 20% above league average. Fair to say that I didn’t see this kind of breakout season coming!
Predictions: 553 at-bats, .266/.316/.463 (.779), 31 doubles, 12 triples, 18 home runs.
Actual Stats: 462 at-bats, .253/.314/.413 (.728), 14 doubles, 6 triples, 16 home runs.
Notes: Buxton’s season OPS was 6% below average which may seem disappointing until you remember how rough his start was. On April 20, he was hitting .082/.135/.122 (.257). From then on, in 125 games, he hit .274/.335/.448 (.783). Factoring in his defense and his base running, that is a remarkably valuable player. More exciting, through August 4th, he was hitting .216/.290/.309 (.598). From then on, over his final 52 games, he hit .306/.349/.560 (.909), 6-2B, 5-3B, 11-HR. If he puts those kind of numbers up, he’s an MVP candidate. He should win his first of many Gold Glove awards this season, and he went 29-30 in stolen base attempts.
Predictions: 577 at-bats, .273/.336/.458 (.794), 29 doubles, 5 triples, 18 home runs.
Actual Stats: 568 at-bats, .243/.312/.425 (.737), 32 doubles, 2 triples, 19 home runs.
Notes: Kepler’s season OPS was 4% below league average. I predicted that Kepler would take a step forward in 2017, but instead he basically stayed the same. That’s far from a bad thing for a 24-year-old. I’ll take 32 doubles and 19 home runs every day. His biggest struggle, as we all know, was a complete inability to hit left-handed pitching. He hit just .152/.213/.240 (.453) with six extra-base hits off of southpaws, and his two home runs both came late. He did hit left-handers well in his final AA season, so we can hope that he’ll make some major improvements in 2018. If not, he may be the primary right fielder in a strict platoon. Kepler has the size, strength and speed to become an all-star.
Predictions: 259 at-bats, .262/.329/.347 (.676), 13 doubles, 1 triples, 7 home runs
Actual Stats: 382 at-bats, .246/.361/.380 (.741), 22 doubles, 1 triple, 9 home runs.
Notes: While he isn’t a prototypical DH, Grossman provides value for his ability to get on base. He was well better than my predictions, though much of that involved others taking more at-bats from him. He hit for a little lower average than I expected, but he kept his on-base percentage high all season, and he provided 31 extra-base hits. His OPS was right on league average. He was obviously better when he was playing nearly every day, but had a productive all-around season. It will be interesting to see what his role will be next season.
Predictions: 466 at-bats, .242/.314/.487 (.801), 20 doubles, 1 triples, 24 home runs.
Actual Stats: Zero time in MLB.
Notes: Yeah, maybe I bought into his spring training a bit too much. Park began the season in Rochester and he wasn’t able to keep his strong spring showing going because he got hurt right away. He struggled when he returned. He ended strong, although he didn’t show the kind of power we had all hoped. It sounds as though he’ll stay in the organization again in 2018.
Predictions: 213 at-bats, .216/.295/.352 (.647), 8 doubles, 0 triples, 7 home runs.
Actual Stats: 241 at-bats, .253/.314/.444 (.758), 13 doubles, 0 triples, 11 home runs.
Notes: Vargas significantly outperformed my admittedly low expectations. At this stage, it’s clear that we’re not talking about the second coming of David Ortiz, but Vargas can have a role in the big leagues. He’s all about power potential. He’ll strike out. He won’t hit for much average. He can be a part-time DH and a pinch-hitting option, but his 2017 stats do show that there is a role for him in the big leagues. He’ll be out of options in 2018, so he’ll either have to fill that role with the Twins or potentially be lost via waivers.
Predictions versus actual. Predictions are fun because they are meaningless. They’re an opportunity for us to try to look smart, and generally we don’t go back and review them so if they’re awful, most will forget. I don’t mind being wrong about predictions because even the experts get them wrong. They’re fun for discussion before the season starts. They’re fun at the end of the season to see who performed up to expectations (or hopes) or not.
Feel free to discuss my predictions, who I was right about, and who I was wrong about. Look back at those original articles and see how others predicted these guys would do in the comments.
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