Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles – Preseason prediction: 650 PA, 38 HR, 115 RBI, .265 AVG
Final numbers: 525 PA, 26 HR, 72 RBI, .196 AVG. One for one! It seems odd to look back at my preseason numbers for him and think that I called him a bust, but my point was that there were cheaper options that would be just as good, specifically citing Encarnacion and Jose Abreu. Plenty of people, myself included, predicted a decline for Davis, but man did he disappear. His K% jumped to 33% and lead to a sub-.200 average, and as I mentioned it would, his HR/FB% dropped from almost 30% in '13 to 22.6% this year. So what's the silver lining Nate, you optimistic, sunshiny fantasy Chupacabra? Well reader, I could actually see Davis as a decent buy-low in dynasty leagues this offseason. Yes, he looked lost at the plate much of the year, but he also got pretty unlucky. Despite spanking balls for a 24.6% line drive rate, he managed only 16 doubles and had a crazy low .242 BABIP. His contact and strikeout rates are far too poor to ever see a .286 BA again, but he's a good walker (11.4% this year) and is a lock for 30+ home runs. In a game where power is growing scarcer every year, those home runs are more valuable than you might think. He's certainly a better buy-low in OBP leagues than BA leagues, just to clarify.
Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers – Preseason prediction: 450 PA, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 10 SB, .275 AVG
Final numbers: 599 PA, 25 HR, 89 RBI, 8 SB, .287 AVG. I'll take a miss on Kemp. I was willing to miss out on him and the chance that he regains his MVP form because I was concerned of injury. Well, he played 150 games and amassed almost 600 plate appearances, so good for him. He was one of the best outfielders in the game over the course of the second half, and if he can build on that and stay healthy, we've seen he can be as good a fantasy player as anyone. I think his 30 steal seasons are behind him, but he's still got plenty of power and that Dodger lineup will give him oodles of opportunities to score and drive in runs. Good to see ya back, Matt Kemp.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox – Preseason prediction: 300 PA, 13 HR, 42 RBI, .233 AVG
Final numbers: 234 PA, 2 HR, 19 RBI, .191 AVG. Saw this one coming all the way. A hand injury isn't as much to blame on his season as his atrocious contact and strikeout rates are, which led to his demotion to AAA. I also suggested to instead wait on “upside-oozing wazoos” like Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon (I just sprained my shoulder patting myself on the back) so there's that.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Rockies – Preseason prediction: 520 PA, 11 HR, 60 RBI, .260 AVG
Final numbers: 205 PA, 10 HR, 31 RBI, .332 AVG. I can't really call this one a win since he missed so much of the season, and because he was actually really good when he played. But I also won't take him as a miss because if you listened to me and avoided him you didn't have to deal with the elderly prune juice drinker and his sporadic playing time even while he was healthy. So I suppose I'll take an incomplete and tell you that I'll be steering clear of him in the future since the Rockies have the most confusing/crowded outfield in the history of anything.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels – Preseason prediction: 600 PA, 22 HR, 75 RBI, .255 AVG
Final numbers: 381 PA, 10 HR, 44 RBI, .263 AVG. You're welcome.
A.J. Burnett, RHP, Phillies – Preseason prediction: 175 IP, 162 K, 4.38 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
Final numbers: 213.2 IP, 190 K, 4.59 ERA, 1.41 WHIP. Despite holding up for the entirety of the season, his ERA and WHIP were predictably high. While I didn't project a win/loss record, I did mention that since most leagues score wins as a category or both wins and losses in points leagues, I suggested steering clear of him for that reason, and he indeed ended up with a nasty 8-18 record.
Jered Weaver, RHP, Angels – Preseason prediction: 180 IP, 135 K, 4.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Final numbers: 213.1 IP, 169 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.21 WHIP. This one's close, but I guess I'll call it a miss just because his ERA was almost a run lower than I projected and he had 34 more K's. I'm pretty shocked he stayed healthy all year and eclipsed 200 innings, so kudos to him on a great season.
CC Sabathia, LHP, Yankees – Preseason prediction: 192 IP, 160 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
Final numbers: 46 IP, 48 K, 5.28 ERA, 1.48 WHIP. I don't care that he missed most of the season due to injury, I'm chalking up this one as a win. He was awful before he got hurt, and I did mention that his cumulative innings have finally caught up to him. If you avoided him this year like I did, you're a happy camper.
Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, Orioles – Preseason projection: 182 IP, 170 K, 4.76 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
Final numbers: 125.1 IP, 116 K, 4.81 ERA, 1.52 WHIP. Another injury-shortened season, but by God I'm counting it. Just as with CC, Ubaldo was terrible while he did pitch. I cited the fact that he is now in a homer-friendly ballpark (not to mention the dreaded AL East) and that he rarely pitches deep into games for reasons I disliked him heading into 2014. I also suggested instead taking Chris Tillman or (cough, cough) Corey Kluber.
Michael Wacha, RHP, Cardinals – Preseason prediction: 175 IP, 175 K, 3.26 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Final numbers: 107 IP, 94 K, 3.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP. I think I'll call this one a wash. His ERA and WHIP were right in line with what I expected, but a shoulder injury derailed much of his season. In my spring write-up, I said that I wasn't drafting him because he was being drafted as a #2 starter, and I was wary of innings limits and the potential for the league to catch up with him as a two-pitch pitcher. Well, in his 100+ innings, he certainly incorporated his cutter and curveball a lot more than in his rookie season, which is tremendous news for his future value. We'll see if anything changes in the offseason, but right now I get the feeling that some of the fantasy community will have forgotten about Wacha due to him missing so much time, and if there's a discount to be had for him next year I absolutely will own him everywhere.
The Verdict: 6-2. Clearly I had a better year predicting who would suck than who would outperform their ADP. Even if I'd gone 0-10 I'd be doing this again next year since I enjoy it, but I'm glad I actually did pretty well. Do you disagree with any of my personal win/loss/wash decisions? Any beefs, qualms or praises? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Also, if you wish to look back at my preseason article, here's the link: http://nastycastpod.blogspot.com/2014/03/2014-fantasy-baseball-busts.html