As I've explained in the first of these articles, I made a few predictions over at dear, departed fantasy blog RotoHardball during the last offseason. In my
wisdom hubris, I decided to predict each team's leader in two very context-dependent counting stats: runs and runs batted in. I take responsibility for my predictions (when I can remember them), so I'm going back in time and looking at those picks, and seeing how many I got right.
So here we go. Today, we'll examine the National League! Senior circuit! Old school!
Houston Astros Predicted RBI Leader: Carlos Lee
Houston Astros Actual RBI Leader: J.D. Martinez (55)
Houston Astros Predicted R Leader: J.D. Martinez
Houston Astros Actual R Leader: Jose Altuve (80)
I was right on the money about two things here. One, I predicted that either Martinez or Lee would lead this team in RBI. Two, I predicted that the Astros would be absolutely horrible. Other than that, just ugh. Lee was, in fact, traded ... but only put up 29 RBI for the team before he left. Martinez scored a grand total of 34 runs in about 113 games, so that's really, really bad for everyone involved. But especially Astros fans.
Atlanta Braves Actual RBI Leader: Freddie Freeman (94)
Atlanta Braves Predicted R Leader: Michael Bourn
Atlanta Braves Actual R Leader: Michael Bourn (96)
Uggla wound up placing third on this team in RBI, behind both Freeman and Jason Heyward. In my original article, I was skeptical that Fredi Gonzalez would place the two younger hitters in the right spots in the lineup. Well, it turned out those concerns were unfounded. Bourn was a pretty easy pick to lead his team in runs, and Jason Heyward almost had him with 93 of his own, but at least I got that one right.
Milwaukee Brewers Predicted RBI Leader: Ryan Braun
Milwaukee Brewers Actual RBI Leader: Ryan Braun (112)
Milwaukee Brewers Predicted R Leader: Rickie Weeks
Milwaukee Brewers Actual R Leader: Ryan Braun (108)
Okay, I've got to cop to a little something here. Technically, I said that Aramis Ramirez would lead the team in RBI. But, I did write it before Braun's 50-game suspension was overturned ... and I said that if Braun were to play a full season, he'd be the choice. So that counts. Meanwhile, Rickie Weeks was almost bad as his brother, so no points to anyone there.
St. Louis Cardinals Actual RBI Leader: Matt Holliday (102)
St. Louis Cardinals Predicted R Leader: Matt Holliday
St. Louis Cardinals Actual R Leader: Matt Holliday (95)
Holy hell, I finally did it! I actually picked both the RBI and R leader correctly, because they were both named Matt Holliday. I love the fact that Holliday is so consistent, and yet appears to even be a bit underrated at this point. Carlos Beltran (and Allen Craig) got close in the RBI department, but no one was terribly close when it came to runs.
Chicago Cubs Actual RBI Leader: Alfonso Soriano (108)
Chicago Cubs Predicted R Leader: Starlin Castro
Chicago Cubs Actual R Leader: Starlin Castro (78)
The Cubs were pretty bad in 2012, but Alfonso Soriano really turned it on at the end of the season. With Anthony Rizzo only spending 368 PA in the bigs, he really wasn't competitive for top R or RBI numbers, despite a solid .349 wOBA. Meanwhile, Starlin Castro edged David DeJesus by only two runs for the team lead.
Arizona Diamondbacks Actual RBI Leader: Jason Kubel (90)
Arizona Diamondbacks Predicted R Leader: Justin Upton
Arizona Diamondbacks Actual R Leader: Justin Upton (107)
As you've probably heard, Justin Upton didn't exactly follow up his MVP-caliber 2011 with another season of confetti and smiles. Instead, he played like a *gasp* slightly-better-than-league-average right fielder. Jason Kubel, meanwhile, defied my expectations and was an everyday player for the D'backs. I guess being the fourth-best hitter on your team means you can snag 90 RBI, if you play your cards right.
Los Angeles Dodgers Actual RBI Leader: Andre Ethier (89)
Los Angeles Dodgers Predicted R Leader: Matt Kemp
Los Angeles Dodgers Actual R Leader: Andre Ethier (79)
Ugh, I should have just predicted Jack Kemp.
San Francisco Giants Actual RBI Leader: Buster Posey (103)
San Francisco Giants Predicted R Leader: Melky Cabrera
San Francisco Giants Actual R Leader: Angel Pagan (95)
Stupid, stupid Melky Cabrera. He would've walked to this, had he not been suspended. He had 84 runs scored, and even atop that weak Giants lineup, someone would have driven him in. I'm less frustrated about the 2012 NL MVP outstripping Sandoval because I'm a Buster Posey fan.
Miami Marlins Actual RBI Leader: Giancarlo Stanton (86)
Miami Marlins Predicted R Leader: Jose Reyes
Miami Marlins Actual R Leader: Jose Reyes (86)
It's not like there was really any other likely candidates, but oh yeah, I'm really on a roll now! Reyes will probably lead his new team in runs next year, and Giancarlo will probably lead the Marlins in RBI again, this time with, like 75.
New York Mets Actual RBI Leader: David Wright (93)
New York Mets Predicted R Leader: David Wright
New York Mets Actual R Leader: David Wright (91)
I'll admit it, I was overzealous in my pre-season love for Lucas Duda. And it led me down a dark, dark path in a few of my fantasy leagues. I expected David Wright to play well, but not quite as well as he did. Match that with a bit of uncertainty at the top of the order, and it's a recipe for Wright scoring wruns.
Washington Nationals Actual RBI Leader: Adam LaRoche (100)
Washington Nationals Predicted R Leader: Ryan Zimmerman
Washington Nationals Actual R Leader: Bryce Harper (98)
Adam LaRoche was the powerhouse, middle-of-the-lineup bat
everyone no one was expecting. Posting an almost-career-high wRC+ in the middle of a solid lineup equals 100 RBI, I guess. When I created these predictions, I did not expect Bryce Harper to settle comfortably at the top of the Washington lineup for most of the season, let alone have a really, really great age-19 season. And Zimmerman was still close. Do I get points for that? [Note: I do not.]
San Diego Padres Actual RBI Leader: Chase Headley (115)
San Diego Padres Predicted R Leader: Cameron Maybin
San Diego Padres Actual R Leader: Chase Headley (95)
Well, Chase Headley had a near-MVP season. Carlos Quentin missed about half of a season, but crushed the ball when he was healthy. And Cameron Maybin was, shall we say, offensively challenged? Perhaps I should quit now.
Philadelphia Phillies Predicted R Leader: Shane Victorino
Philadelphia Phillies Actual R Leader: Jimmy Rollins (102)
Not only did the Phillies disappoint this year, but both people whom I picked to lead the team in the context stats got shipped out to the NL West. Victorino was 56 R behind team-leader Rollins. Pence was only 9 RBI behind Rollins and Ruiz. Still, yikes.
Pittsburgh Pirates Actual RBI Leader: Andrew McCutchen (96)
Pittsburgh Pirates Predicted R Leader: Andrew McCutchen
Pittsburgh Pirates Actual R Leader: Andrew McCutchen (107)
Don't call it a comeback, but somehow I managed to predict that the only really great player on the Pirates would lead the team in runs and RBI! I'm back! Thanks, Cutch.
Cincinnati Reds Actual RBI Leader: Jay Bruce (99)
Cincinnati Reds Predicted R Leader: Joey Votto
Cincinnati Reds Actual R Leader: Jay Bruce (89)
Sometimes, you can be an extraordinary hitter and not quite snag those R and RBI. Even though Jay Bruce had approximately 150 plate appearances more than Joey Votto, he still might have outpaced his more talented teammate in runs scored and driven in had Votto been fully healthy all season.
Colorado Rockies Actual RBI Leader: Carlos Gonzalez (85)
Colorado Rockies Predicted R Leader: Carlos Gonzalez
Colorado Rockies Actual R Leader: Carlos Gonzalez (89)
Once again, the injury bug strikes. This time, it jacked up Troy Tulowitzki, who only played in 47 games and wasn't his usual world-beating self. If you would've asked me who my second choice would be, I would've picked Carlos Gonzalez, of course. I would not, however, have imagined that the best hitter in Troy's absence would be center fielder Dexter Fowler. He had a 123 wRC+, just a hair ahead of Gonzalez's 122 wRC+. Not too shabby!
Final score for the National League: 12 out of 32. That comes out to 37.5%, or 38% if you round up, which I will, because I need every shard of a point I can get. At least I did better than the American League leaders, right? So where did I go wrong this time? Well, I think it starts and ends with injuries. Tulowitzki, Votto, and Kemp were great fits -- before they lost valuable time due to injury. And let's not forget the guys who got shipped off to new teams here: Pence, Victorino and Carlos Lee (twice actually). There were some real stinkers here -- Duda was an over-bet and I should've known better, and Anthony Rizzo was never likely to spend the start of the season in Chicago.
So I did a little bit better than my attempt to predict the AL, but not by a whole lot. My final score comes out to 20 out of 60, which is an even 33%. Honestly, I feel like I should've done better, but I've learned that this stat is tough to predict. If there's one big takeaway for next year, it might be to avoid guys going into contract years for this particular exercise, since they may get dealt at the last minute.
Let this be a lesson to you prognosticators and forecasters: the best laid plans of anyone can go awry thanks to injury, trade, or your own stupidity. Predict at your own risk ... or at least read The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver and start making probabilistic predictions. I know I'm going to try doing that from now on.