Lately, there has been a lot of predictions and analysis on what the 2013 season will bring. Prior to the 2012 season, I made a number of predictions about what players I thought would be standouts, and things I did or did not want to see happen. Of course with the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to look back and laugh at my opinions from nearly a year ago. Some were half decent though, even if there are others that make me cringe upon reflection. I figured I’d go through them and look at my prognosticating abilities.
My biggest regret:
When I wrote this piece called For the Love of All Things…No. Just…No back in February, I had just written another post throwing out the possibility of a Travis Hafner for A.J. Burnett deal, in a swap of bad contracts. When it seemed like it could actually happen, I rebelled against it. My primary reasoning was that while durable, Burnett was coming off a terrible season in New York. He was very streaky, and at the time, it seemed like offense was a more pressing concern. I figured that even a partial season with Hafner (if you count his trips to the DL) was still worth more than Burnett. That ended up being a huge miscalculation on my part. To be fair, I had no way of knowing that Burnett would rebound in Pittsburgh as he did. However, when I think about how much the Indians’ starting pitchers struggled, and how little Hafner figured into the equation, Burnett would have provided a great amount of stability to that starting rotation. It wouldn’t have saved the Indians, but it definitely would have helped. After breaking a bone in his face off a line drive in spring training, Burnett quickly bounced back and went 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.241 WHIP and 180 strikeouts in 202.1 innings pitched. Plus the Yankees ate way more of his contract than I thought they’d be willing to do; the Pirates ended up paying a small portion of his $16.5 million salary in 2012 – $5 million, to be exact.
I had another post where I made some general predictions about players during the 2012 season. Here’s what they were, and my thoughts on them:
Breakthrough player – Jason Kipnis. This prediction wasn’t exactly going out on a limb; it seemed pretty obvious at the time that Kipnis was ready to prove he was an every-day player at the major league level. He hit .257/.335/.379 with 14 home runs and a 3.7 WAR – a figured that left him tied with Carlos Santana as the leaders in WAR on the team. I think I can say that even though this was a pretty safe prediction, it came true.
Comeback player of the year – Ubaldo Jimenez. Well, we all know this didn’t happen, and I think this prediction could have involved a high degree of wishful thinking on my part. He had solid years prior to 2010, so you just keep hoping that somehow 2011 was a fluke and he bounces back. Instead he went 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.613 WHIP in 2012, and was good for -1.0 WAR. He could probably be in the running for the worst player of the year, so at least there’s that.
Potential All Star – Carlos Santana. I’d say I was maybe about 50% accurate on this one. He was not an All Star, that honor went to Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez. Santana did have a great second half, and eventually led the team in WAR at 3.7 (tied with Kipnis, as I mentioned). I’m not sure if his concussion played a role in his struggles, but he still led the team in home runs with 18, and hit .252/.365/.420. He raised his batting average 13 points from 2011, and his OBP 14 points from his 2011 numbers.
Pleasant surprise of the year – Jason Donald. Since he had bad luck with injuries in 2011, I thought maybe he could break through and show that he was a solid backup on the infield. At my most optimistic, I thought he may steal some playing time from other people. Instead he hit .202/.246/.282 with 2 home runs and a WAR of -0.3. I was pondering his role moving forward, but then he ended up involved in the Shin-Soo Choo trade and will no longer be the Indians’ problem. At the age of 28, it’s not like you can say that he’s young and still has time to grow. I think if he was going to display any brilliance on the field, he probably would have done something by now.
Most likely to succeed off the scrap heap – Felix Pie. I had an entire series of posts last offseason that focused on all of the guys the Indians signed to minor league contracts with invites to spring training. I think there were around 19 players when all was said and done. Out of all of them, I guess that Chris Seddon had the most positive impact, even if he spent much of the season at Triple-A Columbus. He went 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.398 WHIP in 34.1 innings with the Indians this past season. He was good for some spot starts, and was also a solid left-handed long man out of the bullpen. Felix Pie didn’t make the team out of spring training, and the Indians didn’t even bother putting him in the minors. He looked fairly terrible when I saw him play in Goodyear last spring; poor at the plate and in the field. He had so much promise at one point when he was a prospect with the Cubs, I just kept hoping that he’d still find success.
Breakthrough minor leaguer – Chen-Chang Lee or LeVon Washington. This may not have been too bad of a pick on the surface; I was hoping that Washington would bounce back from his rather poor 2011 season and Lee looked fantastic out of the bullpen during spring training. Unfortunately, they both were injured and both required surgery – for Lee it was Tommy John, and for Washington it was surgery on his hip. I still have high hopes for both of them, particularly Lee once he recovers.
Player that worries me – Josh Tomlin. Something just didn’t seem right with Josh Tomlin, going back to the second half of 2011. When he was shut down for elbow soreness, that seemed to me to be a huge warning sign. Players that get shut down for soreness typically seem to be on the fast track for some kind of corrective surgery. I was hoping deep down that maybe the rest did the trick, but unfortunately it was not enough and he eventually had Tommy John surgery.
My thoughts on Hafner and Sizemore – they may have their moments, but will still spend significant time on the DL. This was pretty much dead on. I honestly thought Sizemore would have time with the major league club; I was not expecting him to develop the disk problem in his back in addition to his knee issues. Hafner was pretty much what I expected – a few trips to the DL, with some good moments while he was with the team. Overall his numbers were kind of poor in 2012 though, .228/.346/.438 with 12 home runs. At least his OBP and slugging numbers stayed pretty high.
So as you can see, I had a couple of hits, quite a few misses, and some that I sort of half-nailed. I’ll be sure to have another list for 2013 that I can judge after the season ends; I’ll probably wait until closer to spring training when the roster is a bit more final.