Folks, the time is finally here for Razzball’s 2014 Bold Predictions, and I’m happy to once again be your host. This year, it gets real crazy, as you might be able to tell from the title. That’s right. Dragon Ninja’s, yo. Word is, they have lasers, but that’s okay. We have something called an Eno. Not to be confused with being emo, which I hear involves a lot of mascara and Dashboard Confessionals. Sounds dangerous. And like a girl I dated in college. Regardless, here’s the deal– Eno Sarris of FanGraphs has agreed to take on your very own lovable and quite handsome Jason Longfellow (yes, that’s my name, don’t wear it out) in a duel for the ages. His bold predictions will battle my bold predictions for COMPLETE AND UTTER SUPREMACY. Sort of like Highlander. We certainly need more Sean Connery, that’s for sure. And what’s at stake in this epic battle? Heads? Lightning swords? Shinobi’s? Naw. It’s beer. That’s right, beer. Whomever get’s the most predictions right, well, the loser has to buy him a six-pack of the beer of his choice. In this case, Eno has chosen DC Brau. Great selection, but it might come with side effects such as too much hipster and listening to Mumford. My choice? Koko Brown, because Hawai’i is the greatest thing ever known to man besides ice cream and blow jobs. Have I intrigued you? I HAVE INTRIGUED ME, because, you know, alcohol. And Sean Connery…
1. Ben Zobrist will hit more than 30 home runs.
Leading off with the player known as Zorilla. Because he totally looks like a Japanese lizard/dinosaur/sometimes robot monster that’s half, err, Zobrist I guess. I wanted to put his name in Kanji here, but it just came out as four questions marks. I guess it’s my computer’s way of telling me to put that in my Google Translator and smoke it. As you might be able to discern from my cogent assessment of what a Zorilla is, and this sentence full of eccentric verbiage, I like him this year, and here’s why. For a quick synopsis, allow me to quote me…
“Zobrist is still hitting his balls to all the same places. And, more importantly, he’s still hitting them the same distance. No injury, no degradation of skills from getting old or otherwise, which we would see in these numbers. Rather simply, he’s been unlucky. But, but, but, the BABIP doesn’t say that! True. But that’s taking all of his BABIP values into consideration… And the one stat that can help show us what’s going on is his fly ball BABIP. In 2012, it stood at .118. His career number? .111. What is it this year? .084.”
So, more home runs are coming… I’m just adding a litte bold spice here. Because italic spice is kinda bitter.
2. Will Venable will have a 30/30 season.
So what happens when I fail at a 20/40 prediction for Will Venable? A year later, I readjust, recycle, reduce, and reuse. And you guessed it, close the loop. Makes total sense. No it doesn’t. So while I dialed back the steals, I upped the ante on home runs to keep this bold. Yes I know he’s never stolen more than 29 bases. And that he’s 31, not exactly a power-peak age. And yeah, his HR/FB rate of 19.8% was 10th in the league, but his average fly ball distance was good for only 157th in the league. (A point that will come back to haunt me when you see Domonic Brown on this list.) But… he should be in-line to receive a career high in Plate Appearances, the new PetCo dimensions suit his pull-happy ways, and there is tangible improvement against left-handers. And the most important aspect, or maybe the least important aspect is– he plays for the Padres. Therefore, Venable receives ‘rational thought’ immunity with a +15 exaggeration amulet. And yes, I actually considered 40/40, but ran out of wine.
It’s not that I don’t like Wil Myers, I just really love Arcia. Frankly though, I have really weak evidence to support this prediction. Yet, here I am, predicting more of everything from Arcia vs. Myers. Am basically saying Myers will be injured at some point in the year? Or maybe Arcia will make a leap and tap into his raw power? (He did, in fact, have the 14th highest average flyball distance last season. Wil Myers came in 41st.) With both players having naturally high BABIP skills, am I saying that Arcia is able to somehow improve his contact% enough, while Myers suffers some bad luck? Or, maybe, I’m just saying all of these things… because all I have left is a kitchen sink, and it’s heavy bro. I rest my case.
4. Freddie Freeman will not reach 15 home runs and will not have a batting average higher than .270.
I don’t understand the Freddie Freeman bandwagon, and won’t respond to it. So this will be short and simple. There are three main reasons for my stance: First, Freeman hit .443/.591/.695 with RISP last season. That’s not going to happen again. Second, his 2013 BABIP sat at .371. His career BABIP?– .334. This alone wouldn’t be as damaging if not for my third and final piece of evidence– His 2013 Contact% was 77.5. His career Contact% is 77.4. So he made the same amount of contact that he’s always made, but had a nearly .40 increase in BABIP, and, as a bonus, was able to hit an outrageous triple-slash with runners in scoring position. That should be enough to tell you that regression is coming. I’m just making the prediction that the regression will be a bag full of bricks. Bricks totally come in bags, right?
5. Troy Tulowitzki will play in at least 152 games.
It’s been, what, 267 years (actually, five, but still…) since Tulo had a fully healthy season (where he played in 151 games)? I have no tangible evidence to support this prediction, and I suppose no one really does… except maybe Tulowitzki’s body. Which sounds sexual. Which then probably needs more chocolate. So I guess what I’m trying to say is it just feels like he’s due to have a fully healthy season and play in a career-high amount of games. Or miss all of them.
Asking for a bit much, aren’t we? After all, we’re talking about a guy who couldn’t hit better than .240 and had a strikeout rate around 36% in his first full season in the majors. Wait, what’s that? That’s Chris Davis I’m talking about? Yessir. And there are other eerily similar thing-a-ma-jigs going on.
|2013 Season||AVG FB Dist.||SwStr%||LD%||GB%||FB%|
|Chris Davis||308.66 (8th)||15.2||21.9||32.4||45.7|
|Chris Carter||298.60 (21st)||15.5||22.4||30.8||46.8|
They just aren’t that far apart in a lot of ways. And while Davis has the edge in HR/FB by nearly 10%, it’s not unfair to assume that Carter can close the gap. Sure, it took roughly 1,644 Plate Appearances for Chris Davis to establish gaudy season totals, so my bold prediction is that Carter can do it this right away this upcoming season. So… what type of year am I expecting, so as not to be smited by the ‘vague-threshold’ Gods? Let’s say something like a .270 average and 40 home runs. Simple, right? RIGHT.
So here’s the deal. Brown’s 2013 HR/FB rate was 19.3%, good for 11th overall. The problem with that is his average fly ball distance in 2013 was 283 feet, good for only 132nd overall, which doesn’t mix. So what makes Brown different from Venable? Well, first of all, he doesn’t play for the Padres, which is all the reason you should need. But, if you believe in different litmuses, or is it litmii? Sounds like an umbrella drink. Regardless, you should know that his 2013 K% and BB% moved in the wrong direction from 2012 and 10 of his 27 home runs were considered ‘just enough’, which means they only cleared the fence by 10 feet or less. So how do I get as low as the number 10? Well, mix in the possible power regression with inconsistent health and the propensity to being thrown on the trading block at least 20 times a year, well, you see the process of this prediction.
8. Billy Hamilton will fail to steal more than 25 bases.
There are those who believe in Billy-Ham, and there are those who don’t. I think it’s obvious where I stand on the issue, but let me just establish that I most definitely believe in ham, the gift that keeps on giving. Exactly. So, you think Billy Hamilton will change the game in ways that we can’t even fathom? Okay, so maybe no one’s saying that. But I doubt we’ll see the 100, the 75, or even the 50 stolen bases that many are hoping for. And what’s my reasoning? Well, I sorta believe that one has to actually get to first base to steal second. CRAZY, I know. It’s no secret that his offensive stats have taken a beating at each progressive level in the minors, including a paltry .308 OBP and just 28 extra-base hits in Triple-A last year. What happens if he starts the season in a prolonged slump? Does anyone know how long his leash is? They threw Shin-Soo Choo out there in CF last season, so it’s not like Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey or my grandmother would be a stretch out there (and she’s been dead for ten years). So you can dream on him. My prediction is just to wake up.
Money can’t buy you happiness. But it can buy you pleny of bacon, and that’s pretty freaking close. And so I have established my great premise. Rock solid if you ask me. And hey, you should know, I think Doug Fister is great. Both him and Corey Kluber, and to a lesser extent, Charlie Furbush have completely revolutionized the way we can use totally inappropriate wife-abuse puns. Or what the Irish call Tuesday night. Moving on before I complete SEO suicide, it all comes down to this: Do I believe in Porcello’s new found strike out rate (19.3%), part of his new set of peripherals, that led to a 2013 3.53 FIP and 3.19 xFIP? I do. And I think Porcello can do what Fister can do at half the cost. At the very least, there’s bacon involved, so we’re all winners.
I think Kole Calhoun is a fine player. I believe he’ll have a long career providing a constant dose of solid non-elite production, and I think he’s certainly an underrated player going into the 2014 season. And that’s a very sad thing, because this is how far Josh Hamilton has fallen. First, let’s recap how I warned you about the Hambone last season. And yes, I do believe our arms are this long so we can pat ourselves on the back comfortably.
“So over the course of the last 5 seasons, his O-Swing% rose by a factor of 9.1, and his Contact% plummeted by a factor of 17.3… Is he able to make adjustments? Sure, I guess. He certainly has the talent to do so. But it worries me that he hasn’t yet, and he’s had quite some time.”
So, if you didn’t figure it out, I’m saying that Josh Hamilton hasn’t either. And if he hasn’t, sure, you can try to buy him low, but I wouldn’t expect anything different from last year when he produced 73/21/79/.250/4. And you know what? You pro-rate Calhoun’s stats from last season to around 150 games, you’d be surprised how close the counting stats are to Hamilton’s. It’s a bold prediction that doesn’t really seem that bold when you delve into it. Like an onion, peeling away the layers. Or Inception.
11. Bryce Harper will hit more than 50 home runs and steal more than 30 bases.
WUT. Yeah, I know. But I wanted to try and get Harper back on the list ala Will Venable, and it just so happens that the only acceptable way is going bolder. And crazier. Well, let me tell you somethin’… when you’ve already called for a 40/25 season, this is what happens. Coincidentally, this is also what happens when you drink too much. BOURBON EVERYWHERE. ESPECIALLY IN MY MOUTH. But if you need a scientific reason why Harper can accomplish these lofty totals, I will merely state that he’s Bryce Harper. I love science.
And there it is. 11 Bold Predictions for 2014. So it was said, so it shall be done. Sorta. Err.
Want more of the Jay? Don’t we all folks? Don’t. We. All. Well, you, in fact, can have more. AMAZING. I know. You can find Jay enjoying his new dig’s running the Football side of Razz…