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Reviewing Harris Yudin's 10 Bold Predictions for 2017

So, it makes sense that the worst fantasy season of my life coincides with my worst bold predictions. I failed to finish in the top five in any league for the first time, which I guess makes sense considering how heavily I bought into Joc Pederson and Yu Darvish— as you’ll soon find out.

I actually built some offensive juggernauts this year (Votto, Machado, Springer, Betts, Braun, Bellinger, Longoria, Andrus in a 12-teamer), but my pitching fell apart across the board. Injuries of all sorts — elbows, shoulders, obliques, pectoral muscles — plagued my rotations, leaving me to fend through the wasteland that is the waiver wire to find innings eaters throughout my leagues.

I spent months talking up Luis Severino in the chatrooms as a post-hype sleeper, but did I mention him in my article OR draft him in any of my leagues? Of course not! My proudest accomplishment this year was owning Cody Bellinger in all four leagues, actually drafting him in the three of them. Why didn’t I include him in this article?? Ugh, let’s see how I did.

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Reviewing Harris Yudin's 10 Bold Predictions for 2017

1. Jarrod Dyson leads MLB in stolen bases

This prediction was based on the idea that Dyson would finally take on an everyday role, and that was essentially the case for most of the season. He finished with a career-high 390 plate appearances despite missing most of the final six weeks with a groin injury. Mitch Haniger’s breakout forced Dyson out of the top of the lineup for a good chunk of the year, but the 33-year-old speedster still managed 28 steals and a .324 on-base percentage— 40 SB when prorated to a full, 162-game season. Dyson didn’t stay healthy or hit .280, but it wasn’t a lost season for the center fielder.

Grade: C+

2. Yu Darvish finishes as SP1 in the American League

Another year, another whiff in (bold) predicting the league’s top starting pitchers. Surprisingly, health wasn’t what kept Darvish away from the top of the leaderboards, as he reached the 30-start mark for the first time since 2013. However, he did post career-worst marks in FIP, K/9, HR/FB and Hard%. His numbers improved upon joining the Dodgers in the second half, but Darvish came nowhere close to 20 wins or a sub-3.00 ERA.

Grade: D

3. Joc Pederson hits 30 homers, finishes as a top-20 outfielder

This one’s so brutal— it was certainly a season to forget for Pederson. His swinging strike rate (9.5 percent) and strikeout rate (21.1 percent) both actually improved significantly, but he made less hard contact and pounded the ball into the ground more frequently. Pederson’s OPS dropped over 100 points from 2016, and the 25-year-old was actually demoted to Triple-A for a good chunk of the season. An underwhelming 15.5 percent home run per fly ball rate limited him to 11 long balls, which is, uhhhh, not 30.

Grade: F

4. Carlos Correa OR Corey Seager finishes as the No. 2 overall player

Much like Correa did in his sophomore season, Seager took something of a step back in 2017, striking out more frequently, hitting fewer homers and lowering his OPS by 23 points. His batted ball profile more or less remained the same from 2016, so there’s really no reason for concern. He simply didn’t have as much success as we all expected.

Correa, on the other hand, was enjoying a massive breakout season before missing about six weeks with a thumb injury. He set career highs in homers (24) and runs (82) despite seeing just 481 plate appearances, slashing .315/.391/.550 in the process. The now-23-year-old essentially stopped running this year, but a full season could have easily yielded 30 homers, 100 runs and 100 RBI. I’m still confident both players will compete for a spot in the top 10 next season.

Grade: C+

5. Andrew McCutchen hits over .300

Okay, so McCutchen certainly bounced back from his mysteriously poor 2016 campaign. This year, he smacked 28 homers — his seventh straight season with at least 20 — while managing a .279/.363/.486 slash line. While he didn’t hit .300 or quite revert back to his former self, the newly-turned 31-year-old showed he’s not finished. Cutch fell off a bit in the second half after a strong start, but he remained a reliable fantasy option throughout the year.

Grade: B-

6. Carlos Rodon strikes out more batters than Chris Sale

Rodon didn’t make his season debut until late June, so the chances of this happening were nonexistent even before taking either of their success into account. Let’s pretend for a second, though, that he was healthy for the entire season. The 24-year-old tossed 69.1 innings across 12 starts, racking up 76 strikeouts in the process. If Rodon took the mound as often as Chris Sale did (32 starts) at his current pace, he would’ve finished with roughly 203 punchouts over 184.2 frames. Chris Sale, on the other hand, spun 214.1 innings, totaling 308 strikeouts and a 2.90 ERA. He shattered his career high K/9 (12.93, previously 11.82) en route to becoming the first 300-strikeout pitcher in the American League since 1999, when Pedro Martinez racked up 313. Rodon fell more than 10 percentage points behind Sale in strikeout rate, and failed to play half a season.

Grade: F—

7. Mike Moustakas finishes as a top-10 third baseman

This one’s a bit tricky, because Moustakas sits 14th among all players eligible at third base, but four of those guys played most of the season away from the hot corner. After beginning the 2016 season on a 42-HR pace before going down with a knee injury, Moose belted 38 dingers with 75 runs and 85 RBI across just about a full season, slashing .272/.314/.521 in the process. The lack of walks certainly hurts his value a bit, but he was one of the more productive power hitters in baseball all season long. I predicted a stat line of 30 homers, 80 runs, 90 RBI and a .280 average, so this worked out pretty well.

Grade: A-

8. Tommy Joseph finishes as a top-10 first baseman

Oh, I totally meant Rhys Hoskins here, I swear! (Not that Hoskins finished as a top-10 first baseman, but he had quite a bit more success than Joseph). Joseph slashed. 240/.289/.432 with 22 long balls, taking a step back pretty much across the board. His OPS dropped 92 points while his strikeout rate shot up, and he hit fewer homers per fly ball in a season that saw his ground ball rate skyrocket. The 26-year-old former backstop spurned many owners who considered him a strong sleeper pick, and his mixed-league value for 2018 will likely be nonexistent.

Grade: F

9. Jurickson Profar manages 15/15 season

Profar was given somewhat of another chance in April, but responded with a .424 OPS across 15 games played. The former top prospect came back up for a couple of brief stints in June and July, but again failed to lock down a role. He finished the season with zero home runs and one stolen base, so I’d say it’s safe to give this prediction a failing grade. Profar will turn 25 before the 2018 season, and may have squandered his final opportunity to make something of his big league career.

Grade: F

10. Dylan Bundy finishes as top-40 starter

Check this out. I originally read this one and laughed to myself. But then, I checked… Yahoo! has Bundy ranked as the 46th SP-eligible player, but exactly six of those guys spent most of the season in the bullpen. Which means… Dylan Bundy finished 40th!!!!

NFBC had his ADP at SP71, so cracking the top 40 is pretty solid. The 24-year-old logged a career-high 169.2 innings, managing an underwhelming-but-respectable 4.24 ERA with 152 strikeouts. His swinging strike rate jumped up to 11.4 percent, and his home run per fly ball rate dropped down to 11.5 percent. Bundy didn’t break out, but he was just reliable enough to make me feel smart.

Grade: A-

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