The other day I came across an email that I had sent to my buddy Steve prior to the start of the 2016 MLB season. In it I made a few predictions about how I thought certain players would perform and how one would be busted for using PEDs. Without further ado…
Maikel Franco hits 30+ home runs
Last year Franco burst on the scene for the Phillies by socking 14 dingers in just 304 at bats (That’s one every 20 at bats for those of you counting at home). I created an excel sheet which projects a part time player’s stats over 550 at bats; useful when trying to get a feel for guys who may have been injured or who’ve come up midway through a season. My projections show Franco as a 25 HR, 90 RBI guy. After 107 games he’s on pace for a 27/89 season, and if he can accumulate upwards of 600 at bats, which I was counting on from the beginning, he’s projecting to be a 30/100 guy.
The Phillies are 52-63, 15.5 games back in the NL East so it’s safe to say that their season is effectively over. Despite the line up not turning over as often as one might like, which could potentially reduce Franco’s at bat totals, he should still get lots of playing time as the Phillies look to continue his development. For now we’ll call this one, ‘on track’.
Jason Hammel has a great, but possibly unnoticeable, year. Wins 15+ games.
I found Hammel while trying to round out my fantasy team following this year’s draft. My draft didn’t go exactly as planned (does it ever?) and I needed to add another starter. There was just one problem; all the half decent starters had just been auctioned off to the highest bidder. I opened my trusty excel spreadsheet and removed every unavailable starting pitcher. I then began the arduous process of whittling down the list of potential signings. Traditionally speaking, none of them had great stats. Remember, these were the guys who no one wanted. They all had mediocre numbers as far as wins and strike outs went so those were essentially useless to me. Choosing a guy who’s 11-10 over a guy who’s 10-11 is nothing more than a crapshoot, at best. Using obscure stats like ground ball percentage, pitches per inning pitched and adjusted strike outs (my own creation, click here for more info), I began sifting through the remaining names on my spreadsheet, like someone combing through a sandbox trying to find an earring. Sure you start off calmly enough but after 15 minutes of searching panic sets in. There didn’t seem to be any continuity. One guy had a great GO/AO ratio but that was only when he could actually find the strike zone. His 1.78 WHIP definitely wasn’t what I was looking for. After a while I noticed that Hammel’s name kept popping up near the top of these categories. He wasn’t first in anything but seemed to hover around the top five in everything. I decided to dig a little deeper. He put up some solid numbers in Chicago in 2014 and stumbled a little when he moved to Oakland (he still posted a 1.29 WHIP which is nothing to sneeze at). In the time he spent in Chicago during the 2014 season he went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 17 starts. In 108 2/3 innings he allowed 88 hits and 23 walks while fanning 104. The Hammer of Glamour put up more solid numbers in 2015 going 10-7 with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 31 starts. He allowed just 158 hits in 170 2/3 innings and struck out 172. I pulled the trigger and he was mine!
Through 21 starts in 2016 Hamm-dawg is 11-5 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. During his 120 1/3 innings of work he’s allowed 95 hits and just 37 walks while punching out an even 100. He’s collecting the win in 52% of his starts which means that a 15+ win season isn’t out of the question. The one potential problem here is that for some reason, Hammel is the #5 starter for the Cubs. As progressive and forward thinking as Joe Maddon is, you can bet that whenever possible he will skip over Hammel in order to get the ball back into you-know-who’s hands, every time. Most back end guys get 30-31 starts so again, as long as Hammel continues to get the ball (almost) every 5th day, we’ll call this one ‘on track’.
Giancarlo Stanton hits 60+ home runs.
The projection methods I used when looking at Franco were also used to evaluate Stanton, who had just 279 at bats in 2015. He mashed 27 home runs though, which equates to one every 10.3 at bats. Ruth hit one home run every 9 at bats in 1927 and Maris hit one every 9.6 in 1961. It’s no cake walk however. We’ve all heard the stories of a chain-smoking Roger Maris losing his hair from the stress of it all, but Stanton has definitely shown that, if he can remain consistent, he could do it one day. Currently he has 24 bombs in 371 at bats, which equates to one jimmy jack every 15.5 at bats. I think it’s safe to say this one looks ‘unlikely’.
Jose Bautista will be busted for using performance enhancing drugs.
No I haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years. I know these types of accusations have come up before and so far nothing has been proven. To be honest I kinda just threw up a Hail Mary with this one. Bautista is in a contract year and wants a big raise. His teammate Chris Colabello had just been caught using a banned substance. He’s also 35 which is generally when power hitters start to decline. I guess I just had a feeling that he might try to ensure that he had a great season in order to create interest from other teams and either; A) Force Toronto to give him the mega-deal he wants, or B) Trick the [insert name of struggling team desperate to appease their irate fan base here] into giving him an abbreviated version of the Pujols deal. Let’s call this one ‘who knows’ for now.