Mike Podhorzer’s bold predictions for 2021 – A look back


Another wild, wacky, and insane season has come to an end, so it’s time for some pre-season predictions! I’ll start with everyone’s favorite, the bold predictions. Let’s see how I did it.

All six of the following mugs will hit their forecast K% marks for vapers:

The logic behind this group of six was for everyone to either enjoy a Statcast endorsed or reported (based on articles / tweets) jump in fastball pace during spring training. While Steamer does include fastball speed in its strikeout rate projections, in my opinion it only includes regular season data and doesn’t update forecasts based on spring results. In fact, every single pitcher ended up at a higher average fastball speed compared to 2020, but only two of the Dix (Dunn and Manaea) were significant increases.

Unfortunately, Bundy bites me again (he also destroyed my AL Tout and Mixed LABR ratios) as the only one who finished K% under his steamer-projected. That prediction was oh so close! Bundy even had the benefit of getting off the bullpen, but still couldn’t beat his projection. Manaea scored the best SIERA of its career and also the highest SwStk% mark, so this outbreak was actually predicted by its additional spring speed. I am quite shocked that while Mize technically exceeded his projection, it hardly was and despite an average of 94 MPH with his fastball he remains under a strikeout rate of 20%. He’s not living up to his former top prospect status if he doesn’t knock through an average number of thugs in the league.

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Hunter Renfroe Bats .260 and Knocks 35 Homers

Oh so close again! Renfroe had the highest batting average of his career at 0.259, which was juuuuuuust below my prediction of 0.260. He was further from the Homer forecast, however, ending at 31 as his HR / FB rate fell to a career low, combined with the second lowest FB% of his career. The logic here was that Fenway Park would reinforce its biggest mistake, BABIP, and make it a more desirable fantasy product. That’s exactly what happened when he posted a .311 BABIP at home, just .253 marks away across the street.

Unfortunately, he was injured from a home run perspective by Fenway as his HR / FB home rate was a few ticks below his away mark. Given his FB pull% and double split, it appears he may have lost a number of homers to the Green Monster that ended up doubles.

Either way, he easily had his best fantasy year. So if you followed that prediction, you would be amazed, even though it narrowly missed my goals.

0 for 2

Trevor Bauer posts an ERA above 4.00

Bauer only landed about half a season before being put on administrative leave, ending on a 2.59 ERA. Not exactly the implosion I would have thought possible given its inconsistent history. Somehow, Bauer has become a BABIP suppression master, having only allowed a .220 mark before the end of the season and stranding a remarkable 88.9% of baserunners. Therefore his SIERA was almost a whole run higher than his ERA. I don’t think these levels can go any further so I still won’t be paying the market price.

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Franchy Cordero hits 25 homers and steals 10 bases

If I predict this every year, will it ever come true? As usual, Cordero was only able to record 136 record appearances. But this time it wasn’t an injury! Instead, he just stank it on the plate, which wasn’t one of the options I had envisioned. Of course, anything can happen when you give a player such a short leash and inconsistent starts.

Cordero’s record discipline was terrible, 51 times against just eight steps. Despite a maxEV of 118.6, which is absolutely elitist, he only did a homer once. I don’t know how many more chances he’ll get in regular time.

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Steven Matz Outearns Hyun-Jin Ryu

Based on the default settings of our auction calculator, Matz was the 58th most valuable starter mug with an earnings of $ 3.30, while Ryu was in 66th place and earned a little less, $ 2.20. That means my first win!

I purposely chose two starters on the same team so we couldn’t blame different levels of defense or bullpen support. In the past three seasons, Ryu has massively outperformed his SIERA and I just didn’t find it sustainable. On the flip side, Matz was bombed last year but showed some of the best skills of his career and the fastest fastball speed since his debut in 2015. My expectation was that the two starters’ luck would turn … in opposite directions .

Amazingly, I was right. Matz actually posted an ERA lower as his SIERA, despite an inflated BABIP, while Ryu’s ERA is over Above his SIERA (which itself hit its highest value since 2017) for the first time since 2014. Ryu also lost his baserunning stranging magic, as his LOB%, which was over 80% for four seasons, dropped to just 70.7 this year % decreased.

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Sam Hilliard meets 25 homers and steals 15 bases

Over the past month I have named Hilliard in a number of my articles. Unfortunately, he lagged far behind those goals as he only made 238 record appearances. However, if you calculate his pace of 600 PA, you get 35 homers and nearly 13 steals. Those are essentially my goals, but the Rockies are an impossible organization to place game time bets on.

Hilliard is still kicking way too much so all that feat only resulted in a .318 WOBA, but man, I really want to see what he can do over an entire season without being pushed around.

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Julio Tehran only achieved a positive AL value

A running joke is how often I introduce players in my bold predictions or bold league leaders who injure themselves and miss a significant part of the season. Tehran lasted a whopping five innings over a start before being out for the year due to a shoulder injury. Seriously, your chances of building a healthy team are better if you avoid the players I mention!

Tehran was included here in spring training because of its speed boost. I was too scared to make any more optimistic predictions, so I stuck with just earning AL-only scores rather than something flatter. When he first launched his sinker actually showed an increased speed of 90.3 MPH, up from 88.8 MPH last year and mid-89 in 2018 and 2019. It wasn’t a dramatic jump in speed, but it brought him closer to his location, than he was actually good.

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CJ Cron wins Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL !!!!! I was just annoyed that Guerrero’s price was still massive, like he was already a star hitter. Obviously, he found that those who paid the high price of a former top contender who was nowhere near massive value, but obviously had clearer crystal balls than me.

On the flip side, Cron didn’t enjoy the boost I expected from moving to Colorado, but his BABIP jumped to a career high. Overall, Cron owners, but also Guerrero owners, likely benefited.

1 for 8

Mitch Keller posts a lower ERA than Lance Lynn

Gosh, they’re getting worse and worse. Keller was another spring speed surger, but that didn’t last as he was just below his speed from last year. Last year, Keller was very lucky to post a 2.91 ERA thanks to a .104 BABIP. That year his luck ran out and his BABIP shot up to 0.388, resulting in a bloated ERA of 6.17. I have no idea what happened to Keller when he went from top contender to one of the worst pitchers in baseball.

Lynn picked up where he left off last year, hitting .263 BABIP and above league average HR / FB rate and LOB% marks on the way to a 2.69 ERA, roughly a full run lower than that his SIERA. One of those years is going to be a massive disappointment for Lynn, so very well it will continue to end up as a negative, bold prediction.

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Andrew Vaughn will be demoted to a minor by the end of June

Wrong, but another one that was right in spirit. I couldn’t understand all the hype about Vaughn this draft season as he had never played above High-A and had single-digit HR / FB rates at that level in Single-A. I thought his future would be bright given his excellent record discipline, but it’s not often that a batsman makes such a leap to the majors and is an instant fantasy asset.

Vaughn stayed in the majors year-round, but got inconsistent seasons, which was just bizarre. I’m not sure why the team made the decision to keep him but often put him on the bench instead of letting him play at Triple-A every day, where he hasn’t made a record. He ended up only releasing a .306 WOBA, with an ISO on par with its 2019 brands, but an HR / FB rate a little higher than expected. With no speed and mediocre vigor right now, and no sign that he’s going to release a strong BABIP, he’s just not the type of top prospect fantasy owners should be drooling about.

However, I want to stress that I like his overall skills and think the strength will come and it will be enough, combined with his strong strikeout rate, to overcome mediocre or worse BABIP.

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