On a Valentine's Day long ago in a mental state that could only be described as "the Cincinnati Reds are good at baseball," I ventured out on a limb to make a few predictions about the then-upcoming 2014 MLB season.
It wasn't their fault, though, since I, too, am dumb.
We've trudged through a woeful second half bereft of offense and much entertainment, and it's left most of us jaded about the sport itself. But since we now have The Dalles on the horizon, I thought it would be a decent time to take a glance back at the kinds of things that made sense to me on a cold, dark day some seven months ago.
Dumb, dumb sense.
1) Homer for Panda will prove to be an amazing would-be challenge trade.
I was seriously concerned that the Reds would have a hard time putting runs on the board in 2014, and I wanted to add offense in any way possible. This would've put Pablo Sandoval at 3B and Todd Frazier as the everyday LF in an attempt to get another potent bat in the lineup, and while that would've decreased Frazier's overall value by hurling him down the defensive spectrum, it was something I thought could make enough of an offensive impact to make sense.
Flipping Homer Bailey for Sandoval at the time was a simpler idea than it is in retrospect, since this was before Homer inked his 6 year, $105 million contract extension. In fact, both players were entering their final years under contract, and that was the fun part about comparing them.
Sandoval has hit reasonably well (.280/.326/.421 with 16 dingers), and his 113 OPS+ coupled with solid defense has made him a 3.5 bWAR player for a bit over $8 million this season. Homer, on the other hand, struggled with nagging injuries all season before eventually being shut down for surgery on his flexor tendon, which sounds gross. Before calling it a day, Homer accrued 1.5 bWAR on the back of 145.2 innings of 3.71 ERA ball. It would've probably been a win for the Reds, but not enough of one to make the 2014 Reds a winning team thanks to fragile menisci and the quad strain from hell. Also, thanks to the other rash of injuries on the pitching staff, losing Homer would've seriously taxed the depth in the system.
Verdict: A little bit dumbtry, and a little bit dumb and roll.
2) Devin Mesoraco will have a good year, but Yasmani Grandal will have a great one.
See? Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.
Mesoraco's 2014 put him on track to be the guy the New York Yankees give $100 million to when they move on from Brian McCann in three years, while Grandal's 2014 put him on track to be the guy the Reds bring in on a minor league deal for organizational depth when Mes leaves.
What the hell is it with Padres hitters, anyway? Yeesh.
Have I mentioned how dumb this was? I should probably mention that this was very, very dumb.
Verdict: Dumber than a sack of dumb bricks with the word "dum" unironically misspelled on the front of them.
3) Nolan Arenado will finish 2nd in the NL in 3B WAR.
Injuries sucked the life out of many of the game's best and brightest this year, perhaps more so than in any year I can remember. Unfortunately, Arenado wasn't lucky enough to avoid the injury bug, and that's the excuse I'm leaning on for why this won't end up being correct. The young Colorado Rockies 3B will finish somewhere between 4th and 7th in fWAR in 2014, and since his season is likely over he'll do so having played in just 111 games. The Art of WAR is cumulative, and he simply won't have enough opportunity to accumulate enough for this to be right.
Among NL 3B's with at least 400 PA, Arenado's .500 SLG% is tied for 1st, his .359 wOBA is 2nd, and his 8.0 runs saved on defense ranked 1st, so the concept of a breakout for him wasn't terribly out of line. But that's not what I predicted, which was dumb.
Verdict: "Failed the test because you didn't study, not because you're not smart enough to learn it" dumb.
4) Starling Marte falls back to Earth.
Nope, he doesn't. Dumb again, Wick. Well dumbed, good sir.
Marte's .363 BABIP in 2013 had me skeptical of his ability to continue to produce in 2014. So, what did he go out and do? Raise that up to .370 this season, which kept all of his other counting and rate stats steady, if not improved from his breakout 2013. He's a big reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates are still good and why my dumb predictions are still dumb.
Look, I didn't name the original post "Five Predictions So Smart It'll Make Your Panties Drop" for a reason, folks.
Verdict: Soy un perdedor who is too dumb to figure out how to get crazy with the Cheese Whiz.
5) The Arizona Diamondbacks will finish last in the NL West.
More of these yay-hoos had the Diamondbacks in the playoffs than had the Reds in the playoffs, which puts them at least on a similar level of dumb than where I exist. I hated what the Diamondbacks did in each of their last two offseasons, since trading away one of the five best OF bats in baseball and two consensus Top 5 pitching prospects for a collective bag of grit and sand seemed so dumb that even dumb people could dumbly predict it would fail, and it did. To top it all off, they dumbly hired Tony La Dumba, which brings things to a whole new level of dumbitude.
Sometimes, even dumb people can look at other people and say, "hey, they're dumb." This was one of those dumb times.
Verdict: Remember when Walter threw the ringer out the window? That was probably just a tad bit dumber than this.
So, there you have it. Christian Yelich and his .289 batting average currently sits 12th in the National League, and I still feel comfortable saying that he'll probably hit .414 while winning next year's batting title. Baby steps, y'know.
2014 was the dumbest year on record, buttressed by this spate of dumb, no doubt.