Back in April, I thought it wise to yell baseball words at my Ouija board until it told me something legible and turn it into an article about the upcoming Cincinnati Reds season. The idea was rooted in three major tenets:
1) Ouija boards are dumb
2) Making predictions about a full six months of baseball is rather dumb
3) Not being excited about the pending six full months of baseball is ignoramus-level dumb
Born from that were this year's Five Dumb Predictions for the Reds, postulations made based in part on statistical analysis, in part on gut instinct, and in larger part on the number of beers I'd had prior to writing them. Considering the season is now in the books, it's time to revisit them and see if I was more Billy Hamilton in the field than J.J. Hoover on the mound.
1) Jay Bruce will have the best non-Votto OPS on the Reds
BOW BEFORE ME YOU HEATHENS, FOR I HATH CONQUERED YOUR VERY EXISTENCES.
A quick perusal of the relative OPS's posted by the big league Reds this year yields the immaculate Joey Votto, a whole pile of .700's, poor Tony Renda, poor poor Devin Mesoraco, and a pitching staff that apparently swung melted swiss cheese in the batter's box all season. It also shows Jay Bruce having hit .265/.316/.559 in his 402 PAs with the Reds, meaning his .875 OPS was, in fact, the best non-Votto OPS on the Reds.
I did have this to say back in April, too:
The question becomes how many games he plays for the Reds, though, since he'll likely be marketed harder than knock-off footy jerseys on the streets of Casablanca from Opening Day onward.
Bruce, of course, was traded to the New York Mets right at the non-waiver trade deadline, at which point the steering column on his season broke and his production smashed into barrier after barrier for most of the rest of the year. He still finished with a full-season OPS of .815, however, so no number of qualifiers is going to make me concede wrongness on this prediction, especially since I was wrong as all hell on most of the rest of them.
2) Eugenio Suarez says those XBH numbers are for the birds
First off, it's dumb to make a prediction based off a previous prediction, if for no reason other than it makes it hard as hell to explain it six months later. So this prediction was so dumbly wrong from the start.
In the notes about Prediction 1, I mentioned that Bruce had more extra-base hits than Votto in 2015 - 65 to 64 - and this here prediction went on to claim that Suarez - a middle infielder with a career .403 SLG % prior to the season - would hit more than 70 in the 2016 season.
Well, he didn't, and I can't really blame him for that.
I was intrigued by what I saw from Henny in Spring Training (which is something Dave Sappelt should've taught me to avoid years ago), and I figured it would parlay better into a full season in the big leagues than it actually did. Suarez had a solid first full year as a 3B, hit 21 dingers next to 25 doubles, and was worth a tidy 1.5 bWAR on his league minimum salary, but he came a far cry from the lofty XBH totals I called for in April.
70 XBH would've put him in the same category with the likes of Manny Machado, Mookie Betts, and Jose Altuve, and above the likes of Jason Kipnis, Carlos Correa, and, well, Joey Votto. Even with my number target being that high, I never though Suarez would reach those comparables, which meant my entire prediction was off-kilter before I ever even started it.
You are not heathens, and you can stop bowing. This was an airball, through and through.
3) Brandon Phillips will slug under .400, drive in 100+ runs
Brandon Phillips did not slug under .400. Brandon Phillips slugged .416.
Brandon Phillips did not drive in 100+ runs. Brandon Phillips drove in 64 runs.
At no point in my rambling, incoherent response, was I even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I am awarded no points, and may god have mercy on my soul.
4) Joey Votto wins the NL OBP title by .050 or more
First, the face saving: Joey Votto's .434 OBP led the NL yet again, the fifth such time he's claimed that senior circuit title in his Reds career.
Second, the admission: DJ LeMahieu finished second in the NL in OBP, his .416 mark sitting just .018 worse than Votto's, meaning this here prediction doesn't hold much water.
The premise here was simple enough. The Reds had traded away Todd Frazier, the biggest ribbie-thumper projected to back Votto in the Reds lineup in 2016, and Jay Bruce was sure to be gone shortly thereafter, too. That left Brandon Phillips as the only real "established middle of the order bat" left on the roster, and my previous prediction piggybacked this one for an overreaching concept: teams were going to pitch around the hyperselective Votto, and would do so at an alarming pace.
Well, that didn't exactly materialize how I thought. Votto slumped early and sported an increased K-rate that had pitchers challenging him during the first few months in ways they hadn't before, and he wasn't up to the task of punishing them from the get-go. Still, he sported a .453 OBP from April 23rd to the end of the season - a 141 game stretch - and a hefty .490 OBP after the All Star break, so at least we saw enough for me to probably make this same damn prediction again next April for good measure.
Verdict: Votto's still a freak, though he freaked in slightly different ways than I suggested he would freak. Also, I'm available for hire as a spin doctor, you politicians in the crowd. For a small fee.
5) The Reds make a Rolen-esque trade before the end of the year
My window of opportunity for this one has not yet expired, and given the performance of the rest of my prognostications, I'm happy to not yet chalk this one up in the loss column. Yet.
I still believe the front office has the "add a savvy veteran" mentality despite Walt Jocketty having officially handed the remote to Dick Williams, and I'm interested to see how that plays out before the 2017 season starts. Williams hinted over the weekend that the team wouldn't be deep-diving into the free agent market, but would have eyes on adding to the bullpen, perhaps the back of the rotation, or bringing in a versatile veteran for the bench. Now, he obviously didn't mention doing so via trade, but no GM would reveal that card so publicly at that point, either.
Dear lord, I hope it's not a Skip Schumaker or a Ryan Ludwick type signing, but it could be. It could be less Rolen-y and more along the lines of Ramon Hernandez. It could be Bronson Arroyo on a minor league deal after he assures us all he can hit 78 mph left handed and he's as effective as he was throwing righty for his entire career. Still, I think a move of this ilk goes down, and one of significantly less scrap-heap stature than the Alfredo Simons, Kevin Greggs, or Ross Ohlendorfs of the world were.