The bylaws of the Red Reporter Rites of Spring dictate that at some point immediately prior to the start of a regular season there must be prognostication. Hair-brained prognostication. Prognostication of the dumbest possible variety such that no one anywhere may potentially attach any shred of accountability with this particular blog site web hole place.
(At least, that’s what I think I remember them saying, though there’s not actually ever been a concrete copy of those published.)
Anyway, the outset of the 2017 Cincinnati Reds campaign brought a fresh edition of our Five Dumb Predictions, a cobbled together list of purported potential happenings that you can freshen up on by clicking here. Some were rather accurate, believe it or not. Some were gaggingly off-base. All, though, were produced with the truest possible intent of the Rites in mind, however, in that they were given incredibly little thought, weren’t tested in theory at all, and were inevitably, undeniably dumb.
Let’s run through them for the sake of public shaming.
1) Jose Peraza out-WARs Todd Frazier
Frazier, now 31, hit .225 with an OBP that was positively Hamiltonian (.302) in 2016, and the thought here was that if that aging offensive trend paired with his declining 3B defense and increased usage as a 1B and DH, he’d finish as something of a 2 WAR player in 2017.
“Jose Peraza can be a 2 WAR player,” I said to myself. “Shit, that’s damn near a lock. Make a dumb prediction about it and then draft him in every single fantasy baseball league.”
I already said welp, but it’s probably worth an additional welp. So, welp.
Frazier’s batting average continued to plummet to just .213 this year, but a career-best 14.4% walk rate and a defensive renaissance at 3B pushed him over the 3 WAR mark by both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference. Meanwhile, Peraza gave Frazier’s walk rate the middle finger and posted the single worst ISO among the 287 MLB players who had at least 300 PAs this year. That resulted in negative WAR all around for Peraza, a decent free agent platform year for Frazier, and a kick in the shin for this prediction.
2) Raisel Iglesias is front page news come the July 31st trade deadline
A quick perusal of the interwebs for “Raisel Iglesias trade rumors” shows a hefty lot of interest in the Cincinnati closer from back in July. In fact, Dusty Baker and the Washington Nationals were most frequently mentioned as suitors for Igloo, which makes sense since they eventually made a deal for Oakland Athletics relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to help fix their then-busted bullpen.
This was less a prediction that Iglesias would be marketed via trade, though, than it was a statement that we’d finally get to see the electric righty both healthy and in a defined role - something we’d not seen in his first pair of seasons. While visions of Igloo starts still dance in my head, he’s absolutely a reliever for good now, and while that’s frustrating to a point, he’s shown he’s one of the absolute best in the game at it (while also under team control for years down the road). That, in turn, makes him quite coveted when healthy, which is exactly what played out this year.
3) Joey Votto wins his first career Silver Slugger Award
(In case you didn’t click the link back to the original predictions, here’s exactly what I had to say about this at the time...)
“According to Wikipedia:
The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Joey Votto is the best gawdamn 1B on the planet, much less in the NL. That he's gone 10 years of being Joey Votto without winning one should be a larger surprise than this prediction being correct.”
Well, Votto just wrapped a year in which he led all MLB 1Bs in WAR, wOBA, wRC+, SCUBA, AVG, OBP, FUN, OPS, CIA, FBI, NASA, DONKEY, what have you. Shrink it to just the NL, and it’s even more glaring. He’s the damn GOAT, and that he hasn’t already bagged seven of these awards is a traveshamockery. He’ll win this when it’s announced later this offseason, I assure you.
4) Jesse Winker steals Adam Duvall’s job, not Scott Schebler’s
This one was rather nebulous, and Billy Hamilton’s late-season injury stint (again) muddled how the OF rotation was to be perceived. However, Winker’s .298/.375/.529 emergence in his 137 PA rookie campaign showed the kind of hitting promise that had made him such a touted prospect for years down on the farm. That it directly overlapped with Duvall’s miserable .212/.277/.385 second half of the season, the .831 OPS posted by Schebler after returning from his shoulder injury, and Schebler’s ability to competently cover CF in Hamilton’s absence only throws this OF logjam further into question.
The fact is, Winker showed enough to suggest he’s worthy of playing most everyday, and while Duvall’s total body of work was still respectable, the fact is that the Reds have built up a bevy of OF depth from which they can make moves from a number of angles. How that shakes out hasn’t been definitively determined, of course, but will be perhaps the single biggest storyline of Cincinnati’s offseason as they look to maximize the roster’s potency.
5) Amir Garrett wins the National League Rookie of the Year Award
There are only two ways to look at this particular dumb prediction.
For one, you freeze time on April 19th, when Garrett had just wrapped his third big league start and owned a 1.83 ERA, .519 OPS allowed, and had fanned 21 against just 3 walks in his 19.2 IP. Then you hand him the NL ROY Award, pat him on the back, pat me on the back, buy me a beer for my verisimilitude, and celebrate for the future.
Either that or you, like me, emphatically blame autocorrect for changing “Luis Castillo” to “Amir Garrett” and rue not noticing the egregious way in which that impacted what was otherwise a flawless, prescient prediction until after the initial post was published.
Garrett, it appears, will not win this year’s NL ROY Award.