Every March or April, the Red Reporter bloghole slaps together a few rudimentary thoughts, stares at a handful of player pages on Baseball Reference, and rolls a ten finger punch of the keyboard into a set of Five Dumb Predictions for the upcoming Cincinnati Reds season.
March of 2018 was no different. And, with a lull in the excitement of the 2018 season now in full force thanks to injuries, sub-par play, and the lack of any upcoming rookies to reignite this particular season, I thought it time to check back on those predictions and how they look after 3/4th of the season is now in the books.
So, here we go.
1) Scott Schebler has a 4+ WAR season
A wall in St. Louis actually had to retire in mid-July, a result of its collision with meaty Cincinnati Reds RF Scott Schebler. Schebler, to his credit, sustained only a shoulder sprain in the near fusion of celestial bodies, but that’s had him on the 10-day DL for nearly a month now, which has largely derailed an otherwise breakout season in the making.
Look, this prediction was predicated - see what I did there? - on him continuing to improve and stay healthy offensively, while also banking that his athleticism would eventually lead to some positive defensive metrics, and a full season of that paired with his 30 dinger power had a 4 WAR upside. The health, though, simply hasn’t been there, since you’ll remember he also was shelved in April for some three weeks after being plunked on the elbow.
All told, he’s at 1.9 bWAR in 76 games played this year, which is a 4 WAR pace per 162 games played, which is a consolation prize for this here beleaguered prognosticator, I suppose.
2) Sal Romano leads the Reds in IP
A quick perusal of the Reds pitching statistics shows that Sal Romano does not, in fact, lead the Reds in IP. That currently goes to Luis Castillo, who has fired 126.2 IP on the season. However, ol’ Sal held the team lead up until last week, with his abbreviated outing on the heels of a pair of relief appearances leaving him with just 123.2 IP thus far.
There’s still a decent chance this one comes true, as I’ve always kind of thought the Reds viewed Sal as a workhorse who could make about 139 starts a season if called upon, and I doubt he’ll really get shut down this year whereas some of his peers might run into that as the season grinds down.
3) Joey Votto wins his first career Silver Slugger Award
Votto hasn’t homered since July 9th, is posting a slugging percentage that’s more in the Scott Hatteberg range than the Albert Pujols range, and has been playing on a bum leg for over a week now. He still owns an impressive .422 OBP - one of the best marks by a player in his age 24 season in the modern era of baseball - but the power dip likely means this will again be a year where the best lefty-hitter of his generation goes home without a Silver Slugger Award.
I still contend that he’ll win one eventually, somehow, but this year just isn’t going to be the year, unfortunately.
4) Jesse Winker hits .310...with power
.310/.370/.440 is my pick for Jesse, with enough playing time in the OF rotation to see him poke 18 home runs exactly. 18. Write that down.
That’s what I called for back in March. Winker, though, must’ve read those dumb predictions, since he, too, proceeded to get injured and throw them all off kilter.
Winker did do a good bit of what I’d hoped to see from him, however, posting a .431 slugging percentage that was just a tad bit lower than the .440 I had him pegged for. Obviously, the 7 dingers he hit were not the 18 dingers I had called for, either, but considering all 7 of those came over his final 45 games played - a stretch in which he hit an impressive .348/.459/.546 in 171 PA - I think the odds of him actually being a .310 hitter with some power for the next few years of his career are pretty, pretty dang solid, and I just might predict as such in future years...
...though I guess that wouldn’t make for a very dumb prediction, would it?
5) Tyler Mahle wins the National League Rookie of the Year Award
Juan took home the June Rookie of the Month Award for the National League, and that was a big load of bull honkey. Sure, he posted a 1.050 OPS for the month as a 19 year old, but I’ve got a prediction to defend, dammit, and had Mahle’s 2.18 ERA in 33.0 IP across 6 June starts actually won him the monthy award, I’d feel at least slightly vindicated about this here prediction.
The truth is, Mahle flashed brilliance at times in early 2018 before running into a terrible stretch of form in late July and early August, outings that were bad enough to earn a return trip to AAA Louisville. He’ll be back, of course, and will continue to emerge as one of the more talented starting options the Reds have had in recent years, but he’s certainly not going to take home the NL ROY in 2018. I’ll trade that for a few future Cy Young Awards, though, so take that, Juan Soto.