One of the great sports traditions is the preseason prediction. Some writers absolutely hate these because no matter how smart you are and no matter how much research you do you will never be able to get them all right. Also someone will probably be mad at you for saying mean things about their team. Other writers see it as an opportunity to say any kind of ridiculous thing knowing that if they say something ridiculous enough everyone will ignore it until and unless it actually happens. Then the writer can rub it in everyone’s faces as Joe Posnanski likes to do with his prediction that the Royals would win the 2015 world series.
The best part about pre-season predictions, though, is not the predicting part - no matter how enjoyable they can be to read and write - it’s the part where you look back and mock or celebrate the people who made those predictions for all of the things they got wrong or right. The Royals’ season is over, though the World Series continues on for a short while longer, and I just couldn’t wait any longer to go back and relive the predictions we all made during The Preseason Roundtable.
1. What do you think of the decision to start Raul Mondesi?
There was a pretty solid consensus that it was a bad idea. Several Kevins - Hokius, sterlingice, Matthew LaMar - were convinced that Christian Colon was the way to go and that someone else would pick him up later and turn him into something good. The chance for that still remains but Colon barely played and was terrible for the Marlins after they claimed him off waivers, this season. Hokius doubled down on being wrong by insisting that the Royals would never give up on Mondesi. Timothy Webber also jumped in the “wrong” category when he insisted that the second base spot was a guaranteed black hole no matter who the Royals put there; Whit Merrifield was quite cromulent once he was finally allowed to play.
2. How concerned are you about Jorge Soler?
No one was concerned about it. But only because everyone was all already convinced he would be bad. The injury history and inability to produce in previous seasons had us all convinced he wouldn’t be good any sooner than 2018, if then. Which makes everyone right.
3. What are the teams biggest strength and biggest weakness?
Only Josh Duggan and Max Rieper got the strengths right with the answers, “Who knows” and “The special sauce that allows them to exceed expectations” respectively - they didn’t exceed fan expectations, but they beat PECOTA again, at least. The rest of the staff predicted defense, bullpen, or rotation as strengths and were all terribly wrong. As far as weaknesses, Ryan Heffernon and Timothy Webber were so bold as to predict the Royals didn’t have any drastic weaknesses. Josh Duggan was the most right about the weakness - a complete lack of depth in the minor leagues.
4. Who is the most important player for the 2017 Royals?
Shaun Newkirk and Hokius both agree that Eric Hosmer was the most important player and that if he fixed his launch angle he’d have a special season, offensively and/or crack 130 wRC+. Eric didn’t fix his launch angle but got to that mark all the same; it still wasn’t enough to carry the team into the post-season. In that sense everyone was wrong regardless of answer because the importance of players is irrelevant when the collective whole fails to achieve success by any measure.
5. Will Dayton sell at the deadline?
Everyone correctly guessed that he would not.
6. Give a surprising prediction
Since there was so much variety in the answers for this question let’s break it down into a list format:
- Matthew LaMar predicted Alex Gordon would be healthy and wreck stuff again. Alex was allegedly healthy, missing no time to the disabled list, but the only thing he wrecked was his career batting average.
- Josh Duggan predicted Chris Young and Joakim Soria would rebound to respectable performance levels. He was only right about Soria, even though many would like to debate even that.
- Max Rieper predicted that Hunter Dozier would get at-bats in KC and would translate them into Rookie of the Year votes. Neither of those things came to pass - at least not in 2017.
- Timothy Webber predicted Brandon Moss would set a new home run record at 37 home runs. He was wrong.
- Ryan Heffernon predicted the Royals would finish in the top half of the league in home runs (wrong) and that Joakim Soria would be good (right).
- Shaun Newkirk predicted that Salvador Perez would be worth 4 fWAR (wrong) and that Danny Duffy would be worth only 1.5 fWAR (also wrong).
- sterlingice was convinced Jason Vargas would not last the season but that it would give someone young or unexpected a chance to shine. Neither came to pass; Vargas was one of only two starters to make it through the season unscathed by injury and none of the pitchers who filled in for the others was particularly good when taken on the whole.
- Hokius, predicted that Mike Moustakas would break the single-season franchise home run record. Very, very right.
7. What must happen for the Royals to make the post-season?
This is another category where everyone pretty much got it right, but for different reasons. Max Rieper suggested the Royals would need #RoyalsDevilMagic - they didn’t have it and they didn’t make it. Hokius and sterlingice said the team would have to avoid nearly all injuries, they did not. Everyone else more or less suggested that the players would simply, collectively, have to be better than anyone could reasonably expect them to be. While a handful of guys had career years it wasn’t enough to overcome the decay in the remainder of the roster.
Predictions from the comments section
- kcstengelSr predicted that if the Royals’ rotation didn’t eat plenty of innings the bullpen would be worn out by the All-Star Break. He was more or less right, though it took an additional couple of weeks for that to really set in.
- KHAZAD guessed that Mondesi’s triple slash would be less than Omar Infante’s numbers in his final season with KC - he was right.
- Ron Kirkland guessed that Jorge Soler would be back and forth between the big league team, the DL, and AAA all season. He also guessed that the Royals would sell at the deadline but still make the playoffs. When it comes to predicting baseball, one out of two ain’t bad.
I plan to hit some of the other round-tables and prediction pieces in coming weeks. In the mean time which of these do you think was the most impressive hit? The most embarrassing miss? Should Royals Review give up trying to predict things? And don’t forget to brag in the comments about any predictions you successfully made, this year!