Back in July, at the beginning of the All-Star break, I decided to make some predictions about how the second half of the season would turn out for the New York Yankees. I tried to be somewhat bold, but I honestly thought that all of them had a decent chance of coming true. Turns out, I didn’t do so well. But let’s take a look at what I predicted and what actually happened.
Prediction 1: Russell Martin ends the year with a batting average above .200.
Actual Result: Martin ends the year with a .211 batting average.
Hey cool, I got the first one right! At the time I wrote the post, Martin’s average was at a brutal .179, just three points away from his season low. Things were not looking good for the Yankee catcher, but based on his batting average on balls in play (BABIP), as well as simple regression to the mean, I suspected that Martin would see his luck change in the second half of the season. As it turns out, he hit .229 in August and .258 in September – not pretty marks by any means, but good enough to bring his average above the Mendoza Line. 1 out of 1!
Prediction 2: Robinson Cano wins MVP.
Actual Result: Cano will probably end up 3rd-5th in the MVP voting, but you could make a case that he deserves 2nd.
At the time I wrote this, Cano was on one of his trademark tears, hitting safely in 17 straight games. He had a line of .313/.373/.574, was playing great defense at a tough position, and seemed to be neck and neck with Angels’ centerfielder Mike Trout for best player in the AL. I believed that Trout could not sustain such a high batting average/BABIP, and that all signs pointed to Cano continuing his strong performance.
Turns out, I wasn’t so wrong about Cano, but I was very wrong about Trout. He only got better after the All-Star break, putting out one of the best rookie campaigns ever, and a performance worthy of a unanimous MVP win. Cano still had a spectacular year, so this prediction wasn’t so terrible, but he’ll almost surely finish behind Trout and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (despite ending the year with a higher WAR total against the latter). 1 out of 2.
Prediction 3: David Robertson is the Yankees’ closer in the playoffs.
Actual Result: Rafael Soriano remained the closer throughout the playoffs.
At the time, I thought this prediction was my boldest (though as you will see, not my most incorrect by a long shot). Soriano had shined as Mariano Rivera‘s replacement, saving 20 games in just two months as the Yankees’ closer with a sparkling 1.60 ERA.
Robertson, on the other hand, was given a chance to close but failed, surrendering four earned runs in his second save opportunity. He would blow two additional leads before the All-Star break and seemed to be struggling, despite putting up an impressive 2.55 ERA.
Nevertheless, I still believed that Robertson was a superior pitcher, and that Soriano’s luck would run out, for his peripherals did not quite back up his performance. Unfortunately for my predictions, but nicely for the Yankees, Soriano did not blow up. He came down to earth a bit in September with a “bad” 3.21 ERA, but overall he surprised me with a fantastic effort as the replacement for one of the all-time greats. I was half-right in my reasoning for this prediction, as Robertson did end up improving after the All-Star break, but overall this prediction wasn’t close to being correct. 1 out of 3.
Actual Result: Nova ends with a 5.02 ERA while Kuroda ends with a 3.32 ERA.
Oy. Well I was about as wrong as wrong could be on this one. Wow. At the time, Kuroda was ahead of Nova in ERA at 3.67 to Nova’s 3.92. That’s close enough that one or two starts could easily swing the difference. I looked at the peripherals and saw that Nova was experiencing some bad luck while Kuroda seemed to be pitching over his head. Based on this, as well as Nova’s youth, I thought that Nova would slightly outpitch Kuroda going forward. Little did I know that the opposite would happen. Nova ended up with a 7.02 ERA after the All-Star break compared to Kuroda’s 3.14 ERA in the same time frame. Kuroda’s ERA even dipped below 3 for a while in August.
Interestingly, Nova’s peripherals (strikeouts, walks, and groundballs) were pretty solid throughout that awful stretch. However, it was the home run ball that really did him in. At the time of the post, I wrote this:
The biggest hindrance to his success this year has been the home run ball, so Nova will have to work on keeping the ball down and getting groundballs.
Clearly, Nova did not take my advice, as his home run rate skyrocketed after the break. Based on the games I saw him pitch, his command was just terrible, as he was leaving pitches in the middle of the plate for hitters to rip for doubles or home runs. He was frustrating to watch to say the least, and I will fully admit that I was an absolute crazy person for making this prediction. 1 out of 4.
Well, the predictions didn’t turn out so well overall, but hey, like they say, you can’t predict baseball. The first three predictions weren’t so bad in the end, even though they were very wrong, because I was at least somewhat correct in spirit. Cano did end up having a monster season, and Robertson did improve and was a vital cog in the Yankees’ playoff bullpen. I was way, way, way off in the last prediction, but hey, being way off in only one out of four ain’t so bad, right?