Ben Pernick’s 2020 Bold Predictions in Review

Ben Pernick reviews his Preseason 2020 Bold Predictions.

While I’ve had past success at this, my 2020 predictions (which I made back in February) were definitely a lesson in humility. In my previous few years, I had averaged about three correct bold predictions out of 10, which meant either I was a genius prophet or that my predictions were simply not bold enough. Since it was obviously the latter, I made my predictions extra spicy bold this year, with interesting and sometimes hilarious results. Okay, mostly hilarious.


1. C.J. Cron finishes as a Top 5 First Baseman


These predictions got off to a rather anticlimactic start, as Cron’s early-season injury put the kibosh on his odds to fulfill this goal. Still, the early results weren’t exactly promising. He did pop four homers in just 52 PAs, but it came with an ugly .190 AVG. The weird thing is he set another career-high in barrel rate at 19%, but it came with an ugly high soft-contact% of 31%. And while he improved his walk rate to 17%, his strikeout rate nosedived to 31%. Assuming he recovers from his knee injury and signs as a starting first baseman or DH, I’d gladly take a late-round gamble on him next year, but my comparison of Cron’s 2020 upside to José Abreu sure looks bad right now.

WRONG – 0 for 1


2. Danny Santana outproduces Fernando Tatis Jr.


Ell Oh Ell. I predicted that my confidence in this possibility “probably (definitely) means it’s the most likely to make me look stupid.”  Well, I got that right.

Santana came into the year with an ADP of #127, but did absolutely nothing of what made him valuable last year, hitting an awful .145/.238/.273 with 1 HR and 2 SB over 63 PA in an injury-shortened season. And here I was concerned about Tatis’s health. As you well know, Tatis put up legendary numbers hitting .277/.366/.571 with 17 HR and 11 SB. The lesson here: Don’t weigh too heavily on Statcast to determine the legitimacy of a breakout, and don’t use it to cast aspersions on superstar-upside rookies.

WRONG – 0 for 2


3. Mitch Keller is a Top 25 Starter with 200 Strikeouts


If Bold Predictions were predicting which players would spend a good part of the season injured, I’d be 3-for-3! Keller only pitched 21 innings this year due to spending over a month on the shelf, and while he posted a 2.91 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, his peripherals were pretty lousy and he hardly looked like even a top 50 starter. Unlike his fellow teammate disappointment in Joe Musgrove, Keller is likely to enter 2020 a forgotten man with some questions about whether the electric stuff he flashed in his 2019 debut will come back.

WRONG – 0 for 3


4. Luis Arraez is a Top 10 Second Baseman


Finally, a player I made a prediction about who didn’t get hurt! He still didn’t fulfill this lofty goal, though, and frankly wasn’t even close, coming in at #48 on the ESPN Player Rater. That might surprise you considering he hit .321, but unlike last year, he didn’t contribute a single homer or stolen base. I had expected to increase his power hitting, and while he did actually improve his max exit velocity and barrel rate, it did not translate to balls clearing the fence. I’m still a believer in the batting average and some additional power growth, but the untapped upside is limited with his “punchy” swing outside of points leagues. But hey, maybe like my 2019 prediction that Arenado wouldn’t be a Top 5 3rd baseman, my prediction is just a year too early.

WRONG – 0 for 4


5. The Miami Marlins post a better record than the St. Louis Cardinals


Finally, I got one! Well kind of. Both teams tied in the regular season, so the fact that the Marlins advanced past the Cardinals in the playoffs has to be the tiebreaker. I advised that the Marlins had a good stable of developing young pitchers combined with underrated offensive assets like Jesús Aguilar and Garrett Cooper, though I didn’t expect Miguel Rojas to also be a stud. Both the Cardinals’ and the Marlins’ seasons were of course affected by COVID—the Cards moreso—but the Marlins ultimately looked like the better team with Jack Flaherty’s bad year and Paul Goldschmidt being the only thing holding the offense together. This was the prediction that upset most readers, saying I had finally gone mad, but it’s a mad world.

CORRECT – 1 for 5


6. Aaron Civale is a Top 35 Starter


Close, but no Cigale. He was looking like a top 20 starter along with Zach Plesac with an excellent curveball and relying on his strong secondary stuff, going deep into starts and holding the rotation together when Plesac and Mike Clevinger got put in the Clevdoghouse. But he lost his mojo halfway with an eight-ER shellacking in his final start. Although he was listed as a Top 30 starter on The List rankings heading into September, he ended the season ranking #73 on the ESPN Player Rater, so he failed. I still think he can be a top 35 starter next year, though, and with that blowup destroying his surface stats, he might now be a sleeper again… if he can just stop throwing his terrible sinker so dang much.

WRONG – 1 for 6


7. Nomar Mazara outproduces Kris Bryant


Ugh, I could’ve had this one in the bag! All if had to say was Kris Bryant wouldn’t be a top 15 third baseman or a Top 150 hitter! So why oh why did I have to involve Nomar Mazara in it? I was right to be bearish on this Cub as he hit just .206/.293/.351 with four homers, 20 R, 11 RBI, and zero SB over 147 PA. But the fly in the ointment is that Mazara was one of the worst regulars in baseball, hitting .228/.295/.294 with one HR, 13 R, 15 RBI, and zero SB in 149 PA. While Mazara is the one with his major league future in jeopardy, he at least has one silver lining in that he still hit the ball hard. Despite the lack of homers, he hit a career-best 49% HardHit% and 91 mph average exit velocity, far better than Bryant’s 32% HardHit% and 86 mph EV. Still, I talked about real-life production, not Statcast, so I’ll begrudgingly call it a miss.

WRONG – 1 for 7


8. Jason Castro is a Top 10 Catcher


Another swing and a miss, something Castro is also quite fond of. With Castro out of Mitch Garver’s shadow and in a favorable park for lefty power, I expected big power and OBP from Castro, but it was his battery-mate Max Stassi who was the diamond in the rough. Castro was yet another player whose season was marred by injury and then was traded to San Diego as a backup, and hit just .188/.293/.375 with two homers in 92 PA. He continued to hit the ball hard with an excellent 15% Barrel, 93 mph avg EV, and career-best 55% HardHit%, but his 35% K% rate gave him little ability to make use of it. He was still better than Garver though!

WRONG – 1 for 8


9. Josh James outproduces Dallas Keuchel, Sean Manaea, and Dinelson Lamet


Oy, oy and super oy. I was pretty jazzed on the upside James possessed with electric stuff and a rotation spot on a contender locked up. But he gave us a reminder of why he has long been seen as a reliever… he just does not have the command or control required of a starter. He finished with an abysmal 7.27 ERA, while Sean Manaea succeeded as mid-rotation starter, Dallas Keuchel posted a sub-2 ERA, and the two-pitch wizard Dinelson Lamet did his best Randy Johnson impression with 93 Ks in 69 IP. The lesson? Stuff is nice, but command is key.

WRONG – 1 for 9


10. Justin Smoak returns to being a Top 15 First Baseman


My Bold Predictions this year were much like Smoak… just keep getting worse and worse. Smoak seemed like a good candidate to bounce back as he still maintained a low-20s K rate and a 15% walk rate with strong Statcast metrics in 2019. But in 2020 his K rate plummeted 10 points to 31% as he put up a pitiful .176/.250/.361 with five Homers in 132 PA before the team ended the horrid experiment. You know you’ve been awful when Dan Vogelbach was an improvement. The lesson here? Beware betting on a rebound from an aging first baseman, unless he’s Miguel Cabrera.

WRONG – 1 for 10


Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

2 responses to “Ben Pernick’s 2020 Bold Predictions in Review”

  1. theKraken says:

    What is the value of reaching to declare yourself right in bold predictions? I think the more wrong.. they are the better you did personally… otherwise you were not actually bold. A tie is not a win. I’ll give you 0-9-1. Whats wrong with that?

    • Ben Pernick says:

      Haha well if the goal is to be all-wrong, then I guess I’ll gladly take the L because then I’ll be the greatest!

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