Ben Pernick’s 2023 Bold Predictions in Review

Ben Pernick reviews his 10 Bold Predictions for 2023.

This past spring, I wrote my 10 Bold Predictions for 2023, hoping for a better showing than 2022 than my 2022 predictions, in which I was only right about Yankees (Aaron Judge hitting .300 with 50 homers and Aroldis Chapman getting less than 10 saves). This year, I managed to get three correct predictions, a personal best, including one prediction that literally came down to the last day and was so exact that Nick accused me of sorcery. But some of these, as always, are quite laughable in hindsight. On to the list!

1. Yordan Alvarez hits .310 with 50 home runs.

Predicting health is never easy, but perhaps I was too optimistic on having enough of it for these kind of numbers despite his troublesome knees. If only playoffs counted in the prediction he’d have been closer to this, as he hit a cromulent .293/.407/583 with 31 homers in 496 PA during the regular season but mashed a .436/.477/.949 with six homers in just 44 AB in the playoffs.

He still hit the ball hard, but it was a notable step down from last year’s elite showing with lower HardHit% (60% to 52%) and Barrel% (21% to 18%. Even though he missed time, he still wouldn’t have hit these totals due to that regression. He’s still in my opinion a candidate to spike a season like this in his near future, but there’s no discount on him as he’s entering early drafts as a consensus Top-20 pick.

Verdict: INCORRECT  0-for-1


2. Manny Machado finishes outside the top seven third basemen.

This prediction was an emotional roller coaster, as at various points in the season it made me look either like a genius or a dang fool. He indeed had a terrible start where he continued to degrade along the negative batted ball quality and plate discipline trends I saw in the season, but a few weeks after returning from injury, he was red-hot, yet then slumped through the finish line. The 31-year-old consensus first-rounder hit just .258/.319/.462 with 30 HR, 75 R, 91 RBI, and three SB in 601 PA, which sure looks pedestrian. That ranked him as the 12th overall third baseman in both the ESPN and Razzball player rater. Nailed it!

Of course, you could say that it’s closer if you only count the “true” third baseman, since some of the names like Yandy Díaz and Justin Turner, didn’t play enough games there to qualify for next year, and names like Ha-Seong Kim, Gunnar Henderson and Spencer Steer were multi-position guys, but he would still not rate as top seven. With the emergence of Royce Lewis and Elly De La Cruz, Machado has fallen to pick 80 and the 9th overall second baseman, as there’s some optimism for a return to his former greatness with a season of full health. But given he’s entering his age 31 season, a year in which O-Contact% tends to fall off, I’m not buying back in even at this discounted price.

Verdict: CORRECT  1-for-2

3. Danny Jansen outearns Adley Rutschman.

Well, this one was wrong, but it could have been more wrong. I loved Jansen based on his smaller sample in 2022, and despite being pure garbage in the first half, he finished strong to bring him to a .228/.312/.474 with 17 dingers in just 301 PA. That’s still good for a 116 wRC+, which isn’t so far from Rutschman’s wRC+ of 127. But of course, in most other aspects, Jansen was considerably worse, and Rutschman hit a far superior .277/.374/.475 with 20 HR and one SB in 687 PA, ranking him second on the ESPN player rater (behind William Contreras).

Rutschman did cool off after a scorching hot April until getting his groove back in September, but my concerns about him being worth his astronomical ADP were alleviated by his contact improvements, taking his K% down from 18% to 15% while still maintaining a 13% walk rate. The price is even higher entering 2024, and I’d still avoid as I simply don’t think the magnitude of the upgrade over catchers like the brothers Contreras and even later-round options is worth his 2024 ADP of 62. I’d consider going back to the well on Jansen, as he still has underrated contact skills with double-digit barrels, and perhaps a chance for more regular PT with Alejandro Kirk’s heavy fade. But Jansen’s 2024 ADP of 282 makes it clear that I don’t think they’ll be close, so my Rutschman prediction went Badley.

Verdict: INCORRECT  1-for-3

4. Drew Rasmussen is a Top-20 starter.

This one looked like it was well on the way to coming to fruition, and then he got injured and the fruit was ionized. He had managed his best K% of his short career with a 26% K%, and a stingy 6% BB%, with a beautiful  2.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 47 Ks in 44 innings (as well as four wins), before one of the more surprising injuries, given that he never showed pain on the field and came off an elite start before disappearing. Maybe in celebration, he forearm-punched a wall.

Given that he’s having an internal brace procedure and isn’t likely to make it back until the middle of 2024, he’s obviously not going to make this come true in 2024, even if a healthy Raz was on track for it in 2023, so I have to take the L. That said, he’s a sneaky late-round flier in leagues with many IL spots, as if he comes back, he has the upside to be a homestretch hero.

Verdict: INCORRECT  1-for-4

5. The Miami Marlins win more games than the L.A. Dodgers.

Well, there was one beautiful moment in the season earlier on when it looked like this one could actually come true. But then the Dodgers pulled more rabbits out of hats and had several prospects admirably fill the team’s holes, whereas the Marlins’ trade deadline push couldn’t turn the tide with the struggles of Sandy Alcantara killing much of their momentum. But hey, at least the Marlins made the playoffs, and the Dodgers only got a bit farther than them.

The Marlins still did exceed expectations with the exceptional batting of Luis Arraez and Jorge Soler leading the way, but Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts were unstoppable forces (especially in the second half) and used minor league depth effectively to plug the holes in their lineup, particularly in their rotation after they lost Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Julio Urías. I tried to catch a big fish with this one but it led me out to sea, and I always hated that book.

Verdict: INCORRECT  1-for-6

6. Harold Castro is one of the top five best Rockies hitters.

HAHAHAHAHA nope. After hitting .271 with seven HRs in 2022 in Detroit, he managed a puny .252 with only one home run in 270 PA. Perhaps he struggled to adjust to the climate, because after doubling his Barrel% in 2022 to 6%, he lost the ability to hit the ball hard with just a 29% HardHit%. He also hit the O-Contact% plunge a couple years early, going from 73% in 2022 to just 59% this year. From a fantasy perspective, he may have been the Rockies’ very worst hitter.

Verdict: INCORRECT  1-for-7 (Wait, it gets better!)

7. Carlos Santana outearns Rhys Hoskins.

This one may feel cheap, but if I lost a prediction for Rasmussen getting hurt, then I can win one from Hoskins’s injury on a technicality. Santana also did have a bounce-back season of sorts, especially given the bleak preseason expectations. He hit a completely cromulent .240 with 23 HR, 78 RBI, 86 R and even six SB (um, what?) over 619 PA. That’s actually only a few homers off from Hoskins’ 2022 stats, and I was of course predicting a decline in Hoskins’ output before that which made him overvalued at at ADP of #134. Meanwhile, Mr. Smooth Santana came in at an ADP of #450, making him an excellent value for those who took a chance on him in deeper formats.

Verdict: CORRECT  2-for-8

8. Isaac Paredes hits .250 with 30 homers.

This was my prediction to rule all predictions. He hit .250 with 31 Homers. Nick accused me of sorcery. He was typically outside the Top 300 picks entering 2023 despite impressive power results in 2022, and this year he was very consistent, although he did fade some down the stretch. I argued that his multi-position eligibility and low K% should indicate a better batting average than he had, and although his barrel rate and overall power actually took a step back, he actually went even more extreme with his pulled flyball approach. You can say it’s exploitable, and you’re not totally wrong, but Alex Bregman has made a career with a similar (although superior) approach. Paredes can still further develop his contact and power too as he’s still just 24.

Verdict: CORRECT  3-for-8

9. Jon Berti steals 40 bases again, and so does Bubba Thompson.

Berti didn’t earn-ie me nothing! He actually had a pretty solid season with the bat, hitting a career-best .294 with seven homers, but he only stole 16 bases, a far cry from 40. At age 33, perhaps it’s not surprising, but to me, it’s shocking that the wheels could fall off so fast. He was actually caught stealing more times (six) in 22 attempts in 2023 than times he was caught (five) in 47 attempts in 2022.

And don’t get me started on Bubba. He actually had quite a few chances early on to take the playing time and run with it, but he didn’t hit, and didn’t run. In the end he hit just .170 with zero HR and four SB in 60 PA. Perhaps I would’ve been much wiser to say, “Multiple guys being taken outside the top 200 picks will steal 40 bags” which would be correct, just with Esteury Ruiz and CJ Abrams. In the end, I was commenting on my thoughts of the rules, but I’ve learned that predicting individual SB outcomes is tricky. But I hope this helps convince you to draft power late and avoid taking chances on rabbits.

Verdict: INCORRECT  3-for-9

10. Luis Arraez finally hits a dozen (12) homers, the first time reaching double digits in his career.

Agh, so close! I really did tweak the prediction since the original just said he’d reach double digits for the first time in his career, but that seemed not bold enough. And apparently it wasn’t. If you drafted Arraez after seeing this prediction though, I’m sure you were happy, as he had a fantastic campaign hitting .354/.393/.469 with 10 HR, 71 R, 69 RBI and three SB in 617 AB.

I was arguing here that he was a sleeper at his ADP of 213, and if that was your takeaway, you certainly benefitted here, but that’s on me for being too specific on how he’d provide his value. Given the fact that he was a batting average champ and hit a new career high in homers, I’m surprised that his current ADP only rose about 50 points from 213 to 164, though I’m guessing his reduced position eligibility is a factor. While I expect regression, that expectation seems half-baked into the price so I’d consider him a solid value.

Verdict: INCORRECT (technically) 3-for-10

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.

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