My bold predictions for the 2020 season were published on March 4, or roughly a week before everything went to hell. At the time, nobody knew that we'd be left with a 60-game sprint as opposed to the usual marathon of 162. The shortened season obviously changed the calculus a great deal, but it can be still be instructive to look back on how we expected things to play out back in the spring.
All but two of the predictions offered avoided references to counting stats, as I instead opted mainly to focus on where players might rank compared to their peers. In keeping with the theme of my 2020 season (and the year in general), there was unfortunately much more bad than good.
Join me on a journey back to the halcyon Before Times, when the only apocalyptic event looming on the horizon for Major League Baseball was labor strife.
Bo Bichette outearns Fernando Tatis in 5x5
Tatis avoided a sophomore slump and ranked among the best players in baseball, both real and fake. That elite production helped propel the Padres to their first playoff berth in 14 years and first winning season since 2010. The Blue Jays have also clinched a playoff spot, but they did it without as much help from Bichette as expected as he missed half the abbreviated season with a knee injury. He hit well when healthy and his long-term outlook remains excellent, but in the battle of the second-year legacy kid shortstops, Tatis was the clear victor and likely would have been even if not for Bichette's injury.
Dinelson Lamet finishes outside the top-75 starting pitchers
In the parlance of our times: Big oof. Lamet's lack of a quality third pitch didn't torpedo him the way I suspected it might, and his slider somehow got even nastier. The end result: Gaudy ratios and strikeout totals that were enough to make him one of the best starters in the game, despite only notching three victories. Lamet was the beneficiary of some good fortune on batted balls, but he also dramatically cut down on walks and home runs. Even if a handful of those balls had dropped in for hits, he still would have made this one look silly.
C.J. Cron puts up 35 HR and 100 RBI
Once the season was shortened, there was no way Cron could reach these numbers. He also suffered a season-ending injury after just 13 games. He did pop four homers and knock in eight runs, which put him on a full-season pace close to the above benchmarks. Not that 13 games is a meaningful sample, even if it wound up being over 20 percent of the season. Given the carnage that lies ahead, though, I'll take what I can get.
Craig Kimbrel leads MLB in saves
Part of the rationale behind this prediction was that Kimbrel's 2019 struggles were at least partly attributable to the fact that he hadn't signed until June and that this season he'd be able to go through a normal routine. So much for that, obviously. Kimbrel managed only two saves on the season as he suffered multiple early meltdowns and was quickly removed from the closer role in Chicago. A run of scoreless outings after that wasn't enough to salvage his ratios or regain the ninth inning. He can still rack up strikeouts, but Kimbrel has now walked 24 batters in 35 innings over the past two seasons.
None of the four Astros being drafted in the top 50 returns top-50 value
This one stands as the only unqualified success of the bunch. Both Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman underperformed and missed time with injuries on top of that. Yordan Alvarez only managed to suit up for two games thanks to bum knees. George Springer had a perfectly fine season, but wasn't quite good enough to justify his draft position.
Dylan Carlson, Trent Grisham, and Franchy Cordero are top 50 outfielders
Grisham made good on this with an excellent season that put him in the top 15 outfielders, and top 50 overall. The other two didn't even come close. Cordero missed most of the season with a broken hamate bone. Carlson languished at the alternate training site until service time was no longer a concern, and then struggled enough that the Cardinals sent him back there before recalling him again down the stretch. He looked much better on the second time around, and remains an intriguing player for the future.
David Price and Corey Kluber are top-25 starting pitchers
Price opted out before the season started. Kluber might as well have, as suffered a shoulder strain in his first start that ended his year. A pity, as this was the prediction I was most confident in at the time of making it. Both vets should present good buy-low opportunities in 2021.
Nick Madrigal leads MLB in stolen bases
Madrigal showcased two major attributes as a prospect: Almost always making contact, and stealing bases. The former carried over into his MLB debut, as he hit .340. But he only even attempted three steals, succeeding twice. Fantasy managers will hope the speed makes more of an impact moving forward.
Shohei Ohtani returns first-round value in daily leagues
Ohtani made two starts before a forearm strain ended his season on the mound. In those two starts, he allowed seven runs, walked eight batters, and recorded five outs. As a hitter, Ohtani produced respectable counting stats (seven homers, seven steals, 47 R+BI in 43 games) but also hit just .190. While the potential remains tantalizing, he didn't live up to it in 2020.
Peter Alonso hits fewer than 30 home runs
Alonso hit 16 homers, which would have put him on pace to easily clear 30 in a full season, Four of those came in the final week as well, which likely rewarded some patient managers in crunch time. However, he was mostly a bust thanks to a lousy batting average (never got above .247, finished at .222) and run production that fell far short of the elite numbers anyone expected when they drafted him in the early rounds. Partial credit feels reasonable.
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