A season in review

It’s a couple of weeks before the season is officially over, but many teams are starting to wind the year down. Younger players get more reps now with the expanded rosters and pitchers are shut down to save their arms as tee times are crawling closer and closer. So as I like to do after a season of scrutinizing just about every move, pitch and swing from every player, manager and front office, I throw the magnifying glass back towards myself.

So today I’ll group my articles together by how effectively I addressed the situations and viewed the outcomes. Without further ado:

The Home Runs

Justin Verlander returning to form was probably the best timed article I’ll ever compose, submitted on the eve of his almost no-hitter. On the day of publishing Verlander tossed over 8 hitless innings, showing everything highlighted in the article. He finished strong as well, with a second half ERA of 2.79 and FIP of 2.75.

After a hot debut month followed by a more average one, lots of fantasy experts were reading too far into their tea leaves with Carlos Correa. But strong physical tools and a great track record as an elite prospect left enough to think he was still about to kick it up a notch; as noted as I gushed over Carlos Correa. His lowest single month wRC+ of 113 came in that second month where fans were worried about a dropoff, but his season to date mark of 132 has him firmly in the Rookie of the Year talks and easily places him as a cornerstone piece of a franchise.

The Warning Track Fly Balls

I voiced concern over his power in Are Mike Trout’s homers an illusion? He began an almost month-long stretch without going long and has still struggled with power. Overall, he’s starting to pick up his game again and return to the Mike Trout we expect to see when we took him first overall in fantasy drafts. His strong September prevents a home run for me here, but the process was in the right place.

It appeared Chris Archer could step up to become a true ace if he could develop his changeup effectively, but he developed a new, filthier slider that ended up driving him firmly into the early Cy Youg race with a torrid start. He will still finished the season as a top-20 pitcher, but has started to see more hits against later in the game than we saw in the early months. His new slider is helping him dominate, but he might still need that third pitch for long-term success.

Swinging at Ball Four

I was so sure that James Shields would rebound, you simply could not convince me otherwise (although plenty of friends did try). The process for buying a rebound looked sound, but he just didn’t quite find himself. His second half stats are actually worse, with his xFIP a full half run higher than his first half mark. The Padres stirred up headlines with all of their flashy moves over the off-season, but it seems everything that has gone to San Diego has just been wacky. I should have know better than to bet against that.

Not that this article is bad, but the underlying premise makes me cringe. On Who is mashing and crashing, I rated the risk by Chris Davis heads. A comical tactic, it made sense because his amazing 2013 year was followed up by a weak 2014 campaign which frustrated many fantasy owners. I had pegged him as the ultimate risk player, and his response was another 40 homer season. Whoops.

The Called Shot

Sabermetricians throughout the internet rave about the “third time through” curse, which is simply that any lineup turns into All-Stars once they see any given pitcher for the third time in the same game. The Rays decided to make a revolutionary move and work forward with only allowing two times through for most pitchers in most situations. The issue with this is that teams need the proper depth to execute this for an entire season. I wrote how the Rays needed to be careful not to tax their bullpen, and sure enough the pen is starting to crash. Even closer Brad Boxberger came out and said how he was frustrated. This came two months in advance of the actual quote, leading this one to be my called shot.

The point of writing isn’t to be right or wrong. It’s about researching a topic and gaining a deeper understanding. At the end of a season it’s fantastic to look at what went well and it can be tough to see predictions fall short, but it’s all about seeing what research techniques work and which ones don’t.

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James Krueger
James lives in Tampa, Florida and is often one of the 10,000 people you can see at Rays' home games. He's a huge fan of prospects, loves analyzing swing mechanics, and will eat a "Top 100" list for breakfast. Dynasty leagues are his forte, especially rebuilding teams; building a farm system is the best part.