Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 12/2/12
At the request of one of our readers, Nick, I spent a couple hours yesterday sifting through our 2012 fantasy baseball projections looking for our 10 best and, of course, our 10 worst. As Nick put it, “Bragging rights and holding self accountable in one shot.” Well Nick, I never pass up a chance at bragging rights. Obviously there are a bunch of surprises each year, both good and bad, so I did my best to exclude anyone who got hurt (Cory Luebke), broke out in a ridiculous way (Mike Trout), or slumped worse than everyone expected (Jon Lester). We’ll start with the good, but if you want to skip to our 10 biggest failures of 2012 then go ahead. That’s what I’d do if you were writing this. 10 Best 2012 Projections Admittedly we whiffed on the homers, but exactly pin-pointing Braun’s R and RBI merits some recognition. And missing by just four SB and three points in BA isn’t too shabby either. Just four RBI in April sort of sank our projection in that category, but coming within two R and hitting BA exactly is still pretty good (even though Cano’s R every year are nearly identical, but whatever). Choo was a difficult player to project entering 2012 as he recovered from an injury in 2011 that limited him to just 85 games. While the R and RBI are inverted (and still a little off), we pegged Choo’s HR and SB exactly and missed by just one point in BA. De Aza was a revelation in a short stint with the White Sox in 2011, and many experts listed him as a sleeper in 2012. Before last year, De Aza had tallied just 388 plate appearances in just three major league seasons (dating back to 2007), and despite having a starting job few knew what to make of him. Well, apparently we did. Zimmerman has had a few up and down seasons in Washington mostly due to injury issues, but I’d say we did OK. We figured he’d get the batting average up, but instead we’ll have to settle for being pretty much right across the board. Given the uncertainty surrounding Zimmerman (again, mostly due to health) I’ll gladly chalk this up as a win. Perfect on the R and HR, off by six RBI, one SB, and 11 points in BA. We were under on the RBI and over on the BA, so on the whole we were right there. In the interest of full disclosure, we projected it would take Alonso 342 at-bats to accrue these stats. It took him 549. But you don’t need to tell anyone about that. Phillips pretty much plateaued in HR and SB starting in 2010 so those weren’t too tough to project, but his R, RBI, and BA have been wildly erratic over the last half decade. I’d say we were right there, though still a little over. Onto the pitchers! We were pretty much on target with Hernandez last year right down to his GB:FB ratio. Moore didn’t maintain the near-elite control we thought he might, but pinpointing the W, K (exactly), and IP of a potential rookie phenom is pretty impressive. 10 Worst 2012 Projection Go to hell, A.J. Pierzynski. Are you there yet? The way the free agent market is shaping up for the 36-year-old catcher, he very soon will be.  Fresh off a huge contract, Molina proved he was worth every dime. I’m not sure how optimistic people were about Molina entering last year, but my guess is it wasn’t optimistic enough. Not much to like from our projection here. We seriously expected Lee to hit 20 HR and drive in over 90 runs? What the hell were we smoking? This might be our biggest flop of 2012. In the pre-season George and I swapped Eric Hosmer and Andrew McCutchen, a trade that actually seemed very fair at the time. Six months later? Not so much. We expected good balance from Davis last year. We didn’t think he’d excel anywhere, but we thought he’d give a little something across the board (SB aside). Of course, we were completely wrong. Davis crushed 32 HR, but that came at the expense of his BA.  I don’t think anyone expected Teixeira to be this bad, but I included him in our bottom 10 because we actually projected slight improvement from his 2011 stat line. Tex will be tough to peg entering 2013. Forgive us, we were believers! Honestly, we thought something special was brewing in KC; instead, we have two Royals on this list. While I still think the future is bright in Kansas City, I think we were just a year early. One of our big preseason debates was who to rank higher: Zimmerman or Lawrie. I said Lawrie. I was wrong. It looks like Lawrie will bat seventh in Toronto’s suddenly stacked lineup, and that could mean a lot of RBI opportunities. We expected regression to be in order. Cueto improved instead. While his ERA rose from 2.31 in 2011 to 2.78 in 2012, he saw his FIP fall and his strikeout rate rise significantly as well. I’m still not sure Cueto is a fantasy ace (I will certainly be avoiding him again in 2013). Do I sound bitter? I don’t think many people pegged Lohse as a candidate for a sub-3.00 ERA, but we were way off. Like with Cueto, I’d expect noticeably regression in 2013, but Lohse is just another example of the breakout potential of low-walk pitchers with ground ball tendencies.
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