Collette Calls: Bold Predictions Accountability - Hitters

Collette Calls: Bold Predictions Accountability - Hitters

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Now that the fantasy season is over, it is time for my annual exercise in public accountability as the final installments of 2021 Collette Calls before I transition into working full-time on the annual draft guide. I'll begin with the 30 hitters and express a varying amount of thoughts on each and how the prediction has worked out this year. I'll assign each prediction a grade on the 20-80 scouting scale and let you agree or disagree with me in the comments. Even better, if any of you will be at First Pitch Arizona later this month, we can discuss them over your choice of beverage.

Any reference to rankings is based on our Earned Auction Value calculator In a standard 12-team mixed league format. 

Yuli Gurriel finishes as a top-20 first baseman (grade = 70). Gurriel will finish the season as the 13th-best first baseman this season, mostly built on the strength of his .317 batting average at a time when the league hits roughly 70 points lower. Gurriel has done enough compiling in other areas, scoring 80 and as well as driving in 80 runs while hitting enough homers to stay honest at the position. He was barely in the top 25 at the position during draft season and has significantly improved his stock over this season with only one stint on the injured list making him quite the bargain on the season.

Justin Upton finishes as a top-60 outfielder (grade = 20). Upton got off to a

Now that the fantasy season is over, it is time for my annual exercise in public accountability as the final installments of 2021 Collette Calls before I transition into working full-time on the annual draft guide. I'll begin with the 30 hitters and express a varying amount of thoughts on each and how the prediction has worked out this year. I'll assign each prediction a grade on the 20-80 scouting scale and let you agree or disagree with me in the comments. Even better, if any of you will be at First Pitch Arizona later this month, we can discuss them over your choice of beverage.

Any reference to rankings is based on our Earned Auction Value calculator In a standard 12-team mixed league format. 

Yuli Gurriel finishes as a top-20 first baseman (grade = 70). Gurriel will finish the season as the 13th-best first baseman this season, mostly built on the strength of his .317 batting average at a time when the league hits roughly 70 points lower. Gurriel has done enough compiling in other areas, scoring 80 and as well as driving in 80 runs while hitting enough homers to stay honest at the position. He was barely in the top 25 at the position during draft season and has significantly improved his stock over this season with only one stint on the injured list making him quite the bargain on the season.

Justin Upton finishes as a top-60 outfielder (grade = 20). Upton got off to a decent start this season, but began breaking down in late June and his back ended his season by Sept. 5. Upton managed to hit 17 homers in half a season, but the injuries and the .211 batting average were impossible to tolerate on most rosters. 

Chad Pinder finishes as a top 300 player (grade = 20). Pinder will not even finish in the top 500, and that is a shame. He got off to a wonderful start opening weekend, and then hurt himself making a play against the outfield wall, and missed more than a month. He also went on to miss time with concussion symptoms as well as a hamstring injury, so he never got back into the lineup on a regular basis. He has been a handy part-time player, but still has not shown he can either stay healthy enough or hit enough to be a full-time player at the big league level. 

Ty France is a top-200 player (grade = 70). France is finishing the season as a top-100 player, which is about as improbable as Seattle's close to this season where they still have an outside chance at winning the AL West as I write this installment. France had an ADP of 301 when the prediction was made, and he has made that look silly by earning and keeping a full-time spot in the lineup while hitting 18 homers, driving in 73 runs, scoring 82 runs and hitting a surprising .293. He hit .234 as a rookie and .305 in 2020, so the potential range on average was all quite wide, but the .293/.368/.446 slash line with first and second base eligibility in 2022 drafts will see him creeping into the top-100 ADP this winter. 

Nathaniel Lowe is not a top 400 player (grade = 20). Lowe ranks 125th overall thanks to his regular playing time and quantity production. The .261 average, the 17 homers, the 71 RBIs or the 70 runs scored are nothing to write home about, but eight steals from a first baseman is always nice and the quantity of production for a terrible team has guaranteed playing time for him. He has made the #FREENATELOWE crowd happy while making my bold prediction look rather silly. The prediction was mainly built upon Lowe's inability to hit velocity, and he did improve this season while raising the lowest of bars:

Season

Pitches 95+

BA

2019

80

.048

2020

50

.000

2021

423

.220

Daulton Varsho finishes outside top 200 (grade = 70). Varsho's catcher eligibility during draft season was a shiny new toy that many chased, or even auto-drafted highly because Varsho was the only guy in the queue. Varsho will finish the season just inside the top 400 overall with a .243 average, 11 homers and fewer than 40 RBIs or runs scored. He was not drafted lower than 230 most of winter, so the return on his investment has been quite poor.

Raimel Tapia finishes the season outside top-100 OF (grade = 60). To be fair, Tapia has not had a terrible season. He has hit .275 with 20 steals, has scored 69 runs, driven in 50 and has 6 homers. The problem for him has been the high volume of outfield production this year as his numbers rank 125th in our outfield eligibility pool. The 20 steals are easily a career high for Tapia, but that .321 average from 2020 came back to its 2019 level.

Will Smith is the top fantasy catcher (grade = 50). Smith was going five rounds after J.T. Realmuto during draft season, but Smith nearly pulled this prediction off. He will finish the season as the second-best fantasy catcher in 2021, albeit a very distant second behind the improbable monster season from Salvador Perez.  Smith's 25 homers, 74 RBIs, 68 runs and a .260 average is a great year for any catcher, but it lives in the shadow of Perez's monster season. 

Jake Cronenworth is not a top-200 player (grade = 30). Cronenworth will finish the season just inside the top 100 as one of the better stories in what has otherwise been a terribly disappointing season for the Padres. The playing time concerns were a big part of why I was down on him during draft season, but those issues worked themselves out with disappointing performances and injuries impacting the San Diego roster. 

Jason Vosler is a top-500 player (grade = 20). I, like many, undersold the Giants this winter. They have been arguably the best story in baseball with their record and pursuit of winning the NL West while holding off a Dodger team that has gone 40-13 since the trade deadline. Vosler has only been up for a couple cups of coffee as just about the only no-name player on their roster not to do something this season. 

Adam Eaton is a top-60 outfielder (grade = 20). I clearly meant top 160, right? Spanky's loss of OBP skills were not just a COVID side effect, as his issues from 2020 carried over into 2021 and even LaRussa's love of veterans stealing playing time from more talented players could not save Eaton's job in Chicago. 

Nolan Jones is a top-450 player (grade = 20). Jones never cracked the major league roster for Cleveland as he hit .238/.356/.431 with 13 homers and 10 steals for Triple-A Columbus before an acute ankle injury that required surgery ended his season. 

Robbie Grossman is a top-350 player (grade = 70). Grossman was one of the best fantasy bargains of the season as he will finish the season in the top 90 after going through draft season outside the top 400. Grossman was an attractive veteran on a team that could guarantee him playing time as long as he could stay healthy. The .238 average is the only that kept him from reaching the top 75 this year, but that's a byproduct of him playing daily regardless of the matchup — something that did not happen in his previous stops. Grossman easily had career highs across the board in the counting categories this season, giving him quite a volume of statistics for those who took late-round flyers on his potential. We will have to bake in regression for 2022 after this massive career season at age 31, but it has been fun for his fantasy owners this season. 

Edward Olivares is a top-75 outfielder (grade = 20). If options was a fantasy category, Olivares would be the top hitter in baseball. Only Louis Head was optioned to the minors more often than Oliveras was this season as both players piled up frequent flyer miles shuttling between the big-league club and the Triple-A roster. Olivares barely exceeded 100 plate appearances with the big league club but did hit .298/.370/.524 with 13 homers and 12 steals in 63 games in Triple-A. The talent is there, but the opportunities are not just yet. 

Trevor Larnach is a top 100 outfielder (grade = 20). The rookie was promoted in early May, but went back to the minors in mid-August because there was simply too much swing-and-miss in his bat. He struck out in 34 percent of his plate appearance around some big homers. He went into the break hitting a respectable .254/.348/.424, but went ice cold after the break, hitting .167/.275/.205 with a 39 percent strikeout rate. Remember his name in the 2022 end game. 

Nico Hoerner is a  top-25 middle infielder (grade = 30). Hoerner has played in just 44 games this season around a serious oblique injury, but did have a .302/.382/.369 triple-slash line with five steals in that time. The opportunities were there for Hoerner, but his body did not allow him to take advantage of the open auditions in Chicago this year. 

Aristides Aquino is a top-100 OF (grade = 20). Aquino hit nine homers in limited playing time, but it was Tyler Naquin who took the step forward this year while Aquino continued his big strikeouts around his homers. He will have a new employer in 2022, but there is no reason to give The Punisher another chance until he shows a modicum of better plate discipline.  

Avisail Garcia is a top-60 outfielder (grade = 60). Garcia is the 23rd-best outfielder this season and the 65th overall player this season despite a midseason injury that cost him 25-plus games. Garcia may hit his 30th home run this weekend and has 85 runs driven in, has scored 68 times, swiped eight bases and hit .265, and really took off once Willy Adames was around to help out the offense. Garcia did not really do anything he had not done before other than enjoy the park factors of Milwaukee and the bad pitching of the Pirates and Cubs in the unbalanced scheduling. 

Bryan Reynolds is a top-60 outfielder (grade = 60). Reynolds will finish the season as a top-20 outfielder and ranks 15th at the position. He was the 80th outfielder off the board in draft season with an ADP barely inside the top 300, but has been fantastic for the lowly Pirates with 24 homers, 180 RBI+runs, five steals and a .298 average. He has rarely taken a day off, and his 2021 production has been nearly equal to what he did over the previous two seasons combined. We knew he was not as bad as his 2020 stats, but he has shown he is every bit as good as what he did in his rookie season. 

Dylan Carlson is a top-100 player (grade = 40). Carlson did not quite have the big season I had hoped for, though he has come on strong in the second half of the season. Carlson, like Tapia, had decent numbers, but many outfielders had very productive seasons that pushed down the value of what Carlson did put up. Still, it was a nice step forward for him in his sophomore season and it would not surprise me to see him sneaking into the top 100 in some drafts this winter. 

Freddy Galvis is a top-25 shortstop (grade = 30). Galvis is the 40th-ranked player with shortstop eligibility this season as he was unable to secure a full-time role between injuries and trade, but has hit 13 homers and scored 51 runs in part-time play. He even raised his batting average 21 points from last season, but the lack of playing time ultimately held him back. 

Bobby Dalbec finishes outside the top 350 (grade = 20). For a full explanation of this, please see the piece from mid-September

Gio Urshela is a top-100 player (grade = 20). Urshela is going to finish just inside the top 300 this season after missing time both with injuries and COVID. He gave back all his gains in walk rate from 2020 and doubled down on that pain with a career-worst strikeout rate this season as well. I still believe in him, but this was a step in the wrong direction making 2019 look more like an outlier than a new reality for him. 

Taylor Walls is a top-400 player (grade = 20). Walls ended up playing in 54 games with the Rays with amazing defense and a handful of steals, but was showed little power. He did post double-digit walk rates both in Durham and in St. Pete, but also had his fair share of strikeouts while working those deep counts. Until he shows more pop in the bat, he will be down in the bottom of the lineup much like Joey Wendle was when he first became a Rays utility guy. 

Bo Bichette is not a top-50 player (grade = 20). Only his teammate, Vlad Jr, has out-earned Bichette this season. Bichette has had a monster fantasy season and has justified those who aggressively pursued him this past draft season. Bichette quickly proved he could produce in the top third of the lineup and even moved to clean-up when the team got hot down the stretch. My concern with him was how me could get pushed down the lineup, but Cavan Biggio's horrendous start opened up the chance for Bichette to stick and stay high in the lineup and have a monster season. 

Austin Riley is a top-150 player (grade = 70). I am a long-time Riley fan after watching him rake in the AFL a few years ago, and that has been rewarded this year as he will finish the season in the top 25 overall. Riley is a big reason why Atlanta won its division despite going into August with a sub-.500 team record and losing Ronald Acuna Jr. Riley has handsomely rewarded those who took him outside the top 200.

Adam Duvall is a top-60 outfielder (grade = 70). Not only is Duvall a top-60 outfielder, he will finish the season as a top-50 overall player! He is a terrific reminder about RBIs being a skill of opportunity because Duvall has made the most of his opportunities this year both for Miami and Atlanta. 

Brandon Nimmo leads the National League in runs scored (grade = 30). The .295/.407/.426 triple-slash line with a 15 percent walk rate is just what Nimmo needed to make this prediction come true. Unfortunately, the injuries once again reared their ugly head and Nimmo will finish the season with just over 90 games played. There is no doubting Nimmo's ability to get on base and produce runs, but that skill is only good when you can put on a uniform on a daily basis, which is something Nimmo has never been able to do at the big league level. 

Alec Bohm is a top-60 player (grade = 20). Sophomore slumps are not supposed to be a real thing, but Bohm tried his darndest to disprove that with an abhorrent season at the plate. He was sent to the minors at one point of the season, and really needs his own deep dive into how everything went wrong for him this year after such a promising 2020 season. Maybe it is mental given his meteoric rise through the system, but this was very painful to watch. 

Starlin Castro is a top-20 second baseman (grade = -200000). He is a horrible person and I hope we have seen the last of him in a major league uniform.

Grade

Percentage of Predictions

20

43%

30

13%

40

3%

50

3%

60

10%

70

20%

80

0%

My goal every year is to roughly hit on a third of the bold predictions, so I did get that here but I am disappointed in some of the large misses, particularly with Bichette, Urshela, Nimmon, Cronenworth and Bohm. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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