At the beginning of the season, I made some predictions for what I thought would potentially happen. Obviously when you’re making bold predictions, you don’t expect all of them to come true. I find it funny that most people just crank these things out and no one usually goes back to see how they did. Today we’re going to do just that. Off we go.
1. Mike Olt will lead the team in home runs - OK, we’re off to a no so good start here. I didn’t think Olt was going to be a monster at the plate, though I hoped he would, but I didn’t expect him to struggle as much as he did. He said his eyesight was better and that it was the cause the year before for his struggles. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and Olt finished 5th on the team in home runs with 12, behind Anthony Rizzo (32), Luis Valbuena (16), Starlin Castro (14), and Welington Castillo (13).
At this point, I’m not really sure what the future holds for Olt. He’s generally dropped out of the discussion as a future building block, so now the question is what his role might actually be. I fear he may go the route of someone like Josh Vitters and just sort of fade off into the Cubs sunset. The one thing he has going for him this year and probably this year only, is that Kris Bryant won’t be called up immediately. He has a very small window of shared time at third base with Valbuena where he could impress. It may be his last shot.
2. Javier Baez will have started at least 15 games at shortstop for the Cubs by September 1. – While he only make five starts at shortstop before Sept 1, he did play basically the entire month of August, which was the point of the exercise here. My point was that Baez was going to be up and starting sooner than September 1 and I just figured it would be at shortstop.
3. Anthony Rizzo will finish in the top 10 for the NL MVP race - Had Rizzo not gone down for a period with an injury, he would have finished higher in the ballot. Nonetheless, it was announced the other day that he just squeeked out a win for me on this one with a 10th place finish in the NL MVP vote. That makes 2-for-3 so far.
4. Kyle Hendricks will make at least 10 starts for the Cubs - I knocked this one out of the park. 10 starts was a really bold prediction given that a starter, if healthy, only makes about 33-35 starts, and the fact that the Cubs had five guys pretty much locked into the rotation to start the year. Hendricks looked far better than I would have predicted, but I think we’ll see a strong regression to the mean in 2015 for him and he’ll settle in as a back end of the rotation guy. It’s tough to be more than that as a finesse pitcher, but maybe he’ll prove us wrong.
5. Pedro Strop will finish the season with more saves than Jose Veras - I feel bad taking a win on this one, but it is what it is. Strop finished the season with two saves and Veras had just one. Veras looked better pitching for Houston, but I’m fine with us releasing him when we did.
6. The bullpen will finish in the top 5 in the NL for ERA - It’s not a win for me on this one, but my point in the prediction was that this bullpen was going to be much improved. For a bullpen that finished 13th in 2013, an improvement to 8th is what I was going for. I can’t find a site that will allow for a double split to sort as a bullpen and month by month, but I would venture to guess that the pen was top five or just outside of it each month after Veras was released and Carlos Villanueva stopped getting in games as consistently late.
7. More than one player will represent the Cubs in the All Star game. - Nope. [UPDATE] I was told to give myself credit for this one. Rizzo was added by vote later. I don’t tend to count that spot, but I’ll take it.
8. Castro will be traded by the July 31 deadline and Darwin Barney will not. - Got this one completely backward. I thought someone would want to trade for Castro and that the front office would make that deal. I also thought Barney had no value whatsoever. Instead, it’s Barney leaving and the Cubs receiving Jonathan Martinez in return.
9. People will quickly see why Arodys Vizcaino was considered a top prospect when he announces his presence with authority after being recalled from Iowa and becomes one of the top arms in the pen. – Boy, I really thought he was going to be huge for this pen. In fact, all spring training I predicted he would make the opening day roster. Instead, he was traded back to the Braves last week.
10. The Cubs will win 81 games in 2014 - I must have meant 2015.
Final Total – 5 out of 10