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Reviewing some preseason Red Sox predictions

I made some predictions before the season. Let's see how dumb I am.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Back in March, CBS Sports ran a series in which they set a number of over/unders for each of the teams across the league. When they came to the Red Sox, I thought it would be fun to try and pick each of them. It seems like it was a lot longer than seven months ago, and obviously a ton has changed since then. With the regular season (and Boston’s season) over, and not much going on besides the postseason, I figured I would hold myself accountable and see how much I got wrong and why I didn’t see some things coming. I left a few of them out because I couldn’t find accurate results.

Victories against the Yankees: 11

My Pick: Over

Actual Result: 8

Starting it off with a bang. This was a pretty tough call at the time, as I thought the Red Sox and Yankees were relatively close in talent, but I pegged the former as a slightly better club. In the end, New York had the superior squad for the entirety of the season. In fact, before I looked it up I expected the final result to be more lopsided than it actually was. So, thank god for small miracles?

Dustin Pedroia’s slugging percentage: .444

Pick: Under

Result: .441

For all practical purposes, this was essentially a push. The difference between a .444 slugging percentage and a .441 mark is entirely negligible. In fact, if Pedroia didn’t play in his final two games he would have finished with a mark over .444. Generally speaking, his power comeback — he finished the year with his highest Isolated Power since 2012 — was a hugely encouraging sign that probably isn’t getting enough attention. This lineup is so much better when Pedroia is getting on base and into scoring position from the two-hole. With all of that being said, I’ll take my victory despite being mostly wrong about how much power he’d hit for this year.

Amount David Ortiz is fined for not keeping his foot in the box: $24,999

Pick: Under

Result: $0

Remember when this was a thing? It was always overblown, and Dave Brown was clearly having fun with this one. If someone was actually concerned that Ortiz would just rebel against the league because he felt like they were being dumb.

Xander Bogaerts’ batting average: .275

Pick: Under

Result: .320

Okay, obviously I was way off on this one, and in hindsight I look like a real idiot. While that still may be true, I stand by my logic. He was coming off a year in which he hit .240, and as I said in my original post, he’d need some extreme batted ball luck to improve so substantially. To his credit, he did get to a .372 BABIP, which no one could have predicted. In fairness, I did see him as a breakout candidate this year (as did pretty much everyone else on Earth), but I thought he’d do it through OBP and SLG. Whichever way you look at it, though, I whiffed on this one.

Hanley Ramirez plate appearances: 515

Pick: Over

Result: 430

The following is a direct quote from my original post back in March. "The move to the outfield should save his health." Sigh. It was a simpler time back then, when even the most pessimistic among us couldn’t have seen the Hanley Ramirez experiment going this poorly. He ended up getting hurt in the outfield just a month into the season, and between injury and underperformance he barely played at the end of the year. Don’t worry though, first base will definitely keep him healthy.

Hanley Ramirez errors in left field: 9

Pick Under

Result: 4

I was totally wrong about how Ramirez would perform in the outfield, but it wasn’t hard to see him beating this over/under. Nine errors is a lot of errors for a left fielder. As I mentioned in March, no one has had a nine error season in left field since 2009, and no one had more than five in 2015. Even if Ramirez had played at the same pace for 162 games, he’d still have only finished the year with seven errors. If anything, this just shows how bad errors are at judging defense, because Ramirez was clearly lost out there.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Mookie Betts stolen bases: 28

Pick: Over

Result: 21

In just about every area, Betts exceeded my expectations. I figured there would be some growing pains in his first full season, and he’d fall into deep slumps and rely almost entirely on OBP. However, he showed off impressive power and actually carried a low walk rate, at least relative to his expectations. So, he fell short in this category, but it’s not at all indicative of his season. He’ll increase his stolen base totals going forward as he gets on base more, but even if he doesn’t he’ll be fine. Stealing bases is really hard, as only eight players swiped at least 28 bags this year.

Blake Swihart plate appearances: 275

Pick: Under

Result 308

Swihart was the clear number one prospect in the system coming into the year, and with Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan already on the roster, it made sense that Boston would take its time with Swihart and let him develop as much as possible in Pawtucket. Then, just days after my original post went up, Vazquez got hurt and everything changed. Swihart was up much earlier than anyone planned, but he made strong adjustments through the year and it’s hard not to feel good about him moving forward.

Allen Craig home runs: 14

Pick: Under

Result: 1

Yikes. Maybe the easiest call of all these picks. This is too sad, let’s move on.

Joe Kelly ERA: 3.79

Pick: Under

Result: 4.82

While I was clearly wrong on this, I stand by my thought process. I didn’t see any way that Kelly would make it through the season as a starter, and figured he could pitch well enough in the bullpen to get his ERA down into the mid-3’s. Instead, he stuck as a starter all year and had predictably shoddy results despite a relatively strong finish. Here’s hoping they actually try him in the bullpen next year.

Combined starts for Kelly, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson: 135

Pick: Under

Result: 112

I thought it would actually be closer than this, but looking back it should’ve been easy to see this coming. It should have been nearly a foregone conclusion that Buchholz wouldn’t make 20 starts, and that at least one of Kelly or Masterson would be out of the rotation by June. In a long-term view, this may have been a blessing in disguise. Masterson’s early exit gave Eduardo Rodriguez a chance to shine, earning himself a slot in the 2016 rotation. Later in the year, when another spot opened up, Henry Owens showed he can hang at this level.

Koji Uehara saves: 29

Pick: Under

Result: 25

Before I looked it up, I would have guessed that Uehara converted fewer than 20 saves. For all the hand-wringing about his declining stuff, he was his usual outstanding self when he was on the mound. Of course, the injury wasn’t too hard to predict given the fact that he was in his age-40 season. With that being said, when he’s on the mound he showed that he can still be a key part of a good bullpen. The front office will have to surround him with more talent and better insurance, but Uehara is part of the solution to the 2016 bullpen problem.

Wins: 87.5

Pick: Over

Result: 78

Sigh. I had the Red Sox winning 89 games this year and earning a spot in the wildcard game. Like most people, I figured the pitching would be shaky, but the offense would be good enough to carry it for most of the year. Instead, the lineup basically disappeared for the entire month of May and most of June. The good news is they finished in an encouraging factor, giving people hope for next year. I’m sure when the over/unders come out again in the spring, I’ll talk myself into taking the over yet again.

Final Review

In the end, I finished slightly below .500, guessing right on six of my thirteen picks. Given the exercise, I’m extremely happy with myself. This is why you don’t gamble on sports.