On March 20, I made several predictions relevant to the Braves that I want to check up on.
Prediction: Oscar Villarreal will pitch less than 30 innings.
So far: 14 and 1/3 IP. Although his line of 7 Ks/ 8 BBs/ 2 HBPs/ 1 HR isn’t instilling me with any confidence.
Prediction: Horacio Ramirez is going to have his worst season yet.
So far: Injured after 3 IPs, although still no home runs allowed.
Prediction: Lance Cormier will be the most-reliable middle-reliever in the pen.
So far: Well, before his injury he was Cox’s favorite middle-reliever and his ERA is good (3.00). However, his peripherals are pretty smelly (7 Ks /9BBs/ 1 HR in 15 IP) and not in the spirit of my prediction.
Prediction: Chris Reitsma will be a solid set-up man or closer.
So Far: He’s been awful. 5Ks/ 4 BBs /3HRs in 12 and 2/3 IP. His K-rate continues to fall, and he’s already given up as many home runs as he allowed last year. This isn’t our hit-unlucky Reitsma. If anyone might be missing Leo, it’s him. Although, this is pure conjecture on my part.
Prediction: Andruw Jones will make 2005 look mediocre.
So Far: He’s hitting about the same as he did last year.
Prediction: Chipper Jones will continue his excellent play. If he stays healthy, he is an MVP candidate.
So Far: He’s already been on the DL. He’s hitting for average but is Iso-Power is down about 100 points. He’s only hit 2 homers so far.
Prediction: Marcus Giles will have an OPS of less than .800.
So Far: Well, unfortunately I was really right on this one. To be fair, Giles has been injured. But his power has been non-existent. At least he’s walking.
Prediction: Adam LaRoche will have an OPS greater than .800 (does not apply if he isn’t platooned).
So Far: Surprisingly, I’m right on this one and he hasn’t been platooned. Currently, LaRoche’s OPS is at .809. Despite a .220 AVG, he’s getting on base and hitting for power. Jeff Francoeur could learn a lot from Adam about the difference between productive and empty batting averages. Speaking of Jeff…
Prediction: Kelly Johnson will out-hit Jeff Francoeur (assuming KJ stays healthy and isn’t sent to AAA).
So Far: KJ looks to be heading for Tommy John.
Prediction: Andy Marte will out-hit Jeff Francoeur (the Indians will find room for him).
So Far: The Indians haven’t found room for him, and Marte is strangely homerless in Buffalo with a .350 OBP.
Prediction: Brian McCann will out-hit Jeff Francoeur.
So Far: Brian McCann has been fantastic. Again, here’s someone Jeff should seek to learn from. Unlike Francoeur, McCann learned how to take a walk in the minors and it has paid off with a .337/.379/.522 /.901 line. He’ll probably drop off some, but he’s in no danger of seeing the minor leagues for any reason other than a rehab assignment. He’s really been overshadowed by Francoeur and Marte, but he’s the real shining star of the Braves farm system.
Prediction: Johnny Estrada will have an OPS greater than .750.
So Far: Johnny is off to an excellent start (.298/.326/.488/.814). He has to hit for a high average to be an excellent-hitting catcher, because he doesn’t walk much. But, he’s shown he can do that. I expect he’ll regress some, but I predict he’ll end the season over .750, which is good for a catcher.
Prediction: The O’s ERA will drop and the Braves ERA will rise. Their ERAs will be within 0.25 runs.
So Far: Wrong, right, and wrong. The O’s pitching hasn’t looked good with the second worst ERA in the AL (5.71). However, the Braves aren’t doing so hot either with a 4.29 ERA. And the Braves have actually been a little bit lucky, with a FIP of 4.77. Atlanta had a 3.98 ERA in 2005 with a very similar pitching staff. The O’s had an ERA of 4.57 with some significant turnover from last year.