With the season winding down and the Pirates becoming more and more difficult to watch, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at my preseason expectations. I made a brief prediction for each player in Graphical Player 2009, so I will go through the book and see how I did when I have some more time. For now, let’s look at a list of expectations that I threw together on a flight to Texas the day before the season opener.
Andy LaRoche will thrive
Right off the bat, a complete miss. LaRoche provided very little at the plate and an average glove in the field. I predicted he would be a three-win player, but he is closer to 1.5 wins at this point. As I have written recently, I still think he can become a productive major leaguer. But I was way off with this prediction.
Craig Monroe will be a disaster
I nailed this one, but I wasn’t exactly going out on a limb. Most people knew that Monroe would be terrible, and he didn’t disappoint. He finished with a dreadful line of .215/.287/.354.
Zach Duke will be decent
Duke has been a very solid pitcher in 2009. His defense has helped him, but he is also boasting a slightly above average FIP. His strikeouts are up and his walks are down. “Decent” is probably selling him a bit short.
Andrew McCutchen will make his debut and many will be disappointed
Yes on the first part, not even close on the second. I expected McCutchen to struggle in his rookie season, and predicted a line around .270/.330/.400. His actual numbers are .278/.353/.466, showing that I clearly underestimated his power. A hot start, several clutch hits and an exciting style of play ensured that nobody was disappointed by the rookie.
The bullpen will be awful
Yep, they were one of the worst bullpens in baseball. In my original post, I stated that “There are a great deal of question marks behind Matt Capps and John Grabow.” Capps turned out to be one of the worst performers out of the pen, while several of those question marks produced promising seasons. Evan Meek and Jesse Chavez (until his recent struggles, at least) had solid years, and Sean Burnett was productive before being traded. Despite a high walk rate, Joel Hanrahan was also very good after being acquired from Washington. The bullpen was indeed awful this year, but there seems to be some promise for the future.
Adam LaRoche will have a career year and will be dealt before the deadline
Technically, I was kind of right on this one. LaRoche is having his best season since his breakout year in 2006, but most of that production has come after he rejoined the Braves. He struggled greatly while with the Pirates and only netted two marginal prospects in a midseason trade.
The team will outperform expectations
Nope. Not even in the right ballpark with this one. I expected 70-72 wins, and I guess it is possible that the team would have reached that number if the entire starting lineup were not traded away. Right now, there is serious doubt whether the Pirates will even reach the 60-win mark this season.