Predictions are a happy tradition before every season. It is not always a tradition in correctness, but it is a tradition we all enjoy.
Not everybody takes a look back when a campaign comes to a close though. Most people throw the predictions into the abyss and then erase them from their memory.
I am not that sort of guy.
When the Cincinnati Bearcats were eliminated from the American Athletic Conference Tournament by the Memphis Tigers in a 15-14 extra innings slugfest, one of the first things I did was check how my predictions turned out. And now we can go through them and mock my failures and celebrate my successes together.
Andrew Zellner will throw 100 innings, have a sub-2.50 ERA and be an All-AAC first-team selection
Oh sweet, sweet before-the-season Phil. You were an optimist to the end. Unfortunately that optimism did not equate to on-field success. On paper, the prediction was nothing crazy. Zellner did all those things in 2016. In essence, I thought I was being safe with this prognostication. It appears I was gambling against a blackjack dealer showing a face card though. Zellner struggled throughout his senior year, finishing with an ERA of 5.98, the worst mark since his freshman season, while tossing 64 2/3 innings and coming nowhere close to an All-AAC team.
Connor McVey will bat over .300 and earn All-AAC second-team honors
This was another one that seemed safe-ish. Although he batted .292 in 2016, I thought his speed and extra year of development would lead to another step forward for the third baseman. Unfortunately, a slow start hurt his bottom line, as he finished up slashing what was a solid .280/.382/.383, but far below the lofty expectations I, and others, had set for him.
Ryan Noda will set a career-high in home runs
Noda hit seven home runs in 2015. He hit six in 2016. He hit nine in 2017. If my extensive knowledge of mathematics has told me anything, nine is more than seven and six, making this a prediction I absolutely nailed. Noda also set a career-high in slugging percentage (.488) and on-base percentage (.394) so the underlying reasoning (Noda would have a breakout year) also held true for the most part.
Joey Thomas will make the most starts at catcher
Back-to-back correct predictions for your boy. Thomas slashed .258/.305/.326 and started in 51 games, easily making the most starts of any catcher on the roster. Thomas, who was replacing Woody Wallace, did more than just sit behind the plate a lot. He was also an excellent defender, throwing out a league-best 27 would be base stealers.
J.T. Perez will lead the Bearcats in strikeouts
Although I got this write technically, with Perez notching 60 Ks, it still feels like I got it wrong. I was expecting big things from Perez and Zellner and both disappointed. Perez was better than Zellner, with a 4.42 ERA in 77 1⁄3 innings along with those strikeouts. However, there were few players who had any real shot at taking him down, as only David Orndorff, Zellner, and A.J Kullman also pitched more than 40 innings.
Cincinnati will win 30 games
This prediction was built on a belief that Zellner would be an ace, Perez would be as well, Noda would break out and McVey would push for all-conference honors. Really only Noda succeeded and yet the Bearcats still managed to win 28 games, coming oh so close to that 30-win mark. Of course, the program’s trajectory is in question now, with Ty Neal stepping away, but UC baseball seems to be on the right path.