I love it when I start an article, and then immediately get side-tracked on to a completely different topic. Such was the case today. This was originally going to be a piece examining Aaron Hill's credentials with regard to the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. So I started off by looking at comments in the thread where Hill was re-signed, to gauge the feeling of the 'Pit at the time, in regard to what has to be considered one of the most successful moves last winter. But I came across the above comment from bb, and the discussion which followed. Fascinating to look back now: turns out there were some remarkably accurate predictions...though also some wild stabs in the dark!
Let's start with John B's immediate response, which bravely broke down the progression vs. regression chances for each player.
IPK - tough to project he'll get better
Hudson - possibly a little
Collmenter - we'd take the same again next year in a heartbeat
Saunders - no way
Miley - maybe a little
Young pitchers replacing Saunders and Miley - Big maybe
Goldy - possibly
Hill - no better than what he gave us and definite downside
Drew - possibly
Roberts - no, he gave us his best last year
Upton - maybe a little
Young - maybe, but also downside
Parra - no, more downside
Miggy - not likely, regression candidate
Hernandez - more downside than upside
Putz - no
Rest of bullpen - possibly
Starting with the hits: certainly, Ian Kennedy regressed, Joe Saunders too (though probably less than expected) and it didn't take a crystal-ball to predict RyRo's reversion to backup level. Young and, particularly Parra, saw their production drop, and Putz's early woes proved too much to recover. Our young pitchers' struggles were documented the other day, and "Big maybe" seems accurate. On the other hand, Miley improved a good deal more than "a little", Goldschmidt was much better too and Hill's is all of 11 OPS points down on 2011. Upton's up-side was a no-show, while Montero improved further, to be a team MVP candidate and Hernandez has improved his ERA by almost a run.
The list prompted this response from Dan: "Drastically underestimating upside with Upton and Parra As well as with Goldschmidt, Drew, Hudson, Miley, and the young pitchers." Bit of a mixed bag there, shall we say: Parra's bWAR is half what it was in 2011. Part of that is due to decreased playing time, but not that much - he had 493 PAs last year, and is on pace for 436 this year. The main cause is a sharp drop off in his offense, with an OPS+ declining from 112 to 89. But part of it is that he has also become a much greater liability when trying to steal. Last year, he was 15-1 in SB attempts; this year, it's 14-9.
Moving down, people agreed the Dodgers were likely the biggest threat in the NL West. Or, as John put it, "We need to pray that Mark Cuban doesn’t buy the Dodgers. He would turn them into Yankees West." Wrong on the nationally famous sports figure, spot on for the end result. Not that it's really helping this season, of course. As for the Giants, "San Francisco needs a lineup. With Melky Cabrera as big solution #1 and Beltran looking like he’s headed out of town, I’ll again believe that they’ll get it when I see it." Oops to Dan on that, though he nailed it with, "Colorado needs pitching. I’ll believe that they’ll get it when I see it." See yesterday for a six-pack of cold. hard Coors reality there.
And what idiot wrote, "We can afford a chunk of regression, having won the division by a healthy margin, and the second-placed team were outscored by their opponents"? What? That was me? Er... Well, in my defense, the "chunk of regression" actually experienced this season appears capable of causing an extinction-level event. The Diamondbacks have gone from first to dead-last in late & close hitting, and seen their record in one-run games collapse from +12 to -12, largely as a result. If we were even at .500 in one-run games, we would currently occupy the second wild-card spot, a game ahead of St. Louis.
I'll finish with another comment from John, which proves eerily prophetic in hindsight. Is it too late to give it a sad, hindsighted rec?