I've been dragging my heels a bit in going back to look at some of my predictions for the Astros minor league teams for 2012. Frankly I was surprised that I did fairly well overall with one major exception. Let's look at my predictions as to how the 2012 full season teams would fare. First the A level Lexington Legends.
I was concerned about the offense on this team. On paper, they looked to improve slightly in batting average and on-base percentage over the 2011 team, but were poised for a large drop-off in power coming in to the season. I saw Mike Kvasnicka and Matt Duffy as keys to shoring up the team slugging percentage. I wanted to see those two players translate some of their doubles power into home run power as I thought they were the most likely candidates to do so. They both obliged nicely.
32 doubles/4 triples/4 home runs in 128 games in 2011
15 doubles/1 triple/15 home runs in 63 games in 2012
20 doubles/1 triple/2 home runs in 63 games in 2011
32 doubles/1 triple/16 home runs in 134 games in 2012
I also wanted to see at least incremental improvements offensively from three players. Robert Pena started off the year at Lexington slowly, but did start showing those incremental improvements prior to his promotion to Lancaster. Alex Todd didn't do anything incrementally. He blew away his rather anemic 2011 numbers and only spent 22 games with Lexington before getting the call up to Lancaster. And we all know about Delino DeShields terrific season as he went from hitting .220/.305/.322 at Lexington in 2011 to .298/.401/.439 in 2012, leading to his late season call-up to Lancaster.
And finally, I wanted to see three players avoid major drop-offs from their 2011 seasons. Matt Duffy continued to show consistency all season and ended up with only a slightly lower batting average than he did in 2011 despite playing in more than twice as many games (and had a higher OBP and SLG). However, Emilio King went from .293/.332/.439 in 98 games with Lexington in 2011 to hitting .135/.220/.176 in 20 games with Lexington in 2012, leading to a trip back to extended Spring Training. Somewhere in between was Jordan Scott who I saw as unlikely to produce at the level he had the previous year (.323/.380/.406 through three levels), but who ultimately fell off offensively more than I had expected (.230/.325/.280).
Ultimately, the offense stacked up this way:
2011 - .255/.327/.389 with 4.67 runs scored per game
2012 - .252/.344/.380 with 5.01 runs scored per game
I was more optimistic about the pitching than the offense. Overall, the 2012 staff looked to be stronger than the 2011 staff and I expected improvement in that area. But after I established some of my keys to success, the team quickly re-keyed the locks. First of all I was looking for Nick Tropeano to build on his terrific freshman year success. Check. But I hoped for the same from Kyle Hallock who struggled out of the gate before having surgery and missing the vast bulk of the season.
But I looked rather perspicacious when I went on to note that Luis Cruz and Carlos Quevedo, both of whom started the season in the bullpen, had experience as starters and were quite capable of picking up the slack if the opening day roster rotation struggled. Quevedo started four games for Lexington, but Cruz became a regular and started 24 games for the team and did so quite capably.
The other key, in my mind, was improvement by Mike Foltynewicz and Tanner Bushue. I expected improvement from Folty but was very pleasantly surprised by the level of his improvement. I also expected improvement from Bushue, but he continued to struggle with mechanics and was quickly sent back to extended Spring Training after only six games.
I also liked the bullpen and saw good seasons from Dayan Diaz and Jason Chowning, in particular, as establishing the strength of the Lexington 'pen. They did not disappoint.
Ultimately, this is how the pitching stacked up:
2011 - 4.63 ERA/1.413 WHIP/5.30 runs allowed per game
2012 - 4.26 ERA/1.387 WHIP/4.81 runs allowed per game
I underestimated how well every single full season team would do, but I did come close on Lexington.
2011 Actual - 59-79/.428 win percentage
2012 Prediction - 65-75/.464 win percentage
2012 Actual - 69-69/.500 win percentage
Next up: Lancaster