I don't do projections.
There are a lot of reasons I don't do projections. The biggest reason is that I don't do this for a living, and as much as I love doing this, sitting down in January and guessing what 1,000 hitters and pitchers' numbers are going to look like doesn't strike me as a lot of fun. Another big reason I don't do projections is that I'm pretty comfortable just plugging my bids into my spreadsheet, making sure they add up to league budgets, and going into my auction. I've had a pretty good run doing things that way and have a general idea of what kind of stats I'm going to be buying without cranking out a statistical guesstimate for each and every player.
Something I did start doing a couple of years ago was "picking" and "panning" players for The Fantasy Baseball Guide: Rotoman's magazine that hits newsstands every February. There are quite a few experts that pick and pan players and we all have a different approach. I can't speak to what everyone else does, but I try to pick/pan players based on expectations as much as anything else. So while I might like a player overall if I think his auction price is going to be too high I'll pan him.
I feel like it's always useful for people that wear the expert tag (and since I play in two expert leagues I've positioned myself as an "expert") to offer full disclosure on how they actually did. In addition to my league write-ups next month, here are the players I picked that didn't work out and the ones I panned that did work out.
Emilio Bonifacio PICK
My rationale here was fine. "As long as Bonifacio can get on base at a .320 or so clip he's going to run like the wind" I wrote, so I did expect his BA/OBP to drop and it did. But Bonifacio's multiple injuries killed his value. I doubt anyone spent $30 for him, but there were plenty of other speed options that did better and didn't miss significant PT.
Howie Kendrick PICK
I thought the power he displayed in 2011 would (mostly) remain. Boy was I wrong. Kendrick's home run power reverted to his 2010 level, and the conventional wisdom that his HR/FB% was fluky turned out to be quite correct. Yes, I have Kendrick on both of my A.L.-only teams. Why do you ask?
Carlos Quentin PICK
I'm calling myself a moron here, but the only thing wrong with Quentin's 2012 was his usual problem: injuries. The premise of my pick - that Quentin could and would hit for power even in Petco - was quite correct. Quentin had a higher slugging percentage this year than he had since his career year in 2008, and while his OPS was lower at Petco than is was on the road, an 829 OPS was respectable. I paid $9 in Tout Wars for Quentin; at that price in N.L.-only I feel I did well.
Jayson Werth PICK
Injuries sabotaged this pick to some degree, but I can't give myself a full mulligan here. Werth's HR power didn't quite come back and I wrote that something between 2010 and 2011 was a reasonable expectation. That didn't quite happen. If you paid $20+ for Werth in N.L.-only (which is what I would have paid), mea culpa.
Joe Mauer PAN
I was right that Mauer's 2009 power wasn't coming back, but otherwise Mauer had quite the year and - in the context of catchers - WAS an elite option in A.L.-only and even in mixed leagues. That batting average goes a long way. You would have been better off with Mauer this year than with sexier and more popular options like Brian McCann and Carlos Santana. Mauer wasn't overhyped this year; it turns out he was post-hype.
C.J. Wilson PICK
This looked great for the first half of the season but then the wheels came off. Wilson's high walk totals always made him somewhat risky, but I looked past this to his home/road splits while he was in Arlington and foolishly said "Wilson could compete for a Cy Young this year if everything falls into place." Boo me. Stay away from the paint thinner Mike.
Daniel Hudson PICK
Injury, yes, but the numbers were terrible before Hudson got hurt. I said "Hudson is still young, still developing, and won’t get any worse than last year. But he should probably get better." Ruh roh raggy.
Gio Gonzalez PAN
This was my worst pick/pan by a long shot. My rationale was that Gonzalez's high walk/high whiff totals meant that some regression was coming and an injury was perhaps in the offing. It didn't happen, and instead Gio might walk away with the Cy Young Award. Screw me with a funny hat on.
Joe Nathan PAN
This was another case where I defied the conventional wisdom of some of the other touts and got burned. His backers looked at that ERA and improved strikeout totals post All-Star and pointed to a full injury recovery. That's not the way I saw it; I thought Nathan would never be the same after his injury. Maybe he wasn't the "same" but he was plenty good. I missed the boat here.
Wade Davis PAN
My pan presumed that Davis was going to start in 2012, but given his great performance out of the bullpen I can put this one in the loss column.
Jeremy Hellickson PAN
Hellickson was my big ERA/xFIP regression candidate. I'm still not comfortable with a good deal of last winter's analysis regarding why Hellickson's ERA could have or should have remained low, but I'm not grading myself here on how "smart" my rationale was versus someone else's but rather the results. Score this one as a loss for me.