Here's the thing about making fantasy baseball predictions: often, they are incorrect.
It's worse if you make fantasy baseball predictions that wind up in newspapers, or especially online. You can look pretty dumb when they turn out to be dead wrong.
This is unavoidable for someone who, say, writes a fantasy baseball column. Short of hedging every statement with words like 'might' or 'could' or 'perchance will', mistakes will be made, and they will remain online for eternity, for anyone to see and scoff at.
And those mistakes are far more entertaining than the few times a so-called fantasy expert turns out to be right.
Here's a sampling of the best hits and misses this season from this column.
Victor Diaz, RF, Rangers
ith one homer. It wasn't enough that my bad judgment ruined my own fantasy season, now I've branched out to co-workers. How awkward.
Hunter Pence, OF, Astros
Among my worst calls this year, in early May I acknowledged Pence had a high ceiling, but said he ``looked overmatched at times in his first two weeks in the big leagues.'' Darn my need to be contrary. Before his injury, Pence (.330-12-45 with eight steals) was as good a five-tool fantasy outfielder as any out there.
Corey Hart, OF, Brewers
In May, I whined about drafting Hart, hitting .256-1-9 at the time, over Josh Willingham of the Marlins. So to compound what I saw as a mistake, I dropped him and picked up Geoff Jenkins. What can I do for an encore? Hart has 18 home runs and 18 steals now.
Akinori Iwamura, 3B, Devil Rays
In April, I pointed to his great walks-to-strikeouts ratio as a sign of things to come, calling him a fine line drive hitter with great upside. ``No one expects Aki to continue hitting .444, but his ability to make contact makes him a great candidate to hit .300 with at least 20 home runs,'' I said. Halfway through August, he's at .289-3-16.
Wilson Betemit, 3B, Yankees
Things only can get better for Betemit, I said in April, when he was 2-for-28 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Well, they did get better, but my final prediction appears to have been a bit off the mark: ``He has good power and so long as the Dodgers stay with him, he'll hit 25 home runs this year.'' The Dodgers finally got frustrated with Betemit and jettisoned him to the Yankees at the trade deadline. On the season, he's hitting .232-12-34.
Jake Westbrook, RHP, Indians
Back when he had a 12.08 ERA after three starts, I told gullible owners to grab the reliable Westbrook, citing the fact that he was one of just eight starters to pitch at least 210 innings in each of the last three years. As it turns out, he won't get close to that mark this year. Westbrook has pitched 93 innings so far, and they haven't been great ones, as his 3-7 record and 5.01 ERA attest.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Reds
Back on April 19, I wrote: ``I'll be unpopular for writing this, but Hamilton's value will never be higher than it is now.'' Turns out I was right. Hamilton had a nice rookie season, but his .278-14-30 is not what some owners envisioned when he had four homers in 24 at-bats.
John Maine, RHP, Mets
n. He's very much for real.
Garrett Atkins, 3B, Rockies
At the end of April, I made a gutsy statement. I claimed if I could only have one Rockies player for the rest of the year it would be Atkins, even over Matt Holliday. Atkins at the time was hitting .260 with two homers and 12 RBIs. I was before my time; Atkins had a terrible May, his average dropping to .223. But since then, Atkins is hitting .324-14-64, better than Holliday's .332-11-50.
Ryan Braun, 3B, Brewers
After Braun was called up May 24, I gushed about him. ``If you haven't seen his swing ... you might not understand just how good he could be,'' I said. ``Elite power and ability to hit the gaps mean Braun should immediately help the Brewers and your fantasy team. Over time he might be a first-round fantasy pick. Nice to be right occasionally. Braun (.354-23-60) is the best rookie since Albert Pujols, and may even be better than Pujols, who had a 1.013 OPS in his rookie season of 2001. Braun currently is at 1.080.
QUICK HITS: Since the All-Star break, Robinson Cano is not only the best second baseman in baseball, he's among the best hitters overall. In 121 at-bats, he's hitting .413 with seven homers and 29 RBIs. ... Orioles OF Corey Patterson is back to his old tricks, with 15 steals since the break, tied with Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays for tops in the league. ... Scott Kazmir of Tampa Bay is challenging Brandon Webb of Arizona (4-2, 1.01 ERA) and Erik Bedard of Baltimore (5-0, 2.23) as the best pitchers of the second half so far. Kazmir is 4-1 with a 1.16 ERA and 45 strikeouts in six starts.

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