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
A fellow AP sports writer listened to me in early June when I said Victor Diaz was someone to pick up at any cost, immediately. At the time, he was hitting .294 with eight homers in 68 at-bats. It's no fun having to see my co-worker every day, because since that article in early June, Diaz has gone 5-for-36 (.139) with 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
In late April, I declared Maine not a fluke after his first four starts. I said: ``He's dominant, his slider is nearly unhittable, and the only thing holding him back from being a top-10 pitcher is his control, which seems to be improving.'' I'm not surprised that he's been the Mets' most consistent starter this year, going 12-7 with a 3.53 ERA, and I'll go further by saying he'll overcome his recent swoon. 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
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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