I predicted across-the-board improvements in offensive output for this team as compared to the 2011 team. I thought that Austin Wates and Jon Singleton would make smooth transitions from Lancaster to Corpus and they did. Austin Wates actually had slightly better numbers at Corpus than he did at Lancaster the previous year (although in fewer at-bats) and Singleton didn't suffer from the Lancaster effect either as he hit home runs at a higher rate in Corpus Christi than he had in hitter-friendly Lancaster.
I was high on Adam Bailey based on his great season in 2011, including limited time at Corpus Christi at the end of the season, but Bailey was sent back to Lancaster before the season even started and didn't make it to Corpus until later in the season. Bailey had a solid, albeit unspectacular, season at Corpus in limited playing time. I was also high on Kody Hinze, largely based on his good transition to AA at the end of the season, but he had a highly uneven season (hitting .278 in April, .106 in May, .306 in June and .167 in July) leading to his ouster in early August. Obviously, that wasn't one of my better predictions.
One of my big questions had to do with J.C. Thompson and Andy Simunic and whether or not they could recreate their 2011 success at Lancaster. Thompson couldn't and was cut after only 18 games. Simunic fared well though, hitting .297/.349/.345. Simunic will never be a big power threat, but he did do a decent job of getting on base and increased his stolen base output while lowering his strikeout rate. My other question had to do with T.J. Steele. I didn't want him taking away at-bats from Bailey, Wates and Brandon Barnes which is precisely what he did to start the season (one of the reasons that Bailey was sent to Lancaster). Steele hit .141 in 26 games for Corpus and was released in late May.
Ultimately, the offense stacked up this way:
2011 - .258/.320/.388 with 4.32 runs scored per game
2012 - .268/.342/.410 with 5.26 runs scored per game
It really didn't take a rocket scientist to predict that an opening day rotation of Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer, Ross Seaton, Jose Cisnero and Jake Buchanan would have a better time of it than the five most frequently used starters from 2011 - Dallas Keuchel, Erick Abreu, Jonnathan Aristil, Xavier Cedeno and a younger, less experienced version of Ross Seaton. Granted Keuchel had a terrific season with Corpus in 2011, but the others had average to below average seasons and I didn't think that would be the case with the 2012 staff.
I predicted that Cosart might start slowly and end strong. He didn't start particularly slowly, but he definitely ended stronger, including a successful stint at AAA. I thought that Oberholtzer would benefit from a second year at AA. Oberholtzer made the most of his 13 starts in Corpus Christi and parlayed that into a promotion to Oklahoma City. I was very high on Ross Seaton based on his improvement late in the 2011 season. I expected to see a vast improvement from him as he had been young for the league in 2011, but would benefit from the year of experience. He did not disappoint me as he went from a 4-9 record, 5.23 ERA and 1.387 WHIP in 2011 to an 8-8 record, 4.07 ERA and a 1.274 WHIP at Corpus Christi in 2012.
I also predicted success for Buchanan and Cisnero. I figured if they could pitch effectively in Lancaster, Corpus would be a piece of cake for them. Buchanan didn't do as well as I had hoped (5-9 in 27 games/19 starts with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.519 WHIP), but Cisnero exceeded my expections with his 9-6 record, 3.40 ERA and 1.279 WHIP which led to a late-season promotion for him.
In looking at the bullpen, I anticipated that the relievers would be more effective since several of them were repeating the AA level. The one thing that jumps out at me when looking at this year's relief staff vs. last year is how stable the 2012 crew was. Seven relievers pitched a minimum of 50 innings (with a combined ERA of 3.94), and only 10 pitchers were used primarily in relief. In 2011, 18 different pitchers were used primarily for relief and only one of them pitched more than 50 innings; of those 18, only three had an ERA lower than the 2012 core staff.
Ultimately, this is how the pitching stacked up:
2011 - 5.01 ERA/1.460 WHIP/5.44 runs allowed per game
2012 - 4.49 ERA/1.332 WHIP/4.49 runs allowed per game
I actually fudged on my predictions and gave a worst-case/best-case prediction. The ironic part was that I remember thinking at the time that the Hooks would do even better than my most optimistic prediction, but I was afraid that I would be accused of either: a) being the biggest homer in the City of Houston , or b) being downright delusional for predicting they would have 30 more wins than the prior season. I should have listened to my heart because they actually had 31 more wins!
2011 Actual - 50-90/.357 win percentage
2012 Worst-Case Prediction - 65-75/.464 win percentage
2012 Best-Case Prediction - 75-65/.536 win percentage
2012 Actual - 81-59/.579 win percentage
Next (and last) on Thursday: Oklahoma City