Great Moments in Predictions: Morosi picks the Royals over the Tigers

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Jon Paul Morosi, who has openly used this year’s season previews as fodder to troll people, last night threw out the biggest hate-bait possible: picking the Royals to win the AL Central.

His rationale: “The rotation is vastly improved, the bullpen is deep, and young stars Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are ready to flourish.” Then he drops a reference to a couple of surprise teams in the past few years and essentially says “why not the Royals?” His argument for the Tigers to fall to second: they have a closer-by-committee. As if Bruce Rondon’s presence on the roster would have pushed them into first place otherwise.

Look, you can either take predictions seriously or you can treat them as the meaningless but sometimes fun and time-killing guesswork that they are. We at HBT prefer the latter tack so we’re not exactly in a position to hurl scorn on someone who makes what most people feel are silly predictions. I mean, this isn’t serious, all-important business like the World Baseball Classic or anything.

But Morosi’s trolling tone aside, it feels like he takes them somewhat seriously. Anyone who makes a point to remind people of previously correct predictions as he does at the outset of the column (while conveniently forgetting some of his poor predictions) is clearly not doing it solely for the yuks. And if you take your predictions seriously, you’re sort of obligated to own them later if and when they fail to be borne out by events.

So let’s all bookmark this column, shall we? Because if the Royals somehow fail to beat out the Tigers, we’ll want to remind ourselves of why Morosi is spending so much time eating crow over how things turned out.  Because he will do that, right?

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.