About Mark McGwire

by Alex Patton

On page 189 of Fantasy Expert, Ron Shandler gives himself a well-deserved pat on the back.

“The skills focus that nailed pitching also provided an edge on the batting side. The 1998 Baseball Forecaster projected Mark McGwire to hit 60 HR, a bold bet on the impact of expansion pitchers. Nobody had ever dared to publish a home run projection with a “6” at the front of a two-digit number, but there was more than enough in McGwire’s skills metrics to support it. The projection was still quite a ways short of the 70 homers McGwire actually hit, but it was ahead of the field, which was more important for fantasy purposes.”

As I read on to the end of the chapter, the cobwebs stirred. Didn’t I make a pretty good prediction for Mark McWire back in 1998? I pulled Patton’s 1998 Baseball Snapshots from the shelf.

P. 109.

“The Mark McGwire that we know today started to emerge in 1993, but injuries kept his numbers down. So we have to look at the percentages. In the last five years he has slugged .654 vs. righties and .707 vs. lefties. He has had a .418 OBA vs. righties, .467 vs. lefties. With runners in scoring position he has slugged .653. Batting cleanup, he has slugged .669; batting third, he has slugged .762. In April he has slugged .635, in September he has slugged .713. In his worst month, July, he has slugged .601. For Oakland last year he slugged .628, for the Cardinals .684.

Of course he’ll beat Maris’s record this year, barring another injury. To contend that he will stay healthy, yet won’t pass Maris, is going further out on a limb. Admittedly, he has to stay healthy. I hedge a bit there, projecting 525 AB. My projected stats for those 525 AB: 101 runs, 63 HR, 139 RBI, 1 SB, .278.”

I nailed the SB.

I should clarify one other thing: by 1998 I was back to self-publishing. Ron wasn’t on my comp list. And notice that my bid doesn’t back up my prediction. I imagine Ron’s didn’t either.

[From Ron: Kudos – I never saw that.]