Friday, November 16, 2007

Preseason Picks revisited

Well, the time has come to look back at my picks and selections from the 2007 postseason and see how I did.

Here's what I predicted for the NL EAST:

New York (93-69), 91-95 win range
Philadelphia* (87-75), 85-89 win range
Florida (82-80), 80-84 win range
Atlanta (80-82), 78-82 win range
Washington (68-94), 66-70 win range

And here's what really happened:

Philadelphia (89-73) +2 wins
New York (88-74) -5 wins
Atlanta (84-78) +4 wins
Washington (73-89) +5 wins
Florida (71-91) -11 wins

Well, two of the teams (Philadelphia and Atlanta) fell within my Win Range, if just on the edge. I missed the Mets by 5 wins on the nose and the Nationals by 5 as well. The Marlins were the team I missed big on. I figured they would at least consolidate some of their success from 2006 and move forward. But while the lineup did move forward, the pitching staff completely fell apart. Thus I -- along with many other commentators -- misjudged the Marlins. And it should be said that I was more favorable to the Nationals than many people, who put them well in the 100-loss territory.

St. Louis (86-76), 84-88 win range
Milwaukee (83-79), 81-85 win range
Chicago (78-84), 76-80 win range
Cincinnati (78-84), 76-80 win range
Houston (75-87), 73-77 win range
Pittsburgh (69-93), 67-71 win range

And here's what really happened:

Chicago (85-77), +7 wins
Milwaukee (83-79), Perfect!
St. Louis (78-84), -8 wins
Houston (73-89), -2 wins
Cincinnati (72-90), -6 wins
Pittsburgh (68-94), -1 win

Boy, I had the Brewers pegged: 83-79 and in 2nd place. Of course, I did a big switcheroo with the #1 and #3 teams. I just figured that the Cardinals would be able to get together like they always seemed to do, but boy they didn't. I was equally wrong about the Cubs and was certainly biased by my distaste for their offseason spending spree.
I fit both the Pirates and Astros within my Win Range, but just missed on Cincinnati. I was more optimistic about the Reds' chances, especially with Homer Bailey added to what appeared to be an improved pitching staff. But none of the rookies were really able to make an impact in 2007, and guys I was counting on (like Bronson Arroyo) didn't come through.

Los Angeles (94-68), 92-96 win range
Arizona (85-77), 83-87 win range
San Diego (84-78), 82-86 win range
Colorado (78-84), 80-82 win range
San Francisco (73-89), 71-75 win range

And the real NL West:
Arizona (90-72), +5 wins
Colorado (90-73), +12 wins
San Diego (89-74), +5 wins
Los Angeles (82-80), -12 wins
San Francisco (71-91), -2 wins

How convenient that my two biggest mistakes should come in the same division. Only one team (the Giants) fell within my win range, but I was close enough on Arizona and San Diego; I really just misjudged how good the entire division would be.
My big slight was on the Rockies, who did 12 wins better than I expected (call it 11, since I didn't predict Game #163). Either way, I missed big time. All I can say for myself is that I knew all about the Rockies' good young players, but I just never thought it was really going to come together. I also thought that, while they'd be competitive, they wouldn't be the best in the division ...
Which brings me to the Dodgers. I thought the Dodgers would be the best team in the National League, but they screwed most of that up by doing a terrible job of utilizing what resources they had. Grady Little takes some of the blame, but the real onus is on GM Ned Colletti and his staff for signing a lot of expendable players to contracts that guaranteed them playing time and also blocked cheaper, more productive youngsters. The Dodgers did have some real problems that I didn't anticipate, but their real issue wasn't a baseball problem, it was an intelligence problem.

New York (96-66), 94-98 win range
Boston (91-71), 89-93 win range
Toronto (88-74), 86-90 win range
Baltimore (75-87), 73-77 win range
Tampa Bay (69-93), 67-71 win range

The real thing:
Boston (96-66), +5 wins
New York (94-68), -2 wins
Toronto (83-79), -5 wins
Baltimore (69-93), -6 wins
Tampa Bay (66-96), -3 wins

I wasn't really close or really far away with any of these picks. I remember being skeptical of all the question marks surrounding Boston but, as you're no doubt aware, that all turned out fine. The Yankees weren't quite as good as I'd anticipated, and maybe I was just used to picking the Yankees #1. I had some high hopes for Toronto staying in the race, but they fell back once again. I think I've learned my lesson about giving the Blue Jays the benefit of the doubt -- and the same goes doubly for Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

Cleveland (94-68), 92-96 win range
Minnesota (93-69), 91-95 win range
Detroit (90-72), 88-92 win range
Chicago (88-74), 86-90 win range
Kansas City (63-99), 61-65 win range

Cleveland (96-66), +2 wins
Detroit (88-74), -2 wins
Minnesota (79-83), -14 wins
Chicago (72-90), -16 wins
Kansas City (69-93), +6 wins

So that's two within the win range, one just off . . . and two horrible blunders. One, Minnesota, I can't really blame myself for. With Johan Santana, a crop of good young pitchers, a solid bullpen, and the same lineup from last year, how could they not succeed? That's a good question, and one that we should think about the next time we try to beatify Terry Ryan. The pitching wasn't quite as good, and the lineup was much worse. In fact, the lineup was so foreseeably bad that I felt some of the problems would get solved before the end of the season. My mistake.
Speaking of which, I should have listened to PECOTA and cast a skeptical eye at the White Sox. But I wouldn't listen, and it cost me 16 flippin' wins, my worst performance among all the preseason predictions.

Los Angeles (94-68), 92-96 win range
Oakland (92-70), 90-94 win range
Texas (84-78), 82-86 win range
Seattle (72-90), 70-74 win range

Los Angeles (94-68), Perfect!
Seattle (88-74), +16 wins
Oakland (76-86), -16 wins
Texas (75-87), -9 wins

Yeeeeeoouuucch. I got the Angels prediction right, but even though hindsight is 20/20 and all that, I should have been more skeptical of Oakland. But I stand by my prediction for Seattle; that 88-win crap is some kind of voodoo. As for Texas, I thought they were taking a step forward in 2007. On the bright side, they did take a step forward at the minor league level.

And finally, here are my awards votes and postseason predictions:

MVP: Albert Pujols
He had an off year; he was just one of the 10 best players in the league. The final vote will be announced soon, and Albert should get some support for the middle of the ballot.
Cy Young: Jake Peavy
Thank you; you're too kind.
Rookie of the Year: Chris Young, Arizona
Well, Young did play good defense and hit for power. Other than that, though, he looked horribly raw. The best he'll get is a sympathy 3rd-place vote.
NLDS: Dodgers over Phillies; Cardinals over Mets
As it turns out, I only got one of the four NL playoff teams right. That was the Phillies. But at least I was correct in predicting that the Phillies would exit in the first round.
NLCS: Dodgers over Cardinals
If either team had made the postseason, I think the Dodgers would have been favored.
WS: (see AL results)

MVP: Travis Hafner
I predicted that the Indians would be the inspirational playoff team in the AL this year, and I was right there. I also predicted that they would be led by another banner year from Hafner, whose enormous RBI totals would net him the MVP. But Hafner was just good rather than great, and the Indians will have to settle from getting pitching hardware only. None of their position players will get big support in the MVP voting, although Victor Martinez should get some decent support.
Cy Young: Johan Santana
This is never a bold choice. By my figuring, Santana was the 3rd-best pitcher in the AL this year, but he didn't even do that well in the voting, because even though he was still very good, he was well below expectations.
Rookie of the Year: Alex Gordon, Royals
This was the fashionable choice, along with Daisuke Matsuzaka. But Gordon won't even sniff a vote, unless a KC voter gets generous and lists him 3rd. Gordon got better as the season wore on, but his MLB debut was rocky at best. The field this year was full of players who weren't expected to contend earlier in the year; some may have expected big things from Dustin Pedroia, but who has putting forth names like Hideki Okajima, Brian Bannister, and Jeremy Guthrie in the preseason polls?
ALDS: Yankees over Twins; Indians over Angels
I got three of the AL postseason teams right, although it's worth noting that the team I missed ended up winning the whole damn thing. The Indians/Angels matchup never happened, but I would have favored the Indians there anyhow.
ALCS: Yankees over Indians
This one actually took place in the first round, and the Indians won. I guess in the preseason I had higher hopes for Yankee pitching.
WS: Yankees over Dodgers
I went for a revival of an age-old feud. It didn't work out, but it wasn't an unreasonable prediction to start the season.

And thus we have to wait for next season and hope I can do a much better job next time.

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