Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Midseason Update - Preseason Predictions

At the end of spring training, I joined the throngs of bloggers, baseball personalities, and other baseball fans in offering my predictions for the season. As I said then, I'm absolutely terrible in making preseason predictions (I predicted the Royals to make the World Series in 2004 - they lost 104 games instead), so this was meant more in fun. It's just what you do before the season starts, right?

If you click through to that prediction piece from early April, you'll see that I did try to do something a little different:
But to make it even more exciting, I've decided to invite some others to give their predictions too. My brother was ingenious enough to set-up a spreadsheet using Google Docs that can record a bunch of predictions, and I've invited all my friends and fellow bloggers (that I could remember at the time) to use that spreadsheet to record their predictions. Hopefully, a few of them will, and we'll be able to compare the various predictions side-by-side. Feel free to view the predictions here...
I thought it was a great idea, and was glad to see that a few others did as well. In the end, seven other bloggers, along with myself and a few friends, participated in the group prediction. It was a better result than I could have expected, and I hope everyone had fun doing it.

So now that we're at the All Star break, how are we all doing? Is there any kind of knowledge in our collective wisdom, or has this baseball season just been too strange for everyone? Looking at the group as a whole, there were a couple of predictions that just about everyone made that have proven to be dead wrong. Most of these can be blamed on the Cubs, who seemed to be the consensus runaway NL Central winner, and the Tigers, who I don't think anyone picked above third place (and who a few picked to finish last). Along those same lines, the Dodgers' dominant season wasn't predicted by anybody, including the Dodgers fans, and both the Giants and Indians seem to have surprised everybody, though for different reasons.

My predictions had the Mets, Cubs and Twins all leading their divisions, while the Tigers were in the cellar. I also had very high hope for the A's, putting them at second in the West. At least I was able to correctly predict Boston, Anaheim, and Los Angeles. As I said, I'm just not good at this. I'm even doing poorly in the postseason awards, with Francisco Liriano and Manny Ramirez prominently involved.

I'd like to say that one of my fellow bloggers towered above the rest, but I'm not sure I can. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Josh Wilker of the excellent Cardboard Gods. While he was only able to predict 3 of the 6 division leaders, he did predict the best season out of Detroit (2nd place with 83 wins) and his 87-win prediction for the Giants is higher than most. He did predict a runaway division win for the Mets, though, and while that's technically possible, it's definitely not the case here at the break. Albert Pujols is looking like a pretty good MVP choice, though.

Besides Josh, I would probably have to go with Dave Pinto over at Baseball Musings. His best picks have the Angels, Phillies, and Dodgers in first with the Giants finishing second in the West. He also puts the Cardinals in second with 85 wins, which is pretty close to reality. Like Josh, though, his Yankees and Indians picks look really out of place (not to mention his last place prediction for the Tigers).

After those two, it's kind of a mix-and-match of good and bad predictions. Not that we can really blame anyone for that, though - this season truly has been a weird one. Josh from Jorge Says No! has the best Dodgers prediction (97 wins), but the 99 wins he predicted for the Cubs and the Twins-Indians duo in the AL Central seem a little out of whack.

Mark from Way Back and Gone showed his Braves bias a little, plugging them in for 91 wins and a 2nd place finish. He did make up for it some with his Anaheim, Philadelphia, and Boston picks. His pick of Pablo Sandoval as Rookie of the Year would be quite prescient too, except that the Kung Fu Panda had too many ABs last year to qualify. You have to give Mark points for predicting the big season, though.

Jay from Fack Youk nailed the two Southern California teams, but he let his New York bias show through when he put the Mets and Yankees both in first place. Normally, I could say the same thing about my brother Paul and my buddy Ryan, who let their Dodgers and Giants biases show through, but, the way those two teams are playing, they probably look like the smartest guys in the crowd. Ryan's also doing pretty well with the postseason awards, naming Halladay and Lincecum as Cy Young winners and Pujols as the NL MVP. Paul joined Mark in giving the ROY to Pablo Sandoval while Jay also had Pujols as the MVO.

Ron from Baseball Over Here is looking pretty smart with his Cardinals (1st place) and Rangers (2nd place) predictions. He was the only one to predict such high finishes for those two teams, but he did also place the Giants and Tigers in the cellar. It's definitely been a funny year.

My old buddy Joe went off a little on his own, predicting a first place finish for the Giants and a second place finish for the Reds (his favorite team, of course). The Reds pick may not be panning out as he would hope, but at least he's getting something out of his Boston and Anaheim choices.

Finally, The Common Man made the bold prediction of the A's winning the AL West. And while that may not have been a huge shock in April, it probably looks the worst out of all the picks today (sorry, TCM!). Like I said, it's been a funny year. At least he was able to correctly predict the Red Sox, Rays, and Dodgers. His choice of Halladay as AL Cy Young is also worth mentioning.

In the end, I think this tells us more about the way this season is going than anything else. Sure, preseason predictions are hard and ultimately pointless, but I have to guess that, in a pool of 12 predictions, you can usually find one or two that are nearly spot-on. That doesn't seem to be the case here, and I'm choosing to blame the MLB season rather than the baseball intelligence of my friends/fellow bloggers. Even knowing that, I still hold out hope that, come October, my prediction sheet will come out closest to reality. It must be some weird aspect of human nature, to never give up on something as silly as this. I'm not holding out any hope though - I might as well add the Mets to my list of failed preseason predictions. Gotta keep the streak going, you know?

5 comments:

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Hey, the season isn't over yet. The Braves will win 91, just you watch. ;) I never can make them lose a lot even if I think better of it.

As for the Sandoval thing, I got a little antsy because I couldn't think of any really good candidates (I figured Rasmus wouldn't get up to the majors quick enough and wouldn't get so many starts with Ludwick, Ankiel, Duncan, and the eventual move of Schumaker back to the OF). Oops.

I'm still in shock over Detroit. I can't figure it out. That was my one certainty. Look what happens.

lar said...

It's alright, Mark. Homerism biases us all. You can almost guess each person's favorite team in the spreadsheet just by finding the most optimistic prediction. It's what makes this fun for us fans.

And you're not the only one surprised by Detroit, as is pretty clear.

jorgesaysno said...

Two words:

oy vey.

Joe said...

So far, I am pretty much WAY off.

I tried to be unbiased, and I was really certain the Reds would be above .500, and 89 wins really wasn't that much of a stretch but between injuries (Volquez, Votto, Encarnacion) and youthful struggles (Bruce, Cueto), it looks like .500 is a longshot.

At least my Giants pick is looking better, but if you told me the beginning of the year that Jeff f'n' Weaver, and Eric "worst Reds signing ever" Milton would join Randy Wolf in having a renaissance at Chavez Ravine, I'd have told you to get your head examined.

The best part? Some GM will sign Weaver to a 2 year $20m deal over the winter. I swear he just won't go away! (And I did love watching him in Fresno, but seriously, as a pro? bleh)

This, is why I love this game.

lar said...

I wasn't trying to call you blindingly biased. It's just that, when people follow a team closely, they always get a better feel for it than others do. And when you're watching a young team filled with talented players, it's easy to get hopeful and optimistic. I think I do the same thing with the Brewers over here...

I still root for Jeff Weaver. I just can't stop rooting for the Fresno State guys (Casey McGehee!). But I think it's pretty obvious where his talent-level is. It's a shame. Knowing the type of guy he is, I'm almost certain that it was his time in New York that screwed him up. He's just not mentally strong enough for that city.