My Baseball Predictions: A Look Back
Now that the final pitch of the 2013 World Series has been thrown (and congratulations to the Red Sox), it’s time to revisit the predictions I made for the season way back in March. As to be expected, I got some things quite right, and some other predictions very much wrong.
Let’s start with the good news, or, at any rate, those predictions that I got right. It gives me no pleasure to tell you that I picked the Mets to win 74 games this year, which is exactly how many games they ended up winning. I had predicted them to finish in 4th place behind what I thought would be a 3rd place Phillies team. But somehow, the Mets edged the Phillies for 3rd place.
I predicted that Matt Harvey could have a very big year, and he did, up until he suffered his season-ending injury.
I predicted that Rangers pitcher Scott Harrison, who won 18 games in 2012 while posting a 3.29 ERA, would be a bust in 2013. Harrison got hurt early on, and pitched just 10 highly ineffective innings all year. I didn’t predict the injury, but I still think he was on his way to a poor season anyway.
This is what I wrote about the Braves off-season acquisition of outfielder B.J. Upton:
Cue Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” because Upton does like to run, but also because it’s what you should do when his name comes up in your Draft… his plate discipline has all but disappeared, and that he is one of baseball’s most prolific out-machines. Last year, he batted .246 with a pathetic .298 on-base percentage. In fact, he hasn’t batted above .250 in any of the past four years. Upton might get off to a quick start, but at some point during the season, his lack of plate discipline will catch up to him.
B.J. Upton finished the year with a triple slash line of .184 /.268/.289. Ouch.
I stated that the Yankees acquisition of Kevin Youkilis would be a non-factor in 2013 because he’d probably spend about half the season on the D.L. Youkilis ended up playing just 28 games for the Yankees.
I predicted that the Cubs starting pitcher, Edwin Jackson, was the best bet to be baseball’s next 20-game loser. Jackson led the N.L. with 18 losses. Oh, so close.
As for Kyle Lohse, I wrote:
Lohse led the N.L. in win-loss percentage last season (.842) by losing just three of 33 starts. You want to bet the farm that this veteran pitcher can do that again? His relatively low K rate, his fly ball tendencies, his low BABIP and his career history point to a correction in the offing. Don’t be the last man standing when the music stops on this song.
While Lohse didn’t have a terrible year, he finished with a record of 11-10, with a 3.35 ERA. Compared to 16-3, 2.86, a correction certainly did take place.
On the Nationals’ pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, I wrote:
Zimmerman averaged over 3 1/2 K’s per walk last year, and is entering his age 27 season. Likely to receive plenty of run support, while probably reaching the 200 inning pitched level for the first time in his career, Zimmerman could be primed for a very impressive season. He won 12 games last year, but could win half a dozen more this time around.
Zimmerman posted a record of 19-9, leading the N.L. in wins, and posted a 3.25 ERA in 213 innings.
Of a potential breakout season for Arizona Diamondbacks First Baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, I wrote:
The 25-year old Goldshmidt started slowly last season, but hit 18 homers over the last four months of the season, including five homers in a seven-game span. The right-handed batting first-baseman actually led the Majors in line-drive rate last year. If just a few of his 43 doubles turn into home runs this year, Goldschmidt could be on his way to 30+ homers, along with about a .280 batting average.
A fly ball hitter (Goldschmidt led the league in Sac. Flies last year) who plays his home games in one of the best hitter’s parks in the league, is off to a fine start in spring training posting a .429 average to date. Also, he’s not merely a slugger, but an athlete who stole 18 bases in 21 attempts last year. Goldschmidt is one of this generation’s most promising young baseball talents. He could become a right-handed swinging Jim Thome.
Goldschmidt should finish in the top five in N.L. MVP voting later this off-season. His final stat line for 2013:
He led the league in both 36 homers, and RBI, 125, while batting .302. He also led the league with an OPS+ of 160, in total bases with 332, and in slugging percentage at .551. Truly a fantastic breakout season.
I predicted that the Tampa Bay Rays would win the A.L. East with about 95 victories. The Rays won 92 games and ended up winning one of the two Wild Card slots. Not too far off.
I predicted that the Yanks would miss the playoffs, and were, at best, an 85-win team. The Yanks finished tied with Baltimore for 3rd in their division with 85 victories.
I said that the Royals would finally finish over .500 this season, if only by a couple of games. The Royals did a little better than I expected, posting a record of 86-76.
I stated that the Dodgers would win 95 games and the N.L. West title. They won 92 games and the N.L. West title.
I predicted the Rockies would finish last in the N.L. West with 71 wins. They finished last with 74 wins.
Moderately close to being correct, I predicted the Reds would win the N.L. East with 92 victories. They did win 90 games, but that was good for just 3rd place, and one of the two Wild Card slots.
Now, how about all of my misses!
I predicted the Red Sox to finish in last place again in 2013. Oops.
I stated that Mets first baseman, Ike Davis, would have a productive season, with around 30 homers, 80-90 RBI, and a .260-.270 batting average. Davis, as every Mets fan knows, was a huge bust, posting a triple slash line of .205/.326/.334. He hit just 9 homers, and drove in just 33 runs. Unbelievably, it looks like there’s a chance the Mets might bring him back again in 2014. Apparently, there is no bottom line at Citi Field.
I thought the Giants would win one of the two N.L. Wild card slots with around 87 wins. They won just 76 games, tied for 4th in their division.
I predicted that the Nats would win between 95-100 games, and easily top the Braves in the N.L. East. The Nats underachieved all year, and somehow won just 86 games, a full ten games behind the Braves.
I said the Pirates would finish under .500 again. They finished with the 3rd best overall record in the entire N.L. with 94 victories, and a post-season appearance. I’m glad I was wrong about this one.
I picked the Angels to win the A.L. West, and to represent the A.L. in the World Series. They won just 78 games. (Is Albert Pujols really finished?)
I suppose I’ll have another go at it next March for the 2014 baseball season. Hopefully, I’ll get at least a few things right.
Eight Reasons Why the Red Sox Stink in 2012
Personally, I have nothing against the Red Sox. It is true that, as a Mets fan, I did get my biggest baseball thrill from watching the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Yet I’ve never felt any animosity towards the proud Red Sox franchise. In fact, I always root for the Red Sox to defeat the Yankees.
Still, a fact is a fact, and there is no denying that the 2012 version of the Red Sox are the least enjoyable, not to mention the least successful, Red Sox team I have witnessed in many years.
Not being a regular viewer of Red Sox games (though when I lived up in Maine for 20+ years, I often listened to WEEI, Red Sox radio), I haven’t paid close attention to the BoSox relative failure this year, aside from occasionally looking at the A.L. standings.
So I decided to examine a bit more closely why the Red Sox, despite their prodigious payroll, fanatical fan-base, and the bewildering wizardry of stat guru, Bill James, this team stinks.
Here are eight items I came up with:
1) Red Sox pitchers are giving up too many bases on balls. As of this writing, Red Sox pitchers have surrendered 370 walks this year. Only four A.L. pitching staffs have walked more batters. The Yankees pitching staff, by way of contrast, have walked the fewest. They can’t score if you don’t put them on.
Josh Beckett 01:38, 23 July 2008 . . PhreddieH3 . . 1,943×2,936 (2.01 MB) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2) The Red Sox pitching staff is starting to show its age. They are now the third oldest group of pitchers in the A.L. Obviously, some pitchers age faster than others. The Yankees staff is actually a bit older. But Red Sox pitchers appear to be exhibiting a bit more wear and tear thus far than their New York counterparts.
Josh Beckett, for example, is 32 going on 36. And Clay Buccholz, whom some Red Sox fans still maintain is a rising star, recently turned 28-years old.
In fact, the Red Sox currently have just one pitcher on their staff, the combustible Felix Doubront (4.70 ERA) under the age of 25.
3) The Curse of the Piano. What, you thought that just because the Red Sox won two World Series in the past eight years, that they’d no longer be cursed? Well, no one told the Babe, a moulderin’ in his grave. Perhaps you’ve never hear of the curse of the piano? Well, unless someone drags the Babe’s old piano out of the pond up in Sudbury, this “other” curse might just linger for another century.
4) Bobby Valentine is entirely miscast as a Major League manager. In fact, he would be miscast as a manager at any level. A manager, like a teacher, is a father figure (assuming the male gender, of course.) Bobby V. is not a father figure. He is the odd uncle who comes over on Christmas afternoon with his latest exotic girlfriend, this one from Saigon, the last one from the Philippines.
Always too quick to put little brother up on his shoulders (narrowly missing the overhead fan by mere inches), he always has an odd anecdote to tell about a business deal that narrowly went sour. When he finally leaves around 7:45 p.m., he’s had one too many, and his hugs are awkward, and strangely tearful. His girlfriend will do the driving, and you know as you wave to them as they back out of your dad’s icy driveway, you won’t see or hear from him again until next Christmas.
Wally the Green Monster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
5) Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox’ mascot, has been having some problems of his own. After a torrid, three-year affair with Bernie Brewer, followed by a brief, drunken fling with the Milwaukee Sausages, Wally the Green Monster had just about settled down with the Swinging Friar (San Diego.)
But it turns out that the Swinging Friar had a few secrets of his own. Apparently, he’s been seen leaving some local San Diego hot spots with the always unpredictable Stomper (Oakland), himself recently recovering from an addiction to powdered, fried dough.
Word is that Wally has been so depressed lately that he’s usually hung over and asleep inside the Green Monster until the 8th inning, when misty-eyed and reckless, he starts to undress for the fans in the center field bleachers during the bizarre routine of the disembodied voice of Neil Diamond singing “Sweet Caroline.”
Socks (Photo credit: scalkins)
6) Their socks. They’ve been the Red Sox now for over a hundred years. Perhaps it’s time to change those socks?
When either of my sons goes a couple of days without changing theirs, the stench is unbearable. Why should it be any different for Major League baseball players who sweat in theirs all day long?
So, in keeping with the Sox recent advances into the 21st century (a Facebook page!), here’s a look (see pic) at what the BoSox are considering for their players next season. David Ortiz is already on record endorsing the new look saying, “My toes get cold in April and in October. Those little toes on the socks look toasty and warm. I hate New England weather.”
7) Their Offense: Despite the fact that the Red Sox are among the league-leaders in runs scored, there are some problems here as well. For starters, Carl Crawford, a huge disappointment since he joined the Sox (his on-base percentage in his last 160 games played is .293), is about to undergo Tommy John surgery Tuesday. Meanwhile, Jacoby Ellsbury, who enjoyed an MVP-caliber season last year, currently sports a .309 on-base percentage to go along with his one home run and six stolen bases. Last year, he had over 30 steals and 30 homers.
The injury bug, then, has seriously affected the Red Sox ability to add to their already very respectable run totals.
Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox on deck in Fenway Park in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
8) Their Enthusiasm: It hasn’t been this boring to watch the Red Sox play (and I don’t very often) since the heady days of Phil Plantier, Bob Zupcic, Jody Reed, and Luis Rivera. The Red Sox have finished below .500 just three times since 1992. This year could be their fourth finish below .500 in 20 years.
Worse, it is hard to say that any of the players on the field look like they’re enjoying themselves. Sure, losing sucks, but you’re not likely to play any better if your approach is the same as the man who gets to go to work in the West Virginia coal mines, earning a tiny fraction of what the players make. Gone are team leaders like Varitek, Wakefield, Millar and Damon, guys that could both lighten up the clubhouse and/or lead by example.
For the sake of the Red Sox and their fans, some of the veterans on this team (and it can’t be just Dustin Pedroia) have to step up and lead by example, while demonstrating to the kids that playing baseball can still be fun, even if you are expected to take home obscene amounts of cash.