Midseason Reviews for Preseason MLB Team Predictions, In Which I Eat Lots of Crow


Hey, you guys remember way back when, before the season really got going, and I made a whole bunch of predictions? Sure you do. I predicted MVP winners and Cy Young winners and a bunch of other stuff like that. I predicted stuff for teams, too; stuff like division standings and won/loss records. It was brilliant, brilliant sports writing; a dude with no real talent for predicting anything making wild-ass guesses about things that wouldn't be known for six months, by which time hopefully everyone would have forgotten said dude ever shot his mouth off about how good _________ was going to be this season. 

Well, I happened to get a feather up my, um, something or other not too long ago and decided to take a midseason-y sort of look back at my predictions. It sort of kills off that whole thing of making crazy predictions then pretending I don't know what anyone is talking about when they accuse me of being a moron later on, not only accepting responsibility for being an idiot but actually pointing it out to people. But, hey, I'm okay with that. 

So anyway, I already looked at my individual award predictions, and concluded I'm really terrible at predicting things. Today I'm going to tackle all those team results I guessed at. 

Spoiler alert: I don't look much smarter today than I did then. 

National League Division Winners 

NL East -- Philadelphia Phillies, 91 wins 

The one thing I did get right was the extraordinarily competitive nature of the East this year, but I thought the Phillies still had another year's worth of half-life left. So what went wrong? Philadelphia got old. We knew it was going to happen, of course, but it got here quicker than I expected it to. Instead of the Phillies still holding on as the best team in the division with a great pitching staff and aging-but-just-enough-still offense, Philadelphia just hasn't hit (with the exception of Carlos Ruiz, who is awesome), the injuries have put a further crimp in their plans, and Roy Halladay actually got hurt. All of it has added up to a spot in the cellar and questions about where the Phillies try to go from here, while the Washington Nationals have taken off a year sooner than expected to become one of the best teams in the National League. 

The lesson: you can only stay in win-now mode, making absolutely no plans for the future, for so long. It's going to catch up with you. 

NL Central -- Cardinals, 94 wins 

Ugh. Where do I begin? The Cincinnati Reds have been better than I expected (a little, not that much), and the Cardinals have been the very definition of underachievers this year. It's worth pointing out the Cards still have the second-best run differential in all of baseball, which is just almost unimaginable, considering how frustrating this team has been. A terrible record in one-run games and a gasoline can bullpen have been to blame for the Cardinals' mediocre results. 

This team is still good enough to turn things around, I think, but it's starting to get just a little late in the day, and there are two other very strong teams in the division. (Not included in that statement is the MIlwaukee Brewers, who have been shockingly bad this year.) 

NL West -- Arizona Diamondbacks, 92 wins 

The DBacks are largely in the same boat as the Cardinals, an underachieving bunch who should seemingly be better than they are. Bullpen issues have cropped up in the desert as well, but there are also just several players for Arizona on both sides of the ball who aren't living up to their billing. The run differential for Arizona is almost identical to that of both the Giants and Dodgers, so it isn't as if there's a huge quality gap in the teams. This is a tough, competitive division, and the Diamondbacks are just coming out on the losing end of tight games a little too often this season. 

NL Wild Cards -- Braves, Reds 

These are both pretty good picks. The Reds are actually better than I thought, leading the division, and the Braves are right in the Wild Card picture. I'm pretty happy with these. 

American League 

AL East -- Tampa Bay Rays, 93 wins 

The Rays haven't hit this year. Like, at all. Their pitching has been very good -- though Matt Moore has yet to really look like the phenom we saw late last season -- but the offense just hasn't been good enough to support the team's division hopes. The Rays are currently in third place in the AL East, just barely eking out a positive run differential thanks to their stellar pitching. 

The Rays may or may not be able to turn things around and get into the playoffs as a Wild Card. If they can, they still have the pitching to do some damage, I think. They aren't catching the Yankees, though, who have gotten equal pitching to the Rays but are scoring at a far, far better clip. 

AL Central -- Detroit Tigers, 98 wins 

I really thought the Tigers were quite possibly the best team in baseball this year. A monstrous middle of the order, the best pitcher in the American League, a deep roster overall and a crap division made me think the Tigers were going to run away with this thing. Instead, Jim Leyland's team has underachieved for much of the season, with Prince Fielder failing to transition to the cavernous ballpark in Detroit (coming from a launching pad in Milwaukee, no less), and the pitching just failing to hold up its end of the bargain for much of the season. The Tigers are in a dogfight with the White Sox, who have ridden huge bounceback seasons from Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy to a very good year so far. 

AL West -- Texas Rangers, 96 wins 

Nailed this one, though I honestly thought this division would be tougher than it actually is. The Angels are a good team but not a great one, even with Mike Trout's emergence, and the Rangers are a great, great team. Probably the best team in baseball, as a matter of fact. There's not much else to say here. 

Wild Cards -- Angels and Yankees 

The Yankees are way better than I thought. Their pitching has been brilliant, which I did not expect, and the offense has been just as good as advertised. They're leading the AL East, and I don't see anyone catching them. 

The Angels are a very strong team as well, though it's been largely due to contributions from some unexpected sources. Their big ticket acquisition Albert Pujols hasn't been the force everyone expected, but Mike Trout may be on his way to being the best player in baseball in very short order at the age of 20. I'm sticking with my pick of the Angels as a Wild Card, and feeling pretty good about it. 


So, time to make some revisions here, eh? Updated picks below, y'all. 

National League 

East -- Washington Nationals 
Central -- Cincinnati Reds 
West -- San Francisco Giants 

Wild Cards -- Cardinals, Braves 

American League  

East -- Yankees 
Central -- Detroit Tigers 
West -- Texas Rangers 

Wild Cards -- White Sox, Angels 

I'm not picking anything for the postseason now. I've had plenty of crow today already, thank you very much. 

To be honest, I actually don't feel like I was that far off base with any of my picks. I missed badly on the Phillies, as they got old one year sooner than I expected, and the Cardinals and DBacks have both underachieved badly, but for the most part things aren't too topsy-turvy on a league wide basis. The National arrived one year early; I'm thinking there could be some sort of voodoo situation going on in Washington with a Chase Utley doll. 

So, overall, not too bad, I think. Mostly hits, a few misses, Certainly better than my crystal balling on the player awards side of things. 


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