Unfortunately, the 2016 MLB regular season ended yesterday, making today as good a day as any to evaluate the preseason predictions I made.
When I checked in on these at the halfway mark of the season, they were looking ok enough for me to rationalize all of them. Now, though, we have nothing more than cold, hard reality against which to measure these guesses. The results (excluding predicted individual award winners, whom have yet to be named):
Correct. The Red Sox weathered a stormy AL East and now are my pick to represent the American League in the World Series.
Incorrect – Cleveland. As I wrote in my midseason check-in, “this obviously was a pick on the emotional side of the ledger for me (though it’s one I share with Dave Cameron), but if the Tigers can’t beat Cleveland– currently 0-9 on the year– this season, it’s difficult to see them claiming the crown in the second half.” The Tigers finished the season with a 4-14 record against Cleveland, Detroit’s worst performance against any of its opponents.
Incorrect – Texas. Houston finished eleven games back of the Rangers, who rode a season-long streak of luck all the way to the best record in the American League, and missed the playoffs altogether. Call this one a big, fat nope.
Wild Cards: Toronto, Texas
Incorrect – Baltimore, Toronto. I’m going to award myself partial credit on this one, including full credit for Toronto, as well as some additional fraction of credit for having Texas as a playoff team. Like Texas, but in a different way, the Orioles rode a very risky strategy (home-run-reliant offense, bad starting pitching) to a playoff berth. It also helped that they took five of seven from Detroit, making them the team against which the Tigers posted their second-worst winning percentage this season.
Correct. As I wrote in June: “Whereas the American League is, as it has been recently, a model of parity, the National League is the opposite, which makes it fairly easy to predict. The Nationals hold a comfortable 3.5 game lead over Miami(!), and I can’t see the Marlins or the Mets, whose young aces have faltered a bit this year and who trail by 4 games, catching Washington in the second half.” Correct again! The Nationals did their best to give this one away by means of injuries to many very important players on their team, but the Mets were just too far behind to capitalize.
Correct. Best record in baseball by a comfortable margin. Tough to miss on these guys.
West: San Francisco
Incorrect – Los Angeles. This would be another nice spot to quote myself from June in order to show just how correct and confident I was in my accurate prediction. Instead, I quote myself to show just how incorrect and confident I was in my inaccurate prediction: “It’s the National League. It’s an even year. Picking a team other than the Giants basically would be baseball-writing malpractice. Madison Bumgarner has a legitimate case for inclusion in the home run derby, and Johnny Cueto is back to being good Johnny Cueto after last season’s late blip in K.C. San Francisco is up seven on the thin, Greinke-less Dodgers. They’re going to win the division.” Those “thin, Greinke-less Dodgers” hadn’t even lost Clayton Kershaw when I wrote that! But they did, for over a month, and San Francisco still managed to blow it. It seems that all of the Rangers’ good luck came, indirectly, at the Giants’ expense, with bad luck hitting them hard in the second half.
Wild Cards: Pittsburgh, New York
Incorrect – New York, San Francisco. I again will award myself partial credit here, with the Mets and Giants both sneaking in. Pittsburgh simply could not compete in the NL Central with a down year from Andrew McCutchen.
I’ll give myself a 5.5 out of ten on these– five exactly correct and seven of ten total playoff teams correct– and follow up after the announcements of the individual awards.