Saturday, July 19, 2008

Revisiting preseason MLB predictions

By Rick Morris

At the beginning of April and also back in February, I produced preseason MLB predictions right here in The Lounge. With not a small bit of trepidation about the apparent foolishness of some of these picks in a year with so many unpredictable circumstances (due in part, I believe, to a combination of a new crop of superstars asserting themselves and the declining influence in the game of not just steroids but also amphetamines), here's a look ahead combined with a look at what was previously forecast.

Here are my projected final standings, with my original prognostications in parentheses:


X-Boston 95-67 (92-72 – they are who we thought they were)

Y-Tampa Bay 92-70 (82-80 – I knew they’d be good, but this good, this soon?)

New York Yankees 89-73 (89-73 – thought that record would make the playoffs – I think I was wrong)

Toronto 78-84 (82-80 – they need to petition for a switch to the NL)

Baltimore 76-86 (60-102 – much better than I thought)


X-Chicago White Sox 91-71 (78-84 – there was more to the offseason tuneup than met the eye – my eye, anyway)

Minnesota 87-75 (80-82 – I never would have believed they’d accomplish this much without Lirano)

Detroit 86-76 (91-71 – haven’t been able to outslug the bad pitching like I thought)

Cleveland 79-83 (88-74 – many people thought I was a basher and I was actually excessively optimistic)

Kansas City 77-85 (77-85 – next year’s Tampa Bay?)


X-Los Angeles Angels 97-75 (93-69 – disappointing stretch of first-half hitting will fade, as will Texas and Oakland)

Texas 80-82 (72-90 – rebuilding is further along than many, including myself, thought)

Oakland 78-84 (74-88 see Texas)

Seattle 63-99 (88-74 – biggest disappointment in baseball bar none – incapable of being carried by excellent 1-2 punch at top of rotation)


X-Philadelphia 91-71 (87-75 – Myers collapse evened out by acquisition of Blanton and excellent bullpen)

New York Mets 87-75 (97-75 – now out of the deep hole they dug for themselves, but may be a bit too old to keep up with Phils down the stretch)

Florida 78-84 (60-102 – 1997/2003/2009 – they’re due for another World Series next year and have a nice young nucleus like the last time)

Atlanta 77-85 (88-74 – dark horse World Series pick for many is just not far along enough in the rebuilding yet, but they will be soon)

Washington 63-99 (68-94 – predictably bad in an unpredictable season)


X-Chicago Cubs 94-68 (87-75 – best-balanced team in the NL)

Y-Milwaukee 91-71 (88-74 – will be tough to beat in a short series with that 1-2 punch if Sheets stays healthy, which is always the proviso)

St. Louis 86-76 (78-84 – never doubt LaRussa and Duncan)

Cincinnati 78-84 (78-84 – outside of Tampa Bay and Arizona, may be positioned as well as anyone in baseball over the next several years)

Pittsburgh 75-87 (74-88 – about to get left behind by Cincy in the Ohio River Perpetual Rebuilding Race)

Houston 72-90 (70-92 – still a team with a bit of an incoherent philosophy about how they are building)


X-Arizona 83-79 (91-71 – super-talented but young team not as far along as I thought yet)

Los Angeles Dodgers 81-81 (88-74 -- mediocre pitching a surprise, mediocre hitting not so much)

San Diego 73-89 (87-75 -- huge disappointment, must find a way to construct a team that can hit enough at Petco)

Colorado 71-91 (89-73 – ashes to ashes, dust to dust)

San Francisco 65-97 (65-97 – blended in unobtrusively with a shockingly bad division most of the year)


Los Angeles Angels over Tampa Bay in 5

Boston over Chicago White Sox in 5

Philadelphia over Milwaukee in 5

Chicago Cubs over Arizona in 4


Boston over Los Angeles Angels in 6

Chicago Cubs over Philadelphia in 6


Boston over Chicago Cubs in 6 (Los Angeles Angels over New York Mets was preseason pick)

Here’s my series of predictions for the different postseason awards, with my previous picks in parentheses:

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Evan Longoria (Ian Kennedy)

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jair Jurrjens (Colby Rasmus)

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton (Vladimir Guerrero)

NL MVP: Albert Pujols (David Wright)

AL CY YOUNG AWARD: Roy Halladay (Justin Verlander)

NL CY YOUNG AWARD: Johan Santana (Johan Santana)

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Joe Maddon (Mike Scioscia)

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Lou Piniella (Ned Yost)

Here’s how I predict the divisions in baseball will end up in terms of overall strength. This is taken by calculating the cumulative number of games above or below .500 for the division. I list my projected numbers for each division in parentheses.

1. AL East +22 (Even) – This division has been baseball’s biggest surprise, in large part because of Tampa Bay, but also due to improvements from Toronto and Baltimore.

2. AL Central +15 (+9) – A year ago, I pronounced this division as very overrated before the season and was proven right. This year, I expected improvements and have seen them from all teams except Cleveland. While there are no dominant teams here, the ChiSox, Minnesota and Detroit are better-than-average teams with some flaws.

3. NL Central +10 (-5) – Like the AL East, this one surprised me. St. Louis has been way better than they have had any right to be, but nobody in this division has been absolutely deplorable.

4. AL West -6 (+1) – This division has been very strange. Collectively, it’s been much better than I thought even with Seattle’s unforeseeable collapse, but Oakland and Texas will probably fall off enough in the second half to allow the Mariners to depress the collective record even lower than I anticipated.

5. NL East -9 (-5) – There are probably fewer surprises here than in any other division. Florida has been better than expected so far and the Mets worse than people thought, but they will probably each regress or progress to expectations in the second half.

6. NL West -32 (+15) – While most of the teams except San Francisco are too good not to bounce back next year, this year has been shockingly brutal for all of them.

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