The sins of the past: MLB picks

There are many things that we look forward to every year. Birthdays, holidays, the return of spring training after the Cardinals get eliminated from the postseason…This article is not one of those things. Once again I’m forced to look back at the predictions that Collegian made in late February about how the MLB divisions would shake out. And once again we have been proven almost completely wrong. I’m going to do a division by division breakdown of just where we went wrong.

Note: all quotes are taken from our Feb. 29 issue “Sports staff tries to predict baseball season once again.”

National League East

All things considered this we didn’t do too terribly predicting this division. “This year, I have to go with the defending squad. The Mets have a scary rotation — and they’re only getting better….The Nationals squad will probably be better. However, the power of their rotation and Danny Espinosa’s facial hair won’t propel them past the reigning NL champs.”

We predicted the Mets and Nationals to finish first and second, respectively, and for both to end up going to the playoffs. This happened, but the Nationals finally reached their potential and won the division, while the Mets suffered a whole host of injuries and inconsistent play while taking the second wild-card, where they fell victim to the Giants even year magic, 2016 edition.

Scorecard: Playoff teams: Yes Division winner: No

National League Central

Similar to last season this was probably the closest our predictions came to being accurate.

“The Cubs look to be the cream of the crop in the division this season.” That was truly an understatement. The Cubs were the only team to have over 100 wins this season and are the heavy favorites to break their curse and finally win another World Series title. Where we went wrong with the Central was where everyone else would fall.

“The Cardinals have been at the top more consistently than any of the other teams in the division in recent memory, and have a solid team to do it again this year. However, the raw talent on the Cubs roster looks tough to beat. This year, the Cubs will narrowly beat out the Cardinals for the division championship, but the Cardinals will make the postseason in a wild card spot.”

I, being a lifelong Cardinals fan, must concede that the closest we ever truly were to coming close in taking the division was on opening day when we were tied with the Cubs. The Cubs exploded to a phenomenal start, and after struggling going into the All-Star break, righted the ship and had a 22–6 August record. They had the strongest run-differential of plus 252 and won the division by 17.5 games. The Cubs did not make this a race.

And the Cardinals stumbled down the stretch and missed the second wild-card spot by one game.

Scorecard: Playoff teams: No Division winner: Yes

National League West

“The Giants won in 2010, 2012 and 2014, so it’s going to happen again. They have the best infield in all of baseball and it’s completely homegrown. As far as runner-ups go, the Dodgers are your best pick.”

It would go against conventional wisdom to pick against San Francisco in a year divisible by two. But as they have shown in the past (2014), they don’t need to win the division to win it all. It looked for a long time that they were going to run away—they even looked like a stronger team than the Cubs. But as much of baseball is decided, injury and a faltering bullpen almost tanked their season for them. They turned it around to hold on to the final wild-card spot and Madison Bumgarner showed why the Giants are so fearsome in his dominant performance against the Mets in the Wild Card game.

“Arizona is playing the part that San Diego played last year, where they spend a bunch of money and trade prospects without addressing real holes such as a middle infield. Also, investing in starting pitchers in a hitter’s park is not ideal, just ask Colorado.”

This advice proved accurate, as Arizona surrendered the most runs in all of baseball this season and competed with San Diego, Cincinnati and Atlanta for the bottom of the NL.

Scorecard: Playoff teams: Yes Division winner: No World Series Champ: probably

American League East

“Behind the greatest bullpen ever assembled (Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman), the next generation of pinstriped greats in Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird and the contributions of wily old veterans like Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira, I fully expect this team to win 90+ games and compete for the pennant.”

I’ll chalk this one up to bias-ness since the writer is a Yankees fan. The Yankees tore apart that greatest ever bullpen and sold the pieces off, and A-Rod was forced into an early retirement this season.

Even after determining that they were sellers they made a push, but fell too short and missed the playoffs.

“Right on their heels will be the Toronto Blue Jays, led by reigning MVP Jared Donaldson and a historically great offensive lineup. Expect a Wild Card appearance in 2016.”

Nothing was wrong with this prediction, carry on.

“Boston is a threat to return to the postseason for the first time since their 2013 World Series win. I think they will fall just short of the playoffs this time around but if key contributors like Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval bounce back from disappointing seasons and Mookie Betts develops into a legit MVP candidate, the AL East will be housing three juggernauts.”

David Ortiz decided to disregard this prediction and in his farewell tour had one of his best seasons ever in leading the Red Sox to a division title in the hopes of leaving the game on the top.

Finally, Baltimore proved us wrong and took the first wild card berth and handed off their designation as an “also-ran” to the Bronx Bombers.

Scorecard: Playoff teams: No Division winner: No

American League Central

Sigh. This was my division to predict this season and much like my prediction from last season I got absolutely nothing right.

“First things first, the back-to-back AL Champions and reigning World Series Champs, Kansas City Royals are back with almost the same team as last season.

And for the second straight season, most writers have them with under 80 wins this season. Part of their success last season was their strong bullpen and three players having career best seasons. People kept saying that their luck was going to run out, and they won a World Series out of spite. Everyone’s saying the same thing this year, but I have to stick with the champs, they’ve proven me wrong too many times.”

The Royals didn’t really let me down I guess. They just proved me wrong again and probably just missed the playoffs to spite my pick of them.

I only wrote a line about the eventual division winning squad out of Believeland, about shoring up their middle defense. Truly this shows I should not be trusted in any of my predictions when it comes to sports.

Scorecard: Playoff teams: No Division winner: Yes

American League West

Hype and bias led to this prediction.

“Ever since the Astros arrived in the AL West in 2013, they have been seen as one of the weaker teams going into every season. This season changes all of that.”

While finishing with a winning record (which looking back at the recent years is a positive sign) the Astros finished third in the west and couldn’t live up to the team from last season, missing the wild card by five games.

“The Astros’ neighbors, the Rangers, will finish in a close second and snag a wildcard spot in the AL. Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are one of the most exciting 1-2 punches in the MLB and they basically have brought back their lineup from last season, which was good enough to win the division.”

This was close to the truth. We even said that this was essentially the same lineup that was good enough to win the division last season. And since the rest of the division got worse, this team was still good enough to win the West.

Scorecard: Playoff teams: No Division winner: No

So what happened? Where did we all go wrong? Why even make predictions if it’s impossible to accurately make them?

Baseball is a sport with a lot of factors that come into play, and trying to understand them all a month before the season is almost impossible.

There’s a couple reasons. to make predictions still. One is that it’s a big part of sports. It gives people a chance to learn about teams, their strengths and weaknesses and gives people an idea of what to expect. It’s kind of like meteorologists—they don’t always get the weather right, but they keep doing it. A second reason is that predictions are just fun to try and speculate what will happen. That’s not just a sports thing, people do that in all sorts of things, like politics, film and the stock market. They might not be right, but predictions are one of the most essential aspects in sports.

Post Author: tucollegian

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