Midseason MLB Predictions and Evaluation

Every year, I make time to predict the final outcome of the baseball season before it begins.  I’ve had varying degrees of success (Justin Verlander was a pretty nice ROY pick last year, but I picked the Tigers fourth in the AL Central).  This year will probably be no different, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

Today, I’ll recap this year’s picks as the second half begins, and we’ll see where I stand.  First, the division standings and playoff teams.  The format is “Team Name” (Current standing, Current games back, Projected wins based on current record, Coolstandings.com Expected Wins, and number of wins I predicted), with the teams in the order I predicted.

American League

AL East:
New York (T-2nd, 10, 79, 85, 96)
Boston (1st, 0, 99, 97, 93)
Toronto (T-2nd, 10, 80, 81, 86)
Baltimore (4th, 15, 71, 74, 70)
Tampa Bay (5th, 19, 63, 61, 61)

AL Central:
Cleveland (2nd, 1, 96, 91, 90)
Detroit (1st, 0, 98, 97, 88)
Minnesota (3rd, 8, 83, 83, 84)
Chicago (4th, 13, 73, 70, 83)
Kansas City (5th, 15, 70, 72, 60)

AL West:
Los Angeles (1st, 0, 98, 93, 91)
Oakland (3rd, 9, 81, 81, 89)
Texas (4th, 15, 70, 72, 79)
Seattle (2nd, 2.5, 93, 88, 72)

Well, I only missed one team by more than one spot in the standings (Seattle), and it looks like I nailed three of the playoff teams, with the Yankees an exception I can live with.  I’m on pace to miss five teams (Seattle, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, and New York) by 10 or more games, which is not good.  Several of those are closer if you put any weight on the Coolstandings projected wins, but the White Sox are even worse.  I take a bit of pleasure in their demise because of the mindless “Smartball” talk from two years ago, but I didn’t see this coming like Baseball Prospectus did (they projected the Sox at 72-90, almost right on the money).

I won’t try to write off my early predictions, but I’d be surprised if the four playoff teams are not the current leaders: Boston, Detroit, LA, with Cleveland as the WC.  The Tigers look much better than I expected them to be: Sheffield has been great, Magglio has been huge out of seemingly nowhere, and the pitching staff has held up fairly well.  I wouldn’t write off the Yankees, but 10 games is probably too big a hole.  Even if the Red Sox were a .500 team the rest of the year, the Yanks would have to go 48-27 (.640) to catch them.

National League

NL East:
Atlanta (2nd, 2, 86, 85, 88)
New York (1st, 0, 89, 88, 87)
Philadelphia (3rd, 4.5, 81, 81, 87)
Florida (4th, 7, 76, 78, 77)
Washington (5th, 12.5, 66, 66, 59)

NL Central:
St. Louis (3rd, 7.5, 76, 75, 89)
Milwaukee (1st, 0, 90, 91, 86)
Houston (5th, 10.5, 71, 74, 86)
Chicago (2nd, 4.5, 82, 85, 83)
Cincinnati (6th, 13, 66, 71, 68)
Pittsburgh (4th, 9, 74, 73, 66)

NL West:
San Diego (1st, 0, 91, 94, 88)
Arizona (3rd, 3.5, 85, 80, 86)
Los Angeles (2nd, 1, 89, 89, 84)
San Francisco (5th,  10.5, 72, 77, 80)
Colorado (4th, 5.5, 81, 81, 74)

I messed up the order in the Central and West, with the Cardinals and Astros as my most glaring errors.  The Astros’ offense has been decent, while the losses of Clemens and Pettitte have been especially pronounced.  The Cardinals haven’t hit or pitched like I thought they would, and Chris Carpenter’s injury certainly hasn’t helped their cause.  The Brewers look like a decent pick even though I didn’t have them winning, and I’m pretty happy with San Diego out west.  The East is shaping up pretty well, although the Nats picked up a few more wins than I expected and the Phillies didn’t quite overcome their horrific start.

Right now, I would expect the Brewers to hang on, and I think the Padres will outlast the Dodgers.  The East is probably up for grabs, and obviously I’m hoping the Braves make my prediction come true.  I had the Mets as the Wild Card, but the Dodgers are in a better position than anyone right now.  The NL East runner-up may have a shot, and maybe the Cubs have a chance as well.  I expect to see more notable races in the NL than the AL.

Playoffs

Back in April, I predicted the Yankees to beat the Cardinals in the World Series, with the Cardinals over the Braves in the NLCS and the Yanks over the Red Sox in the ALCS.  I’d like a mulligan on the WS pick now, and my current pick would be Detroit over San Diego, with the Brewers and Angels as my LCS losers.  The odds against my original pick are pretty staggering at this point.

Awards

Pujols/Carpenter/and D’Backs OF Chris Young probably won’t hold up as my MVP/CY/ROY picks in the NL.  Pujols could still work as the MVP, but I’d give Jake Peavy and Hunter Pence the edge in the other two races.  Lincecum could still pull out the ROY, perhaps, and Stephen Drew was obviously a bust this year, vindicating my pre-emptive bandwagon pick.

A-Rod would have to collapse not to win the AL MVP, so Grady Sizemore’s not looking as good there.  Alex Gordon got off to such a slow start that he probably won’t be considered for the ROY, so I’d go ahead and give that to Dice-K.  Santana should still win the Cy Young, regardless of how many wins Sabathia and Beckett rack up.

I’ll kick off the second half by actually attending tomorrow night’s Braves game, so look for me in the first row of the outfield seats in left-center.

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