We’re about a month and a half into the 2012 regular season of Major League Baseball, and it’s a good time to revisit the preseason picks our three contributors made. How are the teams and individual players performing in the league, and more importantly, which contributor thus far has made the best picks?
For determining the division standings, it’s important to note that any ties were first broken by any head-to-head matchups between the teams. Following that, it was broken by division record if the teams were in the same division. Fortunately, it didn’t need to go any further than that. For prediction verification, the “winner” is the one with the lowest difference in prediction placement. For example, predicting a team to finish third would get someone two points if that team actually was in fifth – lowest score wins. The tiebreaker here goes to the person with the most absolutely correct picks.
American League East
|Tampa Bay Rays||2||1||1||2|
|New York Yankees||1||2||4||3|
|Boston Red Sox||3||3||2||5|
|Toronto Blue Jays||4||4||3||4|
|Out of nowhere, Baltimore is playing very well. It’s still very likely that their strong start will fade, as it has in seasons past, but credit is still due – Showalter’s Orioles are leading what still seems to be the strongest division from top to bottom. On the flip side, Boston is severely underperforming and not only sits at the bottom of the division, but does so with a lot of infighting between the coaching staff and the “superstars”. Things are not looking pretty in Beantown. In the middle, everything seems pretty standard, with the Rays, Yankees, and Blue Jays falling in that order.
As far as predictions go, Jeff comes in last place for predicting Boston and Baltimore so far off their actual placements. David and Neal ended up tying, only differing in the order of New York and Tampa – while David was further away with his Yankee prediction, he’s so far right on with Tampa. Neal was one away for each.
American League Central
|Kansas City Royals||2||4||2||4|
|Chicago White Sox||4||5||5||3|
|The AL Central is kind of a mess, with teams all over the place. Currently at the top is Cleveland, playing surprisingly well on the road and getting strong pitching from Derek Lowe and a great new bat from Jason Kipnis. Minnesota has dug itself into an AL-leading ten game deficit in the cellar, not even really close to fourth place Kansas City, who, while still in fourth place, is overperforming at this point, as are the third place White Sox. In such a weak division, it’s kind of a surprise that the powerful Tigers aren’t yet in first, but they’re two games back with plenty to play.
Once again, Jeff comes in last place. What are you doing, Jeff? Missing three predictions by two places is gonna do that to you. David and Neal once again tie in their predictions, and this time the tiebreaker doesn’t help at all.
Winner: David and Neal
American League West
|Los Angeles Angels||2||2||2||3|
|An even bigger mess than the AL Central is the AL West. Texas is already running away with it behind fantastic offense and pitching, with Josh Hamilton sitting pretty with four times as many RBIs as Albert Pujols, whose Angels sit disappointingly in third place. Oakland is outperforming expectations at the moment as their two rookie rotation pitchers are getting the job done, and Seattle sits in fourth place. Nobody is particularly surprised.
There’s not much to analyze with predictions when everybody gives the same thoughts. Pity points for Jeff!
Winner: David, Neal, and Jeff
National League East
|New York Mets||5||5||5||3|
|Atlanta and Washington fight for their right to party atop the AL East, both with suddenly potent offenses and surprisingly effective pitching. The Mets, expected pre-season cellar-dwellars, started out strong and continue to be relevant, only a couple games back of the leaders. Miami and Philadelphia both have their problems, notably bullpen and offense, respectively, but neither is so far out of the race that a playoff run is outside of the realm of possibility. A pretty wide-open division, among the strongest in baseball!
Neal gets absolutely no credit here with one of the worst predictions ever, getting no team correct and only one team within one of their actual placement. On the flip side, Jeff did particularly well, nailing one team and coming within one of another.
National League Central
|St. Louis Cardinals||3||4||1||1|
|St. Louis is doing their best to convince the doubters that their world series run was in no way a fluke, leading the division by a solid margin even after losing Albert Pujols. Cincinnati is hanging around in second place, but after that it gets pretty ugly. It’s ugly enough that Pittsburgh has managed to seat themselves in third place despite having a historically terrible offense. Milwaukee is underperforming in fourth, and Chicago and Houston are right where pretty much everybody expected them to be.
Jeff absolutely dominated here, correctly predicting the top two and coming within one placement of all the other four teams. David and Neal weren’t even close.
National League West
|San Francisco Giants||2||2||1||2|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||3||3||4||1|
|San Diego Padres||4||5||5||5|
|The offensive juggernaut in Los Angeles has come alive, and it’s quickly turning the NL West into a division of also-rans. The Dodgers lead the division by an astounding six games this early on with that key combination of good pitching and great offense. San Francisco is sticking around in second place, but isn’t really looking great doing it. The pitching is there, as usual, but there’s not enough offense to actually win the games. Arizona is struggling mightily, really missing Chris Young as an offensive threat. Colorado and San Diego just don’t look good on either side of the ball, both with double-digit deficits in the division this early on.
Jeff and David had strong showings here, each predicting one team correct, but Neal took the division by correctly placing three of them.
American League Playoffs
|New York||Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay||Baltimore|
|Tampa Bay||New York||Boston||Tampa Bay|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles||Los Angeles||New York|
|Baltimore and Cleveland weren’t chosen by anybody to make the playoffs, but David and Neal both correctly picked the Yankees and Tampa Bay to make it into the newly-expanded playoff field out of the AL East. Jeff’s poorly-timed selection of Boston keeps him out of the running here.
Winner: David and Neal
National League Playoffs
|Cincinnati||Cincinnati||St. Louis||St. Louis|
|Arizona||Arizona||San Francisco||Los Angeles|
|Wow! Nobody picked the Nationals, the Mets, or the Dodgers to make it into the current playoff field. Jeff gets his revenge in the National League by correctly choosing the Braves and Cardinals while Neal and David both take an 0-fer.
Interestingly enough, all three contributors are tied at four points apiece heading into the awards section, so we may as well make it for all the marbles. Things get tricky here, as you’re dealing with baseball’s very large player pool, so the best way to look at the predictions is to compare the predictions among each other – whose pick for MVP is doing the best so far? In this section, we’ll explore which of the three choices are currently performing the best and also give the likely overall winner at this point in the season.
|AL MVP||M. Cabrera||J. Hamilton||M. Cabrera||J. Hamilton||J. Hamilton|
|NL MVP||T. Tulowitzki||H. Ramirez||B. McCann||T. Tulowitzki||M. Kemp|
|AL Cy Young||F. Hernandez||J. Verlander||F. Hernandez||F. Hernandez||D. Lowe|
|NL Cy Young||C. Hamels||I. Kennedy||M. Bumgarner||C. Hamels||M. Cain|
|AL Rookie||L. Cain||M. Moore||J. Montero||J. Montero||D. Smyly|
|NL Rookie||J. Teheran||Z. Cozart||T. Bauer||Z. Cozart||K. Nieuwenhuis|
|AL Manager||N. Yost||R. Washington||N. Yost||R. Washington||B. Showalter|
|NL Manager||D. Johnson||D. Johnson||F. Gonzalez||F. Gonzalez||D. Mattingly|
|There are a lot of awards here, so let’s take a look at some of the less obvious selections. Felix Hernandez vs Justin Verlander was a very close race, but overall, Felix is doing a lot more with a lot less. It’s incredibly tight between the two of them, even though Derek Lowe would likely take home the hardware were the award given away now. Zack Cozart is a gimme in the NL Rookie race, as he’s the only one among the three selections who has set foot in the big leagues so far this season. The fight between Davey Johnson and Fredi Gonzalez is razor thin, but Gonzalez currently has the lead and has had to battle back from a very slow start in a really rough division.
Sadly, this puts us at a dead-even split across all three contributors, with each person coming in first in five categories each. As the season continues on, we will undoubtedly see more separation – I expect to see major shakeups specifically in the AL Central and the NL East. Things will definitely get more interesting.