We’re deep into the 2012 regular season of Major League Baseball and some division races are beginning to become clear, while others still linger in uncertainty. What better time to once again revisit the preseason picks our three contributors made? Several key injuries and underperforming players have really shaken up the races – 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||1|
|Boston Red Sox||3||3||2||4|
|Toronto Blue Jays||4||4||3||5|
|Amazingly, Baltimore is still in the thick of the AL East race. I have them in third here despite being tied with Tampa – Tampa has a better division record as they are currently tied in head-to-head matchups. Boston and Toronto continue to disappoint, while New York has the largest division lead in the majors and doesn’t look likely to give it up any time soon. Still a possibility that both wild card slots could come out of the east. Tampa Bay, though in the playoffs at this point, has been underperforming – but they’ve gone 5-0 since Longoria has returned from his three month stint on the DL.
David nearly has the division absolutely right – he correctly placed New York and Tampa at the top of the division, and the other three teams were only a couple spots off. Neal was close, with every team but Baltimore just one position away. Jeff fell in dead last.
American League Central
|Kansas City Royals||2||4||2||5|
|Chicago White Sox||4||5||5||1|
|The AL Central continues to be a weak division, unlikely to take either of the two wild card slots. Chicago has pulled into the lead with surprising strength of pitching and timely hitting from A.J. Pierzynski, but Detroit continues to lurk in the shadows with Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera still leading the way. Cleveland was still in the hunt until a recent 11 game losing streak, and Minnesota and Kansas City have sunk into a deep mire that they won’t come close to escaping.
A three-way tie before the tiebreaker, as each participant was eight spots off from the actual performance. But Jeff takes the division as he correctly predicted the placement of both Cleveland and Minnesota.
American League West
|Los Angeles Angels||2||2||2||3|
|The AL West has become one of the most solid divisions in baseball following the all-star break and the trade deadline. The Athletics have been playing out of their minds, taking a surprising second in the division so far, and the Angels buffed up their rotation through trades and look to make a playoff push as Mike Trout continues to challenge for possibly even the AL MVP. Despite being in last, even Seattle has a respectable -11 run differential. If it doesn’t beat itself up from the inside, the division could send three of its four teams to the playoffs.
Once again, there’s nothing to analyze with predictions when everybody gives the same thoughts. Neal sneaks on to the board!
National League East
|New York Mets||5||5||5||3|
|Washington continues their rebirth with the best record in the major league, but Stephen Strasburg’s inning limit looms. Only about four or five more starts until the Nationals shelve him for the season, assuming they don’t rescind that going into the playoffs. The Braves have also stayed strong, but beyond that, the division is quite ugly. The Mets are in third place but have no business being anywhere close to that, Miami traded away their entire team after “rebuilding” in the offseason, and Philadelphia continues to be an offensive disappointment. Pronounce “offensive” whichever way you like.
Neal continues his run of miserable predictions, incorrectly predicting every team and guessing Philadelphia as the winner. Jeff and David, on the other hand, tied with mediocre predictions, and David takes the division with his correct prediction for the Braves.
National League Central
|St. Louis Cardinals||3||4||1||3|
|A very top-heavy NL Central has three teams pushing for what will most likely amount to two playoff spots. Cincinnati has been hitting extremely well even with Joey Votto watching from the sidelines, and Pittsburgh looks like they’ll finally break their streak of sub-.500 seasons. St. Louis is equally strong, but so far has not been able to convincingly close the gap between themselves and the Pirates. Meanwhile at the bottom of the division, Milwaukee went fire sale in dealing Zack Greinke, and the Cubs and Astros sink deeper and deeper into a mess of a season.
Neal and David ended up tying here, but David took the tiebreaker as he correctly placed four of the teams to Neal’s three.
National League West
|San Francisco Giants||2||2||1||1|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||3||3||4||2|
|San Diego Padres||4||5||5||4|
|The Dodgers’ early lead in the division is gone as the Giants have a one-game lead with plenty more baseball to play. Extended absences by both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp really hit the Dodgers in their offense, as they boast only a +12 run differential. Arizona is still lurking in the shadows; though they are only performing at .500, they have the highest run differential in the division. San Diego has currently won six in a row and continues to claim they’re in it for 2013, while Colorado simply looks ugly both at the plate and on the mound.
Jeff and Neal both had strong showings, but David wins the division by placing two teams properly.
American League Playoffs
|New York||New York||Boston||New York|
|Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay|
|Los Angeles||Los Angeles||Los Angeles||Oakland|
|Nobody predicted either Oakland or Chicago 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
|Arizona||Arizona||San Francisco||San Francisco|
|Nobody took the Nationals or the Pirates to make it into the playoffs. Jeff takes the National League solidly by correctly picking the Reds, Giants, and Braves to advance to the postseason.
Heading into the awards section, David has the lead with five points while Jeff follows closely behind with four. Neal is lagging behind with two, and he shared both of those points. Get it together. As before, the best way to look at the award 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||M. Cabrera||M. Cabrera|
|NL MVP||T. Tulowitzki||H. Ramirez||B. McCann||H. Ramirez||A. McCutchen|
|AL Cy Young||F. Hernandez||J. Verlander||F. Hernandez||J. Verlander||J. Verlander|
|NL Cy Young||C. Hamels||I. Kennedy||M. Bumgarner||M. Bumgarner||R. Dickey|
|AL Rookie||L. Cain||M. Moore||J. Montero||J. Montero||M. Trout|
|NL Rookie||J. Teheran||Z. Cozart||T. Bauer||Z. Cozart||W. Miley|
|AL Manager||N. Yost||R. Washington||N. Yost||R. Washington||B. Melvin|
|NL Manager||D. Johnson||D. Johnson||F. Gonzalez||D. Johnson||D. Johnson|
|Cabrera and Hamilton are both playing incredibly well, but Hamilton has been very unproductive lately, while Cabrera is surging to fantastic numbers all around. Nobody’s choise for NL MVP is playing particularly well, but Ramirez seems to be having the best statistical season. Overall, though, Andrew McCutchen is probably the frontrunner over Ryan Braun by the slimmest of margins. Once again, the race between Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander was very close. Near-identical K:BB ratios, but Verlander has a better ERA at this point, so he takes it. Jered Weaver would be more solidly in the mix were he not significantly behind in his innings pitched. Hamels and Bumgarner have identical ERAs and innings, but Bumgarner is performing better in WHIP and K:BB.
It’s always fun when a rookie can come in and dominate, and this season we’re being treated to one in each league doing just that. Mike Trout is the obvious choice for AL Rookie of the Year and should probably be contending for AL MVP at this point as well. Wade Miley has turned into Arizona’s ace and is a big reason they’re still in the hunt for the division title. The AL Manager race is a bit muddled, especially with Baltimore, Oakland, and Chicago overperforming, but at least to me, Oakland seems to be the team defying the most expectations, giving Melvin some attention for Manager of the Year. Finally, surprising nobody, Davey Johnson should run away with the award in the National League.