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Checking Back On Those MLB Preseason Predictions

Here’s a self-serving exercise!

It’s June 30, the midway point of the MLB season. After today, 24 of the 30 teams will have played at least 81 games. So let’s see how some of the prognostications I made back in March have turned out.

Everything in bold is what I said would happen prior to the first pitch.

Spoiler alert: It’s turning out to be a lot of all or nothing. Either I was dead right on things or I just have no business watching baseball any longer.

———–

American League East

1. Boston Red Sox:

2. New York Yankees:

3. Tampa Bay Rays:

4. Toronto Blue Jays:

5. Baltimore Orioles:

— The Yankees’ greatest weakness — starting rotation — has become quite a surprising strength with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia already surpassing expectations, and Ivan Nova has become dependable. I’m just waiting for the dream to end with these three, but so far, so good. I still think the Red Sox are going to win the division — they’ve owned the Yankees thus far — but Clay Buchholz must get healthy.

American League Central

1. Chicago White Sox:

2. Minnesota Twins:

3. Detroit Tigers:

4. Kansas City Royals:

5. Cleveland Indians:

— I thought the White Sox’s bullpen would be much improved. It’s not. I called Cleveland’s starting pitchers “atrocious.” They haven’t been. And the Twins have been one of the most injury-plagued squads this year. I’d like a do-over here.

American League West

1. Texas Rangers:

2. Los Angeles Angels:

3. Oakland Athletics:

4. Seattle Mariners:

— I was very wrong about the Mariners, but I really don’t mind that one bit. It’s so enjoyable watching Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda pitch, plus Seattle usually plays some of the latest games on the West Coast. And there is nothing better than watching some late-night live baseball. Watching Seattle’s offense is still akin to drinking milk that has been left in the Arizona sun for two weeks. It’s not a shocker that Seattle and Oakland are 1-2 in all of Major League Baseball in lowest batting average and OPS.

National League East

1. Philadelphia Phillies:

2. Atlanta Braves:

3. Florida Marlins:

4. Washington Nationals:

5. New York Mets:

— Three months in and the Braves are still making this division interesting, much like I said. I don’t think they can keep it going into September — that bullpen has three guys on pace for at least 80 appearances, so I think some of that wear and tear will show up down the stretch — but they are hanging in. On the other hand, I am extremely disappointed in the Mets’ performance. I’m disappointed that they are actually ahead of the Nats and Marlins in this division. Who do they think they are with their over-.500 record and vying for third place like that? That’s not where these Mets belong!!

National League Central

1. Milwaukee Brewers:

2. Chicago Cubs:

3. St. Louis Cardinals:

4. Cincinnati Reds:

5. Houston Astros:

6. Pittsburgh Pirates:

— And that’s what I get for believing in the Cubs’ pitching staff. At least Cincinnati’s rotation is staying true to the underwhelming form I predicted. Obviously, Pittsburgh’s success has been the second-biggest team surprise this year. But all of that doesn’t matter because if the Brewers can get Zack Greinke straightened out, I think they will run away with the Central.

National League West

1. San Francisco Giants:

2. Los Angeles Dodgers:

3. Colorado Rockies:

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

5. San Diego Padres

— The Dodgers have the would-be MVP and a possible Cy Young Award winner on their roster right now and are in last place. It’s definitely sad to me to see what’s happened to this franchise, and that’s coming from someone who actively roots against the Dodgers. Blame the McCourts all you want, but it’s not their fault that the bullpen has been racked by injuries; the rest of the starting rotation has been sub-par; there is no one to fear in that lineup outside of Kemp and Ethier. … Oh, who cares? It’s all McCourt’s fault!

San Fran’s pitching should be enough to hold on here, but Arizona has a clear advantage in offense, and, although he has struggled recently, Josh Collmenter has been a tremendous shot in the arm for that club behind the stellar seasons of Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy.

Most Valuable Player Award

American League: Adrian Gonzalez

National League: Ryan Braun

–Not too bad here. Gonzalez is the clear MVP of the American League right now. Although not enough people are realizing just how good Paul Konerko has been this season. Of course, that’s kind of par for his career.

Braun is still part of the picture for the National League MVP, and I know Jose Reyes is having a sick season, but I think it has to go to Kemp if he stays on his current track. He’s on pace for a .331-43-124 baseline with 43 stolen bases and 103 runs. I mean, c’mon. The Dodgers suck and all, but you can’t deny that.

Cy Young Award

American League: Jon Lester

National League: Clayton Kershaw

— Lester has been good, but this is currently a two-man race between Justin Verlander and Jared Weaver with Josh Beckett being an also-ran. I’d pick Verlander right now; he’s the most dominant pitcher in the A.L.

Kershaw, again, has been solid, but he’s not at the top of the crop. In March, I said I wanted to be a little more adventurous than picking a Phillie to win this award. Well, I probably should have picked a Phillie to win this award. If it’s not Roy Halladay, it’s Cliff Lee. And if it’s neither of them, it may be Cole Hamels. Jair Jurrjens leads the league in ERA and is tied for the N.L. lead in wins. But I think if a vote was held today, he would finish no higher than third, partially because he isn’t a part of such a hyped rotation. Also, Jurrjens is on pace for about 110 strikeouts. That would be the lowest strikeout total for any starting pitcher who won the Cy Young since Pete Vukovich in 1982. He struck out 105 that season for the Brewers.

Rookie of the Year Award

American League: Jeremy Hellickson

National League: Brandon Belt

— Hellickson has been just fine, but … DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! I KNEW I should have taken Michael Pineda! I–I knew it! As Hawk Harrelson would say, “Dag gummit!”

I love Pineda. I think I’ve made that clear at least a few times on this blog.

Belt hit a homer in the second game of his career. After that, he was a big swing and a miss. The winner in the N.L. right now is probably the Nationals’ Danny Espinosa, a middle infielder on pace to hit 30 HRs. Belt is currently in the minors and nursing a fractured wrist.

Manager of the Year Award

American League: Bob Geren

National League: Ron Roenicke

Yeah, how’s that working out, Bob? Oh bother. Cleveland’s Manny Acta is the current shoe-in.

Roenicke is probably fourth or fifth for this award behind at least Kirk Gibson, Clint Hurdle and Tony LaRussa in that order. Even after those three, Fredi Gonzalez and Charlie Manuel deserve a healthy measure of credit.

———–

I’ll leave a review on my postseason predictions out of this until we actually get to October. I don’t want to look forward to that right now. We still have another awesome half-season of baseball left to wash over us.

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