This Thanksgiving, it's time to eat some humble pie. Last March, nine members of the MLB Trade Rumors writing staff unveiled our predictions for the 2011 season. Now that the playoffs are over and the postseason hardware has been awarded, let's see how these picks look eight months later.
The results prove two things. First, no matter how much you follow or know about baseball, it's easy to be wrong when dealing with the most unpredictable and surprising of sports. Second, if you ever need some numbers for a lottery ticket, don't consult an MLBTR writer.
- AL East: Only Zach Links had the Yankees winning the division title, as the rest of us bought into the preseason Red Sox hype.
- AL Central: Another color of Sox let us down in the Central, as seven writers picked Chicago to win the division. The exceptions were Mike Axisa and Steve Adams, who shrewdly knew the White Sox were in for a rough season and instead picked....the Twins. Oops. Hard to believe none of us thought the Tigers would break through.
- AL West: Things went a bit better out west as Zach, Tim Dierkes, Ben Nicholson-Smith and Howard Megdal all correctly had the Rangers repeating as division champs. The other five of us apparently thought this would be the year of Moneyball karma and picked the A's for first place.
- AL Wild Card: Kudos to Howard for being the only one to think the Rays would rebound from their free agent losses last winter and return to the postseason as the AL Wild Card. The Yankees got five picks as the Wild Card, and the Rangers got two more, so at least those of us who missed on these two as division winners got a makeup slot.
- NL East: The Phillies' dream pitching staff was enough to convince six of us to pick them as division champs, and the decision paid off. Tim, Ben and Howard had the Braves winning the East.
- NL Central: Another overall successful set of picks in the Central, with six writers correctly predicting the Brewers' rise. Ben, Mike and myself all missed out and picked the Reds.
- NL West: Unsurprisingly, nobody saw the Diamondbacks pulling off the worst-to-first feat. This was the only division with three different teams predicted as winners -- five votes for the Rockies, three for the Giants and one for the Dodgers.
- NL Wild Card: Tim, Howard and Ben didn't have the Phillies winning the East but they did have them winning the Wild Card. The Braves (4) and Giants (2) got the remaining Wild Card picks.
- NL MVP: Somewhat surprisingly, Ryan Braun didn't pick up any MVP love from the MLBTR staff. Five of us played it safe with Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki got two selections, and Howard and Steve came closest by picking Braun's teammate Prince Fielder.
- AL MVP: No Justin Verlander votes could be found in this all-AL East array of picks. Adrian Gonzalez received four votes and Evan Longoria received two, so six of us were at least on the right track. As for Dan, Steve and I, we all picked Carl Crawford, who didn't appear on a single MVP ballot after a rough debut in Boston.
- NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw was the choice for Zach and Howard, as the rest of us predicted another Cy for either Roy Halladay (six votes) or Tim Lincecum (one vote).
- AL Cy Young: Verlander's victory was correctly predicted by Luke, Dan and Ben, but he still wasn't the top choice of the MLBTR team. Jon Lester received four picks as the AL Cy Young winner, while David Price also scored two picks.
- NL Rookie Of The Year: Five different rookies were picked amongst our nine writers, but none of them were Craig Kimbrel. Brandon Belt and Freddie Freeman each received three picks. This catgory is also home to perhaps the single most off-base pick of the whole set, as Howard had Brad Emaus as the NL's Rookie of the Year.
- AL Rookie Of The Year: Then again, I picked Kyle Drabek as the AL's ROY, so what do I know? This was an overall strong category with five correct predictions for Jeremy Hellickson. Mike Moustakas, Michael Pineda, Chris Sale and (sigh) Drabek all received single votes.
Given that our picks were made just over a month after Adam Wainwright's Tommy John surgery, it's probably no surprise that none of us picked the Cardinals to even make the playoffs, let alone go all the way to their 11th World Series championship. None of us had any luck with World Series picks, as each writer picked at least one pennant winner (or, in some cases, a Series winner) who missed the postseason entirely. The Red Sox were the biggest culprits in this department, given that six of us had Boston winning the American League and four of us had the Sox winning it all.
Amusing mistakes from the World Series section: Dan had the White Sox as world champions, I had the A's taking the AL pennant and both Ben and Luke had the "all-collapse" World Series tandem of the Braves against the Red Sox.
Zach, Tim and Howard each correctly picked four of the eight playoff teams, and Zach, Ben and Luke each had two correct award winners. This means the overall staff winner is Zach Links, with six of a possible 17 overall categories. The lowest score of the bunch (with two out of 17) belonged to.....me. So, not only did I make bad decisions with my preseason picks, I also made the bad decision to publicly shame myself by writing this post. My only consolation is that I was 100% accurate with all my predictions when the MLBTR staff made our preseason picks for the 2011 Nippon Professional Baseball season. Go Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks!