Revisiting The MLBTR Writing Staff’s Preseason Picks

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 KimbrelBrandon 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 HellicksonMike 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…  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!

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19 Comments on "Revisiting The MLBTR Writing Staff’s Preseason Picks"

3 years 9 months ago

Going way back in the way back machine. I like it.

Tony DiQuattro
3 years 9 months ago

Me too, we always see predictions from websites and magazines but rarely see follow ups.

3 years 9 months ago

This is what makes baseball so great.

3 years 9 months ago

These are terrible predictions. The Rockies? They have no pitching. The diamondbacks should have 5 votes

3 years 9 months ago

Hahah. Look at the d-backs roster vs. the Rockies. Tell me who is stronger. Not to put down the d-backs, they had a great season. But from the onset i think that was the right choice.

3 years 9 months ago

yeah… hindsight is the ONLY reason you say foolish things like that. 

Before the season only a tiny number of d-backs fans thought they’d have an awesome season, and most of them were just being optimistic homers.    Same goes for St. Louis predictions too for what it’s worth, Wainright goes down and everyone pretty much writes the season off but hey, it’s baseball and crazy things happen every year.  

3 years 9 months ago

I’ve been a Diamondbacks fan since 1998, and I picked the Rockies too.

Devon Henry
3 years 9 months ago

Kids, this is what you call Hindsight Bias. Thanks Psychology 101…

3 years 9 months ago

Loved the link for the NPB picks.

3 years 9 months ago

Awesome right up! I actually picked both Verlander and Kershaw for Cy Young, but I think the Phils, Tigers, and Rangers were my only other right picks..

3 years 9 months ago

I love how people are always like “The A’s stink and have always stunk”, they always forget that the Beane’s best 25 men are definitely capable of winning a lot of games….but injuries and dropoffs out of nowhere happen and people just like saying the A’s stink because they are jealous of the attention Moneyball got. 

3 years 9 months ago

The funniest pick by far…Brad Emaus.

Jamie Sayer
3 years 9 months ago

I’m surprised not one person game a nod to Bautista

3 years 9 months ago

How wrong some these picks were (as were mine) shows us how great this game can be.

3 years 9 months ago

It’s funny how someone picked Brad Emaus. I didn’t think he was going to be a superstar, but I had thought that we seriously had a diamond in the rough with him. 

3 years 9 months ago

What an amazing season by the Cardinals. You can talk about the Braves collapse, but no one, and I mean no one, had this team being able to make the playoffs after losing Wainwright.  Lots of credit to go around.  Carpenter bouncing back from a 1-7 start. Pujols bouncing back from a very human-like 5 month start to the season to hit .355/.393/.561 in September. Lance Berkman rising from the dead to hit .301/.412/.547. Matt Holliday was limited to 124 games but still hit .296/.388/.526, despite battling some pretty severe injuries. The rise of David Freese and Allen Craig who both came up HUGE in the playoffs, combining for 9 HR’s. Kyle Lohse coming back from the dead to put up a solid 2.5 fWAR (totally didn’t see this coming). Major contributions from a young bullpen including Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, and Mark Rzepcynski. Jon Jay proving himself to be a serviceable CF’er to allow John Mozeilak to make the Rasmus trade. Furcal stabilizing SS. Tony LaRussa bringing his A game for the final 2 months of his career.  All in all a total team effort from the very top of the organization all the way down to the 25th man. I’ll never forget when they were down to their last 3 outs with Jon Jay, Dan Descalso, and Edwin Jackson due up in game 6.

3 years 9 months ago

Good stuff, sadly I had a lot of the same picks, including White Sox and Athletics winning their divisions. I think Sports Illustrated picked Crawford to win AL MVP too. Like John Sterling says, WELP, that’s baseball for ya!

3 years 9 months ago

All in all a total team effort from the very top of the organization all
the way down to the 25th man. I’ll never forget when they were down to
their last 3 outs with Jon Jay, Dan Descalso, and Edwin Jackson due up
in game 6. 

3 years 9 months ago

Good to see the game is still played on the field and not on paper