Win some, lose some

Back in April, we took a shot at calling the 2012 standings and predicting who would win the major player awards. Not surprisingly, we made a few mistakes. Hey, it’s baseball, where nothing is set in stone and the surprises are part of the joy we get from following the game.

Division standings

How did we do? For the division standings, the scoring was done by giving each THT staffer a point for every spot off when guessing a team’s rank in its division. For example, if someone picked the Orioles to finish last (which we all did) and they actually finished second, that’s three points.

As a whole, we did the best job calling the National League Central: We were off an average of 0.52 spots per team. Next was the AL Central at 1.00 spots away for each team, then the NL West at 1.15, the AL West at 1.27, the AL East at 1.38, and we tanked on the NL East, missing by an average of 1.51.

Which individual did the best with prognostications? In other words, if you added up all the points, who had the the lowest score?

There was a four-way tie for first among Bruce Markusen, Richard Barbieri, Vince Caramela and me. We all accumulated 26 points. After this foursome, Jeffrey Gross had 30 points, Josh Shepardson and Steve Treder had 32. Chris Jaffe, Chris Lund, Dan Lependorf, Derek Ambrosino, John Barten, Matt Kovach, Matt Filippi and Mike Clark all garnered 34 points.

Last season’s big winner, Ben Pritchett, joined Brad Johnson, Karl De Vries and Nick Fleder with 36 points, David Wade had the only 38-point total, Brian Borawski scored an even 40, and Paul Francis “Sully” Sullivan brought up the rear with a Douglas Adams-inspired 42. (Remember, Sully, “Don’t Panic.”)

Out of 132 chances to get a division completely right, only twice did it happen, with Vince Caramela and I nailing the NL Central. A few of the other highlights were everyone choosing Detroit as the AL Central titlists and Houston as the NL Central doormats, Mat Kovach picking Oakland to finish second when the rest of us put the A’s in a dogfight with Seattle in the AL West’s second division, and Richard Barbieri as the lone believer that Washington could take the NL East crown.

Aside from the lowlight of every one of us picking Baltimore for the cellar, some other particularly embarrassing picks include David Wade choosing last-place Boston as the AL East champ, Jeffrey Gross doing the same with the Rockies in the NL West, five staffers (Vince Caramela, Karl De Vries, Nick Fleder, David Wade and Sully) anointing bottom-feeding Miami as the NL East champ, and Mat Kovach declaring Washington that same division’s worst team. (I don’t point out these faux pas to humiliate anyone, but as a further reminder that, well, ya never know.)

Individual awards

For the individual awards, I was going to use a 14-9-8-7-etc. scale for MVP picks, so if someone’s MVP pick finished in the top 10, that contributor received the associated number of points. However, I wanted to recognize anyone whose pick garnered any support at all, so I gave a point for choosing a player who finished 11th or lower and bumped up the points for top-10 picks by one apiece. For the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, I wanted to keep things on a similar scale as the MVP even though standard voting doesn’t go out 10 spots.

The star performer in this arena was Dan Lependorf with 50 points. He nailed Miguel Cabrera as AL MVP and Bryce Harper as the NL’s top rookie and chose second-place finisher Clayton Kershaw as his NL Cy Young candidate. Throw in Yu Darvish as his AL Rookie of the Year and Joey Votto as NL MVP and consider his reasonable pick of CC Sabathia to win the AL Cy Young, and you have a very strong ballot.

Nick Fleder and Brian Borawski came in second and third with 40 and 39 points, respectively. Nick was right about Cabrera and also pegged David Price as the AL’s best pitcher while tabbing Kershaw for the NL version of that award. Brian pinged Harper, made solid choices with Darvish and third-place Jered Weaver, and earned some points for Matt Cain‘s sixth-place Cy Young finish.

The next wave of scores came from Jeffrey Gross (33), Steve Treder (30), David Wade (29), Mike Clark (27), Vince Caramela (25) and Karl De Vries and yours truly (22). Dipping down a bit lower, there were Chris Lund and Matt Filippi (19), Bruce Markusen and Brad Johnson (17), John Barten (12), and Chris Jaffe, Mat Kovach and Ben Pritchett (11). Bringing up the rear were Derek Ambrosino (9), Richard Barbieri (2) and the two fellows with blank slates, Josh Shepardson and Sully.

Conclusions

Predictions are fun. Bragging when you nail a forecast feels terrific, but the taste of humble pie isn’t so great when you whiff like Pedro Cerrano facing a nasty Uncle Charlie. But it’s all fun and games, anyway.

I’m sure we’ll give these predictions another shot in 2013, but don’t expect significant improvement, nor should you bank on this year’s champs to retain their status as prognostication kings. The game of baseball doesn’t work that way. And that’s why we love it.

References & Resources
Here’s an Excel file with everyone’s picks: THT-2012_preseason_predictions-RESULTS.xls

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