MLB Regular Season Review + Awards Predictions

Hey guys I know it’s a little late, but I thought I would do a little season review based on my predictions back at the beginning of the season. Man was I wrong on some of my picks! Ok let’s get started!

AL East

I picked the Boston Red Sox to win the division; boy was I wrong.  As a Yankee fan, however, I couldn’t be moar glad.  One of my best friends is a Red Sox fan, and his reaction to their epic collapse was priceless.  It also cost Terry Francona his job.  I had picked the Yankees to come in second and win the wild card, and we ended up winning the division.  The celebration was short-lived though, as the Yanks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Detroit Tigers in 5 games.  But it was still a good season nonetheless.

As for the rest of the division, the Tampa Bay Rays, who I picked to finish fourth, ended up catching the Red Sox to win the wild card.  The Toronto Blue Jays finished fourth thanks in huge part to Jose Bautista (who is my AL MVP), and the Baltimore Orioles finished dead last even though I picked them to finish third.  Looks like I bought into Buck Showalter’s magic too much.  They did, however, play help play spoiler and keep the Red Sox out of the playoffs, so I am happy about that.

Pre-season picks: Red Sox, Yankees (Wild Card), Orioles, Rays,  Blue Jays

Reality: Yankees, Rays (Wild Card), Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles

AL Central

My picks were way off in this division.  I picked last year’s AL Central winners, the Minnesota Twins, to repeat but looked what happened.  Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer looked pathetic this year, which ultimately led to the Twins last place finish.  The White Sox were my second place pick but ended up having a roller-coaster ride of a season, which is typical of an Ozzie Guillen led team.  He is no longer their manager now, and I wonder who the White Sox will hire to replace him.  My third place pick were the Detroit Tigers, and they ended up winning division and knocking out my Yankees in the playoffs.  They also likely have the AL Cy Young and possible MVP in Justin Verlander.  The Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians round out my last two picks, but the Indians ended up having a decent year and finished second.  Simply put, the AL Central was a mess, and the Tigers clearly took advantage of that.

Pre-season picks: Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Royals, Indians

Reality: Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Royals, Twins

AL West

I apologize Texas Rangers fans, I was so wrong.  Just like with my Orioles pick, I believed in the magic too much.  I thought the Oakland A’s young pitching would carry the A’s to the division crown.  Clearly that wasn’t the case.  The Rangers once again won the division and are now in the ALCS for the second year in a row.  The Los Angeles Angels surprised a lot of people and finished second thanks to their three-headed monster of likely Cy Young runner-up Jered Weaver (who has now put two consecutive awesome seasons together), the ever-reliable Dan Haren, and fireballer Ervin Santana.  However, their offense let them down.  They have a lot of young talent, and if Kendry Morales comes back at full strength next year, they’ll contend again.  The A’s finished third and the lowly Seattle Mariners finished last.  It pains me to see that Ichiro Suzuki may have finally showed his age.  He had his worst season ever, and this is something I will address later.

Pre-season picks: A’s, Rangers, Angels, Mariners

Reality: Rangers, Angels, A’s, Mariners

NL East

Unlike the Red Sox, the Phillies played as advertised.  They handily won the NL East and had the best record in baseball.  They did break 100 wins (even though I said they wouldn’t) although they didn’t reach 114 as I said.  The Phillies boasted the best pitching staff in the majors.  Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels were as good as advertised.  Roy Oswalt was injured for the majority of the year, but he was still better than half of the pitchers in the league.  Rookie Vance Worley also turned many heads with his stellar play.  However, their miserable offense, led by strikeout master Ryan Howard, let them down in the playoffs as I predicted.  However, I was moar than happy to see them go out in the first round.

The Atlanta Braves came in second but choked away the wild card like the Red Sox did in the AL.  And just like the Red Sox, they have a lot of questions they have to answer this winter.  The upstart Washington Nationals finished with a near .500 record (80-81, one game cancelled) thanks to a nice young core and no thanks to Jayson Werth-less (that bum was on my fantasy team!).  I picked the Florida Marlins and their young core to take third, but they finished dead last thanks to clubhouse turmoil (owner Jeffrey Loria is an idiot, Logan Morrison’s outgoing behavior, Hanley Ramirez looking like a minor league player to name a few).  The New York Mets finished fourth; Jose Reyes’s batting title was the only good thing that came out of their season.

Pre-season picks: Phillies, Braves (Wild Card), Marlins, Nationals, Mets

Reality: Phillies, Braves, Nationals, Mets, Marlins

NL Central

Congratulations to the Milwaukee Brewers! Thanks to a slew of great offseason (and trade deadline) moves, the Brew Crew won the division. Oh and in-house superstars Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder also helped.  With the Yankees out, I’m currently rooting for the Brewers to win it all.  Back to the topic at hand, the St. Louis Cardinals finished second and made the playoffs as a wild card due to some extraordinary play down the stretch.  I picked them to finish third due to Adam Wainwright’s injury, but this group keeps on proving people wrong.  Instead, my pre-season pick, the Cincinnati Reds, could not emulate last season’s success and finished third.  In my pre-season picks, I had the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Houston Astros finishing 4, 5, and 6 in no particular order.  The Pirates finished fourth and looked like they might finish with a winning record at the half-way point, but eventually they flamed out and finished with their record-setting 19th straight losing season.  The Cubs finished fifth and the Astros assured their last place finish when they traded away Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence.

Pre-season picks: Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, rest in no particular order

Reality: Brewers, Cardinals (Wild Card), Reds, Pirates, Cubs, Astros

NL West

Well I was right about one thing–the San Francisco Giants didn’t win the division.  The loss of Buster Posey at the beginning of the season definitely hurt, but this team just wasn’t good enough to repeat as division champs.   What I was wrong about was who the winner would be.  I picked the Colorado Rockies, and they flamed out big time and finished fourth.  Instead, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the division.  They even managed to win moar than 90 games!  They were probably the biggest surprise in terms of division winners.  The L.A. Dodgers finished third as I predicted, behind likely Cy Young and Triple Crown winner Clayton Kershaw and 30/30 guy (nearly 40/40) and likely MVP Matt Kemp.  And to no one’s surprise, the San Diego Padres finished last.

Pre-season picks: Rockies, Giants, rest in no particular order (but leaning toward Dodgers finishing third)

Reality: Diamondbacks, Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres


Now it’s time to get down to the awards.

AL MVP Pre-season: Robinson Cano (2B, Yankees)

AL MVP What I Think Now: Jose Bautista (RF, Blue Jays)

Honorable Mentions: Curtis Granderson (CF, Yankees), Jacoby Ellsbury (CF, Red Sox), Dustin Pedroia (2B, Red Sox), Adrian Gonzalez (1B, Red Sox), and Justin Verlander (SP, Tigers)

Bautista has clearly been the best player in baseball, despite his very normal second half.  A .300 batting average to go along with 40+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s (RBI is a bad stat to use but in this case it means a lot since Bautista is the only good player on his team) is pretty good.  Don’t forget his league high 1.056 OPS (only other player with a OPS of 1.000 or higher was Tigers first basemen Miguel Cabrera).  I’ve always been a proponent of the fact that the MVP should go to the best player.  I don’t take into account if the player’s team makes the playoffs; after all, for the longest time, Red Sox fans were vigorously stating that Bautista doesn’t deserve to win because the Blue Jays weren’t going to make the playoffs.  But it turns out that the Red Sox didn’t either so ha!

WAR is a good tool to use but Fan Graphs and Baseball-Reference use different formulas to calculate it.  Therefore, it shouldn’t be the end all statistic.  I question the validity of defensive metrics (which was the huge knock on Granderson) due to the highly volatile nature of year-to-year numbers, so I don’t weight it as heavily.  I know WAR factors in defensive numbers, and I’m not saying defense should be ignored.  But, in my honest opinion, offense should be moar heavily looked at then defense, at least until there is a widely accepted way to calculate a player’s defensive ability.  I always felt Granderson had a puncher’s chance to win MVP despite his “poor” defense, but after his dismal September, that thought vanished.  Jacoby Ellsbury now should finish second and Granderson third.  Verlander makes a strong case too, but like I said, best player wins. Congrats Bautista.

AL Cy Young Pre-season: Felix Hernandez (Mariners)

AL Cy Young What I Think Now: Justin Verlander (Tigers)

Honorable Mentions: Jered Weaver (Angels), CC Sabathia (Yankees), Josh Beckett (Red Sox), James Shields (Rays)

Is it even a question? Verlander won the Triple Crown and was clearly the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball.

AL Rookie of the Year Pre-season: Jeremy Hellickson (SP, Rays)

AL Rookie of the Year What I Think Now: Jeremy Hellickson

Honorable Mentions: Michael Pineda (SP, Mariners), Eric Hosmer (1B, Royals), Ivan Nova (SP, Yankees)

Pineda’s first half almost made me change my mind, but he faded in the second half.  Hellickson, on the other hand, remained rock solid.  That sub-3.00 ERA is also very nice.  Nova also surprised me with his excellent second half. 8-0 with a 3.18 ERA helped a struggling pitching staff stay afloat.

AL LVP: Adam Dunn (moar like Adam “Done”) (DH, White Sox) with Carl Crawford (LF, Red Sox) coming in a close second

AL Cy Yuk: John Lackey (Red Sox) with A.J. Burnett (Yankees) coming in a close second

For all the LVP’s and Cy Yuk’s, the answer is simple: they all signed huge contracts, and they were all duds.

NL MVP Pre-season: Albert Pujols (1B, Cardinals)

NL MVP What I Think Now: Matt Kemp (CF, Dodgers)

Honorable Mentions: Ryan Braun (LF, Brewers), Justin Upton (RF, Diamondbacks), Prince Fielder (1B, Brewers)

Kemp and Braun are so similar, but I picked Kemp because he nearly won the Triple Crown, was a near 40/40 guy, and was the only good offensive player on a terrible team.  He’s like Bautista in a lot of ways–league leader in WAR, monster offensive numbers, plays on terrible team.  He’s the best player, hands down.

NL Cy Young Pre-season: Roy Halladay (Phillies)

NL Cy Young What I Think Now: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

Honorable Mentions: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Ian Kennedy

Like Verlander, Kershaw won the Triple Crown. Enough said.

NL Rookie of the Year Pre-season: Freddie Freeman (1B, Braves)

NL Rookie of the Year What I Think Now: Freddie Freeman (1B, Braves)

Honorable Mentions: Craig Kimbrel (RP, Braves), Vance Worley (SP, Phillies)

I’ve always thought that a position player should always come before a pitcher in MVP and ROY awards, simply because they play everyday.  I thought Austin Jackson should have won the AL ROY over Neftali Feliz last year, but that didn’t happen.  This year, I hope voters pick Freeman over Kimbrel.  I won’t throw a fit if Kimbrel does win, but I still think it would be the wrong choice.

NL LVP: Hanley Ramirez (SS, Marlins) simply because of all the talent he has and how his immaturity has made him squander it

NL Cy Yuk: Carlos Zambrano (Cubs) no question.  Big Z will always be a head case.

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