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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

October 5, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Playoff predictions, and a look back (ouch) at my preseason prognostication

ichirochampagne.jpg

(I don’t think anyone forecast Ichiro in a champagne shower this year — especially not with the Yankees. But there he was, getting sprayed by Joba Chamberlain after the Yankees clinched, and apparently a little wary about it. Photo by Associated Press).

It’s that time of year again — time for baseball writers to publicly make a fool of themselves by handicapping the playoffs. Sure, everyone once in awhile you nail it — and by “you,” I mean “me” — but usually such predictions are the occasion for retroactive wincing and much muttering of, “What was I thinking?”

Here’s the column I wrote today with my postseason picks, which I’ll summarize here:

AL wild card: Orioles over Rangers

NL wild card: Braves over Cardinals

AL Division Series: Yankees over Orioles in four (remember, it’s a five-game series); A’s over Tigers in five

NL Division Series: Reds over Giants in five; Nationals over Braves in four

ALCS: A’s over Yankees in seven.

NLCS: Nationals over Reds in seven

World Series: Nationals over A’s in six.

If the Nationals make it to the World Series, of course, that will leave the Mariners as the only one of the 30 MLB teams to never reach the Fall Classic. I think that might get some attention around here — and so would the A’s, with their paltry payroll, shooting past the Mariners (not to mention the Rangers and Angels) in the AL West hierarchy.

Do I stake my reputation on these predictions? That’s a clown question, bro.

Now, on to my preseason predictions, which appeared in the Seattle Times at the outset of the season. I’m going to start with the National League, because the results are much better. In fact, I nailed all three division winners, and had the NL Central dead to rights — all six teams in exact order.

Here’s how I saw the NL West:

1, San Francisco

2, Los Angeles

3, Arizona

4, Colorado

5, San Diego

Here’s how they finished:

1, San Francisco

2, Los Angeles

3, Arizona

4, San Diego

5, Colorado.

Here were my NL Central choices:

1, Cincinnati

2, St. Louis

3, Milwaukee

4, Pittsburgh

5, Chicago

6, Houston

And that’s exactly how it played out.

Here were my NL East choices:

1, Washington

2, Philadelphia

3, Florida

4, Atlanta

5, New York

Here’s how it played out:

1, Washington

2, Atlanta

3, Philadelphia

4, New York

5, Miami

I’m proud of the Washington pick, because not many people had jumped on the bandwagon yet back in April. I’m not so proud of under-valuing the Braves.

The American League is a different story. I picked just one of three division winners — the Tigers.

Here’s how I forecast the AL West:

1, Los Angeles

2, Texas

3, Seattle

4, Oakland.

And here’s how they finished:

1, Oakland

2, Texas

3, Los Angeles

4, Seattle

In my defense, I don’t think anyone foresaw the rise of the A’s. I just read that of 50 forecasters on ESPN.com prior to the season, not one had the A’s or the Orioles in the postseason. I kind of cringe, though, when I read this comment me from April 3 in our American League team-by-team capsules: “While the A’s wait for news that they have a stadium deal, Billy Beane continues doing waht he does best: Furiously revamping the Oakland lineup. But until the A’s can lock down their emerging young players, they’ll continue to struggle. This past winter, Beane pretty much conceded the division to Texas and/or the Angels, trading three former All-Star pitchers for their usual batch of prospects. He did sign Yoenis Cespedes.”

It turns out the A’s didn’t concede after all. And that “furious revamping” by Beane succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations.

Here was my AL Cetnral forecast:

1, Detroit

2, Cleveland (ouch!)

3, Kansas City

4, Chicago

5, Minnesota.

Here’s how it turned out:

1, Detroit

2, Chicago

3, Kansas City

4, Cleveland

5, Minnesota

And here were my AL East predictions:

1, Tampa Bay

2, New York

3, Boston

4, Toronto

5, Baltimore

And the final standings:

1, New York

2, Baltimore

3, Tampa Bay

4, Toronto

5, Boston

Just to twist the knife, here’s what I wrote about the Orioles (who won 93 games and took the Yankees to the final day):

“The poor Orioles keep flailing away — 14 years without a winning season, which will become 15 after 2012. It’s hard to see where the improvement from last year’s 93-loss mess is going to come, because their offseason additions were lackluster and the farm system hasn’t been the answer. The Orioles are obviously hoping that some of their young pitchers, like Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta, take the next step. For Matusz, who was 1-10 with a 10.69 ERA, it’s going to require a huge leap. The Orioles do have a solid core to build around in Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, but unfortunately for them, their building always seems to wind up condemned. Buck Showalter’s magic isn’t working here.”

I don’t even know where to begin my mea culpa, so I won’t. I’ll just slink silently away.

My preseason predictions were for the Tigers to win the American League pennant (still alive there, though I’ve obviously switched directions), and the Phillies to take the National League (oops). And I forecast the Tigers to win the World Series (so now I have two chances out of 10 to be right — and if either one wins it, you can count on some gloating).

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