Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How Did My Pre-Season Predictions for the Red Sox End Up?

With the Red Sox exceeding all my expectation from the beginning of the year (I had projected a 2nd place finish in the AL East with possible Wild Card implications), I thought it would be a good idea/funny to see how my predictions worked out.  There's a reason I'm not on television giving my opinion, but I don't think they turned out that bad compared to what actual baseball "analysts" predicted.

I had written my pre-season projections and a check-in after the 1st month of the season.  So here's the end of the year results, and I'll try hard not to include post-season stuff in my final "awards" but I really don't care if they seep in at the end of the day.

Pre-Season Prediction: Biggest Strength - The Bullpen
1 Month Check-In: Biggest Strength - Starting Pitching

FINAL VERDICT: Hitting & Bullpen

The Red Sox ended up with the best record in the AL, the best offense in the AL, and one of the best back-ends of the bullpen, so it's a little hard to pinpoint exactly which facet was their de facto biggest strength.  The reason why they were so good is because they were very good at everything (hitting, running, fielding, pitching) and for the most part, they stayed healthy.

Pre-Season Prediction: Biggest Weakness - Power Hitting
1 Month Check-In: Biggest Weakness - ???
FINAL VERDICT: Back-End of the Starting Rotation

I'm really stretching at this point and picking nits since they were top 10 in the majors in every single stat I could think of.  The argument against this would be the mid-season trade that sent the glove magician Jose Iglesias to the Tigers in a three-team trade that got us Jake Peavy back while Buchholz was out for an extended period of time.  Even though his post-season struggles have continued through this year's playoffs, he came at the perfect time to stop the Red Sox from slipping, while also seeing Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks have strong finishes to the end of the year to make up for the out-of-nowhere offense that Iglesias had been sporting.

Pre-Season Prediction: Projected Favorite Player - Stephen Drew
1 Month Check-In: I'm not giving up on him just yet...but probably Mike Napoli
FINAL: Stephen Drew

This is my favorite player so nobody is getting more shit about his invisible bat than me this post-season...but he did make this spectacular play:

Pre-Season Prediction: Projected Least Favorite Player - John Lackey
1 Month Check-In: Probably John Lackey
FINAL VERDICT: Not John Lackey

This team is so fucking likable that Lackey made me do a 180 on him.  After he matched Verlander inning for inning in the ALCS and put up solid numbers throughout the year, and did so with virtually no run support, I am a John Lackey fan.  I think that, above everything else, is the biggest surprise of this season for me.  If you told me before the season that I would have ended up not only rooting for but really liking John Lackey, I think I would have had the same response as Lackey getting taken out of game 3 of the ALCS...

Pre-Season Prediction: Biggest Surprise Player - Johnny Gomes
1 Month Check-In: Biggest Surprise Player - I think I'm going to go with Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava should gets some honorable mention here because he put up a quiet reeaaally good season that I, in particular, did not see coming.  But it has to hands down be Koji.  A 38-year old reliever who came to be the possible set-up man for two closers on the roster (Hanrahan and Bailey) and ended up having one of the best seasons by a reliever ever.  Just unreal and out of nowhere.  The 2013 ALCS MVP, after recording 3 saves and a win, allowing 0 runs and 9 Ks.  Oh, and did I forget to mention the 34 straight batters without a hit throughout the entire summer this year?  Oh yeah, that too.  Check out these stats:

I mean, are you fucking serious?  That WHIP looks made up.  Oh and that BB:K ratio or 9:101, is actually down from his numbers last year.  Yup, he's good.  Not to mention his kid pretty much stole the show when he got his ALCS MVP trophy.


Pre-Season Prediction: Biggest Disappointment - Ryan Dempster
1 Month Check-In: Jackie Bradley, Jr.
FINAL VERDICT: Jackie Bradley, Jr.

He's still really young and it probably means nothing, so it's whatever.  You could throw Middlebrooks in there for being sent down to the minors mid-year or you could say Dempster too after he was just a 5th starter making the most money on the team this year.  But I'd rather focus on the Sox being in the World Series.

Pre-Season Prediction: Most Likely To Get A Season-Ending Injury - Mike Napoli
1 Month Check-In: Andrew Bailey or Shane Victorino.
FINAL VERDICT: Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey.

That one seemed to have worked just fine for the closer situation.  The limiting of injuries for the rest of the club is what was really important compared to last year's disaster where everyone was hurt.

Pre-Season Prediction: Most Likely To Become A Crowd Favorite - Jackie Bradley, Jr.
1 Month Check-In: Mike Napoli
FINAL VERDICT: Mike Napoli or Johnny Gomes

I'm pretty much basing this on beards alone:

Napoli's "The Siesta"

Gomes' "The Ironsides"

In case you needed a guide to the beards on the Sox, here you go too...

Pre-Season Prediction: Who Will Have The Best Year - Dustin Pedroia
1 Month Check-In: Clay Buchholz
FINAL VERDICT: Koji Uehara & David Ortiz

Ortiz you would expect with 30 HRs, 103 RBIs, a .309 AVG, and splits of .395/.564/.959.  Along with being the heart and soul of this team and giving a perfect speech after the Boston Marathon Bombings.

Pre-Season Prediction: Who Will Have The Worst Year - Daniel Nava
1 Month Check-In: Probably Stephen Drew
FINAL VERDICT: Will Middlebrooks

Thank GOD for Middlebrooks or this would have been easily Stephen Drew's title.  Getting sent down to the minors is not a good look, but coming back strong in the second half of the year and showing that type or resiliency is a damn good look.

Pre-Season Prediction: Projected Season Finish - 2nd Place in the AL East
1 Month Check-In: 1st Place IN THE WORLD.

It looks like Xander is taking the place of what we thought JBJ would be doing and the Sox are riding home field through the world series against a team that they swept the last time the faced them in the World Series in 2004.  I like our odds.