162 games have been played. Long at last, the postseason begins tomorrow. You can finally celebrate.
And oh how times have changed since April, let alone All-Star Break.
We made some bold predictions two months ago. Some came to fruition, others didn’t. But that’s just the way baseball works. Now, Mason and Dean reflect back on the 2016 regular season, and offer up their predictions as the October Drama begins in 24 hours. Let’s see who ends up with the better prophecy skills once the Commissioner’s Trophy is hoisted in four weeks.
I made a few changes to my postseason picks back in mid July, and some of them paid off while others flopped. In case you forgot my predictions, here you go:
- NL W: Dodgers
- NL C: Cubs
- NL E: Mets *ERRRRRRRRR*
- NL WC: Giants, Nationals *ERRRRRRRR x1*
- AL W: Astros *ERRRRRRRR*
- AL C: Indians
- AL E: Red Sox
- AL WC: Rangers, Orioles *ERRRRRRRRR x1*
Now let me dissect exactly what I called and what I butchered in the home stretch of the 2016 season.
WHERE I WAS RIGHT
The Giants collapsed, and the Dodgers won their 4th straight division title
You were a little overconfident there in the Giants maintaining their first half pace, weren’t you Mason. Ultimately they were able to string things together to salvage a widlcard spot, sweeping the Dodgers in the series finale to keep up the even year posteason pattern. But a second half that saw them only win five series and finish 12 games under. 500 doomed San Francisco from capturing its first NL West title in four years, squandering a 6.5 All-Star Break lead. Meanwhile, the Dodgers used a soft second half schedule to post the best 2nd half record in the NL by mid August, also posting the highest runs per game average thanks to players like Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzales, Yasiel Puig, Rob Segedin and rookie Corey Seager, who will undoubtedly win the NL rookie of the year award. And the craziest thing is that the Dodgers were able to do it all without Clayton Kershaw until the final three weeks of the season. At this point, you have to serisouly consider giving Dave Roberts the manager of the year award for accomplishign so much against all odds.
The Red Sox pulled away and won the AL East
Do it for Papi, right? The AL East race was nothing short of a dead heat in middle to late August, and then the Sox won 11 straight games to pull away. The Sox came back to Earth a little bit in the final week, losing three of their last four including two of three to Toronto, but it was enough to still give Boston home field in the ALDS as they take on the Indians starting Thursday. And how good was Big Papi this season exatcly? Well, he hit .318 with 79 RBIS and 38 homers, and the 40 year old learned before Sunday’s finale that his No. 34 will be retired in 2017. Not bad, Mr. Ortiz.
The Mets surged into the postseason (though short of a division title)
The Mets had a 7 percent chance of making the postseason when they were two games under .500 in mid August, with five games against the Giants and Cardinals on tap. And with their pitching rotation crumbling away piece by piece, the New York looked dead. Well maybe it was Yoenis Cespedes’ the next day, but the Mets won four of those five games that many thought would do them in. Before long, the Miracle Mets were riding a 20-7 stretch, and aided by a soft schedule that saw them face the Braves, Marlins and Phillies twice in their final two weeks, New York did the improbable and made into the Wildcard game. They’ll face the Giants at home, who have an identical 87-75 record. By the way, the Mets are playing at home soley because of those two straight wins aganst San Francisco that began the 20-7 stretch. As it was once said 46 years ago, “You just gotta believe!”
The Royals fell victim to the World Series hangover
I thought maybe I jinxed it when the Royals won 11 in a row to get right back in to the widlcard hunt, but not the case. They cooled off, and shot themselves out of contention from trolling the world with another
impossible improbable postseason run. It was nice while it latsed, Kansas City.
WHERE I WAS WRONG
The Rangers were just fine, and Astros fizzled out
I mean we all got concerned when the Rangers went 1-6 out of the break and Astros crept all the way back to just 2 games out of first place. It looked like the Rangers were going to be the Giants of the American league if you will, but not to be. Texas recovered just fine, largely because they hit the jackpot with the accquisitions of Johnathan Lucroy, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Gomez. I mean my God, have you ever seen trade deadline moves workout better than these ones? Hats off to Jon Daniels for orchestrating these brilliant moves, moves that led to more improbable comeback victories than one could count. Now the Rangers have won the AL West for the second time in as many years, and I’m wishing I had stayed true to my preseason pick of Houston missing the postseason (I wasn’t so crazy after all).
The Nationals survived the NL East, though they got beat up along the way
The Nationals posted 90+ win season, keeping up their even year trend of winning the NL East (nice try, but you aren’t the Giants). Of course, that division title didn’t come without cost. Stephen Strasburg was brilliant, until he got hurt again and is now out for the foreseeable future. Did we also mention that Wilson Ramos is out for the season with an ACL tear? Oh, and Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper are coming off minor injuries. Now the Nats take on the hard hitting Dodgers in the NLDS, and though LA is coming off a sweep, not a great time for Dusty Baker’s squad to be falling apart piece by piece.
Toronto made it in, barely.
Toronto really let off the gas in the closing weeks, and a disastrous ending to a critcial series against Balitmore last week nearly cost them a spot at returning to the playoffs. But the Jays were able to spoil David Ortiz’s final regular season home series of his career, and squeezed into the wildcard game with the help of a Tigers meltdown in Atlanta. Now they get to host Baltimore for the fifth time in a span of two weeks for a do or die wildcard matchup on Tuesday.
Alright, so I said that I would take a sip of beer for every prediction that I got wrong. Dean get the misery counter ready…but here’s who I had in the postseason as of mid season.
- NL W: Giants *Drinks*
- NL C: Cubs
- NL E: Nats
- NL WC: Dodgers, Marlins *Drinks and then Drinks again*
- AL W: Rangers
- AL C: Indians
- AL E: Red Sox
- AL WC: Orioles, Astros *Drinks*
WHERE I WAS RIGHT
The Rangers held on to win their division…albeit not barely, but by a lot.
Last time we visited the best team in Texas they were leading the flaming hot Astros by 2 and a half games, and saw their division lead of 9 games, slip through their fingers and a lot of people were ready to hit the eject button on this Rangers team. Then, GM Jon Daniels made a trade for catcher Jonathan Lucroy (more on that later) and oldie-but-a-goody Carlos Beltran to add depth and defense to the rotation. En route to setting a record of 36-11 in one run games, the Rangers blew the handles off of this one, leaving the Astros, and the rest of the division in the dust.
The Red Sox won their division and are looking really tough to beat
Big Papi farewell tour isn’t going to end just yet. With the addition of Drew Pomeranz, the surging Rick Porcello (huh?), and Mookie Betts going full steam ahead, the Red Sox are going to be a brutal opponent for anyone (Cubs included). I’ve said this since the beginning of the season, this is looking like one of those magical years for Boston Baseball. Watch out everyone.
WHERE I WAS WRONG
Chris Archer nor Rich Hill ended up in Texas
So I don’t count this prediction as being 100% wrong, because the Rangers did end up getting the biggest name at the trade deadline with All Star catcher, Jonathan Lucroy as well as Carlos Beltran, a man out of time. I knew Jon Daniels wouldn’t let the trade deadline go by without making a big move that would help his club’s chances of bringing home the championship. Since then, Lucroy has appeared in 47 games, batting .276 and added 11 dingers to his stat sheet. He has also shown that the dynamic duo of Yu Darvish and Lucroy, AKA Yucroy, is a very potent combo with him calling behind the plate and Darvish dealing.
On the other hand Carlos Beltran has filled a crucial role at the DH spot, with Prince Fielder having to tragically retire due to another neck injury. Occasionally filling in right field as well, Beltran is batting .280 with 7 homers through 52 games.
Now Rich Hill landed with the Dodgers, because we all knew he wasn’t going to remain in Oakland, and Chris Archer stayed put. So I say I went 3 for 5 on this pick.
The Giants fell off to lose the division to LA
Well, they still made the playoffs, and it is still an even year, so while yes Dean was right and the Giants collapsed and barely hung on to enter the post season, I still think that the Giants were lulling the rest of the MLB into a false sense of security and are ready to pounce on their prey. Seriously, watch them win the wild card and upset the cubs in the NLDS…
The Astros are not in the playoffs and the Blue Jays are.
The team in the North overcame their mid-season woes and caught fire at just the right time, pushing ahead to the top of their division. Then they started to struggle again and fell apart in the last part of the season and had to settle for a wild card instead of the division. If they are able to win against the other Birds in their division, it should be a fun ALDS rematch against the Rangers.
Now regarding the Astros…I’m not surprised really, because the city of Houston does have a history of putting out disappointing seasons in regards to sports teams (Rockets, Texans, Dynamo, you name it), but the ‘Stros got decimated by injury at the worst possible time. In addition, their record against the Rangers this season was 4-15, so that wasn’t going to do them any favors.
- NL WC: Giants – Bumgarner outduels Syndergaard, leading SF to a 2-1 victory over NY.
- AL WC: Blue Jays – J.A. Happ is able to stifle the O’s bats en route to a 6-2 Jays victory.
- NLDS 1: Giants – The curse of the billy goat and 100 win team strikes again. SF wins 3-2.
- NLDS 2: Dodgers – LA exploits the depleted Nationals in a 3-0 sweep.
- ALDS 1: Rangers – Texas gets revenge over Toronto with a game five walk-off.
- ALDS 2: Red Sox – Boston’s bats are too much for the Tribe to contain. Sox win 3-1.
- NLCS: Giants – 7 game instant classic between LA & SF sends the Giants back to the series.
- ALCS: Rangers – The home team wins every game. It’s a rematch of the 2010 Fall Classic.
- World Series: Giants
Sorry, but it’s an even year, so I’m pulling the homer card. Somehow, after going into a historic free fall that looked to spell certain doom for the Giants, they made it to October by winning 4 in a row. Why not say that this brand new beginning results in San Francisco trolling the baseball world yet again? Just like 2010, a four headed pitching monster, this time made up of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore lead the G-men to an improbable World Series victory over a hot-hitting Rangers squad. #DontStopBeliEVEN
- NL WC: Giants – It’s an even year, and the Giants managed to make it to October…don’t bet against Destiny.
- AL WC: Blue Jays – Sorry Zach Britton, the Blue Jays do all of us a disservice by not letting us see you play more baseball this year, but I have to roll with the team with the better pitching.
- NLDS 1: Cubs – If there is one team ready to fight off Destiny (Giants winning it all in even year) then it’s the best team in baseball. A team that is also trying to fight off its own postseason demons.
- NLDS 2: Nats – Oh it hurts to pick against a rested Kershaw…but Bryce Harper reawakens his super powers and makes himself #FunAgain. Also David Murphy is going to do great things in October, I can feel it.
- ALDS 1: Rangers – Three game sweep. Rangers pitching shows no mercy and Beltre hits a walk off in Canada to seal the deal. Please make sure that Odor is wearing football pads during his at bats.
- ALDS 2: Red Sox – Sorry Believeland, but it’s Big Papi time, and I’m not sure how healthy Kluber will be…so I have to roll with #SoxMagic
- NLCS: Nats – It takes seven long games to beat the Cubs, but irony is a funny thing as the Cubs watch Dusty Baker hoist the pennant over them. No Strasburg early on puts this team’s mettle and pushes the hitting to the next level, but then the Strasburgular makes a triumphant return in game 6. *insert joke about goats here*
- ALCS: Rangers – It takes seven games to beat Big Papi, and Mookie Betts should frighten the pitching rotation as well…except you realize the pitching rotation is anchored by Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Came for the hitting lineups, stayed for the pitching clinic that should ensue here.
- World Series: Rangers
As I am about to berate Dean for having the Giants go all the way, being a shameless homer, after running around claiming the sky was falling for his team since August, I can’t help but pull the homer card as well. Call us homers, call us fools, but don’t call us for dinner when the Rangers win the world series. This roster is full of players with playoff experience, and pretty good post season performers as well. It’s time to bring the ‘Ship home to Arlington, Texas for the first time ever. Ian Desmond hits the walk off homer in game five against his old team. Poetic justice.