3 Takeaways: Hits & misses from preseason rankings
In your final three takeaways we look at hits and misses from the preseason rankings. While there was a lot of consternation regarding the rankings and how the projections valued certain teams (ahem, Royals), they did a good job in a few places, but failed in a number of others (ahem, Royals). All it goes to show is you can’t predict baseball.
Hits: Dodgers, Cardinals, Cubs, Mets, Phillies, Rockies
While it’s fair to say that much of these could have been predicted by just about anyone, credit where credit is due. Probably mostly for the Cubs and Mets. The Cubs checked in at 10th-overall in the pre-season rankings, while the Mets rated 12th. Both were undersold but belied the potential upside that each club retained. It should be noted that this ranking obviously didn’t include Yoenis Cespedes, Bobby Parnell, and others arriving to the Mets, so it seems fair to call that a win.
Misses: Red Sox, Mariners, Royals, Twins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Athletics, Padres, Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Astros
Well… when you miss on so many at the top, you’re going to miss a bunch at the bottom as well. Despite having one of the better run differentials for much of the year, the A’s bottomed out and doubled down further by selling off many of their assets. The Royals were all the talk early on, and it seems that the projections didn’t do well in anticipating breakouts from Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, even Lorenzo Cain to an extent. The concerns about their pitching did come to fruition, but Chris Young and Edinson Volquez were exactly as capable as the Royals predicted, rather than the projections.
The Blue Jays might as well be a different team compared with April 1, especially when you include Chris Colabello’s breakout. The Yankees received 33 home runs from a 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez – something certainly not accounted for in the projections, and that might be less surprising than 90% of a healthy season from Mark Teixeira. Throw in solid contributions from Luis Severino and Greg Bird, and you’ve got yourself a miss by the projections. It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong for the Red Sox, Padres, and Mariners beyond “pitching, hitting, and defense” respectively. Same goes for Detroit, but they actually have all three applied to them. The preseason rankings snarked at the A.J. Burnett signing by Pittsburgh, but he got the last laugh, pitching much of the year as part of a two-headed monster that included Gerrit Cole.
All of this is to say that predicting baseball is a fool’s errand. Early season trends often influence decision-making that can often cause a team to make moves that only seem to justify those trends. Sometimes GMs don’t though, such as when Alex Anthopoulos acquired Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, LaTroy Hawkins and others (they were under .500 and 4th in the division when they traded for Tulowitzki). In this case, he believed in the underlying numbers strongly enough that, when combined with the added production of the players he brought in, his team could make the playoffs. He was right and then some.