Don’t ever let it be said that the newjonnytransit blog is ever anything less than scrupulously, rigorously, and thoroughly accountable (for further reference, please see newjonnytransit Reading Regulations, Section 8(f): Accountability).
If I’m ever so foolhardy as to predict something on these pages, you better believe I’ll be fact-checking later… And, as far as the 2011 Major League Baseball season goes, that ‘later’ is now.
But just how far off the mark exactly where those reckless predictions I made forever ago in March?
(Black = March’s reckless predictions, Red = The facts; the cold, hard facts of now.)
American League MVP:
Robinson Cano (2B, Yankees)
GP: 159 AB: 623 H: 188 2B: 46 3B: 7 HR: 28 RBI: 118 AVG: .302 OPS: .882
Cano came sixth in this year’s AL MVP voting – behind Justin Verlander, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, and Miguel Cabrera (at least three of whom enjoyed career-best years). So he definitely didn’t embarrass me too much…
Runner up: Kevin Youkilis (3B, Red Sox)
GP: 120 AB: 431 H: 111 2B: 32 3B: 2 HR: 17 RBI: 80 AVG: .258 OPS: .833
…Unlike Youkilis (my unhelpful Red Sox bias, part 1), who only managed to bat .258 all year and failed, therefore, to garner a single MVP vote from any of the 28 voters. It was just a so-so year for the Youk, and his first out of the last eight in which he didn’t improve upon his previous season’s stats. Useless, eh?
National League MVP:
Albert Pujols (1B, Cardinals)
GP: 147 AB: 579 H: 173 2B: 29 3B: 0 HR: 37 RBI: 99 AVG: .299 OPS: .906
Pujols finished fifth in the NL MVP voting – behind Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, and Justin Upton – so, again, I didn’t miss on him by too much. (Admittedly, though, backing the game’s current best player isn’t exactly the *greatest* of speculative leaps…)
Runner up: Troy Tulowitzki (SS, Rockies)
GP: 143 AB: 537 H: 162 2B: 36 3B: 2 HR: 30 RBI: 105 AVG: .302 OPS: .916
And Tulowitzki finished back in eighth, after what looks like a slightly better season. Either way, his, at least, a better effort than his team managed… (more of which below).
American League Cy Young Award:
Jon Lester (Red Sox)
GP: 31 IP: 191.2 H: 166 ER: 74 BB: 75 SO: 182 W: 15 L: 9 BAA: .234 ERA: 3.47
In a season dominated by Justin Verlander, Lester – just like the Youk – didn’t get any love from any voter (my unhelpful Red Sox bias, part 2). Yes, he put together an eminently decent year. Unfortunately, however, he’s plenty good enough by now to have a whole lot of great ones.
Runner up: Jared Weaver (Angels)
GP: 33 IP: 235.2 H: 182 ER: 63 BB: 56 SO: 198 W: 18 L: 8 BAA: .212 ERA: 2.41
Modesty prevents me from boasting, of course, but here’s a prediction I got COMPLETELY CORRECT! As is also very nearly true of…
National League Cy Young Award:
Roy Halliday (Phillies)
GP: 32 IP: 233.2 H: 208 ER: 61 BB: 35 SO: 220 W: 19 L: 6 BAA: .239 ERA: 2.35
…Mr. Halliday, who came second in the NL Cy Young race, and…
Runner up: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
GP: 33 IP: 233.1 H: 174 ER: 59 BB: 54 SO: 248 W: 21 L: 5 BAA: .207 ERA: 2.28
…Mr. Kershaw, who beat him to the prize. (Re. Halliday, mind you: see Pujols above – the Doc is so obviously the best pitcher of the last few years that anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly helplessly partial, partially helpless, or both.)
An already stellar team, plus Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jacoby Ellsbury all back from pesky 2010 injuries, AND new signings/legitimate MVP candidates Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, AND possibly the best pitching staff outside of Philadelphia. So that’s what you get for baseball’s second-highest payroll…
WRONG! (Finished 3rd)
More or less the best team in all of baseball for about three-fourths of the season… and let’s never talk again about the rest of the time. (My unhelpful Red Sox bias, part 3.)
Solid in all the right places, and very strong at catcher (Joe Mauer), first base (Justin Morneau) and at the top of the rotation (Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano). Can also look forward to the services of elite closer Joe Nathan again, after he missed all of 2010 with an elbow injury… Or the Chicago White Sox…
WRONG! (Finished 5th/last)
Pretty sure the phrase I’m looking for is ‘ravished by injury.’ Still, by any standards, quite the awful year for the perennial contenders.
Set to be the beneficiaries of a relatively weak division, especially with the Angels mid chop-and-change. Will miss Vlad Guerrero’s free-swinging bat, and Cliff Lee’s pitching arm – but will gladly welcome to the team former Angel Mike Napoli, and one-and-done Red Sox Adrian Beltre.
Eventually found some weird ways of losing the World Series, but, you know, got there first – so no real shame in that, right?
At least three perennial MVP candidates (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano), a top-tier pitching ace (C.C. Sabathia), and maybe baseball’s greatest ever closer (Mariano Rivera). Should also benefit from division rivals Tampa Bay Rays being slightly weaker than last year.
CLOSE! (Finished 1st; wild card went to the Rays)
I hate this team and always will do. Every inch the Man Utd of baseball, only somehow even less endearing.
Pitching crazily strong, especially with Cliff Lee back in the fold (after – great news! – saying a big fat ‘no’ to more money with the Yankees), and hitting plenty good enough even after Jayson Werth’s monied defection to Washington Nationals (never trust someone who can’t even spell their own name…)
No surprises here, then, given the Phillies have the best rotation that money can buy. Still, shame about their postseason, eh? (Lost in five to the Cards; more of which below…)
Will be tough to win a competitive division – alongside Cardinals, Brewers, and Cubs – but that much less so with the helping hands of Joey Votto (last year’s landslide NL MVP winner), Jay Bruce (only 23 but already monumentally useful), and relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, he of the fastest ever recorded pitch (105 mph).
WRONG! (Finished 3rd)
Hmmm, well at least I successfully named two of the teams they ended up finishing below…
Slowly going about the business of being one of the teams to beat over the next half-a-dozen years. With a shortstop (Troy Tulowitzki, age 26), outfielder (Carlos Gonzalez, 25), and no. 1 starter (Ubaldo Jimenez, 27) that every other team in baseball would happily make room for.
WRONG! (Finished 4th)
And yet more proof that my bread is definitely buttered on the American League side of things… But maybe I was half-right, at least, about Jimenez: the Indians made room for him before the season ended.
Reigning champions – mostly thanks to extraordinary pitching. Can also look forward to another easy ride in a somewhat weak division, Rockies excepted, and the chance to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.
CLOSE! (Finished 2nd; wild card went to the Cardinals)
Apparently I never rated Arizona all that much, for the NL West Division, or St. Louis, for the NL wild card. But, hey, the Giants almost sneaked in front of both (if you squint a bit, turn your head to the side, and stand far enough away, that is…)
Red Sox over Reds. Hmmm, that’s probably about 70% wishing thinking to 30% wouldn’t be the strangest thing in the world. But what do I know?
WRONG! (Cardinals over Rangers)
…And I thought we agreed not to mention the Red Sox any more? (My unhelpful Red Sox bias, part 4.)