Well, with the All-Star announcements coming out, I took a look at my pre-season predictions, and it turns out that once again, I'm awesome. This is good, because my NBA predictions were a little hit-and-miss this year and I need a rebound.
I made 10 predictions and it looks like I'm at least mostly right on all of them. As always, self-congratulation is the word of the day. Let's take a look:
1. "The Seattle Mariners are wildly overrated and will not win the AL West." Well, right off the bat, I'm doing well. Most sports publications picked them to win the AL West, except for me, who picked both the Angels and the Rangers over them. All the pre-season love for the Mariners was completely misplaced and the team is now 34-47.
2. "Brett Anderson will put up monster numbers in his second season and finish in the top-5 for Cy Young voting." Aaaaaand we're back to the middle. Anderson, who had a 4.06 ERA his freshman year in the league, had really good underlying numbers, and it seemed probably he'd make a big jump this year. And through six starts, he looked great - an ERA of 2.35, a WHIP of 1.07. Very, very strong numbers. And then he got hurt and we haven't seen him since. Oh, well.
3. "The Red Sox will sputter through a solid month this spring and look completely disoriented. Fans will panic, but they'll put on the jets over the course of the summer and finish with 95 wins." It's a little early to call this one, but certainly, the Sox looked awful early, everyone discounted them, and they've had 9 players on the DL this year already. But now they're just a game and a half behind the Yankees and fully in the thick of playoff contention. If the season ended today, they'd win the Wild Card. (Update: they'd now be a half-game out)
4. "The Rays will be the third-best team in the American League and possibly baseball, and will still find themselves out of contention and make at least one "looking to the future" trade, most likely involving Carl Crawford or Rafael Soriano." Too early to call this one, but I think it's safe to say that the Rays are competitive enough they won't be making a major trade. They're just a half-game behind the Sox, and any small streak could push them to the top of the AL EAst. Still, if their slide continues - they've been 12-15 since June 4th - they could slip out of contention and be forced to make a deal. As of right now, though, they're the 3rd-best team in the American League and one game out of being the 3rd-best team in baseball (Update: they now are the 3rd-best team in baseball).
5. "Out of Nick Johnson, Javier Vasquez, Joba Chamberlain, and Chan Ho Park, at least one Yankeespectacular fashion." will flame out in Well, Nick Johnson is hitting .167, Javier Vasquez is 6-7 with an ERA of 5.11, which is still better than Chamberlain's (5.24) or Park (6.41). I picked the right crowd.
6. "Comeback player of the year: C.J. Wilson. Close second: Lance Berkman.
Breakout years: Billy Butler, Gordon Beckham, Garrett Jones. Still not having a breakout year: Grady Sizemore, Alex Rios.
Not going to have an impact his rookie year, hype or not: Aroldis Chapman. Who will: Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg.
Severly underrated: Rajai Davis.
Not a fluke: Ben Zobrist.
Change of scenery would do him good: Corey Hart."
C.J. Wilson, who up until now could best be descibed as a mediocre middle reliever (ERA 4.29, WHIP 1.41), landed the opportunity to start for the Rangers this year and has done a nice job so far (6-4, 3.34 ERA, 1.26 ERA). He's a decent Comeback player candidate, though Vernon Wells would probably be a better one. Berkman, meanwhile, looks ever worse than last year and is batting .243, so that's a pretty big swing and miss.
As for the breakout years, Butler is hitting .320 - 20 points higher than normal - but both Beckham and Jones' numbers have tailed off this year in sophomore slumps. Sizemore was just as bad as I expected, he hit just .211 before injuries finished his season, but Rios has been hitting 20 points over his career average and having a year just as good as his 2007 season, which no one thought would ever happen.
Despite hype, Aroldis Chapman has still not made the big league rotation of the Reds, even though two other, less-heralded rookies have come up and found spots in the same rotation before then. Now, that's just ridiculous. Meanwhile, Strasburg's been near-unhittable and almost made the All-Star team on the basis of six starts, and Jason Heyward did make the All-Star team - in fact, he's starting.
Rajai Davis' other numbers have dropped, but he is on pace to steal over 50 bases, which would be a career high by at least 10 bases. Zobrist has proved he's not a fluke, and he's only 3 stolen bases shy of last year's total, but his home run numbers are way down - he finished last year with 27, this year he's only on pace for 10. And Corey Hart sat on the bench for the beginning of the year while trade rumors swirled and the Brewers talked about how they were unhappy with him. But when they finally put him in the lineup, he hit like crazy, and now he's on pace for nearly 40 homers, 40 doubles, and 120 RBI, with a batting average 10 points higher than his career average.
So, good calls on Wilson, Butler, Sizemore, Chapman, Heyward, Strasburg, and Hart, and bad calls on Berkman, Beckham, Jones, and Rios, while Davis and Zobrist are a bit of a wash. Let's give the category a tenuous thumbs up and give me half a point.
7. "Not dead yet: David Ortiz, Rafael Furcal, Jermaine Dye, Bronson Arroyo, Brad Penny, Orlando Cabrera, Orlando Hudson, Daisuke Matsuzaka." Boy, I look like a prophet with Ortiz, huh? I was essentially the only Red Sox fan who didn't give up on Ortiz during his slump, and I was the only one during his hot streak who said that his average would come back down over the course of the year. I'm right on all counts. Furcal is hitting .338 - about 50 points over his career average - with as many stolen bases as he had all of last year. Arroyo's era is 1/100th of a point off his career average, and he's 8-4, which is significantly better than normal (then again, so are the Reds). Brad Penny's got a 3.23 ERA, and while Cabrera's numbers have declined, he's still stealing bases as good as ever, and the same's true for Hudson. Dice-K looks significantly better than he did last year, and his ERA is down over a run from 2009. Only Dye doesn't count, since he turned down all free agent offers and chose to stay retired. Oh, well.
8. "Dead: Huston Street, Mike Gonzalez, Milton Bradley, Brad Lidge, Melky Cabrera, Pedro Feliz, Matt Lindstrom, Johnny Damon's outfield-playing days." This side is more hit-and-miss. Street spent most of the season on the DL so far, but he returned at the end of June and has the closing gig - for now. Gonzalez is 0-2 with an ERA of 18 and has lost the closing job. Milton Bradley is hitting .211 and has already melted down once in spectacular fashion. Lidge's ERA is 5.25 and his manager has said he is "not entirely comfortable" with Lidge being his closer. Cabrera is hitting .253 with 2 homers, Feliz is hitting .224 with 3 homers. However, it turned out Lindstrom wasn't totally dead yet - he's got 19 saves, which is already a career high. And Damon has played 31 of his 74 games in the outfield.
9. "The NL playoff teams will be Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies, and Braves. None of these races will be particularly exciting, though none of them will be insanely out of reach." Whoops. Currently the playoff teams are Mets, Reds, Padres, and Braves, thought everything is still close: Philly is two back of the Mets, the Cardinals two back of the Reds. San Diego looks surprisingly strong, though, and hold a 4-game lead in the NL West. Who saw that coming?
10. "The AL playoff teams will be the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and... Angels. The Twins will remain in the hunt all season, and Texas will look frisky but deeply flawed. They'll be 2011's 'look out for this team coming on!'" Texas actually turned out to be this year's 'look out for this team coming on!' They're atop the AL West, but everything else seems to be in order, though the NL Central features three teams (Detroit, Minnesota,, and Chicago) all within a half-game of each other.
Well, that was refreshing. I'll check back in at the end of the year to see how I did at the final. In the meanwhile, let me make a second-half prediction: The Padres are not for real.
By the way, if you haven't voted, go cast your ballot in the All-Star run-off. Nick Swisher is ahead of both Kevin Youkilis and Paul Konerko, and Joey Votto, who is leading the NL in OPS, has somehow not made the squad yet, while Yadier Molina has. Get on that.