Review of My 2016 Picks and Predictions

A staple of my year-end writing is a review of my preseason picks for playoff teams and my predictions for the major awards. This typically takes the form of me outlining how poor my picks were, but this year I actually did quite well with my playoff team selections. The awards predictions stayed true to the form I established in previous years: not great.

Playoff Picks

Here are my preseason predictions for playoff teams:

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Here is what actually happened:

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Out of the 10 playoff teams I was correct about 7. Seven!I even nailed the World Series winner. That is my best year. In 2014 I correctly predicted 5 of 10, and last year I only had 3 of 10 correct. In the American League I missed on the lucky-duck Rangers, who had the league’s best record (95-67, .586) despite a run differential (+8) that typically underlies a .500ish team. I was right that the AL East was going to be a beast, but missed on which team would finish third. I had the Rays but their brutal first half kept them from competing for a playoff spot. The Rays need to find a way to put an offense on the field so they can take advantage of their strong run prevention. The Orioles are like Rays-opposites. They packaged mediocre-to-bad pitching-and-defense with a lineup that mashed to earn third place in the East and the second Wild Card spot.

It looks like I had my finger on the pulse of the National League, nailing all three division winners and only missing on the Mets. I thought the Mets would take a step back this season, but instead they overcame significant injuries to a number of key players to get into the Wild Card game. The team that actually took a step back was the Pirates, who finished below .500 and suddenly have questions about their core (e.g., McCutchen, Andrew). With the NL Central seeming the Cubs’ division to lose for the foreseeable future, the Pirates are in tough and could be perpetually fighting for a Wild Card spot; a standing that has not worked out for them in recent years — they lost the WC game in 2015 and 2014.

Awards Picks

My predictions for the awards winners were much worse than my playoff team selections, although to be fair the task is considerably harder. I missed on every pick, except NL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP, which were probably the easiest ones to predict.

American League

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Mike Trout remains the best player in the game and was recognized as such by MVP voters this year. Byron Buxton looked like a can’t miss player but he has not offered much beyond his defense in centre field, which has led the Twins to jerk him around enough that one wonders about his confidence when playing at the big league level. I still think Chris Sale should have won the Cy Young, but he was not even a finalist. In any case, with the Red Sox trading for Sale, they now have the 2016 Cy Young winner AND the should-have-been 2016 Cy Young winner in their rotation for 2017.

National League

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Corey Seager is so good. He actually finished third in the MVP voting, which put him awfully close to the likes of Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki. Clayton Kershaw missed too much time to win the Cy Young, but by FanGraphs’ FIP-based WAR (fWAR) he contributed the most wins to his team. If he held his FIP over another 40-50 innings he would have been a lock to win the award again. I hope Bryce Harper regains his 2015 form in 2017. He is so fun to watch when he is knocking the ball all over the yard.

All in all, a decent year for my predictions. Hopefully I can maintain my playoff-team-predicting-power but improve my prescience when it comes to the player awards. I am looking forward to the 2017 season and getting my picks and predictions ready.

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