Baseball BeatOctober 04, 2010
Six Months Down, One to Go
By Rich Lederer

The staff of the Baseball Analysts made predictions before the season began and, as it turns out, did very well. Our consensus picked five of the eight teams that qualified for the postseason, missing only on Tampa Bay in the American League and Cincinnati and San Francisco in the National League.

The Giants befuddled us the most as no one placed the NL West champions higher than third in the division. We narrowly missed on the Rays with three staffers choosing Boston as the AL Wild Card entry and two going with Tampa Bay. The Rays, of course, won the AL East, edging the Yankees by one game. Four of five analysts tabbed the Reds to finish second in the NL Central with all five of us incorrectly projecting St. Louis to take the division.

All eight postseason teams had run differentials of +100 or more. No other club in the majors had a differential that high. The Yankees led in runs scored (859) and in run differential (166). The San Diego Padres allowed the fewest runs (581).

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Rays         96   66  .593  -
Yankees      95   67  .586   1
Red Sox      89   73  .549   7
Blue Jays    85   77  .525  11
Orioles      66   96  .407  30

Toronto was clearly the biggest positive surprise in the AL East, if not the entire league, in manager Cito Gaston's final season. Forget the fact that the Blue Jays finished in fourth place. Winning 85 games in a tough division and finishing much closer to first than last place made for a highly successful season for MLB's lone club north of the border. Led by Jose Bautista's major league-leading 54 HR, Toronto tied the 1996 Baltimore Orioles with 257 homers, the third-most in the history of baseball.

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Twins        94   68  .580  -
White Sox    88   74  .543   6
Tigers       81   81  .500  13
Indians      69   93  .426  25
Royals       67   95  .414  27

The AL Central played pretty much to form with Minnesota winning its second consecutive division title. The Twins have now won six of the last nine division crowns. Unfortunately, Minnesota has been bumped in four straight League Division Series, never winning more than one game in any of these match-ups.

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Rangers      90   72  .556  -
A's          81   81  .500   9
Angels       80   82  .494  10
Mariners     61  101  .377  29

Texas finished atop the AL West for the first time this century. The Rangers have increased their win total from 75 in Ron Washington's first season in 2007 to 79 in 2008 to 87 in 2009 and 90 in 2010. Pitching and defense have been the key with Texas allowing 280 fewer runs this year vs. two seasons ago. Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners may have been the most disappointing team in baseball, losing more games than any team not named the Pittsburgh Pirates.

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Phillies     97   65  .599  -
Braves       91   71  .562   6
Marlins      80   82  .494  17
Mets         79   83  .488  18
Nationals    69   93  .426  28

Philadelphia captured its fourth consecutive NL East title, winning the most games in the majors. The 2008 World Series champions have increased the number of regular season wins in each of the past four campaigns. Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, perhaps the most formidable Big Three in the postseason, will be seeking to take the Phillies to the World Series for the third straight October.

In his final season at the helm, Bobby Cox is leading Atlanta into the postseason for the 15th time in the past 20 years but the first since 2005. However, it has been nine years since the Braves won a postseason series. The Hall of Fame-bound manager will be looking to win his second World Series and the first since 1995. He is 1-4 in his previous five attempts.

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Reds         91   71  .562  -
Cardinals    86   76  .531   5
Brewers      77   85  .475  14
Astros       76   86  .469  15
Cubs         75   87  .463  16
Pirates      57  105  .352  34

Joey Votto, the favorite to win the NL MVP, and Jay Bruce (.388/.474/.925 with 12 HR in his final 22 games) combined to lead Cincinnati into the postseason for the first time since 1995. A healthy Edinson Volquez (27.2-17-6-6-8-31, 1.95 ERA in September) will be the key to a pitching staff that lacks a proven stopper.

TEAM         W    L   PCT  GB
Giants       92   70  .568  -
Padres       90   72  .556   2
Rockies      83   79  .512   9
Dodgers      80   82  .494  12
Diamondbacks 65   97  .401  27

If you knew Pablo Sandoval was going to hit .268 with 13 HR, would you have believed that San Francisco would have won the NL West? Instead, rookie Buster Posey (.305/.357/.505) and newcomers Aubrey Huff (.290/.385/.506) and Pat Burrell (.266/.364/.509) combined with a stellar starting rotation and bullpen to beat back San Diego on the final day of the season.


As to the Giants, don't overlook the contributions of Andres Torres, who--with Huff, Posey, and Burrell--was one of the four big forces of their offense. With his stellar play in CF thrown in, there is a colorable argument that he was the team (or even league, though he'll get few if any votes) MVP.

Hey Rich, you wouldn't happen to recall which two analysts had the Rays in?

My recollection is that you and I picked the Rays.

Congrats to Jeremy as he ranked first, nailing six of the eight postseason teams (including all four in the American League).

Listen to the two of you!

I certainly hope Bobby Cox has a fabulous concluding series. Bobby has certainly had a majestic career. Atlanta will most certainly miss his presence.