Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pre-Season Predictions Revisited

Back to regularly-scheduled programming.

Since we're just past the halfway point of the season, I thought it might be fun to go back and look at my pre-season predictions for the NL Central to see how they're shaping up. Of course, there's still half the season to go, but we have a pretty good sample size to see where I was wrong.

Best Offseason Acquisition

Pre-Season: Alfonso Soriano

Current Stats: .305, 15 HR, 31 RBIs, .353 OBP

I said Alfonso Soriano, because he could hit 50 home runs at Wrigley. A month into the season, this looked like a complete joke, because he was hitting more like Cezar Izturis than the 2006 version of Soriano. But he heated up in June, and is starting to get his power stroke back. He probably won't hit 50, but could still go for 35 or so. With 60 RBIs. And a .350 OBP. Just what you want from your $136 million leadoff hitter.

Mid-Season: Soriano

You'd also have to put Carlos Lee in this argument, but the Astros are so bad that Soriano looks to be having more of a positive impact in Chicago. We'll give the nod to Alfonso.

Worst Off-Season Acquisition

Pre-Season: Jason Marquis

Current Stats: 6-4, 3.31 ERA

A real surprise. Definitely was wrong about this one so far. There's still time for the old Jason Marquis to emerge (the 6.00 ERA guy), but he's been good through the first half.

Mid-Season: Adam LaRoche

Current Stats: .230, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 77 KOs, .315 OBP

LaRoche has been brutal this year - he actually got hot over the last two weeks to get his average up to .230. He was down around .200 for most of the season. The guy they traded LaRoche for, Mike Gonzalez, is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, so that softens the blow for Pittsburgh. I think the Pirates will ultimately be happy they have LaRoche, but he has a lot of catching up to do.

Best Starting Pitching

Pre-Season: Milwaukee Brewers

Starter's Stats: 35-23, 4.26 ERA

The starters have been good, not great, other than ace Ben Sheets. Capuano, Suppan and Bush are having down years from an ERA perspective, but Vargas has performed as good as could be expected. Yovanni Gallardo was impressive in a short 3-game trial period while Capuano was on the DL, but is going to the bullpen now that Cappy is healthy. Look for better things in the 2nd half.

Mid-Season: Chicago Cubs

Starter's Stats: 31-23, 3.89 ERA

They've had outstanding performances from Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Rich Hill and Sean Marshall, and Big Z has begun to pitch better over the past month. It is hard to figure out how this team is only at 41-40 given the performance of their starting pitchers. Or, it isn't that hard to figure out after you look at the next category...

Best Bullpen

Pre-Season: Chicago Cubs

Bullpen Stats: 10-17, 4.04 ERA

I said originally that this was by default, because all the bullpens in the league are terrible. Well, the Cubs bullpen has been terrible this year. The baby bears' bullpen is 10-17 with a 4 + ERA, and the major culprit has been the poor pitching of Scott Eyre, who has a sporty 7.07 ERA in 28 innings in relief. Bright spots include Carlos Marmol.

Mid-Season: Milwaukee Brewers

Bullpen Stats: 13-9, 3.46 ERA

The Brewers rarely lose when leading after 7 innings, because Derrick Turnbow and Francisco Cordero have generally been lights out. Both Turnbow and Cordero have gone through a rough spot this year. Carlos Villanueva is the MVP of the bullpen, if not the pitching staff, with a 6-0 record and a 2.72 ERA over 53 innings of long relief work. Cordero leads the league in saves, and Turnbow has 48 K's in 36 2/3 innings thus far.

Best Everyday Lineup

Pre-Season: Cubs (fantasy baseball); Cardinals (real baseball)

It's pretty obvious that the Cardinals do not have the best everyday lineup, regardless of the criteria, unless the crietia is what team's everyday lineup sucks the most. The Cards are truly a one-man band right now. The Cubs were terrible for the first 2 months, and have gotten hot lately. Their promotion of Ryan Theriot and that other little LSU guy from the minors has jump-started the offense. I still don't get why Soriano is batting leadoff, but whatever. I guess they like to be able to hit leadoff home runs every once in a while.

Mid-Season: Milwaukee Brewers

Other than a little swoon in late May and early June, the Brewers have hit, and have hit often. They are second in the NL in home runs, lead in slugging, are second in runs scored, second in RBIs, fourth in batting average...you get the picture.

Best Defense

Pre-Season: Cardinals

The Cards didn't even manage to do this right this year, making 55 errors in 79 games.

Mid-Season: Pirates

On the other hand, the Pirates have done something right this year - they've given up only 32 errors in 82 games. I really don't have any other way of measuring this, because I don't get to watch all of these teams play all that often. So we'll go by the numbers.

Pre-Season Predicted Win Totals:

Cardinals - 87 wins.

Um, no. They're 37-42. Unlikely to make it to 87 wins, unless Carpenter comes back smoking and Pujols hits about 40 home runs in the second half. Mike Maroth is in their rotation, and Troy Percival is in the bullpen, if that tells us anything. Despite what I said in the pre-season, Kip Wells (3-11, 6.30 ERA) is not good.

Brewers - 84 wins.

Should exceed this win total, unless they go on a major bender. They are on pace for more than 90 wins.

Cubs - 81 wins.

This one's right on so far, as the Cubbies are 1 game over .500. They could get to 85 wins or so if things fall right in the second half, but they better hope that starting pitching holds up or there are going to be lots of 8-6 ballgames at Wrigley. Do they keep Zambrano with the impending ownership change?

Astros - 79 wins.

Houston has generally sucked this year, and won't likely reach 79 wins, barring a 2005-esque 2nd half. They stand at 36-47 right now.

Cincinnati - 75 wins.

Just an awful, awful team. They're 20 games under.500, the worst record in the NL. And they'll be sellers during the trading deadline, making the team even worse. 65 wins would be a realistic goal.

Pittsburgh - 71 wins.

This one is about right too - they stand at 35-47 and might make it to 71.

There you go - I whiffed on the Cardinals in general, Jason Marquis (though I'm still not convinced) and the Cubs bullpen.


Tony said...

Matt you are to the NL Central what Nostradamus is to pop culture.

Keep up the excellent work.

Anonymous said...

Nostradamus predicted pop culture? What did he say about Paris' next move?