The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (YFSF Predictions)

Updated with picks from SF and YF. Updated again with picks from John and SF's postseason picks, which I neglected. Updated with Nick's picks.

Who ya got?

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog's projection simulator has the Red Sox winning the AL East, averaging 94 victories and making the playoffs 60 percent of the time. None of the most commonly used projection systems picks anything less than an AL East title for the Red Sox. Likewise, the Yankees are a unanimous second-place pick, averaging 92 wins in SG's simulations. 

If that seems low and almost boringly close (as it's frankly destined to be, considering that three of the projection systems are Marcel-based or Marcel itself, which is nothing more than a three-year mean regression, and those projections are then run hundreds of thousands of times, pounding out any abnormalities that inevitably will occur when the season happens once in real life), it may help to know that the average number of wins for the AL East's first-place team in the simulations was 98 and the second-place team averaged 91 wins. 

In other words, while the Sox and Yanks' win totals averaged out to 96 and 94, respectively, the winner usually finished about seven games ahead of the second-place team, and the winner more often than not (42 percent of the time) was the Red Sox.

That's the brainy way of looking at things. Others of us would rather just squint hard and throw darts at a newspaper and see how things look. One of those things is more conducive to a last-minute predictions post.

Without further ado, here are my 2011 predictions. In the past, all the co-moderators would email hurriedly behind the scenes and post all our predictions in one post. Rather than do that this year, I invite all my co-moderators — and of course everyone else — to respond in the comments with their predictions. I'll then sum up everyone's choices into some kind of consensus YFSF prediction. Ready? Go!


Note that I've left the rest of the space blank. This is mostly so I can come back and grab the HTML for the table formatting, but if any mods want to join in by simply editing this post or emailing me their picks, we can do it that way, as well!

You'll also notice that I've helpfully filled in some of the more obvious choices for the YF moderators, all in the spirit of cooperation, of course.

AL EAST
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
 BOS  BOS NYY BOS BOS BOS BOS
NYY* NYY* BOS* NYY* NYY*
TB TB TB TB TB
TOR BAL TOR TOR TOR
BAL TOR BAL BAL NYY BAL NYY

 

AL CENTRAL
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
MIN MIN MIN MIN CHW
CHW DET CHW DET DET
DET CHW DET CHW MIN
CLE CLE KC CLE KC
KC KC CLE KC CLE

 

AL WEST
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
TEX TEX TEX TEX OAK
OAK LAA OAK OAK TEX
LAA OAK LAA LAA LAA
SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA

 

NL EAST
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
PHI PHI PHI ATL PHI
FLA* ATL* ATL* PHI ATL*
ATL FLA NYM FLA FLA
NYM NYM FLA NYM WAS
WAS WAS WAS WAS NYM

 

NL CENTRAL
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
MIL STL CIN MIL MIL
STL MIL MIL CIN* CIN
CIN CIN STL STL STL
CHC CHC CHC CHC CHC
HOU HOU PIT PIT PIT
PIT PIT HOU HOU HOU

 

NL WEST
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
LAD SF COL SF COL
SF LAD SF COL SF
COL COL LAD LAD LAD
SD SD SD SD SD
ARI ARI ARI ARI ARI

 

ALCS
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
NYY
over
BOS
BOS
over
NYY
NYY
over
BOS
BOS
over
TEX
BOS
over
CHW

 

NLCS
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
PHI
over
MIL
PHI
over
ATL
PHI
over
ATL
ATL
over
CIN

PHI
over
COL

 

WS Champion
YF SF NICK PAUL AG JOHN IH
NYY BOS NYY BOS BOS
Ok, so I pick the Red Sox to win the World Series every year, but darn it, every year I think they have as good a shot as anyone. The only time I think I was objectively wrong was in 2006. In fact, only once (so far) in the Theo Epstein era has the team been more than one year away from a recent or eventual World Series win. So, unlike in my childhood, there actually is justification for my eternal optimism.
In reality, the Sox should be a juggernaut on offense, even better than expected thanks to the revelation of Adrian Gonzalez in a hitter's park and the novelty of a reasonably healthy outfield that also happens to include Carl Crawford. Pitching is more of a question, particularly the last two spots of the rotation, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. In the end, neither has to be Cy Young caliber to dramatically improve over last year's showings and offset any regression from Clay Buchholz. I am optimistic about John Lackey based on his second-half showing last year. The bullpen is always a question, but it looks as solid as it can be, especially with two potential replacements if Jonathan Papelbon pulls a 2005 Foulke. The defense has the potential to be the best we've seen in quite some time, which could make the pitching look even better than it actually is.
The Yankees remain formidable, just with more questions in the back end of their rotation and their lineup. I think it will be a dogfight, close to the end, and that once again both teams will see October baseball. The Rays and Jays will both be good enough to compete for any other division title in baseball, but I don't see either of them touching New York or Boston, with the caveat that Tampa especially is young enough and smart enough to surprise us again. The Orioles' record will mask their true talent. They'd be a not-outrageous sleeper pick in any other division.
In the rest of baseball, both centrals are close, while my big upset pick is for the Phillies to miss the playoffs entirely, if only because of the two majorly overhyped teams in the game (Philly and boston), the Sox already had their horrifically unlucky season; Philadelphia seems to have a head start on getting one of their own. I don't see any team in the weak wests touching the defending champs, though I don't think either of those teams is good enough to make it out of the first round (I would have said that last year too, though).
Awards over which we'll spend the offseason bickering:
AL MVP
  • Paul: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
  • YF: Alex Rodriguez, NYY
  • SF: Gonzalez
  • John: Rodriguez
  • Nick: Rodriguez
AL CYA
  • Paul: Jon Lester, BOS
  • YF: Felix Hernandez, SEA
  • SF: Hernandez
  • John: Hernandez
  • Nick: CC Sabathia, NYY
AL ROY
  • Paul: Jeremy Hellickson, TBR
  • YF: Jesus Montero, NYY
  • SF: Hellickson
  • John: Carrasco
  • Nick: Dennis Quaid
AL MOY
  • Paul: Terry Francona, BOS
  • YF: Joe Girardi, NYY
  • SF: Manny Acta, CLE
  • John: Ozzie Guillen, CHW
  • Nick: Animal from the Muppets
I'm following in the footsteps of Dave Cameron and Jonah Keri in picking a Gonzalez-Lester tandem. Gonzalez is the easier pick; I think he's going to make the stats gurus rethink the way they calculate park effects on individual batters. Look at those road numbers, look at his Petco batted-ball charts overlayed on Fenway's dimensions, look at his swing … this could be his third straight monster year, just the first one everyone recognizes as such.
Lester, well, why not? He's one of the five best starters in the league. Which one is the best is not necessarily the one who wins, and which one is the best is itself the product of perhaps as few as one or two unlucky starts. I could just as easily pick a Felix or a CC or a Verlander.
Manager of the Year is impossible because it inevitably goes to the manager of the surprising team, and if the Sox have a great year, that's anything but surprising. But maybe there aren't really any surprises, and the writers figure he deserves the hardware at some point in his career, even if he does have the benefit of having some terrific players at his disposal (he really deserved it last year when he managed to keep a shattered team in contention deep into September, but ah well).
Hellickson seems to be a consensus pick as one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game, and who am I to argue with that?
NL MVP
  • Paul: Albert Pujols, STL
  • YF: Pujols
  • SF: Pujols
  • John: Hanley Ramirez, FLA
  • Nick: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
NL CYA
  • Paul: Josh Johnson, FLA
  • YF: Roy Halladay, PHI
  • SF: Halladay
  • John: Halladay
  • Nick: Halladay
NL ROY
  • Paul: Mike "Not the Pitcher" Stanton, FLA Freddie Freeman, ATL
  • YF: Bryce Harper, WAS
  • SF: Freeman
  • John: Freeman
  • Nick: Mike Minor, ATL
NL MOY
  • Paul: Fredi Gonzalez, ATL
  • YF: Don Mattingly, LAD
  • SF: Gonzalez
  • John: Ron Roenicke, MIL
  • Nick: The fans
I never bet against Albert Pujols, and it has nothing to do with his contract year, which is the dumbest media-narrative creation ever. Like the AL, I could throw a dart at a wall with the names of Johnson, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ubaldo Jimenez and Zack Greinke on it and have a pretty good chance no matter whom I pick. Stanton looks like a pretty formidable slugger, but I admit my knowledge of NL rookie candidates is very shallow (which I clearly proved by picking someone who is not eligible for the award). Like I said about Francona, the surprise team's manager usually wins an award, and if Atlanta wins the NL East, it will be very surprising to a lot of people.

30 comments… add one

  • well hopefully buck was right about one thing…his o’s will enjoy beating up on the best team theo could buy with henry’s millions, jeter will lead the majors in walks on inside pitches, and the yanks will sneak into first place and win the whole thing… ;)
    as usual, nice job, except your prediction of the al east winner gets a robust boo ;)

    dc March 28, 2011, 7:20 pm
  • I will try to get you my picks by Wednesday, Paul. Thanks for taking the lead!
    (or, I could just say “ditto” to all yours!)

    SF March 28, 2011, 7:43 pm
  • Well, I’m on board.:) Very nice work, Paul.
    Mine:
    ALE: Boston
    ALC: Minny
    ALW: Angels
    NLE: Phillies
    NLW: Giants
    NLC: Brewers
    ALWC: Texas
    NLWC: Braves
    ALCS: Boston over Texas
    NLCS: Braves over Philly
    WS: Boston over Braves
    ALMVP: Gonzo
    ALCY: Felix
    NLMVP: Hanley
    NLCY: Halladay

    Brad March 29, 2011, 9:32 am
  • Any picks, DC? We need you to offset the faithless YF comoderators. ;-)

    Paul SF March 29, 2011, 9:42 am
  • Sox 162-0, win AL East
    Sox sweep Twins
    Sox Sweep Yankees
    Sox Sweep Cards
    Sox go 173-0. Greatest team ever.

    krueg March 29, 2011, 10:14 am
  • Nice, Krueg.

    Brad March 29, 2011, 10:30 am
  • Also, today is the last day of Spring Training, 2011.
    I cannot wait for this weekend.

    Brad March 29, 2011, 10:33 am
  • :)

    krueg March 29, 2011, 10:33 am
  • I think it’s safe to say that no matter whom the Twins play, they will be swept.

    Paul SF March 29, 2011, 10:38 am
  • I think it’s safe to say that no matter whom the Twins play, they will be swept.
    Agreed. They’re such playoff pussies. I can’t stand Gardenhire and his tendency to simply lay down in big spots. Or anytime he plays in NY, big game or not.

    Brad March 29, 2011, 10:50 am
  • Hey Paul,
    Is your email the same?

    Brad March 29, 2011, 11:07 am
  • It’s at gmail now, but the same prefix.

    Paul SF March 29, 2011, 11:09 am
  • Paul, you have an email, pal.

    Brad March 29, 2011, 11:22 am
  • AL East:
    Sox
    Yanks*
    Rays
    Jays
    Orioles
    AL Central:
    Tigers
    Twins
    White Sox
    Indians
    Royals
    AL West:
    Rangers
    Angels
    Athletics
    Mariners
    NL East:
    Phillies
    Nationals
    Marlins
    Braves
    Mets
    NL Central:
    Brewers
    Cards*
    Reds
    Cubs
    Astros
    Pirates
    NL West:
    Rockies
    Giants
    Dodgers
    Padres
    Dbacks
    ALCS: Sox over Yanks in 7 games
    NLCS: Cardinals over Rockies in 5 games
    WS: Sox over Cardinals in 5 games
    AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
    AL CY: Clay Buchholz
    AL MOY: Jim Lleyland
    NL MVP: Albert Pujols (seriously, who else?)
    NL CY: Yovani Gallardo
    NL MOY: Ron Roenicke

    Atheose - SF March 29, 2011, 2:16 pm
  • Holy crap. I forgot all about predictaroo! I’ll get it to you soon, Paul. In the mean time, pencil in the Cleveland Spiders or the Montreal Expos for me.

    attackgerbil March 29, 2011, 2:19 pm
  • I love the confidence of the SF’s…to a person picking the Sox to win it all.

    krueg March 29, 2011, 4:31 pm
  • No Yank fan selections yet. Surely you’re not punting this soon? ;-)

    Paul SF March 29, 2011, 4:59 pm
  • krueg, I have some inside dope that at least one of our YF contributors is as much of a homer as we SFs are. I think this is something of a tradition, picking one’s own team. My first YFSF hometown prediction ever was in 2004, and it served me well!

    SF March 29, 2011, 5:18 pm
  • I’ve updated to include YF and SF picks, and I have to say it’s hard to top the homerism that is picking Joe Girardi and Don Mattingly for Manager of the Year awards…

    Paul SF March 29, 2011, 5:25 pm
  • It’s all good SF…I was just sayin’.

    krueg March 29, 2011, 6:29 pm
  • Hey old friends…
    First things first, I would like to call Paul out on this:
    “That’s the brainy way of looking at things. Others of us would rather just squint hard and throw darts at a newspaper…”
    Nice try at the common man, but you’re a stat dork 100% and we love you for it.
    Second, Red Sox will take the division by 5 games or more.
    Third, I don’t care if Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is comercial crap, read it on the plane back from China and loved it.
    Lastly, PLAY BALL!
    Second, I’m

    LocklandSF March 29, 2011, 7:37 pm
  • They really shouldn’t even play the season…just hand the Sox the trophy now, save us all a lot of time. I mean, how can anyone beat the greatest team of all time???? HOW????
    :)

    krueg March 29, 2011, 9:47 pm
  • “…Any picks, DC? We need you to offset the faithless YF comoderators. ;-) …”
    well paul, you know i don’t do predictions or projections, probably because i stink at it, but here goes…either the yankees or sox will win the division with the winner going on to take the world series…no need to pick the other divisions and nl wildcard, because they will be rendered irrelevant…i’m lazy i know, but that’s the way it goes…if i have to pick between the yanks and sox, i gotta go with the sox…ugh, boy i hated saying that, but i’m picking them for a different #1 reason than probably a lot of other folks…i think having the guys back from injuries will make more of a difference from last year than “the replacement players” crawford and agon [as in replacement for the loss of belte and martinez]…the sox [potential] achilles heel will be pitching [after lester and maybe bucch], including the closer [even though they have 3 of them counting bard], which won’t be helped by the switch in catchers, or it could wind up being a strength if guys live up to their reputations…no reason to believe that isn’t possible…the yankees issues no surprise will be age and the impact that has on playing time [referring to rest, not injury], comebacks by jeter and arod, catching, and the back end of the rotation [and that includes aj, even though i think i heard he is considered the #2]…other than that, no problem ;) …even with all that, i still think we have the best 2 teams in baseball…even with their starting pitching potential, i’m not taking the phillies seriously [as a threat to either the yanks or sox] until they give me a reason…
    “…I mean, how can anyone beat the greatest team of all time???? HOW????…”
    let’s ask buck krueg…he says he enjoys whipping up on them…

    dc March 29, 2011, 10:57 pm
  • this can’t be good…
    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/yankees/2011/03/mccarver-touts-a-rod-as-mvp-candidate
    with any luck, his little buddy joe buck will pick the sox to win it all… ;)

    dc March 30, 2011, 8:27 am
  • We now have John and Nick’s picks. If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect John of trying to jinx the Sox.
    I’m really becoming uncomfortable with the amazing unanimity with which the Sox have become the World Series favorites. It’s a scary spot to be in.

    Paul SF March 30, 2011, 11:38 am
  • Not at all. If I really wanted to jinx them I would have picked A-Gonz for MVP and Lester for the Cy. I’ve been on record for a long while now as a real big fan of what Theo has done this off-season.
    I will say this…I truly believe in my heart that John Lackey will crap the bed this season. So it’s not all roses in Boston. He becomes 2011′s, 2010 AJ Burnett. Just my gut feeling, separate from hatred, just my thoughts. Otherwise it’s clear sailing for the Sox, well that and Bard will be the closer come the postseason.

    John - YF March 30, 2011, 12:43 pm
  • ‘m really becoming uncomfortable with the amazing unanimity with which the Sox have become the World Series favorites. It’s a scary spot to be in.
    I’m surprised you say this because the Sox have been favorites for the last few years…pretty much every year. Maybe not unanimously, but then again they’ve never had the greatest team ever built until now.

    krueg March 30, 2011, 1:05 pm
  • I think I meant that guy Beach, or whatever it is instead of Minor for ROY. Ok, back to work!

    Nick-YF March 30, 2011, 7:11 pm
  • I will never understand why the hell they start the season so early…snow tomorrow in the Bronx??? Rain and 40 degrees for the next week???
    So fucking stupid…

    krueg March 30, 2011, 7:58 pm
  • Hey Paul we agree on Braves and also Phils not in. I got the Rockies in the NL west and Oakland in the AL WEst.
    Twins over Braves in WS
    http://nutballgazette.blogspot.com/2011/03/2011-baseball-predictions.html

    Larry Novak March 30, 2011, 11:19 pm

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