The Answer Guy Online

Providing information to unwitting victims on a "don't-need-to-know" basis since 1974.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

(Overly) Optimistic
This post is the first of a two-part series.

Well, I figured it was time to take stock about how things have shaken out this baseball season. Some of my prognostications have turned out pretty well but others have blown up in my face. I've gotten some things right; a tight multi-team race in the NL East, the Cardinals in command of the NL Central, the Padres and Dodgers fighting for the NL West, the Angels the class of the AL West.

A majority of the teams are more or less where I predicted they would be through Sunday night's games; but there are ten teams that are busy making Answer Guy look bad - five in one direction, five in the other.

I'll get to the teams I didn't expect to see as high in the standings as they now sit in my next post - for now I'll deal with the train wrecks.

Four teams that had grown accustomed to life as a playoff contender - the Yankees, Athletics, Giants, and Astros - looked like they might be in a little bit of trouble going into the 2005 season. In one case, I wasn't buying it at all and figured that their collapse was a season or two away. I was more willing to consider a collapse by the other three but it appears I underestimated considerably how far each would fall.
But all four of them are looking way off their game this season and may have dug a hole too deep to get out of.

The Top Five Flops Thusfar:

Oakland Athletics (-8)
Where They Are: 25-37
Where I Thought They'd Be: 33-29
The traditional pundit class have been betting against the A's continuing their small-market success for a few years now. Early returns suggest that they are finally right. But their pitching staff, at least the starters, has generally survived the departure of two of the Big Three starters; it's the hitting (and the relief corps) that has fallen off a cliff. Their one remaining offensive star, Eric Chavez, has been dragging down many a fantasy team this season. Jason Kendall has been a disappointment. This might be a good time to point out that for whatever reason, this team has often underperformed in the first half of the season only surge their way into playoff contention late in the season. It's hard to see how the rabbit is going to come out of the hat this time. In the "silver lining" department, they've played a disproportionate number of games away from Oakland (where they have the worst record in the AL apart from Tampa Bay) thusfar.

New York Yankees (-7)
Where They Are: 30-32
Where I Thought They'd Be: 37-25
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy about this. But I'm still a bit perplexed by the suddenness of it all. I figured Jaret Wright was going to be bad but not this bad. I expected Mussina to be having a better season than he did in 2004, but, well, he hasn't. Randy Johnson is showing the signs of age we hadn't seen in him before. The offense is below - but not too far below - where I expected them to be. The Yankees have been outperforming (in terms of wins) their Pythagorean runs projections for years and I figured that there was something about the team those numbers didn't tell us and that they could continue that. Well, not this year, at least not thusfar.
I remember the rush of columns to proclaim the Yankees dead in late April, and then they ran off 10 straight wins. It could happen again, but they're going to need to right the ship soon; their run of 10 straight postseasons is in serious jeopardy.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays (-7)
Where They Are: 21-42
Where I Thought They'd Be: 28-35
Ah, the poor Devil Rays. After their first ever non-last-place AL East finish, I figured that things were looking up somewhat for them, even as I picked Toronto to pass them and relegate them to the cellar again. They had some young pitchers and hitters worth having. While they have been scoring runs (5th in the AL) like never before, their pitchers have been getting pounded to the tune of over 6 runs per game. Some of this backsliding stems from the simple fact that as Baltimore and Toronto improved (even more than I thought) from last year, there's less wiggle room for the Devil Rays to continue what looked like an uphill climb.

San Francisco Giants (-6)
Where They Are: 25-36
Where I Thought They'd Be: 31-30
I thought I had already adjusted for Barry Bonds' absence. The two guys they brought on to help the offense - Alou and Vizquel - have actually been pretty good. The pitching staff, however, has imploded, especially Jason Schmidt, another guy bringing down a lot of fantasy teams this season. From here it appears that the Giants are probably finished as contenders for a while, since it looks like Barry Bonds may never play again. The rest of their team just isn't good enough even in what figures to be a weak NL West. It may get worse; 35 of their 61 games have been at home.

Houston Astros (-5)
Where They Are: 26-35
Where I Thought They'd Be: 31-30
I did pick them to be down this year, with no more Carlos Beltran or Jeff Kent, with Lance Berkman sidelined, and Biggio and Bagwell a year older, did not pick them to contend. It looks like I wasn't down enough on them as their offense has landed at the bottom of the league. The pitching has been quite good but not enough to make up for the anemic hitting. (Remember, though, that they were hanging around .500 even a few days after the All-Star break before taking the league by storm in the season's third act.) A 6-10 mark in 1-run games suggests that they're a bit unlucky, but they've been especially bad on the road and they have as many there left as they do in Houston.

Most of my other overly optimistic projections involved teams - like the Devil Rays - I projected to be weak but not as weak as they are turning out to be; the Rockies, Reds, Mariners, and Royals. The Red Sox are underachieving slightly but are still very much in the hunt, due in part to the Yankees' failings. The Indians aren't far off my predictions but the White Sox and Twins (more on them later) have left them in the dust.

In Part 2 of this blog, Answer Guy attempts to explain just what on earth some of these teams are doing high in the standings.


Post a Comment

<< Home