14 thoughts on “Just a bit outside: baseball mmxxi

  1. I was in no mood to really think about the baseball season last year, and until the playoffs couldn’t really generate any interest. Thank goodness for that great post-season, though. What a World Series.

    So I didn’t make any predictions or really talk about baseball. But it’s spring training now, and this year the pre-season’s annual dominating vibe seems even stronger than usual: hope.

    Before I get too into 2021, I never did debrief 2019, one of my favorite seasons in the past ten or fifteen years, so here goes.

    I predicted:

    AL East
    Red Sox
    Yankees
    Rays
    Blue Jays
    Orioles

    Actual:
    Yankees
    Rays
    Red Sox
    Blue Jays
    Orioles

    I was wrong about the Red Sox by a lot. The rest of the order is good, but that was not difficult to do in this division.

    AL Central
    Indians
    Twins
    Tigers
    Royals
    White Sox

    Twins
    Indians
    White Sox
    Royals
    Tigers
    So far off. I’m annoyed I picked the White Sox to finish last.

    AL West
    Astros
    Athletics
    Mariners
    Angels
    Rangers

    Astros
    Athletics
    Rangers
    Angels
    Mariners

    I guess it’s a recurring theme these days that you’re really dealing with the a couple of good teams in each division and then trying to figure out who’s the least bad of the rest. The Rangers finished third (I considered them the worst team in the division, and in retrospect still think they were), but with a 78-84 record.

    AL Wildcards: Yankees, Twins

    Actual: Athletics, Rays.

    My playoff predictions were Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Twins, Astros.
    The acutal teams were Yankees, Twins, Astros, Rays, Athletics. Three out of five. I don’t know how to feel about this.

    NL East
    Nationals
    Phillies
    Braves
    Mets
    Marlins

    Braves
    Nationals
    Mets
    Phillies
    Marlins

    I don’t think anyone got this division right. The Braves were incredible. The Mets were a surprise. The Phillies disappointed. Philly came in second-to-last but were a .500 team, so it was a competitive division. The Nationals teetered on the brink of collapse at the all-star break, then had an amazing, storybook second half. It was super cool to watch.

    NL Central
    Cubs
    Cardinals
    Brewers
    Pirates
    Reds

    Cardinals
    Brewers
    Cubs
    Reds
    Pirates

    Don had this right: I underappreciated the Brewers. I also overappreciated the Cubs.

    NL West
    Dodgers
    Padres
    Rockies
    Giants
    Diamondbacks

    Dodgers
    Diamondbacks
    Giants
    Rockies
    Padres

    Really the only thing that mattered in this division was the Dodgers. The Padres finished 70-92 when I predicted they would finish second. However, I did say, “Manny Machado to the Padres. They were two years away but with Manny they might be one year away.” I was wrong about the one year, but it looks like I was right about the two years! The over-under on the 2021 Padres is 94.5.

    NL Wildcards: Cardinals, Phillies

    Actual: Brewers, Nationals.

    My playoff picks were Nationals, Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers.
    The actual teams were the Braves, Nationals, Cardinals, Brewers, Dodgers. Three out of five again. Argh.

    NL Champ: Nationals
    AL Champ: Astros
    World Series Champ: Nationals

    NL MVP: Freddie Freeman
    AL MVP: Jackie Bradley, Jr.
    NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
    AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber

    Woo. First time picking the correct World Series matchup and the correct winner! I’m talking first time in my life and I’ve been doing this since middle school. I don’t know what the odds are for doing this randomly, but I’ll bet that’s pretty close. 🙂

    Actual MVP: Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) and Mike Trout (Angels). Both MVPs from the same city. Freddie Freeman won the MVP in the bubble season 2020, so I actually feel good even though I was wrong about 2019.

    Actual Cy Young: Jacob DeGrom (Mets) and Justin Verlander (Astros). DeGrom was amazing. His numbers were kind of ungodly.

    NL Rookie of the Year: Victor Robles (Nationals)
    AL Rookie of the Year: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays)

    Actual: Pete Alonso (Mets) and Yordan Alvarez (Astros).

  2. After you read this, you’ll be the second and third (and fourth and fifth, depending on who still lurks around here these days) people you know who knows about Kaʻai Tom (after me). He’s on verge of making the Athletics roster as their fifth outfielder. The player who was supposed to be in the lead for that spot is down with an injury, just in time for Tom to return from an injury and catch fire. He’s making a strong case for the opening day roster.

    St. Louis grad, but it’s okay because it’s the Athletics.

    1. He made the roster!
      https://www.khon2.com/sports/this-is-something-that-ive-been-working-for-all-my-life-hawaiis-kaai-tom-earns-spot-on-oakland-athletics-opening-day-roster

      When (manager Bob Melvin) pulled me aside and told me congratulations, you made the opening day roster, man, I was just shocked. I was so excited. I didn’t even know what to say so I just kept constantly telling him thank you and he kind of just reassured me that, hey man, don’t tell me thank you, all the work was on you,” said Ka’ai.

      The Athletics open the season Thursday with 10 games in 10 days, so he’s almost surely going to see the field as the fifth outfielder. I hope they pinch-hit him on Opening Day just to get that out of the way.

      The other Hawaii people on MLB rosters as of today:

      1. Kolten Wong, 2B, Brewers
      2. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS, Rangers
      3. Kurt Suzuki, C, Angels
      4. Josh Rojas, IF/OF, Diamondbacks

      I guess there are two people on this planet named Isiah.

      Kolten’s younger brother Kean is in Triple A for the Angels.
      Kirby Yates was set to be the closer for the high-hopes Blue Jays but had Tommy John surgery last week.

  3. I reserve the right to edit this any time before the first pitch is thrown Thursday.

    AL East
    Yankees
    Rays
    Blue Jays
    Red Sox
    Orioles

    I’d be mildly surprised if anyone picked the first three in a different order, unless they think the Blue Jays will do better than the Rays, which I wouldn’t laugh at.

    In case you missed it, the Jays are one of the funnest teams to watch if you were a baseball fan in the early to late 90s. On the roster are

    • SS Bo Bichette, the son of Dante Bichette. He’s 1/4 Chinese by the way.
    • 2B Cavan Biggio, the son of Craig Biggio
    • 3B Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., the son of Vladimir Guerrero

    They won’t be a pushover but it’s too tough to beat the Rays and Yankees.

    AL Central
    White Sox
    Twins
    Royals
    Tigers
    Indians

    The White Sox are one of the hot teams in conversations this year. I’ve seen at least one person pick Tony LaRussa to win manager of the year. I don’t know about that, but this is a really good team. Watch out for the Royals. They’re this year’s year-away-from-the-playoffs team.

    AL West
    Athletics
    Angels
    Astros
    Rangers
    Mariners

    Throw the first three teams in a bag, shake it up, and pull them out and you have as good a chance at confidently predicting their order of finish this season. The A’s aren’t as good as the past two years, but neither are the Astros. Angels are the crazy wildcard. Could be amazing. I think Buster Olney is going to pick them to win the division.

    Wildcards: Twins, Angels. The league still hasn’t officially said whether there will be an expanded playoffs, as there was last season, so I don’t think it’s going to happen (dumb move), but if it does put the Rays in that spot.

    NL East
    Braves
    Mets
    Nationals
    Phillies
    Marlins

    I hope I’m wrong because I like this Nats team a lot. Phillies are better than 4th place but this is a competitive division. And the Marlins have beautiful starting pitching.

    AL Central
    Brewers
    Reds
    Cubs
    Cardinals
    Pirates

    I may have the Cardinals lower than anyone in the country but I just don’t care for this team for some reason, except Paul Goldschmidt. Watch out for the Reds.

    NL West
    Dodgers
    Padres
    Diamondbacks
    Giants
    Rockies

    The Dodgers are amazing.

    Wildcards: Padres, Mets. Add the Nationals if there’s a third team.

    World Series: Dodgers over Yankees.
    AL MVP: Mike Trout (but watch out for Tim Anderson)
    NL MVP: Juan Soto. Everyone says it’s Soto, Ronald Acuna, or Fernando Tatis. I’m going with Soto because I think he’s going to have an ungodly OBP and walk 130 times. Might make the 30-30 club too. There’s a fair chance Jacob deGrom wins this too.

    AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole.
    NL Cy Young: If Jacob deGrom wins, it will be his third in a row. So I’m going with Trevor Bauer of the Dodgers.

    AL rookie: Randy Arozarena came out of nowhere and dominated the postseason and he’s still a rookie this season. But I’m going with Ryan Mountcastle because (a) he has a cool name and (b) he’s going to stand out on a lousy Orioles team.

    NL rookie: Everyone is saying Ke’Bryan Hayes and so am I. Pretty much the same reasons I’m picking Ryan Mountcastle in the AL. The big difference is Hayes is sort of the consensus pick.

    AL manager: Joe Maddon — it will be his fourth
    NL manager: Dave Roberts

    1. Note: I dropped the Cubs to third early Thursday morning and replaced them with the Nats as my third wildcard team.

    2. Also note: I got the Jacob deGrom thing wrong. He won two in a row: 2018 and 2019. I somehow missed that Trevor Bauer won it in 2020. It’s okay. I still feel okay with my prediction of Bauer winning it in 2021.

  4. I get where you put the Red Sox due to pitching, but they, at least on paper, seem to have a lot of hitting. Hitting can carry you in the regular season. But to tell you the truth I know very little of the Jays, other than they had hitting in the past few years as well.

    Dave Roberts can win Manager of the Year with that much talent? He would have to win 120 games (Wait, there will be 162 games this year?).

    1. I have a feeling the talking heads are going to talk a lot about how good a manager Dave Roberts is becoming, and that’s going to power enthusiasm for him. He’s known for being a good manager of people, which is what you look for these days when the analytics guys have more input on the lineup.

      Also, the Dodgers are going to be really, really good. Don’t rule out 120 wins! And yes, 162 games is the plan.

      I’m down on the Red Sox this year. I never cared for the team anyway except the past few years and now my enthusiasm has waned. This is probably influencing my thinking, but also I just really think the Jays are going to take big steps.

  5. Dang, I didn’t know Kolten Wong got traded to the Brewers. Here’s his first at bat back at Busch Stadium (or whatever the Cardinals stadium is called now):

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