2-seamed debate


The major league baseball regular season ends today.

Some of our predictions met their demise long ago. Now's the time to be accountable for any erratic assumptions we made at the beginning of the baseball year.

Now, I did get a few things right. My preseason top 10 rankings included six teams that either made the playoffs or who were in it until the end.

I didn't bail on the Yankees during their early and midseason slumps (although it's easier to be optimistic about their chances when you're not technically a fan of the pinstripes). And I had Boston as the best team in baseball heading into the season, which I felt good about — for 5 1/2 months.

So I get partial credit for that one.

That's baseball. You never know.

Among the other things I apparently don't know much about:

• For me, the most compelling story line entering the season was Daisuke Matsuzaka and his "Gyroball." Too bad I haven't heard anything about that pitch since the first week of April. And who knew that in September, the talk would be about Matsuzaka's arm being able to finish the season rather than throw some mysterious breaking ball.

• And who knew that the Tigers would collapse in such spectacular fashion. At one point, Detroit looked like the best team in baseball. Then they lost 12 of 15 in late July/early August.

• And guess what — the Angels can score runs. What for two years looked like an inept offense scored the fourth-most runs in the American League. The Halos also had the fourth-best batting average and fifth-best on-base percentage in baseball.

• And finally, I didn't think the National League was worth paying attention to. Now it's true that the AL has the four best teams in baseball, but the senior circuit has given us one great pennant race.

And I'll pass on making postseason predictions. I'm sick of being wrong. — Aaron Shill

Time for accountability, eh? Yikes.

I'll take a little credit for asking for patience for pitching performances. As I recall, I actually had to ask someone to step back off the ledge when he complained about the state of pitching.

Sure enough, we saw no-hitters from Justin Verlander and Clay Buchholz. Add in the fact that Josh Beckett won 20 games and Fausto Carmona, Chien-Ming Wang and Jake Peavy each have 19 wins just one season after nobody reached the magic 20 mark.

In fact, home runs are way down this year, by about 450, according to Baseball HQ. Could that mean the offensive explosion of what forever will be known as the steroids era is cycling down or just making a one-year correction?

I also feel pretty good about calling this 1986 all over again, with Boston featuring a young stud flamethrower, the Mets loaded with young stars balanced by veteran talent and the Angels looking fantastic, but as I write this, the Mets could miss the playoffs.

But I blew it with the prediction the summer trade market would be hot and intimating that Dice-K would be worth north of $20 in fantasy leagues.

I predicted it would be a "baseball tragedy" when Barry Bonds hit No. 756. Now the baseball he hit for the record is going to the Hall with an asterisk on it. That's pretty tragic, I'd say.

I'll take a shot at some playoff predictions, with a little help from Nate Silver's playoff "special sauce" rankings at Baseball Prospectus. Special sauce measures three stats that have proven to be good predictors of playoff success — pitcher strikeout rates, defense and closer performance.

The BoSox lead by far, followed by the Dodgers, Cubs, Angels, Diamondbacks and Yankees.

So, how about a Red Sox-Cubs World Series? Bud Selig couldn't be happier. — Tad Walch

Top 10

TEAM . . . . Last week

1. Cleveland Indians . . . . . 1

Borowski blew two saves at Seattle

2. Los Angeles Angels . . . . . 2

Escobar, Matthews, Guerrero hurting

3. Boston Red Sox . . . . . 3

Wakefield's recent slump is concern

4. New York Yankees . . . . . 4

Bullpen a strength entering playoffs

5. Arizona Diamondbacks . . . . . 6

Owings has 5 doubles in last 12 ABs

6. Colorado Rockies . . . . . —

Morales — 3 runs in last 4 starts

7. San Diego Padres . . . . . 5

Young hasn't won game since July

8. Philadelphia Phillies . . . . . 8

Entered weekend winning 11 of 14

9. New York Mets . . . . . 7

Just 1-5 vs. Nationals this month

10. Chicago Cubs . . . . . 10

Starting rotation doesn't look so great

Dropped out: Tigers