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Looking Back: 2018 LL Staff & Reader Predictions

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Some right, some wrong, and literally everybody picked the Nats

MLB: All Star Game
The All-Star Game MVP of our hearts
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season, we made some predictions about how 2018 would turn out, and we asked you to do the same (and almost 800 of you responded!). Baseball is a notoriously fickle game to predict, but we sure did our best. Let’s see what exactly transpired.

Playoff Teams

We were all pretty consistent here, with most staffers correctly picking either six or seven playoff teams. But Anders managed to pick eight teams thanks to his faith in both the Brewers and the Rockies. The team that did the most people in was the Washington Nationals, as all but Tee had the Nats winning the NL East. And our faith in the Mariners certainly didn’t help either, as nobody picked the Athletics to make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, on the reader side, the division winners were pretty consistent:

  • 90.7% picked the Astros (though one person said the A’s!)
  • 81.5% picked Cleveland
  • 76.3% picked the Yankees, with 19.6% picking the Red Sox
  • 91.4% picked the Dodgers, with 2.8% picking the Rockies (so close!)
  • 76.5% picked the Cubs
  • 92.7% picked the Nationals! Just 10 of you (or 1.4%) called the Braves in the NL East.

Playoff Winner(s)

Three teams were picked by three different staffers: the Dodgers, the Astros, and the Yankees. And of the 13 staffers to make picks, all but four predicted one of those teams to win the World Series: John (Nationals), Isabelle (Nationals), Zach (Diamondbacks), and Tee (MARIBERS). I’m most intrigued by Connor and Anders, who each tabbed the Brewers to win the National League; it’s not exactly groundbreaking to pick the Dodgers to take the pennant, and the Brewers have home-field advantage the rest of the way in the senior circuit.

On the reader side, the most popular prediction was an Astros-Dodgers rematch, with the Astros as the favorite to repeat. Given that this was a free text box, we got some great answers:

  • “Yankees, god help us”
  • “Altuve and his taller friends”
  • “The Angels you dummy”
  • “Dodgers, but I’m rooting for a meteor strike”

And, finally, the obvious champion:

  • Mitch Haniger
MLB: New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners
love you mitch
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Award Winners

Okay, so nobody picked Jacob deGrom as their NL Cy Young winner. We mostly stuck to form here: The most common AL MVP pick was Mike Trout, the most common NL MVP pick was Bryce Harper, the most common AL Cy Young pick was Chris Sale, and the most common NL Cy Young pick was a tie between Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. Again, this isn’t breaking the bank. There were a lot of Ronald Acuña picks as the NL Rookie of the Year, however, which is a nifty call (if again a bit obvious).

On the flip side: If you were one of the six people who called deGrom winning the Cy Young award before the season started, take a bow in the comments section. But don’t be telling me that you also predicted Juan Soto’s rise to fame, as NOBODY had him as their ROTY. Which, given that he started the year in A-ball, probably makes sense.

Miscellaneous

Tee had the Mariners winning 91 games, while nobody else had the M’s topping 88 (take a bow, Luke). We were all far, far too optimistic regarding both Félix’s ERA and Dee’s stolen base number, though admittedly stealing 30 bases despite a) never getting on base and b) BREAKING YOUR TOE is actually kinda impressive.

On the bright side, our mean strikeout total for Paxton was 202.5, so we were off by only a handful of K’s — and in the good way! And we all picked too many plate appearances for Ichiro, which is unfortunately a good thing.

You readers proved more optimistic and more prescient about the M’s chances this year, with the three most popular responses for the number of wins as 88, 87, and 89. Nice work! Ten of you also nailed Dee stealing exactly 30 bases. And 87 of you had Mitch leading the team in fWAR, compared to zero staffers picking Mitch.

Bold Predictions

These depend on how you define “bold.” For example, John predicting Haniger as a four-win player, while impressive, isn’t all that bold; his fWAR pace from last season, prorated to this year’s PA total, would put him at a 4.2 win pace. Ben did predict Marco Gonzales as a top-5 Mariners player this season, which is damn good. And Jake both thought that Félix and Pax would make 25 starts each.

My favorite bold reader prediction is the one that called Ichiro to be DFA’d by May 8; given that he left the active roster on May 3, I’m going to call that one a win. A whole lot of people made bold predictions on the positive side that didn’t come through, ranging from playoff picks to Daniel Vogelbach being incredible (there were a lot of these). And the two most popular strains of predictions related to Shohei Ohtani falling flat on his face and Judge/Stanton hitting a ton of dingers.

One person did pick the Yankees hitting 300 homers, which is ~right enough to be worthy of a shoutout. And two others specifically picked them to set the HR record! Other shoutouts to the following picks:

  • “Angels end up worse than .500 and Mike Scioscia is fired”
  • “AL has three 100+ win teams”
  • “A team will implement an “Opener” and bring in the “Starter” in the second inning.”

If you want to see the full file, go for it: