This is also known as the “What the heck was I thinking?” column. I am going to take a look back at my preseason predictions, just to see how wrong I have been.
Before the season began, my division winners were the Blue Jays, Indians, Astros, Mets, Cubs, and Dodgers. My wild-cards were the Mariners, Red Sox, Nationals, and Pirates (?). The PIRATES? Was I being serious? My two sleeper predictions were pretty good: The Colorado Rockies in the National League and the New York Yankees in the American League. Both are currently in the thick of the playoff chase, so I will consider that a win.
As for the awards:
AL MVP: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland – I based this on trying to find someone other than Mike Trout who may have a breakout type of year for a team I thought would cruise into the playoffs. Oops. Heading into action today, Lindor was hitting .256/.316/.462 (97 OPS+). Fine numbers for a shortstop – not so fine for a MVP prediction.
Actual MVP: Aaron Judge, Yankees – He is an easy choice, in my opinion, at the midway point of the season.
AL Cy Young: Marcus Stroman, Toronto – Stroman has been very good: A 3.28 ERA (139 ERA+) and 93/29 K/BB ratio over 112.1 innings. It wasn’t enough to get him into the All-Star Game, but I am not too upset over missing on this one.
Actual Cy Young: Chris Sale, Boston – Already has 178 strikeouts, has a 2.75 ERA (166 ERA+), and a FIP that shows he has been unlucky (2.09). Jason Vargas has been outstanding, and Corey Kluber is starting to roll, but had to deal with some time on the DL. This is Sale’s award to lose.
AL Rookie: Aaron Judge, Yankees – So far, I have hit gold on this one! In my write-up, I talked about how he was a major sink-or-swim guy who “might hit 30 homer runs.” Might, eh?
Actual Rookie: Judge
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington – He is certainly a strong contender, given his .322/.429/.591 triple slash (162 OPS+). That OPS+ “only” ranks him third, but the two above him are Justin Turner (missed time due to injury) and Joey Votto (incredible hitter playing on a not-so-incredible team). Players like Paul Goldschmidt, who has led the charge for the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks, are also in that conversation.
Actual MVP: I am still sticking with Harper. The field could be tight, but a second half like his first half should seal the deal.
NL Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard, Mets – Yikes! Well, he started off the year strong until the craziness surrounding the Mets’ season struck. I will never understand why he was allowed to pitch when he had obvious discomfort.
Actual Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Washington – With all due respect to Clayton Kershaw, Scherzer leads the NL in strikeouts, ERA, ERA+, WAR, innings, WHIP…I can go on and all. Kershaw can certainly make a run at him in the second half, but for now, it is all Super Max.
NL Rookie: Dansby Swanson, Atlanta – Not a great year for Swanson. I thought the Braves could be a surprise team thanks somewhat to him. However, they have been a surprise team despite of his slow start: .224/.299/.329 in 331 plate appearances. The Braves need to keep throwing him out there, but it hasn’t been a fine year for Swanson.
Actual Rookie: Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 25 home runs in 69 games. A .972 OPS. Playing in a home ballpark that isn’t exactly known for offensive play. Bellinger has been riding a magic carpet, and there isn’t too many that seem to even have much of a chance to catch him for this honor, barring a complete second half meltdown.
Overall, a bit of a mixed bag, but a whole lot of wrong thus far. The Mets have completely collapsed under their own weight, the Blue Jays have been a disaster, and last year’s World Series participants have been off their games – especially the Cubs.
I will post my second-half predictions later in the week.