81 in the Books.

Phillies Win Projection Machine.

*Note, I wrote the vast majority of this post before Cole Hamels left today’s game with an injury to his non-pitching hand.

The Phillies played their 81st game last night, another nail-biting win where the pitching stole the show.  It was the 51st win for the home team, and put them on pace for a club record 102 victories.  Two straight wins over the Red Sox, a nice lead in the division, and 3 candidates to start the All-Star game have us sitting nice and pretty, but let’s take a moment away from all that and take a look back at the pre-season predictions.  As is my custom here, let’s examine exactly how wrong I was on March 31st.  We’ll do league-wide stuff first, then focus in on the Phils.

AL Playoff Teams:

What I said:  Boston, New York, Detroit and Oakland.

If the Playoffs Started Today:  New York, Boston, Cleveland and Texas.

Analysis:  I’m percentage points away from hitting 75% here.  Right now Boston and New York look like solid picks.  Dare I say the AL isn’t quite as deep as it has been in past years?   I think the Red Sox and Yanks will have plenty of teams to beat up on to make the post-season.  I also think the Tigers will prevail in the Central.  The A’s were, by far, my worst pick, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Texas repeat in a weak division.

NL Playoff Teams:

What I Said:  Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Colorado and San Francisco

If the Playoffs Started Today: Philadelphia, Milwaukee, San Franciso, Atlanta.

Analysis:  The pitching of San Francisco and Philly should carry them through.  The Central is still wide-open, and I don’t really trust the Brewers to close.  The Braves look like a strong wild-card contender, certainly better than Colorado who has been ravaged by injuries to their rotation and hasn’t hit like you would have expected.

AL Rookie of the Year:  

What I said: Kyle Drabek

Who it is:  Michael Pineda

Analysis:  Drabek started strong for Toronto, or was at least was showing promise, but he couldn’t maintain any level of success.  A trip to the Minors has been a disaster and he’s got no chance of winning this award.  A clear-cut F for a pick, no doubt.  Pineda has some competition with Zach Britton and Jeremy Hellickson among the pitchers and there is always a chance a mid-season call-up like Dustin Ackley could get ridiculously hot in the 2nd half and steal the trophy.

NL Rookie of the Year: 

I said:  Aroldis Chapman

Who it is: Craig Kimbrel.

Analysis:  Wow, good job with the rookies, Grossy.  Chapman was hurt, sent to the Minors and isn’t performing.  What can I say? I went for the 103 MPH fastball.  Kimbrel  is piling up saves in a fairly wide-open NL race.  Maybe it’s hard to give it to a closer, but the best every day option is Washington’s Danny Espinosa, who has some good production numbers, especially for a 2nd baseman.

AL Cy Young

I said: Justin Verlander

Who it is:  Justin Verlander

Analysis:  The Phillies win over Josh Beckett on Tuesday helped the cause here, but really Verlander has been in a groove. He’s dominating the AL in the traditional and metric categories, he threw a no-hitter, and with Jered Weaver cooling off a bit as well, I don’t think this is much of a race.

NL Cy Young:

I said: Roy Halladay

Who it is:  Roy Halladay

Analysis:  The only non-Phillie you can really make a case for is Jair Jurrgens.  Jurrgens has the ERA lead, but he hasn’t eaten up the innings that Halladay and Hamels have or been as dominant.  Halladay wins out thanks to his combination of old-school appeal (complete games and wins) plus he dominates the WAR stats.  Cliff Lee is hard charging, but halfway home I’m sticking with Roy.

AL MVP: 

I Said: Miguel Cabrera

Who it is: Adrian Gonzalez

Analysis:  My boy Miguel Cabrera can’t catch a break.  Last year Josh Hamilton went crazy and this year it looks like Adrian Gonzalez is doing the same.  Miggy is hitting .337 with 17 Homers and 56 RBI, but Gonzalez is still the clear choice. After a modest April, Gonzalez has been getting hotter and hotter, but with the big years Cabrera and Jose Bautista are having, he’ll have to keep the pedal down to bring this home in the 2nd half.

NL MVP:

I Said: Ryan Braun

Who it is:  Jose Reyes

Analysis:  Some people might give it to Prince Fielder.  He’s having a big year for a first place team, and I couldn’t argue too much with that, but Reyes has been unreal this season.  If we ignore W/L record, I think he’s the choice.  Not discounting Braun either, who is probably at least top-4 at this point, but Reyes is leading a suddenly scorching Mets offense.  He’s hitting .351, he’s on pace for 30 triples, 130 runs and 60 steals.  It’s not a conventional MVP season, but he’s still my pick.

Phillies Predictions:

I predicted 94 Wins.  The current pace of 102 would blow that away and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Phils got there.

Good Calls:

I predicted a good year for Shane Victorino, we already touched on Halladay, and I touted Mike Stutes as well.  Love our Stutes-y.  I’d give myself 1/2 a point for claiming Howard would be the offensive MVP.  If it’s not him, it’s Victorino.  For Cliff Lee I said 16-9 with a 3 ERA and a few bad starts keep him from Cy Young contention.  He’s on pace for 18-10 with a 2.7 ERA.  The part about the handful of bad starts has been dead on.

Terrible Calls:

Depsite reservations, I said Cole Hamels was the pitcher I was most worried about.  That lasted one start.  Now, Oswalt is that guy, and we’re worrying if he’s going to retire.  I bombed on the corner outfielders as well.  I thought Raul and Ben Francisco would be having better years, especially Benny.  I said 24 homers and a .270 average.  Considering he’s not getting much playing time, he’ll be lucky to get to 12 homers, and we know he’s not hitting .270.  Ibanez might get near my HR projection, but that’s about it.  Things caught up with him one-year early.  I predicted a down year for Placido Polanco. That prediction, unfortunately, is looking less terrible the further we get into the season.  I think this aging team wears down quickly.  Polanco is a prime example.

Ok, that’s the full summary.  Who are you giving out the awards to?

Phillies Game Update:  Cole Hamels leaves a 0-0 game with an injury to his non-pitching hand.  I wasn’t watching so I don’t know what happened exactly, but it sounds like he got hit on a ball back up the middle.  More bad news for the Phillies. Not only long-term, but today, I’m not sure David Herndon and company can keep pace with Jon Lester today.  If Cole’s hand is broken, the Phillies rotation will suddenly be Halladay/Lee/Worley/Kendrick and ???  You don’t want to know the options and AA and AAA.

As expected, Boston getting their hacks off Herndon.  They now lead it, 2-0. I’ve got to say that J.J. Redick has really been the star for Boston this series.  Man, this could really put a downer on what started out as a great series for the Phillies.

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