MLB Power Rankings: It's time to hold myself accountable for my preseason picks
Our annual look back at the preseason predictions and rankings shows lots of good and bad
Long-time readers of the CBS Sports MLB Power Rankings know that I'm big on accountability. One of the easiest ways to make me laugh is when some clown part-timer spouts off with the Strawman argument that I never admit when I'm wrong. Being very strongly opinionated while writing about such an unpredictable thing like Major League Baseball means I'm going to miss. Often. I own that.
Again, I'm a big accountability guy.
On that note, let's be accountable. Here are ourand . Before moving forward, it should be noted that any fair-minded individual will agree with me that being in the ballpark is good. If a team is number two this week and was number four in the preseason rankings as a predicted division winner, that's very good. If I put a team number eight and it's sitting in the 20s right now, I was an idiot and that's terrible.
Let's highlight some of the picks in Clint Eastwood fashion.
Assuming the Red Sox and Cubs don't collapse in the last week and a half, I nailed every single division winner. I don't think it was particularly difficult to get them this year, but it still counts. Six for six is six for six, regardless of context.
As such, the Cubs, Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, Nationals and Astros are all in the ballpark as ranked to start the season. On the flip-side, the White Sox, A's, Phillies, Reds and Padres being in the bottom six was rather astute. In fact, I nailed four of the six last-place teams along with getting every division winner.
In the middle, lots of teams can be considered in the ballpark on their preseason rankings, such as the Cardinals (12), Mariners (13), Royals (17), Angels (18), Rays (20), Marlins (21) and Braves (24).
My preseason prediction to win the World Series was the Indians. We can't know if I got that right or if they'll be bounced in the ALDS yet, but I'm feeling pretty great about the pick right about now.
The big picture when looking back at the rankings and predictions I get is that I'm overall pleased with the effort, especially since we don't know anything about how injuries and/or callups will affect things -- not to mention trades.
My wild card picks were the Orioles, Mariners, Mets and Cardinals. Those aren't a great look, even if not really awful selections. It's not like I knew the Mariners and Mets rotations would be so decimated by injuries. I do have to admit, though, that I'm far too much of a sucker for playoff droughts being snapped. Sure, it helped me to correctly predict the 2013 Pirates, 2014 Royals and 2015 Blue Jays, but I don't have to keep going back to the well every single year (file this away for next spring when I predict the Mariners to win a wild card spot!).
I had the Giants finishing second in the NL West, ahead of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. I'm unwilling to call that one ugly because the Giants completely falling apart wasn't really on anyone's radar. It's bad, but not off-the-charts horrible.
Speaking of which, the Rockies were 19 in the preseason rankings while the Diamondbacks were 23. I feel like I'm saved from "ugly" status here because I noted the D-Backs' big upside and a year ago said the Rockies were a sneaky contender for 2017. So while these aren't "ugly," they are bad because I didn't have enough conviction to actually make the bold picks.
The Brewers were ranked 27th in the preseason version. I had them two spots behind the White Sox. Awful. I refuse to analyze the situation instead of just manning up here. People from the great state of Wisconsin, you can feel free to yell at me (via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @MattSnyderCBS). I'll take it like a stand-up guy.
I had the Twins 22nd in preseason power rankings and while I normally wouldn't be so hard on myself, I had the Tigers in second place in the AL Central and Twins in fourth. I feel like I should have seen the Twins being better than the Tigers and it shouldn't have even been a difficult choice. The Tigers being 16 in the preseason rankings is pretty ugly in its own right. Much like a fastball to the ribs, I'll wear these with a grimace. I will never, however, rub it! I just spit on the ground and sprinted to first base.
I predicted the Yankees to finish last place in the AL East. While I think this is hilarious because it totally goes against all the mindless "you guys are so biased toward the Yankees!" crap I got the one week I had them (correctly, mind you) No. 1 early in the year, I have to beat myself up for such an awful prediction. For the record, .
There's lots of other good and bad stuff in the power rankings comments, so please feel free to both praise and beat me up. It's all part of the job, one I really love doing.
Hopefully you enjoy the penultimate version of the 2017 Power Rankings as much as I enjoy your readership. I'll be back next week with some sure-to-be-wrong playoff predictions for your further ridicule. Say hi to the clown who thinks I'm not accountable. *Blows kisses like Sammy Sosa*
|1||Indians||Still trailing the Dodgers in the standings, but these aren't the standings. The Indians are ridiculous right now.||--||22-23|
|2||Dodgers||They won four in a row after the dreadful stretch, but now have lost three straight, including two to the Phillies? I still have absolutely no idea what to do with this team. I guess we'll put them here thanks to the series win over the Nationals. I wouldn't argue if someone wanted them as low as seven, though. I'm not kidding. I gave it serious thought.||1||20-26|
|3||Astros||In three starts, Justin Verlander has a 0.86 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 26 strikeouts and three walks in 21 innings. This is why I so badly wanted them to trade for him. Excellent go-for-it move by Jeff Luhnow and company.||1||30-18|
|4||Nationals||Anthony Rendon's finish in MVP voting will be interesting. One particular item of note? He struck out 117 times against 65 walks last season. This year? 77 walks and 78 strikeouts. Beautiful mid-career adjustment.||2||24-21|
|5||Red Sox||I'm beyond intrigued with David Price in the Andrew Miller postseason role.||--||32-15|
|6||Diamondbacks||I was asked late last week to give a sleeper team to win the World Series and I said the Diamondbacks without hesitation. In hindsight, do they even qualify as a sleeper? This is a damn good baseball team.||--||25-21|
|7||Cubs||The seven-game winning streak is an outstanding response to the embarrassment at the hands of the Brewers in Wrigley, but the Cubs won't be out of the woods here until they bury the Brewers themselves. It doesn't appear anyone else is capable of doing so.||3||25-19|
|8||Yankees||Just as it was cool to join in on the Aaron Judge lovefest in the first half, it's now cool to pile on and talk about how bad he's been since, but he's actually having a very productive September in terms of OBP and SLG -- you know, the two rate stats that matter a ton more than batting average.||--||30-13|
|9||Brewers||They need at least three of four from the Cubs in their weekend series if they want a chance at the Central. They did just sweep the Cubs, outscoring them 20-3 in a three-game series, too.||--||28-19|
|10||Rockies||For the past several years, I figured if the Rockies contended we'd have a good chance of seeing Nolan Arenado win MVP. Instead, Charlie Blackmon is actually a better candidate this year. Funny how things work.||3||25-22|
|11||Twins||Joe Mauer doesn't have power, but he's 34 years old and hitting .308 with a .385 OBP. His career has been affected by concussion issues as well. I feel like he's actually become underrated at this point.||1||19-23|
|12||Cardinals||The Cardinals trail the Cubs by six games in the NL Central and have gone 4-11 against the Cubs so far this year. It's not real difficult to see where things went wrong here.||1||25-19|
|13||Angels||Albert Pujols is killing this team. Congrats, in hindsight, St. Louis.||--||26-21|
|14||Mariners||You know who is having a great and under-the-radar season? Mike Zunino? Look beyond the average.||2||27-19|
|15||Rangers||Rougned Odor is awful and shouldn't be on an MLB roster. No, seriously, stop. I heard what you said and you are still wrong. He's very bad.||--||18-30|
|16||Royals||The Royals lost their first six games against the Twins this season, including a season-starting sweep in Minnesota. Who would've thought at the time those games would end up so meaningful?||2||14-32|
|17||Rays||The Rays won four of their first five games after the All-Star break and looked like one of baseball's better teams. They have gone 22-34 since.||--||22-23|
|18||Blue Jays||Jose Bautista has tied a Blue Jays record. His 159 strikeouts matches the top mark in a season in franchise history with Jose Canseco and Kelly Johnson. Related: Here's an interesting discussion. What team will sign him this offseason? I can't think of one that really makes sense. There's no way he'd be forced into retirement, is there? What an unbelievably quick fall that would be.||1||22-25|
|19||Orioles||Now with seven players having at least 20 home runs, the Orioles have tied an all-time MLB record. Sadly, they won't be breaking the record, as Seth Smith would need to hit seven more homers to make that happen.||1||14-32|
|20||Marlins||Confession to those who missed it: In my over/under picks, I said I had a feeling the Marlins would flat-out "suck" this season. They aren't good, but they aren't worthy of that. I think we could also file that in the "bad" category above.||2||17-29|
|21||Padres||The Padres have already equaled last season's win total. I simply can't say enough about the job Andy Green has done with this group.||2||20-28|
|22||Athletics||We've correctly fawned all over Rhys Hoskins, but A's rookie Matt Olson is the first rook in MLB history to homer 15 times in 21 games. Arbitrary? Sure. Fun? No doubt.||2||25-22|
|23||Reds||Let's set an arbitrary endpoint to give the Reds' props here. Since a loss on July 29, the Reds are 25-22 -- and that's only four games worse than the Cubs and Nationals for the best record in the NL in that time frame.||3||16-32|
|24||Mets||Jay Bruce is going to end up leading the team in home runs despite the Mets desperately trying to trade him all last offseason and then successfully dealing him in August to the Indians, where he's thrived. That pretty well sums up the 2017 Mets, I think.||1||23-19|
|25||Braves||Remember when Matt Kemp was on the short list of best players on the planet? It wasn't even that long ago. Now he has -1.2 WAR per baseball-reference.com.||5||28-17|
|26||Phillies||How long is the baseball season? The Phillies were on pace to win 89 games through 12.3 percent of the season.||4||26-18|
|27||White Sox||Good ERA (2.58) so far from Lucas Giolito along with a solid ground-ball rate. His peripherals don't look great, however, and you'd particularly love to see the strikeouts a bit higher. Still, it's encouraging.||1||13-30|
|28||Giants||OK, Giants fans, here's a hypothetical for you. If you had to relive this season over, watching every single game in its entirety, in order to keep one of the three championships, would you do it? Or would you say goodbye to, say, 2014, in order to never go through 2017 again?||1||24-24|
|29||Pirates||Just pitiful right now, having lost 12 of 13 and looking totally hopeless at the plate. What is this, 2010?||8||26-20|
|30||Tigers||Since Aug. 4, the Tigers have won only 11 games. Every other team in baseball has won at least 15. More than half the league has won 20 games in that span.||3||20-26|
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