The 2023 MLB season has just one week left in the regular season before hopefully an epic month-plus of playoff action. As we approach the end of the season each year, I like to go back and look at things I said before the started. I call it my accountability column.
This all goes back to one of my first years in sports media when I wrote about many different sports. I said Drew Brees would have a better year than Tony Romo in 2008 and one Cowboys fan in particular went nuts on me via email. You can check the stats on those two in 2008, but, suffice to say, I was right and he wasn't. I wanted to gloat in a column, but realized I also will get plenty of things wrong, too. In this position, I need to be fair with myself. And here we are, 15 years later.
I got many things wrong this season and that's always going to happen. Sports are unpredictable. I did get things right, too, and we'll close with those. This isn't an exhaustive list, but instead some of my greatest hits and biggest misses from the spring. I'll be drawing from my, , and .
- The AL East was one big mess for me. I had the order Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Orioles. My best defense here is I figured the division would be incredibly close. That is to say, I didn't think the Orioles or Rays would be bad. You want proof? Cool, look at my over/under picks. I have the Yankees in second place but took over 94 wins. The Rays' over/under was 89 wins and I didn't play either side. If I thought they'd be bad, I would've played the under. The Orioles' total was 78 and I didn't play the under. I had the Red Sox in third place and played over 77.5 wins. Yes, the order was terrible, but it's not like I thought the O's would lose 90 games or anything. This whole division was a miss, but not a terrible one with the proper context.
- I had the Dodgers in the playoffs, but only second in the West. We'll get to why in a second, but I'll again note that it's not like I was down on them. Their gambling win total was 94.5 and I didn't take a side and I had them sixth in power rankings.
- Mets as a playoff team? Yeah, a lot of people missed it, but I was among them. I had them way too high in power rankings, too. I do take solace in having them third in the NL East in my predictions when most people had them higher.
- I had the Tigers under 69.5 wins and it grinds my gears that they performed so well against fellow AL Central teams. That pushed them over the number with well over a week to play. Sigh.
This is the section where I won't provide an explanation, as the call was bad enough that I should only be ridiculed.
- All the Angels nonsense. I had the Angels in the playoffs, took their over (81.5 wins), had Phil Nevin as AL Manager of the Year and Anthony Rendon as AL Comeback Player of the Year. In the initial power rankings, I even mentioned that I'm generally too high on them but it would be different this time. Tsk, tsk. I would say I'll never learn, but I'm vowing here and now: I'm totally done with this team for a long time.
You should not, however, be done with mocking me for these picks. I deserve plenty of it.
- Padres NL champs. Padres World Series champs. Padres preseason number two. Bob Melvin Manager of the Year. Juan Soto as MVP isn't a gigantic miss, but he goes with the theme (and I guess there's no chance he finishes in the top five of MVP voting, which means you can call it a bad miss if you want).
I'll wear it. All the Padres love was bad and dumb.
- Shohei Ohtani was my AL MVP pick. It was chalky, sure, but he didn't win in 2022 and he's going to win. I was right. It doesn't matter how or why.
- I'm very pleased with the Cardinals under 89 wins and Reds over 66 wins plays in the over/under column. Most people picked the Cardinals to win the NL Central and I took the Brewers. Many had the Reds last in the NL Central and I had them ahead of the Pirates.
- The Mets were a popular pick in the NL East and I'm proud to have had the Braves first and Phillies second.
- The Guardians were also a popular pick in their division and I had the Twins taking the Central.
- It would be absurd to expect pre-spring power rankings slots to be exact to where teams end up, but if you compare those to right now, there are quite a few teams awfully close. The best examples are the Braves (preseason 3, now 1), Blue Jays (7, 6), Phillies (9, 7), Mariners (10, 10), Giants (18, 18), Rockies (29, 28) and A's (30, 30).
- How about those rookies, huh? I had Corbin Carroll as NL Rookie of the Year and Gunnar Henderson on the AL side. Both are going to win.
- Gerrit Cole was my Cy Young pick and he's finally going to win his first.
- In the Rangers' power rankings comment before the season, I said there are "plenty of ways this could fall off the rails" but the upside was winning a World Series. Given all the ups and downs the last two months, this was spot on.
- I've been calling A's ownership "Rachel Phelps" for years. Sure enough, the A's bottomed out enough to get their move to Las Vegas.
Decide for yourself
In my first power rankings of 2023, back before spring training even started, I said Ronald Acuña Jr. was going to win NL MVP. It was Feb. 14 and I said, "I'm calling my (his?) shot. Ronald Acuña Jr. wins 2023 NL MVP."
This would've been an amazing call so early. And then I went to spring training in Arizona and after a day at Padres camp, I was convinced -- probably, mostly, by myself, to be honest -- that Juan Soto was going to win the award and I wrote an entire column about it.
I think I'm most furious at myself because had I stuck with Acuña, I would've hit both MVPs along with one Cy Young and both Rookies of the Year. That would've been incredible. Instead, I owned myself. Brilliant move, Miserable Matt.
We have three paths here.
1. I deserve praise for the Acuña call.
2. I should be mocked endlessly for coming off that call.
3. Some combination of the two.
Choose your own adventure there. Now, onto the penultimate rankings before the 2023 playoffs!
|This season from Acuña truly has been something to behold. Oh, and he's still only 25 years old.||--||104-58|
|Can he get there? I've been tracking Freddie Freeman's chase to become the first player to reach 60 doubles in a season since 1936. He's at 57 with seven games to play, and four of those are in Coors Field.||--||100-62|
|Could they go from 110 losses to a World Series title in two years?||--||101-61|
|Through June 16, with close to half the season complete, the Rays were on pace to win 113 games. They now have to win out to get to 100.||--||99-63|
|The only inning in Brewers history with more runs than they scored in the third Friday night involved Robin Yount, Gary Sheffield and Jim Gantner.||--||92-70|
|The two-homer game for Vlad Jr. on Sunday is a great sign with the playoffs right around the corner. The 2021 version of him could move the offense into "scary" territory.||1||89-73|
|No player has ever finished with 40-plus home runs and a sub-.200 batting average. Kyle Schwarber has 45 bombs and a .198 average right now.||2||90-72|
|Well how about that? The Rangers are back in first after an incredibly timed sweep of the Mariners.||3||90-72|
|The champs finished with a 39-42 record at home. They hadn't previously had a losing home record since 2014 (38-43). Getting swept at home by the Royals was quite the capper. Maybe they need to make the batter's eye bigger again?||3||90-72|
|If you're one of those who thinks the Home Run Derby ruined Vlad Jr.'s swing for the second half, how do you explain Julio's surge? He's been a MONSTER. You can't have it both ways.||2||88-74|
|There was a lot of mockery of the Twins and the AL Central this season, but they are actually 38-27 since the All-Star break, which is a full-season pace of 95 wins.||1||87-75|
|Corbin Carroll is the 36th rookie in MLB history to steal at least 50 bases. Esteury Ruiz of the A's also got there this season. They are the first players to do so since Billy Hamilton stole 56 in 2014.||--||84-78|
|The Cubs had lost 10 of 13 before finally waking up and sweeping the Rockies. On paper, they have an incredibly tough week coming up, visiting Atlanta and Milwaukee. Time to take care of business.||2||83-79|
|They've won 15 of their last 22, though it's a bummer that Sandy Alcantara looked like he was coming back and now isn't.||1||84-78|
|It looks like it'll be the end of the road for Joey Votto after this coming week. It's been a pleasure. I look forward to voting for him for the Hall of Fame.||1||82-80|
|Let's say you go into your senior year of high school with a 2.5 GPA. You bust your butt and get straight A's both semesters in furious pursuit of valedictorian. But it was all for naught because the foundation just wasn't there. The Padres having won nine of their last 10 right now is in similar territory.||2||82-80|
|As we've mentioned, the Yankees haven't had a losing season since 1992. It's going down to the wire here.||1||82-80|
|The Giants are going to finish the season with just two winning months (17-12 in May and 18-8 in June).||1||79-83|
|They've now lost 14 of their last 18 and what once looked like a sure bet to hit the over (77.5 wins) is in jeopardy.||--||78-84|
|The Pirates have actually been playing really well for a bit. Prior to Sunday's loss, they had won 16 of 24.||1||76-86|
|José Ramírez stole his 200th career base this past week. He joins Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Altuve as active players with 200 homers and 200 steals.||1||76-86|
|Last season, the Tigers' team leader in homers was Javier Báez with 17. This season they have three players with more than 20 and Spencer Torkelson just needs one more to reach 30.||--||78-84|
|Kodai Senga has 194 strikeouts this season. Here's a list of Mets rookies to reach 200 strikeouts: Dwight Gooden. Yep. That's it.||--||75-87|
|C.J. Abrams has 43 stolen bases right now. The most ever for a Nationals player is 46 (Trea Turner in 2017). Now, that isn't the franchise record, because that loops in the Expos and they had 16 player seasons (eight by Tim Raines) with more than 46, topped out by Ron LeFlore's 97 in 1980.||2||71-91|
|If the Cardinals lose out, they'll end with 94 losses. That would be the most for this franchise since 1913. They lost 93 in 1978 and 92 in 1990.||1||71-91|
|They are now 14-35 since the trade deadline.||1||73-89|
|Luis Robert left Sunday's game due to a sore knee. Hopefully he can make it back, as he has 38 home runs. The only White Sox to record 40 homers in a season: Albert Belle, Jermaine Dye, Frank Thomas (five times), Jim Thome, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko (twice) and Todd Frazier.||1||61-101|
|The loss on Sunday was the Rockies' 99th, which is the new franchise record. Might as well lose out at this point. No sense in half-assing things.||1||59-103|
|The sweep in Houston really got them off track. The franchise record in losses is still attainable, but they can't take their eyes off the prize and do something like keep winning. They are four losses away from tying it with six games left to play.||--||56-106|
|They have clinched at least a share of the worst record in baseball and will lose at least one more game to ensure they have the worst record all to themselves. Congrats, Rachel!||--||50-112|