MLB Power Rankings: It's time to hold myself accountable for the good, bad and ugly preseason picks
Breaking down what Matt Snyder got right, what he got wrong, plus a toast to a great finish to the season
It never fails. Every single year, within the first few weeks of the season, I get some variation of this email:
I actually got an email from a fan saying he's a "Mets and Diamondbacks fan" telling me I must feel stupid for not picking them to make the playoffs in the middle of April. I'm not kidding.
For now, we'll just ignore how, um, silly it is to talk trash after a week or two in a Major League Baseball season.
As part of these heart-warming messages I get, there will invariably be something thrown in along the lines of "will you be man enough to admit you were wrong at the end of the season?" Most of the time, I just ignore people who come after me with personal shots, but something like that is always going to get a response pointing to this very column. I take great pride in being accountable.
That's what this column is going to be. It's my annual accountability review.
Now, there are caveats. Obviously, baseball is so unpredictable that it would be ridiculous to expect myself to nail almost all of the exact rankings at the start of the year. Injuries happen. Underperformance happens. Overperformance happens. If all of those things weren't true, the sport would be exponentially less fun. Being exact is less important than being in the ballpark, which is why it's OK to look back now instead of after the season. The playoffs are a veritable crapshoot anyway.
What we'll zero in on are bad misses that should have been avoided and good calls that many others didn't make. I'm looking back at myand .
I pegged the Athletics as my AL "sneaky sleeper" and the Phillies as my NL version. Even with the Phillies falling off, these were spot on and I'm pretty proud.
I thought the easiest division winner pick was the Indians.
I was the only member of our CBS Sports staff to have the Rockies as a playoff team (though that might not hold!).
I was the only member of our CBS Sports staff to pick Chris Sale to win the AL Cy Young (though that is still up in the air!). David Price as AL Comeback Player of the Year was a good one, as was Ronald Acuna as NL Rookie of the Year, though the latter was an incredibly popular pick and he might not win it.
I said the Dodgers were really good but also had lots of question marks, especially regarding health. Hey, sometimes I get it right, right?
And sometimes, I really don't ...
I had the Brewers in fourth place in the NL Central, but that wasn't because I thought they'd be bad as much as I thought the Reds would have a breakout season and loved the middle of the NL Central in general, as evidenced by my ranking the Brewers 13th in the pre-preseason power rankings. Also, my comment on the Brewers in the pre-preseason rankings: "I'm really excited for the offense here, but that Jimmy Nelson injury remains a crushing blow to the rotation. Sure, there are wild cards in Jhoulys Chacin, Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley and Junior Guerra behind Chase Anderson and Zach Davies, but they need a lot of things to go right with that questionable group in order to compete with the Cubs in the Central. Wild Card is more likely."
Not terrible! Having them fourth was bad, though. I was wrong there and I own that.
I don't hate my preseason ranking of the Rays at 20 -- I mean, who thought they would get this good this season? -- but I had them last behind the historically-awful Orioles. But in my preseason rankings, I had the Orioles 26th. That's no good, which is the opposite of the Rays this season. You just can't say enough how impressive this has been. One of the most impressive non-playoff seasons in recent memory.
Those two cases are actually a good illustration of how sometimes I try to get too cute in the predictions and should stay more straight up like I do in the rankings.
I had the Angels in the AL Wild Card Game and, attached to that, Mike Scioscia as the AL Manager of the Year. I don't think the pick is as ridiculous as me not having learned my lesson to stop thinking they'll be good. No mas, Matt.
I guess the Nationals fit here, but it was such a disaster with so many moving parts. I find it hard to take much blame, but I have to say I got it wrong with them running away with the East. I was wrong.
I often discussed it in the spring and early going that the "power seven" was head and shoulders above the rest of the teams: Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers. As we've seen, it wasn't that simple and I should have done better in realizing it wouldn't be that easy and obvious.
The Braves. I had them fourth in the NL East and 24th in the rankings, behind the Reds. I even yelled at them for not signing Mike Moustakas. I should have given them a longer look and putting them behind the Mets was atrocious. Terrible job, Mr. Snyder.
Willie Calhoun as AL Rookie of the Year? LOL. Even if he doesn't win it, Shohei Ohtani was right there and I even picked the Angels to win a wild card. How the hell was that happening without Ohtani being great? What a joke of a pick. I hang my head in shame and that won't change with this next one.
I'll just end on this one: I predicted Yu Darvish to win the NL Cy Young.
Nothing that anyone could possibly say to me would make me feel worse about that one than I already do. I can't even laugh about it. Ridiculous pick.
But let's cheer up. There are two weeks of baseball left with lots of playoff jockeying to be done. Giddyup!
|1||Red Sox||The stage is set for the Red Sox to clinch the AL East in Yankee Stadium. Too bad there's no pool for another "controversy."||--||103-49|
|2||Astros||In addition to everything else he does so well, Alex Bregman has 90 walks (and 11 hit by pitches) against only 75 strikeouts.||--||95-57|
|3||Athletics||They better not let off the gas. The Rays are only six back in the loss column.||--||91-61|
|4||Cubs||At different points in the season, the offense has been awesome (very much not right now), the rotation has been dominant (right now) and the bullpen has been lights out. It seems that all three at the same time hasn't happened at any point, though. I guess it could in October and that would be the goal.||1||89-63|
|5||Yankees||With a win on Thursday, June 21, the Yankees moved to 50-22 and two games up on the Red Sox in the AL East. Since then, the Yankees have been a rather pedestrian 41-36. They've lost four of their last five and are 6-8 in September. And yet, they are still very dangerous if they get right for October.||1||93-58|
|6||Dodgers||After all the ups and downs, they are likely to win the NL West and have a shot at 90-plus wins.||1||85-68|
|7||Brewers||Dropping two straight meant the Brewers' first series loss in nearly a month, but it was something that couldn't happen against the backdrop of wanting to take the division. Still a chance, though.||1||87-66|
|8||Braves||Their preseason over/under for wins was 74.5. No matter what happens from here on out, it's been a special season and the future is bright.||1||84-68|
|9||Rays||They haven't lost a series in nearly a month and that was to the Red Sox. Since Aug. 18, the Rays are a ridiculous 20-5.||1||85-66|
|10||Indians||I know the sting of 2016 can't be erased until late October, but three straight division titles is a great feat.||2||85-66|
|11||Rockies||Rockies at Dodgers these next few days with first place on the line? Yes, please. I told you last week how awesome the West is.||--||82-70|
|12||Cardinals||They were 12-15 in June, 12-14 in July and have a losing record in September. It's starting to look like that amazing August was the outlier.||--||84-69|
|13||Mariners||The unraveling of generational talent Felix Hernandez is pretty damn depressing.||1||84-68|
|14||Nationals||What if they didn't throw in the towel and actually added in late July? They aren't going to finish *that* far out of the playoffs.||3||77-75|
|15||Diamondbacks||They are folding under the weight of an incredibly tough schedule and it doesn't let up, with the Cubs, Rockies and Dodgers coming to visit next.||2||79-74|
|16||Phillies||Now 4-10 this month, it's a realistic possibility that the Phillies finish under .500.||1||78-73|
|17||Pirates||They currently have a Kramer and a Newman in the infield and this seems more important than any comment actually relating to the team.||1||77-74|
|18||Angels||Andrelton Simmons' strikeout watch: 34 in 519 at-bats.||--||75-77|
|19||Mets||The David Wright moment seems like it'll be bittersweet, but I feel like Mets fans in attendance will make it amazin'.||1||70-82|
|20||Giants||Brandon Crawford was outstanding in the first half. A deserving All-Star. Since the break, he's hit .178/.228/.244. Yikes.||1||72-81|
|21||Twins||With whispers of a Joe Mauer retirement, I'll echo the sentiment of a Baseball America writer over the weekend in saying that we need to remember the prime stud that hit .323/.405/.468 through his age-30 season -- and won an MVP -- instead of the concussion-affected first baseman version.||--||71-81|
|22||Blue Jays||Encouraging outing Saturday night from Sean Reid-Foley.||--||69-83|
|23||Rangers||Former top MLB prospect Jurickson Profar is putting together a very good second half and is still only 25 years old. He's up to 33 doubles and 18 homers on the year with an above-average slash line. Next year is shaping up as a possible post-hype breakout for him.||--||64-88|
|24||Reds||Who had Jose Peraza tying Joey Votto in home runs to this point in the season? Put your hands down, liars.||--||65-88|
|26||Tigers||I can't think of anything to say and I still need to do this for two more weeks?||1||61-91|
|27||White Sox||They currently have a Burr and a Hamilton in the bullpen and this seems more important than any comment actually relating to the team.||1||59-92|
|28||Marlins||It would be utterly hilarious if MLB made the Marlins travel to Pittsburgh for a worthless makeup game on Oct. 1. C'mon, MLB. Do it!||1||59-92|
|29||Royals||Ryan O'Hearn is a good example of looking at far more than just batting average. His .270 mark is fine, but his .378 on-base percentage is great and his .626 slugging is exceptional. It's only 135 plate appearances, but it's been a very encouraging rookie year for the 25-year-old first baseman.||--||52-100|
|30||Orioles||Adam Jones has now played over 1,600 games with the Orioles, good for ninth in franchise history. He's deservedly very popular, so, yes, Orioles fans, you have reason to tune in these last few weeks. Give him a good send off.||--||44-108|
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