Filtering by Tag: Preseason Press

When Expectations End

It has become a yearly tradition for me to write a post just before OpeningDay on how reality is waiting to make us all look like idiots, and I will freely admit that this post was more enjoyable when the Phillies, Red Sox, and Yankees were picked to be the best teams in baseball. Now it is the Nationals. The team I root for is the team everyone is expecting to be the best team in baseball just like the Tigers last season and the Red Sox the year before that (I don't remember who was predicted to be the best team in 2010 but it certainly wasn't the Giants or the Rangers). While the Tigers did ultimately make it to the World Series they didn't make it look easy. The Tigers, predicted to have the best record in baseball, finished ten games back of the Washington Nationals.  ​

Now the Nationals are in the Tigers shoes and lots and lots of very smart people are picking them to win it all, but keep in mind these are the same smart people that picked the A's and Orioles to finish last in their divisions in 2012. Every season something unexpected happens, and it is going to happen again this season. Even with the best odds in Vegas at 7 to 1 the Nationals have only a 14% chance to win it all. The fact that teams defy the odds and make us all look foolish is what makes baseball great, but now as Washington Nationals fans we're no longer rooting for Luke Skywalker to blow up the Death Star. We are instead hoping that the Death Star turns its icy gaze upon Tatooine before Luke Skywalker even meets Obi Wan.

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Lowered Expectations

I was perusing some of the darker corners of the Natsmosphere the otherevening and I came across a discussion about the blind optimism and unrealistic expectations for 2013. I don't know if they meant specifically from Nats fans, from the Nats manager, or from national publications which have picked the Nationals to win the World Series. That much was unclear, but a couple of interesting points for their doubt were brought up. The first main concern a lot of people have is that the Nats pitching staff was lucky last season and destined to have an injury this season. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore was on MLB radio last night and mentioned that the Nats were lucky to have gotten 150 innings from their top five starters. My first thought was to wonder if they were really the only ones so lucky and if so what other teams were just as lucky.   ​

Because I wrote about the Reds yesterday and the 3 1/3 innings they gave to Todd Redmond I didn't need to look them up, but the Giants were just as healthy having Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Vogelsong, and Zito all pitch over 180 innings and giving only 6 innings to Eric Hacker and 4 2/3 to Yusmeiro Petit. Those two teams ended up being healthier and using less pitchers than the Nationals because they had no shutdown or Wang experiment as part of their rotations. There were also at least three other teams that had five pitchers who did pitch over 150 innings as parts of their final rotations, but for the Tigers and Sanchez, the Dodgers and Blanton, and the Angels and Greinke most of those 150 innings were done for another team. There are also the Phillies that could have done it but shipped Blanton out of town and shuttled Kendrick between the rotation and the bullpen. Most teams that had four starters over 150 innings but not a fifth did so because their fifth starter wasn't good, not because anyone got injured. ​

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The Second Best Team in the NL

With less than a week to go before Opening Day all the picks for WorldSeries champs are starting to trickle in and many people are picking the Washington Nationals. Four out of seven SI writers picked the Nats to win it all, five out of seven the NL, seven out of seven the NL East, and several of the same writers picked Harper to be MVP and/or Strasburg to win the Cy Young. The 2013 Washington Nationals are what you would call the best team on paper. The question here is which team has the next best chance at being the best team in the NL, and the answer is not what many may expect, the Cincinnati Reds.  ​

While the Atlanta Braves arguably made the flashiest move of the off-season in acquiring Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks after adding his brother BJ; they also lost a lot of talent with Chipper Jones retiring, Michael Bourn leaving via free agency, and the inclusion of Martin Prado in the Justin Upton deal. In total the Braves lost 15.3 fWAR from their 94 win 2012 roster. The acquisitions of the two Uptons, increased playing time of Medlen and Simmons, and Maholm and Teheran instead of Hanson and Jurrjens is nothing more than treading water. There was one team a lot closer in 2012 to the 98 win Washington Nationals in the NL than the Atlanta Braves and that team, the 97 win Cincinnati Reds, didn't lose much and arguably gained more.​

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