My predictions for 2013 didn’t go as well this year as they have in previous years. But when it was all said and done, we had a great season to look back at and say there were some really big surprises. And some not-so-big surprises.
I will start with who I picked to make the postseason:
AL East: Tampa Bay (Won Wild Card, lost in ALDS to Boston.)
AL Central: Detroit (Won division, lost in ALCS to Boston.)
AL West: Texas (Lost Wild Card Tiebreaker Game.)
AL Wild Card: Boston (Won division and World Series) and Kansas City (Finished 5.5 game back, on the right track and will be back fighting in the Central next year)
NL East: Washington (The biggest disappointment in baseball in my opinion. I had them not only winning the east but making it to World Series. I still believe they will be a postseason team next year.)
NL Central: Cincinnati (Lost Wild Card game to Pittsburgh.)
NL West: Giants (Didn’t play nearly like the team that won the World Series in 2012.)
NL Wild Card: St. Louis (Won division and lost World Series to Boston) and Arizona (Started off strong before fading badly.)
The only positive thing I can say about my predictions is at least five of the teams I picked to make the postseason did so.
Looking back at what teams did this year that shocked me, first and foremost the pirates making the postseason was the biggest surprise by far. What that team and Clint Hurdle did this year was amazing to me. Another surprise was how well the Braves played when they got no production out of two of the guys they were counting on most in Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton. In spite of that, they ran away with the NL East. Great job of managing by Fredi Gonzalez. Also in my opinion the NL MVP is Freddie Freeman.
The game is so much about starting pitching these days that I believe sometimes great bullpens and bad bullpens get overlooked. The Pirates had the season they had in large part because their bullpen was awesome. The same can be said for the champs in Boston. They had two closers go down with injuries, yet managed to find a guy in Koji Uehara who was almost unhittable. The Cards’ young pen got them to the World Series in the postseason. Edwin Mujica did a great job of closing games until September, then Trevor Rosenthal and his 100-MPH fastball took over.
For the teams that had great rotations and subpar bullpens, we only need look as far as Detroit. Joaquin Benoit took over as closer in the second half and did great. But in the ALCS, the guys who were charged with getting the ball to Benoit were not so good, and cost the Tigers a chance to play in the World Series. It would not surprise me at all to see the Tigers go out and sign a free agent closer Joe Nathan, then trade Rick Porcello to land a couple of good, young arms — both left-handed and right — to add to their pen. If they do that, I will be picking them again next year.
Three of the saddest moments of this year were Charlie Manuel getting fired in Philly, Jim Leyland stepping down as manager of the Tigers, and Mariano Rivera retiring. Why are these sad to me? Because each and every one of those guys are what are sport should be about: pride, integrity, and class. Baseball will miss all of them. Of the three, I think we might see Charlie Manuel again. I’m not sure he has the game out of his system yet. I hope not anyway.
All in all, 2013 was a great year for MLB. Congrats to the Red Sox for bringing celebration to Boston after the senseless and inhumane act of the Marathon bombing.