So how did I do with those predictions?

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With not a whole lot going on today, I figured now would be as good a time as any to see how my preseason predictions turned out. The verdict: not as bad as it could have been, but about as random as you might expect.  Here’s what I had, with the team-links going to the full-blown team previews (* is the wild card):

AL East: Yankees, Rays,* Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays
AL Central: Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Indians
AL West: Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Athletics
NL East: Braves, Phillies,* Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Cardinals, Reds, Brewers, Cubs, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Padres

AL MVP: Kendry Morales
NL MVP: Troy
Tulowitzki
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia
NL Cy Young:  Roy Halladay
AL Rookie of the Year
Austin Jackson
NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward
AL Manager of the Year:
Joe Maddon
NL Manager of the Year: Bobby Cox

Among the most laughable things was having the Padres in last place, having Kendry Morales as the MVP and having the Angels winning the west. The Padres came out of nowhere, so if anyone had them in first place back in April they were living in fantasyland.  If Morales doesn’t get hurt that Angels prediction is less laughable, but no, his presence alone would not have saved the season. The Rockies and Braves were my bold choices. Neither panned out perfectly, though I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority in thinking that Atlanta would make the playoffs. If Colorado had figured it out Tulowitzki had a good shot at the MVP, but alas it will not be.

Sabathia and Halladay were pretty obvious but pretty good preseason choices for Cy Young. Halladay will get it, I’m almost certain. When people have asked me lately I’ve given the pessimistic “Sabathia will win it” answer for the AL, but now that I think about it a bit more, I wonder if the tide (or the hysteria) has turned and Felix Hernandez won’t get it after all.  If not, my preseason comments about the writers not wanting to give it to a low win-total guy for the second straight year will have been somewhat prescient.

Heyward and Jackson as rookies of the year are defensible, but I’m guessing that I successfully predicted second place in each league rather than the winner. Picking the manager of the year is a toughie. Maddon and Cox weren’t nuts, but neither will get it. If the Padres and Rangers hadn’t played so well this year maybe Maddon and Cox would have gotten it.

I still think predictions are a sucker’s game, yet I still do them because they’re fun. So much so that I’ll certainly try to predict the postseason here in the next 48 hours.  I wonder how wrong I’ll be about that?

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 2, Twins 1: Aaron Judge hit a solo homer and Jamie Garcia struck out nine and allowed only an unearned run in five and two-thirds. Things stayed close and got shaky in the eighth for New York as Dellin Betances hit the first batter he faced, uncorked a wild pitch and walked two more to load the bases with only one out. Aroldis Chapman came in and put out the fire, however, with two quick outs and stayed in for the ninth to complete the five-out save. That’s great and all, but if the Yankees are gonna do anything in October, they had better fix Betances first.

Red Sox 10, Orioles 8: Baltimore took an early 5-0 lead and then Dustin Pedroia had to leave after he bounced a ball off the plate on a check swing that came back up and smacked his nose, giving him a nasal contusion. It would get better, however, as the Sox rallied for a run that frame and six in the fifth inning. A Xander Bogaerts homer in the seventh would tie things up at eight and then Andrew Benintendi hit a two-run single in the 11th inning to give Boston the lead and, eventually, the game.  Mookie Betts had four RBI and Bogaerts wold score three times. The Orioles have lost 10 of 12.

Phillies 4, Dodgers 3: Clayton Kershaw had faced 103 batters in his career with bases loaded without allowing a grand slam. He would not make it 104. Aaron Altherr would come to the plate with the bases juiced in the sixth and he launched a long one to left to give the Phillies all of their runs and, it turned out, the only runs they’d need. This after L.A. led off the game with two home runs from their first two batters, the first being an inside-the-park number from Chris Taylor. Justin Turner would follow him with a conventional homer and Curtis Granderson added one in the top of the ninth, but it couldn’t make up for Altherr’s salami. Chase Utley returned to Philly. He went 0-for-2, but got a standing ovation from the Phaithful at Citizens Bank Park when he first came to bat. That’s nice to see.

Brewers 3, Pirates 0Brent Suter shut out Pittsburgh for five innings and four relievers took it the rest of the way. Ryan Braun homered and former Pirate Neil Walker knocked in a run. Travis Shaw‘s RBI single rounded out the scoring as Milwaukee pulled to within three and a half games of the idle Cubs in the NL Central and two games behind the idle Rockies for the final NL Wild Card.

Athletics 8, Tigers 3:  Matt Olson homered for his fourth straight game and Jed Lowrie drove in three runs. Raul Alcantara was pressed into service as an emergency starter after Jharel Cotton tweaked his groin just before game time. Some scary business late as Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell left the game in the eighth inning after getting hit in the head by a 102.6 mph line drive off the bat of Ryon Healy. Amazingly, Ferrell seems to be OK. He never went down, walked off the field under his own power and was alert and responsive the entire time.

Marlins 13, Mets 1: Giancarlo Stanton hit his 55th homer and drove in four as the Marlins routed Matt Harvey and the Mets. Every Marlin starter had at least one hit. Marcell Ozuna had four hits, including a homer. Dee Gordon also had four, including a two-run triple. Ichiro had two hits and an RBI. Brian Anderson drove in two runs with a triple. The line on Harvey: seven runs on twelve hits in four innings. He’s been basically terrible since he came off the disabled list. It’ll be interesting to see what the Mets do with their former ace in the offseason.

Padres 4, Diamondbacks 2: The Padres scored three in the first on a Hunter Renfroe three-run homer and added one in the second on an Austin Hedges solo shot. That’s all they’d need as Luis Perdomo gave them a workmanlike five and a third, allowing a pair of RBI singles and nothing else, and four relievers shut out the Snakes the rest of the way.

Aaron Altherr hit the first ever grand slam off of Clayton Kershaw

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Entering Monday’s start against the Phillies, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had made 287 starts and pitched 1,917 innings over parts of 10 seasons. He’s done a lot of things, like winning a Cy Young Award, an MVP Award, winning 20 games, posting a sub-2.00 ERA. One thing he had never done is allow a grand slam.

Kershaw had loaded the bases 103 times coming into Monday’s action. Batters hit .193/.233/.250 off of him with 17 hits, of which only five went for extra bases (all doubles). In 2017, opposing hitters were 0-for-6 with five strikeouts with the bags packed.

Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr changed that in a big way. In the bottom of the sixth inning, trailing 2-0, the Phillies loaded the bases on a Ty Kelly walk, a Freddy Galvis single, and a Rhys Hoskins walk, bringing up Altherr. After running the count even at 1-1, Altherr blasted a grand slam into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park for the first grand slam ever hit off of Kershaw. According to Statcast, the ball left his bat at 107.6 MPH and went 418 feet.

Following the grand slam, Altherr improved his slash line to .276/.348/.521 along with 17 home runs, 55 RBI, and 51 runs scored in 362 plate appearances.

Kershaw was lifted after six innings. He gave up the four runs on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He still owns a sterling 17-3 record with a 2.26 ERA and a 194/30 K/BB ratio in 163 innings on the season.