Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I’ll be going a division at a time, starting with the American League East.
Predicted Record: 70-92 Actual Record: 66-96
It was a tale of two seasons for the Orioles, as they spent the first half of the season clearly as the worst team in all of baseball. Nothing seemed to go right for the team, and it ended up costing manager Dave Trembley his job before too long. This left interim skipper Juan Samuel to try and right the ship, while the Orioles also continued to look for his (and Trembley’s) replacement. By the August 31st trade deadline, the team had managed to ship just one of its movable pieces for prospects with Miguel Tejada being traded to the Padres. But they had also hired Buck Showalter to manage the team, and the team has already seen a drastic improvement. This record would have actually been much further off if not for the late-season turnaround.
Boston Red Sox
Predicted Record: 94-68 Actual Record: 89-73
Looking at how the season played out for the Red Sox, it’s nothing short of a miracle that the team still finished with such a good record. I originally thought that the Sox would finish 2nd in the division behind just the Yankees, and if not for the sheer quantity of injuries, they might have. At points during their season, they lost their starting left fielder (Ellsbury), their starting second baseman (Pedroia), their starting first baseman (Youkilis), and one of their top starting pitchers (Beckett), not to mention a lot of other nagging injuries to other players throughout. And still they won 89 games and were in the race until the last week of the season.
New York Yankees
Predicted Record: 97-65 Actual Record: 95-67
I predicted this correctly, but to me that doesn’t really seem like that much of a stretch to pick the Yankees to do well in any given season. The small surprise was that they did not win the division, but losing it by just one game isn’t too far off of it regardless. They did this behind the solid pitching of C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes, but it seems that for whatever reason, they ran into trouble after Sabathia in the rotation. A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez were both entirely too inconsistent, especially given the roles they were expected to play for the Yankees. New acquisition Curtis Granderson didn’t perform to the expectations of him, but Robinson Cano established himself as an MVP candidate, and both Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher had excellent seasons in the outfield.
Tampa Bay Rays
Predicted Record: 88-74 Actual Record: 96-66
I thought that Tampa would do well this year, but that they wouldn’t have quite enough to pull it together. I clearly didn’t anticipate just how good their pitching was going to be this year, as David Price established himself as a Cy Young candidate, Jeff Niemann followed up his excellent rookie season with another solid year, and Wade Davis had a solid rookie season as well. Manager Joe Maddon tinkered his way to the division title, plugging in players all over the field as he needed and it still seemed to work quite well.
Toronto Blue Jays
Predicted Record: 77-85 Actual Record: 85-77
One of these years, the Blue Jays are going to really pull it all together, and when they do the rest of the division will have to sit and watch. I thought that when they traded Roy Halladay, the pitching would struggle some as a result of the lack of his leadership at the top of the rotation. But Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero helped to provide that leadership, and didn’t miss a beat. The thing that actually ended up hurting the team to some extent was the lack of offense from two of 2009’s key performers, Adam Lind and Aaron Hill. But Jose Bautista almost made up for both of them on his own, and should be interesting to watch in 2011 to see if he can repeat his 54 homer season.