Tag Archives: Phillies

Evaluating My MLB Predictions at the All-Star Break

Every year on the night before Opening Day I scribble down a bunch of baseball predictions for the upcoming season and post them on social media.

It has been a thing for much of the past decade, akin to a kid writing out his Christmas list every winter except this is a collection of what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen.

For a decent amount of them, I pour over numbers and data. There’s also a few where I just shoot from the hip and try to have a little fun. Unfortunately though, I usually forget about a lot of the more detailed ones once October rolls around. This year I told myself that I wasn’t going to let that happen, and in order to help prevent it, I figured I’d take a look at how things are holding up halfway through the season.

Some are almost spot on, and others are embarrassingly bad, but unlike pond scum hack Mike Freeman, I will hold myself accountable when I get something wrong.

Let’s dive into it starting with the division standings and team records:

*Current record in bold and parentheses next to prediction 

NL East

Nationals (97-65) (51-42)

Braves (86-76) (52-43)

Phillies (76-86) (42-53)

Mets (74-88) (45-50)

Marlins (68-94) (44-50)

Overall, nothing jumps out as awful here. The Nationals would have to play .700 baseball to hit 97 wins, so that probably won’t happen, and the Marlins would really have to go south to only win 68 but no glaring errors here.

NL Central

Cardinals (95-67) (52-44)

Reds (90-72) (51-44)

Pirates (85-77) (49-46)

Brewers (78-84) (53-43)

Cubs (64-98) (40-54)

The big mistake here is obviously the Brewers. Despite a recent tailspin, it would still be quite a shock for them to finish under .500 at this point. Still plausible that the standings finish in the order I predicted though.

NL West

Dodgers (96-66) (54-43)

Giants (88-74) (52-43)

Diamondbacks (83-79) (40-56)

Padres (81-81) (41-54)

Rockies (71-91) (40-55)

The NL West seems really hit or miss for me. Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies predictions all have a chance to be pretty close. It would take a lot for the Diamondbacks and Padres to reach .500.

For real though, the Phillies might be brutal, but I’m not sure how people in San Diego do it.

Padres

AL East

Red Sox (95-67) (43-52)

Rays (94-68) (44-53)

Yankees (87-75) (47-47)

Orioles (86-76) (52-42)

Blue Jays (69-93) (49-47)

Let’s just take this and throw it in the trash, kk? I still wouldn’t be shocked if the Red Sox or Rays make a run in the second half, but this was kinda bad. Okay, really bad.

AL Central

Tigers (92-70) (53-38)

Royals (86-76) (48-46)

Indians (84-78) (47-47)

White Sox (70-92) (45-51)

Twins (62-100) (44-50)

The Twins will certainly eclipse 62 wins, but overall this looks pretty good. For the time being, I have the division order completely correct.

AL West

Rangers (90-72) (38-57)

A’s (89-73) (59-36)

Angels (86-76) (57-37)

Mariners (75-87) (51-44)

Astros (61-101) (40-56)

Yeesh. Perhaps I was a little too high on the Rangers, but I don’t think anyone anticipated them having the worst record in baseball heading into the All-Star break. The Mariners are on the way toward making me look stupid, and I welcome that because getting to watch Felix Hernandez in October for the first time ever would be awesome.

More predictions below:

NL Playoff Teams: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers, Reds, Giants 

If the playoffs started today, the Nationals, Dodgers, and Giants would all be in with the Cardinals and Reds knocking on the door. I have a chance to hit all five there, so things could be worse.

AL Playoff Teams: Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers, Rays, A’s

The American League is obviously less accurate. I’ll hold out hope that either the Red Sox or Rays make a run to get me three teams from that group.

World Series: Dodgers over Red Sox in six games 

With a playoff rotation of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu, the Dodgers certainly look capable of coming out of the National League. Red Sox, as already mentioned, are another story.

AL Cy Young: David Price

This is going to King Felix in all likelihood, but Price is 11th in the AL in WAR, 11th in FIP, and has the sixth best strikeout rate per nine innings in all of baseball. He may not win, but he’ll get some votes.

NL Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner

The popular thing here is to pick Kershaw or Adam Wainwright, and Kershaw will win it, but I decided to go a different route back in March. Bumgarner’s been good enough to make the All-Star game, so I’ll take that.

AL MVP: Mike Trout

Speaking of boring/safe predictions…I don’t think much else needs to be said here. Trout is going to win this time, and with the way the Angels are playing, none of the voters will be able to use them missing the playoffs as reason to vote for someone else.

NL MVP: Joey Votto

This was a shaky pick made worse by an injury plagued season for Votto. Oops.

AL Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts

An awful June and July eliminated any chance of this. It’s Jose Abreu’s or Mashairo Tanaka’s (if he’s back by September) award to win.

NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton

This was a bit of an easy pick but for good reason. After a slow start, Hamilton has been everything I expected. Anyone who can swipe multiple bases off Yadier Molina in a single game deserves a medal.

First Manager to be Fired: John Gibbons

Turns out the Blue Jays are better than I expected. Despite a recent 2-8 stretch, Gibbons is likely safe so long as they’re in contention.

Ryan Braun bounces back and finishes in the Top five of NL MVP Voting

Braun’s battled injuries to put together a good first half, but this probably won’t end up happening.

Miguel Cabrera leads the league with 40 home runs

With only 14 on the season, Cabrera won’t get to 40 and certainly won’t lead the league. Hai Jose Abreu and Nelson Cruz.

Adam Wainwright leads league with 19 wins

This looks pretty good. Wainwright is currently tied for the league lead with 12, and one of the other pitchers with 12 is Tanaka who will be out at least six weeks.

Last but not least, the Phillies predictions:

The Phillies finish with a record of 76-86

In order to finish with this exact record, the Phillies would need to go 34-33 in the second half. Not likely but definitely not impossible.

Ben Revere will hit his first career home run on June 24th 

I was 28 days late, but he did hit a home run which is more than some would have realistically expected.

Dom Brown hits .271 with 30 HR’s and 90 RBI’s 

Go ahead and LOL. This is bad. It would take a monster second half for him to even sniff the same area code of that predicted average and home run totals. I know the negative 1.2 WAR is ugly as all hell, but the splits at least show that he’s been better lately at the plate. Hopefully that’s a sign of a bounce back second half.

Brown Splits

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez never throws a meaningful pitch for the Phillies

Accurate so far. I don’t hate on Ruben Amaro Jr. as much as a majority of the fanbase does, but this was a bad move, very bad.

Marlon Byrd, career high 26 home runs

With 18 already, this looks on its way to being accurate. The 26th likely won’t happen in a Phillies uniform though.

On July 26, Cliff Lee throws eight shutout innings and receives a standing ovation at Citizens Bank Park. Three days later, he is traded to the Rangers at the trade deadline.

In a weird/completely lucky coincidence, Lee is scheduled to pitch this exact game. The trade obviously won’t be to the Rangers who are out of the race though. This is going to be a hot topic for the next couple of weeks leading up to the deadline.

My take: Keep Cliff, move him in December. He’s only scheduled to make two starts before the deadline. I fully expect him to come back strong, but I have a feeling teams are going to try to shortchange the Phillies citing questions about Lee’s health. Amaro already messed this up in 2009, and the repercussions would be much worse this time. Show him off for two months and wait for teams to come calling in the winter.

That’s all, folks. Obviously there’s a mix of good, bad, and average here, so I look forward to seeing where things are at in another three months.

If you have any thoughts or predictions of your own, please share in the comments.

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Drinks with My Cousin

After nearly a quarter-century of knowing a family member, the popular notion would be that the relationship — good, bad, or non-existent — is pretty well set in stone.

That sounds pretty reasonable after all. Just about everything is known: Strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes. It’s all there. Nothing is going to change at this point.

Except sometimes, that’s not actually the case. Sometimes, one night, a couple text messages, a few drinks, and a whole lot of camaraderie can take everything you thought you knew and flip it upside down — or maybe in this special instance right-side up.

My cousin was born 17 and a half months before me. He was two years ahead of me in school and our houses were only separated by 25 minutes of driving. While growing up, we probably saw each other approximately 30 times a year between birthdays, holidays, and get-togethers.

In theory, this would set us up to be decent friends. The problem though is that the similarities listed above were pretty much the only thing we had in common.

As kids, I was into more mainstream sports while my cousin took up karate. He was damn good at it too, eventually getting his black belt, but we never had a catch with a baseball or anything like that.

There were plenty of times where we tried playing video games together. Mario Party was a favorite, but for the most part, I played sports games and him strategy ones like The Legend of Zelda.

“Are there any games you don’t suck at?” were his words after I had zero idea what I was doing in some GameCube thing.

“Uhh…I’m okay at Madden,” I said. The tables were completely turned, and winning 21-0 after the first quarter while sacking the quarterback on every play is about as fun as dying every 30 seconds in some non-sports game.

When we got tired of video games at family gatherings, I would usually be watching the Phillies game with my dad and uncle while he built some killer paper airplane.

I was no slouch academically, always one of the smartest kids in my class in elementary and middle school, but my cousin was a genius. He didn’t flaunt it, but just talking to him as kids and then teenagers, he was so smart that you just couldn’t measure up.

In second grade, I wrote a “book” as part of some gifted program at school. He won some science fair around the same time. In high school, I qualified for states in FBLA. He built a robot. I got a 1950 on my SAT’s. He got close to a 2400. I graduated 35th in my class of 750 seniors. He was the salutatorian at a private school.

If my cousin wanted to, he could have gone to college at age 15 and aced every class. Hell, he probably could have taught the class, and aside from “Wow, our professor looks really young,” the students wouldn’t have thought anything was off.

In the beginning of my junior year of high school, I was having a tough time with a few concepts in honors precalculus and decided to email him for help. He made it seem easy, almost too easy, like it wasn’t even fair.

Just to clarify so the wrong idea isn’t portrayed, it wasn’t like my cousin and I disliked each other. We got along fine and didn’t fight or anything. We just weren’t close. There was nothing bringing us together outside of family stuff. Despite being such a short distance away, we never hung out on our own.

Eventually he did go off to college at Carnegie Mellon. I obviously followed two years later at Penn State. Instead of seeing each other 30 times a year, it was reduced to two or three at most. A few text messages were exchanged on birthdays, but that was about it. Although he does have a blog of his own, my cousin isn’t a big social media guy so keeping up through Facebook wasn’t an option.

A few summers ago I was in Pittsburgh for a Phillies-Pirates game and met up with him for a few minutes. The idea that I traveled six hours to watch baseball was completely foreign to him. Like always, we had different interests and were off pursuing our own things.

Both of us were doing pretty well for ourselves over the next two years. I was covering Penn State football, getting stories linked by ESPN while he was obtaining his Master’s degree in engineering from Carnegie Mellon and beginning work on a Ph.D program.

Then it all came crashing down hard. He dropped out of his Ph.D program in the summer of 2012, depressed and deciding he no longer had a passion for the research he was doing. After living in Pittsburgh off what he had saved from a graduate student stipend for almost a year, he returned home right around the same time as me last August when I left a full time job.

He texted me on my birthday in early October and talked about getting lunch the following week. I said that sounded good, but both of us kinda forgot about it a day later. We conversed on Thanksgiving like usual and saw each other once after that at a family dinner, but there was a six and a half month gap between that October 3rd text message and last Wednesday night.

I was having a rough day and fired something off to him. He responded within a minute saying he was tempted to ask me to meet him for a drink. “It sounds like you could use it.”

Philadelphia suburbs don’t offer the greatest choice of bars though so that became the next hurdle to clear when he asked if I knew of any places.

“There’s a nice sports bar by me that has a good beer menu, but it’s a bit of a hike for you and not exactly your cup of tea,” I answered back.

He said he’d make the drive and we were off. Well, almost. I told my dad where I was going. “You guys have never hung out before. This seems weird to me.”

I assured him those were indeed our plans, and now we were officially off. I got there first and snagged a table. Once he arrived, the next three hours were filled with nonstop conversation. I tried to explain Penn State culture to him the best I could while he reminisced about his time at Carnegie Mellon a bit.

Drinks and chips were ordered. We discussed our families, the flaws we saw in the world, his trip to England last fall and newly discovered interest in philosophy, the ending of my last relationship over a year ago, both leaving positions without anything else immediately lined up, and our desire to fully get back on our feet.

Even while occasionally checking our phones, silence was few and far between. It took two and a half decades, but we finally had something in common that we could relate to.

It may not have been an ideal thing to have, however it was good enough for us. See, we were both a little down, a little confused about life, but far from defeated. Most importantly, we both had ideas, waiting, hoping that the right place was willing to listen and agree with some while challenging others in a respectful way that would make us better. For the time being though, we could bounce thoughts off each other.

I used to think it could be difficult to maintain a prolonged conversation with my cousin. He argued passionately and sometimes refused to acknowledge legitimate counterpoints. The latter wasn’t the case last week.

We tipped our waitress an extra couple of bucks, figuring she deserved it after likely overhearing some odd conversations when walking over to check on us a few times. Around midnight, we walked outside into the cold, dark air.

The temperature had dropped significantly and I shivered a bit as some wind whipped through my quarter zip jacket and khaki shorts. My cousin wore a sport coat, jeans, and glasses. (I don’t have any updated pictures of him so this mediocre description will have to do)

If a random person saw us standing by our cars, they wouldn’t have known we were related. What they also wouldn’t have known though is that for the first time, I felt close with my cousin.

We’re not suddenly going to become best friends who text back and forth 45 times a day, but it’s amazing how one night can alter perspective.

I always thought my cousin had all the answers, I figured by now he would be working for IBM with a six-figure salary, running the hottest Silicon Valley startup while a bunch of eager interns ran around fetching him coffee, or lecturing college students as a professor like he once planned. Similar to me though, he was still trying to find his place in the world after previously believing he had arrived.

As I unlocked the door to my car and scrambled to turn on the heat, I flashed back to the drive there four hours ago. From my house, you make a right out of the neighborhood and go straight for about 15 minutes. The one caveat is that the bar is on your left and the road is a mini-highway, so you need to turn yourself around at a traffic light and backtrack about half a mile.

Overall though, it’s about as basic of a ride as you can get and requires little thinking other than keeping your eyes on the road.

As I sat at a traffic light still five or so minutes away, my mind started to wander. The Phillies game was on the radio, and while I knew the score and inning, I wasn’t really listening.

For the first time ever, I think my cousin needs me, I said to an empty car.

That thought would soon be validated. Well, sort of. Let’s try it again now a little differently.

For the first time ever, my cousin and I need each other.