In the field of consulting engineering there is an old joke that goes something like this. An expert is anyone who lives more than 200 miles away, makes twice as much as your own employees do, but knows half as much.
And then there are the “experts” who populate the baseball prediction world. The nice thing about the baseball prediction business is that there is really no accountability. The first week of April, the “experts” toss out their predictions confident in the fact that no one will look back. Well almost no one looks back.
Just for fun, let’s look at so-called experts’ external and internal to this blog and what they thought at the beginning of the season.
The Disney Sports network polled 88 “experts” on who would win each of the divisions and how they would do in the playoffs. In the AL West, 54 picked the Mariners (Beginning Monday 32-38 and 8.5 GB) to win the division, 28 picked the Angels (35-35 and 5.5 GB) and six picked the A’s (31-41 and 10.5 GB). Zero “experts” picked the first place Astros or the second place Rangers to take the division honors.
The former Dan Rather channel polled five of their “experts” on the final standings in the AL West. Four picked the M’s and one picked the Angels to win the division, while four picked the Astros to finish fourth and one picked them to finish fifth and last.
The Bill Simmons brainchild polled six “experts”. Four picked the M’s to win the division, while two picked the Angels. Three picked the Angels for a wildcard spot and two picked the A’s for a wildcard. (Ironically, no one picked the M’s for a wildcard.)
In addition, they picked six different teams that would be positive surprises on the season, including the Marlins, the Rays, the O’s, the Indians, the Mets and the Rockies. The Astros were not on that list.
The swimsuit cashiers polled six of their “experts”. Not surprisingly, four chose the M’s, one chose the Angels and one chose the A’s to win the division. Three chose the Angels for the WC, (no, not the water closet), one the M’s and two the A’s.
Kenny Dejohn chose the Astros as the 21st team in the majors in his power rankings with a 75-87 record which would be good enough for fourth in the division, behind the M’s (97-65), the Angels (92-70) and the A’s (80-82). For those keeping score, to reach their predicted records the Astros would have to go (34-57), the M’s (65-27), the Angels (57-35) and the A’s (49-41) the rest of the way.
Out of a 100+ experts none of them picked the Astros to make noise and extrapolating a bit – they basically expected the Astros to be fourth or fifth in the division and to have a record around that 75-87 mark.
So, what did our local folks, who get paid nothing but respect, think at the beginning of the season?
Dan P. “I think they will end up over .500 for the season and the reason is simple. They will lower their runs given up per game from 4.46 to around 4.10 and they will raise their runs scored per game from 3.88 to around 4.20. They will lower those runs per game mostly through bullpen improvement.”
Chip. “Simple answer. If the team stays healthy, it’s .500 plus.”
Devin. “Yes to above .500….. I think this team has legitimate ballplayers for the first time in a long time and has guys that don’t like losing.”
Astrocolt45. “They will be under .500. They have improved the bullpen and some hitters. But I have a tough time looking at those SP and seeing them – over the season – keeping us in the game up until the seventh inning.”
Mr. Bill. “Why will the Astros finish below .500 this season? We look to have only two consistently excellent starting pitchers, and these must line up against our opponents’ ace and #2….. At least 70 – 75 % of the time we will have to score 5 to 6 runs in every game not pitched by Keuchel or McHugh to win consistently….. We have a guy closing who we hope can do the job but has not proved it…. Chris Carter is our clean-up hitter. That is likely to produce a strikeout or pop-out 80% of the very time when we need hard contact the most.”
Old pro. “Why will the Astros finish below .500 this season? I think it’s going to be close. I think they fall just short because of three things. A) No fireballers in the bullpen…. B) very sketchy MOR and BOR starting pitchers. C) Batting average. They have one guy who threatens to be a .300 hitter and the rest of the guys project to hit below .260.
Astrocolt45. (later in the comments after Mr. Bill and old pro pick the Astros to fall short) – “We need a contrarian, and looks like Bopert is in retirement. So I will change my answer from below to just above .500 but for the same reasons that you gave OP.”
Of course, this is a story less than half told, but it is highly likely that the commenters on this blog will be closer to the Astros’ final record than the “experts” will be.