Derek begins reviewing his pre-season predictions, starting with the ones that made him (and you) look good.
At the end of every season, I find it useful to go back and examine the predictions I made. What did I get right, and where did I go wrong? Today I’m going to look at some of my biggest hits. For each player, I’ve listed his mixed and AL/NL-only auction value in Tout Wars and LABR (only Tout has a mixed auction, but AL/NL-only values are an average of Tout and LABR) as well as his actual value for the 2012 season according to Last Player Picked. And of course, in the interest of fairness, I will be going through the same exercise for my worst predictions too. Also take note that I’ve excluded most of the “value picks” from my preseason tier articles, as they’ll get their own review article.
The Tigers advance to the ALCS thanks to a dominating start by Justin Verlander.
They may have bought themselves a few extra minutes, but the clock finally struck midnight for the Cinderella Oakland A’s yesterday at O.co Coliseum. After keeping every game close throughout the series (no game was won by a margin of more than two runs) and battling back from 0-2 to even the series last night, Oakland was trounced by the PECOTA-favorited Detroit Tigers 6-0—a lead so large even Jose Valverde couldn’t have blown it.
The Athletics stave off elimination with some ninth-inning heroics.
The Oakland A’s certainly have a flair for the dramatic. Beginning the ninth inning three outs away from elimination, they ended the frame with their 15th walk-off win of the 2012 season, scoring three runs off Tigers closer Jose Valverde. And while you’re bound to hear plenty of narratives involving Max Scherzer’s pitching a dominant game to no avail and Oakland’s timely situational hitting, this game was, in many ways, a war of mistakes and missed opportunities.
Brett Anderson and the A's beastly bullpen trio hold the Tigers scoreless to force a Game Four.
The story of Game Two of the American League Division Series between the A’s and Tigers was the inability of Oakland’s bullpen to hold down a lead in the late innings. Game Three saw Oakland hurler Brett Anderson toss a dominant game similar to the one turned in by Game Two starter Tommy Milone, only this time, Oakland’s usually-lockdown bullpen trio of Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook, and Sean Doolittle was flawless.
Detroit's and Oakland's starters sparkled, but the bullpens left much to be desired.
Game Two of the American League Division Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A’s was a tale of two halves. After starters Doug Fister and Tommy Milone carried a 1-1 tie into the seventh inning, it seemed safe to assume that we were heading toward an innocuous, “next run wins” type of finish. After all, we’ve been talking over the past coupledays about how strong the back-ends of these bullpens are. Instead, Detroit and Oakland combined for seven runs over the final three frames, trading the lead three times in the process.
Detroit has Justin Verlander. Oakland does not. And in this five-game series, it could mean all the difference in the world.
Fact: Justin Verlander is good at baseball. While Coco Crisp led off the game by taking Detroit’s ace deep, the A’s failed to score a single additional run over another full nine innings of baseball. Verlander, indeed, was the story of the night, dominating Oakland following Crisp’s blast. While the 2012 American League Cy Young favorite issued four walks on the night, he never allowed more than a single baserunner in a frame beyond the first inning. This was due, in large part, to his bulldozing the Oakland lineup with 11 strikeouts. He left after seven, handing a two-run lead to Joaquin Benoit before Jose Valverde shut the door in the ninth.
The Athletics' run has been fun, but it won't be easy for it to continue against the Tigers.
It’s difficult to say which is more surprising: that Oakland made the playoffs at all, or that Detroit did so only because Robin Ventura dragged a rotting White Sox carcass across the finish line with just four wins over their final 15 games. Despite being predicted by all but one BP writer to finish the season atop the AL Central, Detroit enters the playoffs with the worst record of the bunch—a full five wins below both AL wild cards. Oakland, on the other hand, was predicted to finish in the basement of the AL West, below even the Mariners. After winning their final six games, however, they secured the number-two seed in the playoffs. We’re sure to see this matchup billed as youth versus experience, with Oakland’s young rotation and breakout hitters pitted against the veteran wiles of Miggy, Fielder, and Verlander.
The Orioles' first playoff game, much like their season, didn't go quite the way we expected.
As was noted in the Wild Card Roundtable, Joe Saunders’ performance in the Orioles’ 5-1 win over Texas serves as a near-perfect analogy for Baltimore’s season as a whole. Nobody expected either to stick around very long, but while it wasn’t pretty, both got the job done. Saunders, whom I wrote would have a short leash, didn’t need much slack tonight, hurling 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Though he found himself in quite a few jams of varying sizes, he never let things get out of hand. He allowed a baserunner in every inning (except the sixth, when he got pulled), but Saunders’ specialty, the well-timed groundball—including three double plays!—helped him minimize the damage. As a result, the Orioles have reached the ALDS for the first time since 1997 and will host the division-rival Yankees at home on Sunday.
The Orioles and Rangers, two of the least-likely teams to be playing in a wild-card game, are set to fight for their playoff lives.
Both the Rangers and the Orioles had a chance to capture a division title up until the final day of the regular season, but they couldn’t have arrived at that point any differently. The Rangers have been accumulating superstars and spending money for years now, and the club is coming off two straight World Series appearances. Baltimore, meanwhile, is in the bottom half of the league in terms of payroll and hasn’t made the postseason—or even finished above .500—since 1997. The O’s weren’t even a .500 team this year in terms of 3rd Order Winning Percentage, but in just a single-game series, it’s entirely possible their Cinderella run will continue.
The fantasy team votes on the year's bests, worsts, and mosts.
With just three days left in the season, each member of the BP Fantasy team took the time to reflect on the year that was, casting their votes for a variety of categories. Today, I'll be handing out the fantasy fantasy hardware (that is, inconsequential awards for a derivative game). After seeing who we thought had the best, worst, and most interesting 2011 seasons, be sure to tell us who you think deserved some recognition in the comments section.
Earlier this year, Derek wrote about what to expect from the most-hyped foreign players. Did the players comply?
Prior to the season, I spoke with a number of scouts and talent evaluators to try to get a read on the various international imports fantasy players would have to make decisions on in their drafts. Today, I wanted to take a look back and see how well we were able to predict their performance here in the United States.
Yu Darvish | Texas Rangers | SP
Darvish was the most hyped international product to make the jump to Major League Baseball in years, and for the most part, I advised optimism in regard to his chances for success, and I even wound up drafting him on one team. As I summarized when I did my midseason check-in, my preseason Darvish sentiment boiled down to three main points: “1) He has ridiculous stuff and upside, 2) He has just average command, and 3) He has terrific makeup, which should help with the multi-faceted, often-difficult transition to MLB.”
Investing in top non-closers now could save you loads of money next draft day.
For the past five years, as the season winds down, I’ve made it a habit of discussing one of my favorite keeper league strategies: stashing potential closers. This, of course, isn’t viable in every single keeper league based on format, depth, and rule quirks, but in leagues where it is, it can be a powerful way of accruing cheap value for your 2013 squad before the 2012 season even ends.
As I discussed the strategy in detail last season, I’ll simply repost for those who are new to BP: