As in the AL, the Central division is as tight as can be, while in the East two Mets are predicted to take home some hardware along with their division flag.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the National League, along with the staff picks in some fun miscellaneous categories.
Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
The recent passing of Gene Mauch got Steve thinking about the 1964 Phillies, and the great work done by their scion GM.
Long-time manager Gene Mauch passed on recently, causing many a eulogizer to pick the bones of the collapse of Mauch's 1964 Phillies--the Quakermen were up by 6 1/2 games with two weeks to play, but dropped 10 straight decisions to yield the pennant to the Cardinals by one game. Mauch's panic didn't help the cause; he went to a two-man rotation of Jim Bunning and Chris Short, abandoning the rest of his staff. Almost simultaneously, the Kansas City Royals' 19 consecutive losses brought to mind the modern record-holders, Mauch's 1961 Phillies, who dropped 23 straight contests from July 29 to August 20, 1961. Dying, losing...no doubt Mauch would have preferred to stay out of the papers.
From now until shortly after the non-waiver trading deadline, "You Could Look It Up" will examine the key mid-season trades for each franchise (with "mid-season" being generously defined as "June 15 to the end of the regular season") and evaluate each trade to see what a mid-season addition is really worth, and if possible to discern patterns and discover which deals really help and which are of little or even negative value. After we break down each trade, we'll come to a "snap judgment," a hasty conclusion. At the end of the series, we'll see if those judgments add up to any helpful conclusions...
The Braves' post-season roster looks already to be set. The Brewers experience one of the first brights spot in their season with a 10-game winning streak. The Twins have finally decided to act in their own best interest, putting Grant Balfour in the rotation. And the Rocco Baldelli is no longer running away with the AL Rookie of the Year--surprise, surprise. All this and much more news from Atlanta, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay in your Wednesday edition of Prospectus Triple (uh, we mean, Quadrupule) Play.
Post-season Roster Preview. The BP post-season odds report puts the Braves' chances to win their division for the 12th straight completed season at a cool 100.0%. OK, to be more precise--99.96%; there's a 1-in-22,000 chance that they fail to take the division crown. Can you blame us for looking ahead a little bit?
Last July, I published
an article here at Baseball Prospectus Online
on the best teams in baseball history. At the time, the 1998 Yankees were
plowing through the American league like Arnold Schwarzenegger through
"Commando", and I noted that by my measurements, they could wind
up as one of the best teams ever.
"The Best Teams in Baseball History" dealt with the
question of competitive balance throughout baseball history. While in the
19th century .700 teams were common, today they are quite rare. This is
because the aggregate quality of the game and its teams has been rising
over the years. Moreover, this rising quality manifests itself more
forcefully at the lower end of the standings. Bad teams, in a general
sense, have been getting better and better throughout history. So, the
question emerges: is a .630 team of today better than a .700 team of 80