Coming in to the 2015 season, national pundits pegged numerous teams for varying degrees of success despite not having seen a game that counted. Two of these reside in the upper Midwest. Readers of this blog can easily remember that the Indians were picked by some in the media to not only make the playoffs but also end their draught of not having won a World Series because of solid pitching and a young core of hitters like Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley. Meanwhile no one picked the Milwaukee Brewers to contend for a world title. However, expectations were high following a season where the team spent 150 days in first place before a September collapse. Almost three weeks into the season, almost everyone, at least among the two fan bases, are ready to put those notions to bed. This proves my point. Baseball pundits don’t know anything.
I mean, maybe they do. It is easy to look at a team that is stacked at every spot and envision a title in October. The 1986 Mets come to mind. Everyone thought they would win 100 games and a title. They did. But, even they struggled. This leads me back to Cleveland and Milwaukee. For Cleveland, it wasn’t like they had a glaring hole that showed itself in Spring Training. Most of the team hit okay and Kluber, Bauer and the rest looked the same. Nevertheless, three weeks into the year they are now 5-9 and six games back of the Tigers and Royals. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the Brewers broke camp with a solid rotation and bats that were on fire. They are now a franchise worst 2-13 and most fans are already looking forward to the mid season fire sale.
So what happened? How could people who are supposed to know the game well enough to make a living at it be so wrong? Well by my estimation, baseball happened. It is fine to make predictions in this game. However, more than any other sport, predictions do not hold up to actual games, at least in the short term. For instance, it is entirely possible for a great team to suffer injuries or a series of off months by key players and not live up to its potential. It is also possible for a suspect team to gel in April, catch a break in June, squeak into the playoffs in October, and win a title.
The moral of this story then, is to not believe the hype. Or, for that matter, the lack of it. Watch a team on the field and then take stock. What you may find is that you may have a team that, if it survives the storm, could hoist a trophy. Or you may follow one that despite the best laid plans of pundits everywhere, will struggle all year.
Either way, you can take solace in that baseball pundits don’t know anything.