November 16, 2012
When we included the adjective “Best” in the name of our society a certain amount of skepticism must have arisen outside the membership and perhaps even within our ranks. Personally, I never doubted the truthfulness of this title as I have listened attentively to and studied critically the work of sports journalism professionals for many years (even before this became publicly popular under the banner of firejoemorgan.com). To quote Billy Beane, as portrayed by Brad Pitt: “Don’t tell me you know, because you just don’t. You don’t!” Of course, he was talking about a scout’s ability to predict accurately whether a prospect will succeed in the major leagues, but the sentiment is also applicable to most of the commentators attempting to predict the results of an upcoming MLB season. The just don’t know who will win – and most of them don’t know much else either, if you really listen to what they say. I’ve often wanted to hire a court reporter to transcribe some of this “expert analysis” so that it could be critiqued in black and white, just like a witness’s testimony or an attorney’s argument. Incomprehensible!
Anyway, even an accurate title does not mean there isn’t pressure to perform when our group’s mission statement boldly declares the intent to prove ourselves better than those who earn their living by doing what we chose to do as a hobby. Fortunately, another year has shown that we should doubt not and fear not, for we are the best at what we do (or at least one of us is most years now that Nate Silver gave up following baseball to study political elections).
The winner of the 2012 James L. Walker Award (the “Rocky”) is B.A.B.E.S. co-founder Steve Jacobs, with a total score of 45 points, the second highest point total in B.A.B.E.S. history and the largest ever margin of victory (15 points). More importantly, I have researched the predictions of over 20 professionals from ESPN, SI, Fox, MLB.com, Sporting News and CBS Sports, as well as many independent bloggers, and not one of them scored higher than Steve. Perhaps there was a better MLB prognosticator out there in 2012, but I have not found him (or her). Correctly selecting 5 postseason teams, both league champions, a batting champ and an MVP is truly an expert performance.
So the Best American Baseball Experts Society proudly congratulates Steve for making us what we say we are – the home of the best MLB experts in America. Congratulations are also due to Marc Whyte who finished in 2d for the 3rd time in the past 4 years. Well done, Marc, we know your time to win the Rocky is coming. The order of finish for all members is below.
45 points –
Steve J. – CIN (3) SFO (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) Cabrera (10) DET (6) SFO (6) Cabrera (10)
30 points –
Marc W. – CIN (3) ATL (1) SFO (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) SFO (6) Price (10)
29 points –
Tim T. – SFO (3) ATL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) Cabrera (10) DET (6)
Carl R. – CIN (3) ATL (1) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) DET (6) Cabrera (10)
27 points –
Gus P. – SFO (3) STL (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) SFO (6) Cabrera (10)
25 points –
Eric H. – SFO (3) CIN (3) DET (3) NYY (3) TEX (3) Price (10)
23 points –
Matt B. – STL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1) DET (6) Cabrera (10)
21 points –
Tony L. – CIN (3) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) Cabrera (10)
19 points –
Bruce R. – SFO (3) STL (1) ATL (3) DET (3) TEX (3) SFO (6) –
Pete H. – STL (1) SFO(1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3) Posey (10)
18 points –
Thomas F. – SFO (3) CIN (3) ATL (3) STL (3) DET (3) TEX (3)
14 points –
Leo G. – SFO (3) STL (1) WAS (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3)
11 points –
Jed M. – SFO (3) STL (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1)
10 points –
Rob C. – SFO (3) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3)
Tom M.- SFO (3) STL (1) DET (3) NYY (3)
9 points –
Bill C. – STL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (3)
8 points –
Rip L. – STL (1) ATL (1) SFO (1) TEX (1) DET (3) NYY (1)
Scott R. – STL (1) DET (3) NYY (1) TEX (3)
4 points –
Jennifer R. – ATL (3) TEX (1)
And now to close the book on the 2012 MLB season and open the 2013 Hot Stove Season, I must repeat something I wrote in my July 10 post at the All-Star break. I should have quoted myself in the “Leaves of Grass” post-mortem I wrote about the Yankees on October 22, but frankly I forgot to review my prior thoughts. I wish I had because, although I finished near the bottom of the B.A.B.E.S. standings as usual, I nailed this analysis of NYY, right down to the prediction that Ibanez would pinch-hit for A-Rod 3 months before it happened:
5. Speaking of A-Rod, or rather, please note the weird fact that no one seems to be doing that. I guess it is because the Yankees are leading their division and have the best record in baseball – which is also weird since I personally think NYY is a weak team, which brings me back to A-Rod. Although he’s spent no time on the DL, A-Rod is on a pace for about 25 homers and 75 rbi’s (with a not-so-studly .793 OPS). He couldn’t man-up for both games of a double-header this past weekend in Boston and Girardi used Raul Ibanez instead of A-Rod to pinch hit in the 9th with the game on the line. Next thing we hear, Ibanez will be pinch hitting for A-Rod. As Arte Moreno is learning, $25 million/year in salary doesn’t necessarily get you all you need or want from a player. The only weird thing about that is that Arte hadn’t learned this previously from Brian Cashman and Hank Steinbrenner.
Although I joined many of you in selecting NYY for the play-offs and they do have the best record at the Break, I’m quite comfortable in asserting that the Evil Empire will not win title #28 this year, and it won’t be due to the injury to Mariano Rivera (NYY’s success without Rivera supports my belief that the closer’s role is overrated).
So, let the Hot Stove warm up fast. When has there ever been an off-season where NYY needed 3 starting pitchers, a catcher, a leftfielder, a rightfielder and a DH? And, truthfully, don’t they also wish they had a new 3rd baseman and maybe even a different shortstop, even if their current one gets healthy? Oh, and about that 43 year-old closer coming off knee-surgery…. And now it looks like TOR will be totally revamped with several cast-offs from MIA, so the AL East just got tougher. Does anyone see 95 wins for this team in 2013? Not likely to be a very comfortable off-season for Brian Cashman or Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, which should make for very Happy Holidays for some of us.
(JSR) © 2012