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Results: Burning River Predicts the Future…Poorly 2016

Every year, the staff at Burning River Baseball does their best to predict the outcomes of the upcoming season. We predict stat leaders, awards and standings for the team and the league. Caitlin Boron already looked at out predictions from the team side, so now that we know what happened with the bigger picture, we can see how well we did at prognosticating. In addition to Cait and myself, Joseph Coblitz, Mike Melaragnro, Kevin Gall, John Hutchison, Justin Lada and Gavin Potter all made predictions.

Central Standings
2016 Joe Mike Kevin John Cait Justin Gavin
Indians Indians Indians Royals Royals Royals Indians Royals
Tigers Royals Twins Twins Indians Indians Royals Indians
Royals Twins Royals Indians White Sox White Sox White Sox Tigers
White Sox White Sox Tigers Tigers Twins Tigers Tigers White Sox
Twins Tigers White Sox White Sox Tigers Twins Twins Twins

As Indians exclusive writers, we can get sucked in to some bias and shortsightedness from time to time, but we should still all be well aware of our own division, the American League Central. Rather than picking the full standings for all of baseball, we just tried to rank our most familiar division in the proper order. It turns out this was very difficult.

Kevin, John, Cait and Gavin were caught up in the Royals fever after they won the World Series last year and picked them as division champs with Kevin also jumping on the Twins to keep up their late 2015 hot streak (to be fair, Mike and myself also had the Twins in the top three). Justin, Mike and myself correctly picked number one, but no one had the Tigers at two and only Mike had the Royals at three. Bonus points to Gavin for being the only member on staff to correctly guess the final two teams in the division in order.

Division & Wild Card Winners
American 2016 Joe Mike Kevin John Cait Justin Gavin
AL West TEX HOU HOU TEX HOU HOU HOU HOU
AL Central CLE CLE CLE KC KC KC CLE KC
AL East BOS TOR TB BOS TOR BOS NYY TOR
AL WC1 BAL KC BOS TOR CLE CLE TB BOS
AL WC2 TOR TEX SEA HOU TEX CWS TEX CLE

On to the bigger picture, we did slightly better when choosing American League play-off teams. Everyone but Kevin had the Indians making it one way or another and there were four picks of each Texas, Boston and Toronto. No one had the orange birds from Baltimore as Kansas City was picked by five to return to the post-season. Houston was unquestionably the biggest disappointment as all seven had the Astros in one way or another.

Division & Wild Card Winners
National 2016 Joe Mike Kevin John Cait Justin Gavin
NL West LAD AZ SF SF LAD SF SF SF
NL Central CHC CHC CHC CHC CHC StL CHC CHC
NL East WAS WAS NYM NYM WAS NYM NYM NYM
NL WC1 NYM SF LAD StL PIT CHC WAS PIT
NL WC2 SF StL PIT AZ StL PIT PIT StL

First off, I’ll admit falling for the hype train that was the off-season in Arizona. Kevin also picked the D-Backs for a Wild Card as they finished fourth in the NL West. On the accurate side, everyone except Cait picked the Cubs for the NL Central and she had them as the Wild Card. Washington and New York were also common picks with five going with the Mets and three the Nationals. The Dodgers were the biggest surprise as only John picked them for the West and only Mike as a Wild Card. The Giants were much more favored as all, but John had them as at least a Wild Card and they did eventually win the second spot. Here, the Central Division was the biggest disappointment as everyone picked at least two central teams to go to the postseason with Gavin, John and Cait choosing three.

Play-Offs
Play-Offs 2016 Joe Mike Kevin John Cait Justin Gavin
AL Champ CLE CLE CLE BOS TOR CLE HOU HOU
NL Champ CHC CHC SF CHC PIT CHC CHC CHC
World Series CHC  CLE CLE CHC TOR CLE CHC CHC

This one is for all those people nationally saying that no one predicted the Indians and Cubs in the World Series. I did and Cait did as well. In addition, Mike picked the Indians while Kevin, Justin and Gavin picked the Cubs. It didn’t happen with the same roster that we were thinking about when making predictions, but the two teams still got there. In addition, only John picked a team other than the two that actually made it to win, so we had a pretty good idea who the best teams in baseball were going into the season. Even his pick of Toronto made it to the ALCS.

With a World Series that went into extra innings in game seven, any correct picks are almost certainly luck as much as anything else, but Kevin, Justin and Gavin all picked the Cubs to win the series while myself, Cait and Mike picked the Tribe.

AL Awards
Award 2016 Joe Mike Kevin John Cait Justin Gavin
MVP  Trout Bautista Betts Trout Trout Betts Correa Trout
CY  Porcello Sale Archer Archer Sale Carrasco Archer Price
RoY Fulmer  Buxton Gallo Judge Gallo Gallo Buxton Park

Starting with the bottom, there were few choices for the most difficult award to pick, Rookie of the Year. Mike, John and Cait went with the Rangers Joey Gallo after six home runs and a lot of hype in 2015. He played in all of 17 games for Texas in 2016 and batted .040. Justin and myself went with the #1 prospect in baseball, Byron Buxton, who at least played a few games, posting a .714 OPS in 92 for the Twins, but didn’t receive a vote. Gavin’s pick of Byung-Ho Park and Kevin’s of Aaron Judge also came up lacking.

While often we are too biased towards the Indians, here we should have been more-so as Tyler Naquin came in third with two players no one would have guessed, Gary Sanchez and Michael Fulmer taking one and two.

For Cy Young, it was another out of nowhere candidate as Rick Porcello of Boston took the pitching award. The popular choice, Chris Archer, had a terrible season taking 19 losses with a 4.02 ERA. David Price also went without a vote, as did Carlos Carrasco, who missed a large chunk of time with injury. John’s and my pick of Chris Sale was closest as the Chicago ace came in fifth. Again we would have been better off with some Cleveland bias as Corey Kluber took home third. Andrew Miller obviously wasn’t with the team when we made these picks, but he finished ninth.

For baseball’s biggest individual prize, some of us went the obvious (T)route, some went with the fringe candidate going into the season of Mookie Betts and some of us got silly. I went with Jose Bautista in honor of my wife, who had previously picked him to win AL MVP in every other prediction piece, but didn’t get a vote this year. Like her, he didn’t receive an MVP vote. Justin went with Carlos Correa after winning Rookie of the Year last year, but this time he wouldn’t beat Francisco Lindor, who finished ninth. In fact, his teammate, Jose Altuve, would have been a better pick as he finished third.

The correct pick was the most obvious as the best all around player in baseball won the award for the best all around player in baseball. Mike Trout made Kevin, John and Gavin look good, but Mookie Betts didn’t shame Mike and Cait, finishing second with 9 of the 11 first place votes that Trout didn’t receive.