Each year I take time to review how my preseason picks for the playoff teams and my predictions for the major awards turned out. In many years this exercise takes the form of explaining why my picks were so poor, although last year I fared pretty well. That trend continued this year, at least with my playoff team selections; my picks for the individual awards were pretty dodgy.

Playoff Picks

As a reminder, here are the teams I tabbed to be playing meaningful baseball in October:

East Central West Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 League Champions World Series Champion
AL Red Sox Cleveland Astros Mariners Rays Cleveland Cleveland
NL Nationals Cubs Dodgers Mets Giants Dodgers

Here is what actually happened:

East Central West Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 League Champions World Series Champion
AL Red Sox Cleveland Astros Yankees Twins Astros Astros
NL Nationals Cubs Dodgers DBacks Rockies Dodgers

I hit on all of the Division Winners but missed on all of the Wild Card teams. My Giants and Mets picks turned out to be really something. They were two of the five worst teams in baseball in 2017. The other teams in the National League West took advantage of the down year from San Francisco, with three of the five National League playoff spots coming from out West.

I really thought I was on to something with the Rays, but they couldn’t quite muster a strong enough second half and turned out to be nowhere near as good as the Yankees. The Twins lost 103 games in 2016, but quickly shook that misery to earn a playoff(ish) spot this year. I am certain very few people saw their turn around coming, but it happened and earned their manager an award.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but as it stands right now – and before the off-season merry-go-round has come to a complete stop – I expect the six 2017 Division Winners to hold that title again in 2018. I will note that of the six, I am least confident in the Red Sox repeating their 2017 standing. The Yankees are very good and could grab top spot in the East next season. The other five winners should have little issue in repeating as their division’s champs.

Award Picks

My picks for the awards were ugly. The task is considerably harder than picking playoff teams, but I only got one selection correct, which is bad. Here is the breakdown:

American League

Award My Pick Actual Winner
Most Valuable Player Mike Trout (OF, Angels) Jose Altuve (2B, Astros)
Cy Young Corey Kluber (SP, Cleveland) Corey Kluber (SP, Cleveland)
Rookie of the Year Andrew Benintendi (OF, Red Sox) Aaron Judge (OF, Yankees)
Manager of the Year A.J. Hinch (Astros) Paul Molitor (Twins)

While I missed on everyone but Kluber, it turned out that I did not miss by much. Trout finished fourth in the MVP voting, Benintendi finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, and A.J. Hinch finished third in the Manager of the Year voting. Close, but not quite for all three selections.

National League

Award My Pick Actual Winner
Most Valuable Player Corey Seager (SS, Dodgers) Giancarlo Stanton (OF, Marlins)
Cy Young Clayton Kershaw (SP, Dodgers) Max Scherzer (SP, Nationals)
Rookie of the Year Dansby Swanson (SS, Braves) Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Dodgers)
Manager of the Year Dusty Baker (Nationals) Torey Lovullo (Diamondbacks)

My misses were bigger in the NL than they were in the AL. Seager dealt with injuries for much of the second half, and played on a ridiculously good Dodgers team that had numerous MVP candidates. Seager ended up finishing 18th in the voting, behind four teammates. Kershaw was one of those four teammates. I did not have him in my sights for an MVP win, but did think he would grab another Cy Young. He, like Seager, dealt with injury issues and ended up finishing second in the Cy Young voting (17th for the MVP). Swanson was a huge miss by me, and maybe the Braves. He was replacement level bad last year. Cody Bellinger, another one of those four teammates to finish ahead of Seager in the MVP voting (15th), had a breakout season, clubbing 39 home runs and forcing the Dodgers to nudge Adrian Gonzalez in the direction of an early retirement. Finally, Dusty Baker lead the Nationals back to the playoffs, finished fifth in Manager of the Year voting, and was fired. What a weird season for him in D.C.. I thought Dusty could be a fit as the Red Sox’s bench coach, but they hired Ron Roenicke, so that won’t be happening. But he should get picked up somewhere.

All told, it was a decent year for my prognostication. I still need to work on anticipating the individual award winners, but I seem to have things pretty straight when it comes to team performance. Hopefully I improve my results in 2018.