Well, the baseball regular season ended last Wednesday night, and it was one heck of a finish.  In case you missed it, Boston and Atlanta each completed their total collapse by losing the final game – a game in which each team had a lead in the 9th inning.  Thankfully, for the Braves, Boston collapsed at the same time, so the spotlight wasn’t shining as bright on them.  The flip side of the collapse is the fact that the Cardinals and Rays played their hearts out and were able to capitalize.

I wanted to take a few minutes to go over the season standings predictions that I had made over on BasesLoadedBalk (my now defunct baseball site) prior to the start of the season.  Some of it went just the way I had thought, while some of it didn’t.  Here we go:

AL East: Like everybody else, I had picked the Red Sox to win the East, and have the best record in the American League.  Like everybody else, I was wrong.  Boston ended with 90 wins on the season (I guessed 99), but that wasn’t enough for them to even get the Wild Card.  That honor went to the Tampa Bay Rays, who finished with 91 wins (me: 84).  Both teams were outpaced by a 97-win Yankee team (me: 92).  I was only a couple games off on the Blue Jays, and the Orioles were actually worse than I thought they would be, but they, predictably, finished in bottom of the division.

AL Central: Led by Ozzie Guillen, the White Sox had some serious mental lapses this season, including major free agent signing Adam Dunn having a sub-.200 season.  My pick to win the division finished 3rd with 79 wins (me: 90).  I felt like the top three teams in this division were fairly close, and for much of the year they were – only, the Indians were at the top, and the Twins were at the bottom, which is completely opposite of what I thought.  Minnesota, with their 63 wins (me: 87), could probably qualify as the most disappointing team in all of baseball this year.  FYI: only one game off on the Royals record.  This division did not turn out at all like I thought it would, with the exception of the Royals.

AL West: I wasn’t too far off here.  I picked the Rangers to win, and indeed they did, exceeding my expectations by 4 wins.  The A’s were a bit of a disappointment, finishing 3rd, and the Angels were a pleasant surprise, being in contention for the Wild Card up until the final 10 days.  The record I was closest on for this division was Seattle, whose 67 wins were 2 more than I had expected.

NL East: I didn’t think there would be a 100-win team this year, but I thought the Phillies would be close.  I picked them for 98 wins; they finished with 102.  The Braves were 4 wins better than I thought, while the Marlins were 10 wins worse.  I am proud to say that I picked the Nationals ahead of the Mets, and that is indeed where they finished.

NL Central:  I am happy to say that I picked the top 2 in this division correctly, but I had them flipped around.  The Brewers, thanks in large part to a monster August, finished 8 wins ahead of where I had them, and walked away with the division.  The Cardinals, with 2 less wins, still won the Wild Card.  The Pirates were perhaps the second-biggest surprise in the National League this year, even finding themselves atop the standings as late as July, but they collapsed at the end of the season and finished with 72 wins (me: 67).  Perhaps the biggest disappointment in all of baseball was the Houston Astros, who crossed the 100-loss barrier for the first time in franchise history, managing a measly 56 wins.  With the exception of Pittsburgh playing better than I had thought and finishing 4th in the division, I pretty well had the final order correct.

NL West: You know how the Pirates were the second-biggest surprise?  The Diamondbacks were easily the biggest.  I had them in dead last, worst in the National League, and they only finished with 94 wins and easily took the West crown.  The Giants offense struggled all season, and they were 5 wins fewer than I had guessed.  In spite of the ownership turmoil, the Dodgers put together a decent season, finishing 3 games behind what I thought, while the Rockies were much worse: 10 games off on the win total.  The San Diego Padres were the team that I was closest on this season, finishing with 71 wins, compared to the 72 that I thought they’d get.

Awards: While the awards will not be announced until after the World Series, I can say, without a doubt, that the only one I may be close on is Roy Halladay for the NL Cy Young.  My AL manager of the year basically got fired (Francona).  With the Diamondbacks surging out of nowhere, I don’t think there is any doubt that Kirk Gibson will win NL Manager (over LaRussa).  C.C. had a good year, but Verlander will take the AL Cy Young.  My MVP picks (Youkilis and Pujols) will be nowhere near the Top 3 in their respective leagues.

All this being said, I did correctly select the Yankees and Rangers to make the playoffs, as well as the Phillies, Brewers and Cardinals.  This was certainly a fun endeavor, and look for more baseball predictions that are sure to go wrong in 2012!

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