The 2014 Major League Baseball season kicks off for real on Monday — no, random days where the Dodgers play someone and it’s the only game of the day don’t count — and so, as a baseball site, we are compelled to offer our staff’s predictions for the upcoming season. We are compelled because you like to read our staff predictions, even though they are terrible. And boy are they terrible.
Among last year’s gems were things like Aaron Hicks, American League Rookie of the Year. Aaron Hicks did not get a single vote by any one voter on a Rookie of the Year ballot last year. We also had the Angels and Blue Jays making the playoffs. Predicting baseball is silly. Everyone is terrible at it, including us. But as long as you know that going in, it’s still kind of a fun exercise.
Okay, so, on to the picks. We did the AL this morning, so now for the NL.
West: Los Angeles (30), San Francisco (1), San Diego (0), Arizona (0), Colorado (0)
Central: St. Louis (30), Pittsburgh (1), Cincinnati (0), Chicago (0), Milwaukee (0)
East: Washington (28), Atlanta (3), Phiadelphia (0), Miami (0), New York (0)
People like to accuse groups of authors, like the ones we have here, of “groupthink”. Well, if you want to accuse us of such a thing, we have just provided you with evidence to support your claim. You are welcome.
The other possibility is that there really is just a clear separation between the NL contenders and NL pretenders, with the senior circuit hosting a bunch of rebuilding teams who have no realistic chance to contend in 2014. Or we’re biased and we hate your team. Your call.
Wild Card Winners
Note: Consensus division winners are excluded, and the non-consensus winners have had their division title selections added to their Wild Card selections, so for the teams listed below, their placement is based upon their combined number of total predicted playoff appearances, either through WC or Divisional victory.
Atlanta (17 WC, 3 DIV)
Pittsburgh (14 WC, 1 DIV)
Cincinnati (10 WC, 0 DIV)
San Francisco (7 WC, 1 DIV)
San Diego (5 WC, 0 DIV)
Arizona (2 WC, 0 DIV)
Colorado (1 WC, 0 DIV)
Milwaukee (1 WC, 0 DIV)
Total Predicted Playoff Appearances
This is the number of all authors who voted for each team to make the postseason, either through the division or the wild card.
Los Angeles: 31
St. Louis: 31
San Francisco: 8
San Diego: 5
New York: 0
Every single FanGraphs author who filled out our spreadsheet penciled in the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Nationals for the postseason in some fashion. There was less agreement on which second tier teams would emerge and claim the other two spots, but our staff is basically convinced that the three top teams in the NL are clearly in a class of their own.
Bryce Harper: 5
Hanley Ramirez: 4
Buster Posey: 4
Paul Goldschmidt: 4
Andrew McCutchen: 3
Yadier Molina: 3
Troy Tulowitzki: 2
Joey Votto: 2
Justin Upton: 1
Ryan Braun: 1
Matt Holliday: 1
Carlos Gonzalez: 1
Bryce Harper received a plurality of the votes, but by no means anything close to a majority, as our panel selected a wide and varied number of players as legitimate MVP candidates. And really, this feels pretty accurate to me, as the NL is home to a strong class of excellent players, with no very clear best player that stands above his peers. I don’t know that I’d buy into Ryan Braun ever receiving an MVP vote from the BBWAA again, but most of the rest of the names on the list are entirely reasonable selections.
Clayton Kershaw: 18
Adam Wainwright: 3
Jose Fernandez: 3
Madison Bumgarner: 3
Stephen Strasburg: 2
Zack Greinke: 1
Homer Bailey: 1
No toss-up here: Kershaw is the best, and everyone else is playing catch up. As with any award selection involving pitchers, you should always take the field over any individual player, but if forced to pick a player as the favorite, Kershaw is the guy.
Rookie of the Year
Billy Hamilton: 7
Gregory Polanco: 7
Archie Bradley: 7
Chris Owings: 5
Travis D’Arnaud: 3
Javier Baez: 1
Jameson Taillon: 1
A three way tie for first, with a pair of athletic outfielders and a power throwing pitcher all checking in as favorites. Like with the MVP, there is really no clear favorite here, allowing for any number of reasonable selections. Unlike with the MVP, a large consideration for the prediction has to be the date or arrival, as Polanco’s chances to win the award are basically tied to whether or not the Pirates keep him down long enough to avoid Super Two status. If he (or Bradley, for that matter) is up by the beginning of May, his chances increase dramatically.
For those interested, and for future mocking purposes, here is a table with each author’s selections.
|Author||West||Central||East||Wild Card||Wild Card||MVP||Cy Young||Rookie|
|Alan Harrison||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Atlanta||Washington||Pittsburgh||Ramirez||Wainwright||Hamilton|
|Bill Petti||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||San Fran||Posey||Kershaw||Polanco|
|Blake Murphy||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Cincinnati||San Fran||Tulowitzki||Kershaw||Bradley|
|Brad Johnson||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Atlanta||Colorado||Washington||Tulowitzki||Kershaw||Hamilton|
|Brett Talley||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||San Diego||Atlanta||Braun||Kershaw||Polanco|
|Carson Cistulli||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||San Diego||Posey||Greinke||Owings|
|Chris Cwik||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||Cincinnati||Harper||Kershaw||Owings|
|Colin Zarzycki||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Harper||Kershaw||Bradley|
|Dave Cameron||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||Atlanta||Molina||Kershaw||Polanco|
|David G Temple||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||Atlanta||Molina||Fernandez||Hamilton|
|David Laurila||San Fran||St. Louis||Washington||Los Angeles||Cincinnati||Posey||Strasburg||Hamilton|
|David Wiers||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||Cincinnati||Upton||Kershaw||d’Arnaud|
|Eno Sarris||Los Angeles||Pittsburgh||Washington||St. Louis||Atlanta||Goldschmidt||Kershaw||Polanco|
|Howard Bender||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||Arizona||Goldschmidt||Bumgarner||Bradley|
|Jason Collette||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||Milwaukee||Harper||Bailey||Hamilton|
|Jeff Sullivan||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||San Fran||Molina||Kershaw||Polanco|
|Jeff Zimmerman||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Arizona||Cincinnati||Ramirez||Wainwright||Bradley|
|Jeremy Blachman||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Cincinnati||San Diego||Holliday||Kershaw||Bradley|
|John Paschal||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Cincinnati||Atlanta||Votto||Kershaw||Hamilton|
|Karl de Vries||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Atlanta||Washington||Pittsburgh||McCutchen||Kershaw||Owings|
|Marc Hulet||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||San Fran||Posey||Strasburg||d’Arnaud|
|Matt Klaassen||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||Pittsburgh||McCutchen||Fernandez||d’Arnaud|
|Matt Yaspan||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||Cincinnati||Harper||Kershaw||Taillon|
|Max Weinstein||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||San Fran||Atlanta||Ramirez||Kershaw||Baez|
|Michael Barr||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||Pittsburgh||Goldschmidt||Wainwright||Hamilton|
|Mike Bates||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Pittsburgh||San Fran||Gonzalez||Fernandez||Owings|
|Mike Petriello||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||Pittsburgh||Goldschmidt||Kershaw||Polanco|
|Patrick Dubuque||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||San Diego||Atlanta||McCutchen||Kershaw||Bradley|
|Paul Swydan||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||San Diego||Pittsburgh||Votto||Bumgarner||Polanco|
|Wendy Thurm||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Atlanta||San Fran||Harper||Bumgarner||Bradley|
|Zach Sanders||Los Angeles||St. Louis||Washington||Cincinnati||Atlanta||Ramirez||Kershaw||Owings|
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.