We all know how most predictions work out. You’ve probably heard of Dewey vs Truman, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team vs Russia, the Empire vs the Rebels, etc. The best team doesn’t always win. Baseball predictions are notoriously suspect. If predictions determined outcomes, the New York Yankees or Texas Rangers would have won most every World Series of the past decade. But they don’t, and the Yankees have only one championship in the past 11 seasons. The Rangers organization has fewer lifetime World Series victories than the Royals.
For years, the Royals have been preseason doormats, perennially predicted to come in last, or very near the bottom. Twenty years of mind numbing losses will give the prognosticators good reason to doubt your ability to perform.
But in 2012, something unusual happened – nobody picked the Royals to come in last place. Not everybody is completely convinced the Royals youth movement will pay off, but most knowledgeable sports fans agree that the team is headed in the right direction. The improved play on the field during the 2nd half of 2011 motivated many experts to predict a brighter future for the Royals this year.
Now that we are about halfway through the season, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the preseason predictions of a few experts to see how close their forecasts are to reality.
As of today, the Royals are in 4th place, 6.5 games out of 1st. Here are the standings:
AL Central – Actual Standing as of July 3, 2012
- Cleveland 2 Games Back
- Detroit 4.5 Games Back
- Kansas City 6.5 Games Back
- Minnesota 8 Games Back
The guys at Baseball Prospectus are some of the most widely respected and knowledgeable baseball authorities. Last March 27, they predicted the season ending standings for 2012 would be:
AL Central – Baseball Prospectus Preseason Prediction
- Kansas City
It’s interesting to note that of the 27 Baseball Prospectus Staff members who voted to create this prediction, 26 of them said the Tigers would take 1st place in the AL Central. The 27th staffer predicted the Royals would take first place. I’d like to shake that guy’s hand.
On April 3, CBS Sports not only predicted the Tigers would win the AL Central by at least 10-15 games, they also predicted Detroit would win the World Series. There’s something about adding Prince Fielder and expanding your payroll by $214 million that makes you the trendy pick.
AL Central – CBS Sports Preseason Prediction
- Kansas City
On March 28, not only did Sports Illustrated predict the final order of the AL Central standings, they also provided won/loss predictions. You’ll also note their prediction mirrors the CBS Sports forecast.
AL Central – Sports Illustrated Preseason Prediction
- Detroit 93-69
- Kansas City 82-80
- Cleveland 80-82
- Minnesota 72-90
- Chicago 67-95
The Royals are very fortunate that no team is running away with the division this year, which is just like 2011 when the leader had a somewhat lackluster record. Even so, last year the Royals were already mired in last place, 10.5 games behind the Tigers.
AL Central – Halfway point of 2011
W/L Pct GB
DET 44-38 .537 —
CLE 42-37 .532 0.5
CHW 40-42 .488 4.0
MIN 34-45 .430 8.5
KCR 33-48 .407 10.5
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a great deal to be revealed yet from the standings and comparing them to the preseason predictions. The AL Central is one of baseball’s weakest divisions and the title is still conceivably up for grabs for any team, with the possible exception of the Twins.
My biggest takeaway from reviewing these predictions was to be reminded that it’s not just Royals fans who were expecting big things from the team this year. The experts at CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and at least one well-informed staffer at Baseball Prospectus believed that the Royals would put up a respectable showing this season – which is pretty impressive considering the Boys in Blue tied for the 5th worst record in the majors last year and finished the season 24 games out of first place.
It’s nice to get a little love from the National Media and from the experts. But, it would be better to get some love that only playoff exposure can bring. It’s a bit of a stretch to see the Royals playing this Fall, but it’s certainly not an impossibility. Maybe the Royals make a trade for a solid starting pitcher. Maybe Wil Myers makes a second half showing and bashes the ball with the same authority as he’s shown in the minors. Maybe Eric Hosmer emerges from his season long slumber and begins to carry the team as many of us believe he’s capable. Here’s to hoping the Royals begin to hit on all cylinders in the second half, so that one lone staffer at Baseball Prospectus can turn to his coworkers and say, “I told you so.”