This is really the worst time of the year for teams that didn't make the playoffs. All the good teams are caught up in the euphoria of the playoffs while the bad teams are stuck at home with nothing to do but hang their head in shame, just quietly waiting for the playoffs to end so that they can start their post-season machinations to try and avoid reliving this cruel fate again next October. This is a dangerous time for fans of those teams because we are all just left alone with our thoughts. And we all know nothing good ever comes of that.
Alas, that is what I have been going through this week. Just sitting around reflecting on where this Angels season went wrong. It even prompted me to look back at my pre-season predictions just to twist the knife a little more. I have to say, they were even worse than I remember. So, in order to further my self-loathing, let's review those predictions and see what we can learn from my stupidity.
Mike Trout will win the sabermetric Triple Crown in the AL (SLG, OBP, SB) or if you prefer something with wOBA or wRC, he'll probably win that too.
Nope to a factor of five. Trout had an amazing season but didn't lead the league in any of those categories. Still, his season was so strong, I'm not exactly feeling too ashamed of this prediction. If anything, I feel somewhat vindicated because I was one of the few that thought Trout's power would hold up or even grow in 2013.
Trout, Hamilton, Pujols and Trumbo will all hit 30 or more homers.
Well, one out of four ain't bad. Oh, it is? Well, don't I feel like a fool. Pujols might've had a shot at 30 had he stayed healthy enough to finish the season as he did seem to find a little bit of a groove after he finally gave in to being a full-time DH. The really stupid one was Josh Hamilton. Even before he tanked, I knew him hitting 30 dingers was going to be a stretch quite simply because of the move from Arlington to Anaheim. My thought though was that even if he fell of in production, the raw power would always be there and he could hit .240, but would still run into 30 bombs. Ironically, the stark loss of power he suffered was a much bigger blow to the Angels than his swing-and-miss issues.
Trout, Aybar and Bourjos will all steal 30 or more bases.
I knew this was a gamble at the time, but I can't believe how badly I missed. Aybar only stole 12 and Bourjos swiped just 6. Injuries were certainly a factor, but the real issue here was Mike Scioscia's inexplicable reluctance to send the runners this year. I never thought Trout would steal less than 40, yet he only attempted 40 steals on the season. Out of all the ones I was wrong about, this one was certainly the most puzzling.
Jason Vargas will be the only rotation member not to make a trip to the DL this season but nobody will miss more than a month.
Well, my hunch about this rotation being injury-prone was on the right track, but I grossly underestimated the impact. Weaver, Hanson and Vargas each spent over a month on the DL. Wilson and Blanton avoided the DL, which was a real shame for the latter of those two. My big concern is that this fragility is still going to be an issue going forward for the Halos. Weaver started dropping MPHs down the stretch again and Wilson has that history of elbow problems constantly lurking.
Arte Moreno will hold a very public meeting with the AEG group about building a stadium in downtown LA, followed by the city of Anaheim caving in and paying for a boatload of renovations to the Big A and permitting the Angels to drop the "of Anaheim" from their name.
NAILED IT. Well, almost. The meeting he held was with the City of Industry group (though I think there might've been an AEG meeting too) and sure enough they are in talks right now for the stadium to get renovated with the Halos dropping the "of Anaheim." The only detail I missed is that Arte will pay for the upgrades, though in a way the city really is if they do end up just giving the land to Moreno for $1 as proposed.
Over the All-Star break, Mark Trumbo will sign a five-year, $31 million extension.
I was feeling pretty good about this one to start the month of May and then, oh my, did that feeling start to fade. There is no way he gets an extension now, especially now that I realize just how tight the luxury tax situation for the Angels is right now. I definitely was ignorant to that last winter. That, above everything else, is the one thing I really learned a lot about over the last few months.
The only trade the Angels will make at the deadline is a move to improve their bench.
The fundamental flaw in this prediction was that I assumed the Angels would be good. Oops!
Peter Bourjos is going to win a Gold Glove, Mike Trout will not.
I still think this could have happened had Bourjos been able to stay healthy. The lesson here is that I need to be a lot more skeptical about a player being able to stay healthy.
The Angels will win 93 games.
Missed it 15 games. So close! There is no real need to get into this. We all know just what a terrible pick this was. In fact, I am a little embarrassed that I ever predicted 93 wins knowing full well the red flags in the rotation. My ability to talk myself into overestimating the Angels remains unparalleled.
The Angels will lose the ALCS to the Rays in six games where Mike Scioscia will take a lot of heat for several questionable decisions including too many sac bunts, pulling the infield in to prevent a run and failing to properly play match-ups in the bullpen.
The playoff scenario obviously didn't come to pass, but you can see how the backbone of the prediction was formed. Essentially, it was a way to blame Scioscia for his shortcomings, many of which were on full display, especially the terrible bullpen management, throughout the year. What I was going for was that Scioscia's flaws have become more and more apparent and damaging over the years. I'm hardly laying the blame for this season on Scioscia, but it seems more clear than ever that his magical managerial powers have faded.
I wasn't alone in making predictions for MWAH though. Our very own Scotty Allen made some predictions of his own. Let's see if he is any better at it than I am (SPOILER ALERT: yep).
While Scioscia's catching rotation was erratic at times with both Conger and Iannetta spending time in the doghouse, this was pretty spot on. Conger and Iannetta were more or less a platoon by the end of the year and that figures to carry over into 2014, assuming that Iannetta isn't traded in a salary dump and/or Scioscia wresting control of the roster and wanting to jettison his worst defensive catcher.
Josh Hamilton will hit UNDER 30 HR for the Angels in 2013.
Asked and answered, your honor. The verdict is that Scotty is smarter than I am.
Half right and half so very, very wrong. The foot and knee problems just never gave Pujols a chance, which is something I felt like we should've all known, but the team has been so secretive about their health issues since Dipoto took over that few of us realized Pujols was still having knee problems when he showed up for camp. That would've been useful information to know. Now though, we won't be fooled again. Nor do I think anyone will ever predict Albert Pujols to even be in the MVP conversation.
The Angels will take home three Gold Gloves in 2013.
Honestly, I don't even think they will one this year. Ironically, the year that they finally incorporate advanced metrics into the award process is the year that Trout inexplicably has a terrible sabermetric season in the field. I could very much see Trout winning a Gold Glove on reputation alone (and as a sort of consolation prize for not winning MVP two years in a row), but I think the inclusion of the defensive metrics could prevent that. Nobody else even has a chance, which is all part of the even stranger phenomenon that this roster, which should've been excellent on defense, ended up fielding so poorly.
Garrett Richards will be the Angels #3 starter by the end of 2013.
I'm not going to lie, and no offense to Scotty, but when I read this prediction, I thought Scotty had lost his mind. I had lost faith in Garrett because he never seemed to develop a third pitch and had seemingly lost Scioscia's confidence as well. Credit to Garrett and/or the coaching staff to dust off Richards' curve, which became a real weapon this season, and get away from his iffy changeup and, more importantly, getting his mental control of the game and his role under control. Even more credit to Scotty for seeing that coming.