Dan's Dugout: Baseball Predictions, While Fun, Prove Worthless • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Baseball Predictions, While Fun, Prove Worthless

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Weather prediction is an inexact science.

Baseball forecasting is worse.

With two-and-a-half weeks left to the 2018 season, who could have imagined that the Atlanta Braves would have the biggest lead of any National League division leader?

Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell, nearly an All-Star snub, leads the majors in wins

Who could have guessed that Blake Snell, a pitcher who wears a single digit on his jersey, would lead the majors with 19 wins – or that his Tampa Bay Rays would be playing winning baseball?

Certainly no one would have suggested that the Oakland Athletics, with even less starting rotation strength than Tampa Bay, would be one game behind the Yankees in the race for the top seed in the wild-card game?

No wonder the house always wins in Las Vegas. Its odds are more stacked than Stormy Daniels.

Before this season started, virtually every so-called expert insisted the Washington Nationals would win the National League East flag for the third straight year.

A few dissenters, myself included, picked the New York Mets to dethrone them.

That choice looked sound when the Mets won 11 of their first 12 under rookie manager Mickey Callaway. But then the roof fell in.

In fact, the only rookie managers likely to reach the postseason are Alex Cora, whose Boston Red Sox reached 100 wins Wednesday, and Aaron Boone, who jumped from the broadcast booth to the dugout – sending Joe Girardi in the other direction.

Dave Martinez couldn’t match the magic of Dusty Baker in D.C., Gabe Kapler’s Phillies are finishing with a whimper, and Callaway’s only salvation is a three-year contract – nobody wants to pay two managers.

Player predictions proved equally unreliable.

Matt Carpenter, the St. Louis leadoff man, was not supposed to hit so many home runs that his name emerged in the MVP conversation.

Nor was Ronald Acuna Jr., who started the year in the minors, missed another month with a knee injury, and began hitting like Hank Aaron the minute he became a surprise leadoff hitter.

Ronald Acuna, Jr. and future Braves infielder Austin Riley watch a game.                      Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Now Acuna could join Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki as the only men to win Rookie of the Year honors and Most Valuable Player awards in the same season.

He didn’t play in the All-Star Game but four other Braves did – and then watched as 10 different men hit home runs in the same game for the first time in baseball history.

The home run carnage would have been worse if Aaron Judge, the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, had not broken his wrist in July. He’s still out, which is a big reason the Yankees are slipping in the standings.

Many experts predicted Giancarlo Stanton would win a second consecutive MVP award, joining Frank Robinson as Most Valuable Players in both leagues, but early and late slumps ended that discussion.

The Yankees spent much of the season relying on a trio of slugging infielders instead: Miguel Andujar, Didi Gregorius, and Gleyber Torres. If Andujar or Torres isn’t the best rookie in the American League, Shohei Ohtani could be. A pitcher before he hurt his elbow, he declined Tommy John surgery in favor of continuing to play as a designated hitter. Many home runs later, the latest Japanese import could pull home the hardware.

No story of 2018 would be complete without Trevor Story, slugging shortstop of the Colorado Rockies, whose three-homer game in September pushed him toward a 30/30 season. Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez got there first, turning in the first 30/30 campaign since Mike Trout in 2012.

Proving that size doesn’t matter in baseball, Ramirez and fellow infielder Jose Altuve of the World Champion Astros both provided prodigious power that propelled their clubs toward postseason play. Cleveland will coast to the finish line with the biggest margin of any club, though the Boston Red Sox will finish with he best record.

J.D. Martinez has found Fenway to his liking

This Red Sox team is the first since 1946 to win 100 games. One obvious dividend will be the MVP award that will go to J.D, Martinez, bidding for the first Triple Crown since Miguel Cabrera in 2012, or Mookie Betts, who could deprive his teammate with a better batting average. Ramirez and fellow Indian infielder Francisco Lindor will be in the running too.

Managers of the year will have to be Bob Melvin (A’s) in a photo-finish over Kevin Cash (Rays) in the American League and Brian Snitker (Braves) over Bud Black (Rockies) in the National.

And here’s a sigh for the Cy Young. Jacob deGrom, deprived of support all season by his Mets teammates, owns an 8-9 record that just can’t compete with Max Scherzer’s potential 20-win season and strikeout crown. The Washington bellwether has not only won the trophy in both leagues but has won the National League’s version in each of the last two years.

And how about a wild idea to finish off a column on predictions? The American League’s Cy Young Award will go to Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, still hoping to top the single-season saves record of Frankie (K-Rod) Rodriguez, who once had 62.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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  • CLAY MARSTON

    YET ANOTHER ‘ SPOT ON ‘ COLUMN FROM DAN S., ONE OF THE SHARPEST MINDS ANALYZING THE GAME OF BASEBALL ON A DAY – TO – DAY / GAME – TO – GAME BASIS DAILY FROM START TO FINISH … THERE ARE FEW WHO EVER GET ALL THEIR PREDICTIONS ACCURATELY LINED UP SO EVEN THREE FROM EACH LEAGUE SEEMS TO BE THE AVERAGE … ‘ DAN’S DUGOUT ‘ ALWAYS WORTHY OF REVIEW