Monday, October 4, 2010

Revisiting those 2010 predictions

Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
I missed Stephen Strasburg's June 8 debut by one day and his win total by 2.
Good journalists strive to be several things. Trustworthy. Fair. And, of course, accountable. If you aren't willing to admit when you were wrong about something, you don't belong in this business.

And we're all wrong sometimes. Hopefully not too often. But no ballplayer has ever hit 1.000 (at least none that ever got more than three big-league at-bats) and no sportswriter has ever hit 1.000 when it comes to preseason predictions.

So it is in the spirit of professional accountability that I will now admit all the things I and some of my colleagues were wrong about the Nationals before the season started. Way back on Opening Day, I asked six of my counterparts on the beat (Adam Kilgore and Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post, Bill Ladson of, Ben Goessling of, Pete Kerzel of the Associated Press and Craig Heist of WTOP) to join me in making predictions in 10 different categories related to the Nationals.

As you can see, we actually did a pretty good job in most areas (aside from, most notably, our All-Star selections)...

Who will represent the team at the All-Star Game?
Mark Zuckerman -- Ryan Zimmerman
Adam Kilgore -- Ryan Zimmerman
Dave Sheinin -- Ryan Zimmerman
Ben Goessling -- Ryan Zimmerman
Bill Ladson -- Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Ian Desmond
Pete Kerzel -- Ryan Zimmerman
Craig Heist -- Ryan Zimmerman
Winner: No one. Matt Capps was the Nats' All-Star.

What will the total season attendance be?
Bill Ladson -- 2,500,000
Craig Heist -- 2,400,000
Adam Kilgore -- 2,100,000
Dave Sheinin -- 1,900,000
Pete Kerzel -- 1,819,111
Mark Zuckerman -- 1,652,378
Ben Goessling -- 1,585,031
Winner: Kerzel. Actual attendance was 1,828,066.

When will Stephen Strasburg make his big-league debut?
Adam Kilgore -- June 4 vs Reds
Dave Sheinin -- June 5 vs Reds
Pete Kerzel -- June 6 vs Reds
Craig Heist -- June 9 vs Pirates
Mark Zuckerman -- June 9 vs Pirates
Ben Goessling -- June 10 vs Pirates
Bill Ladson -- June 10 vs Pirates
Winner: Heist and me. Everyone came incredibly close, but no one actually picked June 8 against the Pirates.

How many games will Strasburg win this year in the majors?
Bill Ladson -- 10
Craig Heist -- 10
Dave Sheinin -- 9
Ben Goessling -- 8
Pete Kerzel -- 8
Mark Zuckerman -- 7
Adam Kilgore -- 7
Winners: Kilgore and me. Though we still predicted two more wins than Strasburg actually got (five).

When will Drew Storen make his big-league debut
Bill Ladson -- April 27 at Cubs
Adam Kilgore -- May 16 at Rockies
Ben Goessling -- May 21 vs Orioles
Pete Kerzel -- May 31 at Astros
Dave Sheinin -- June 1 at Astros
Craig Heist -- June 1 at Astros
Mark Zuckerman -- June 4 vs Reds
Winner: Kilgore. Storen was called up from Syracuse on May 17 and made his debut that night in St. Louis.

How many different starting pitchers will they use this season?
Mark Zuckerman -- 13
Adam Kilgore -- 13
Ben Goessling -- 13
Pete Kerzel -- 12
Craig Heist -- 12
Dave Sheinin -- 10
Bill Ladson -- 10
Winners: Kilgore, Goessling and me. The Nats wound up using 14 different starters this season: John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Craig Stammen, Garrett Mock, Livan Hernandez, Scott Olsen, Luis Atilano, Matt Chico, J.D. Martin, Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler, Miguel Batista, Jordan Zimmermann and Yunesky Maya. If only Strasburg's shoulder hadn't acted up on July 27 and Batista wasn't needed for emergency duty, we would have hit it right on the nose. Of course, then we never would have met Miss Iowa.

How many different relievers will earn saves this season?
Mark Zuckerman -- 6
Dave Sheinin -- 6
Adam Kilgore -- 5
Ben Goessling -- 5
Pete Kerzel -- 5
Bill Ladson -- 4
Craig Heist -- 4
Winners: Kilgore, Goessling and Kerzel. Five relievers earned saves this season: Matt Capps, Drew Storen, Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Miguel Batista.

When will they use a sixth starting pitcher for the first time?
Dave Sheinin -- April 20 vs Rockies
Mark Zuckerman -- April 26 at Cubs
Adam Kilgore -- April 30 at Marlins
Ben Goessling -- May 12 at Mets
Pete Kerzel -- May 12 at Mets
Bill Ladson -- May 15 at Rockies
Craig Heist -- May 15 at Rockies
Winner: Sheinin. It didn't take long for Mike Rizzo to make a change. Garrett Mock made only one start before getting replaced by Scott Olsen on April 15.

When will Jesus Flores appear in his first major-league game?
Ben Goessling -- July 6 vs Padres
Pete Kerzel -- July 16 at Marlins
Craig Heist -- August 5 at Diamondbacks
Mark Zuckerman -- August 10 vs Marlins
Adam Kilgore -- August 15 vs Diamondbacks
Dave Sheinin -- Out for the season
Bill Ladson -- Out for the season
Winners: Sheinin and Ladson. Flores never did play this season.

How many games will the Nats win in 2010?
Bill Ladson -- 83
Craig Heist -- 75
Adam Kilgore -- 73
Pete Kerzel -- 71
Ben Goessling -- 70
Dave Sheinin -- 69
Mark Zuckerman -- 68
Winner: Sheinin. It all came down to yesterday's season finale. Dave and I were on pins and needles straight through the 14th inning, at which point the Nats pulled out victory No. 69.

So there's the group portion of our Opening Day Nats predictions rehash. Now, we move to my own personal predictions for the rest of the majors. Back on April 4, I tried to guess how the standings would look in all six divisions, who would win the wild cards, who would go to and win the World Series and who would win each league's MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards. I did OK in several departments (got three of four NL playoff participants, probably nailed both Cy Young winners) but failed miserably in several others (the Cardinals winning the World Series, the Padres finishing last in the NL West).

Anyway, here's how I did...


1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Mets
5. Nationals
Verdict: Nailed it straight through, 1 to 5.

1. Cardinals
2. Reds
3. Cubs
4. Brewers
5. Pirates
6. Astros
Verdict: I should have flip-flopped the Reds and Cardinals, and I should have known the Pirates would finish last again.

1. Giants
2. Rockies
3. Dodgers
4. Diamondbacks
5. Padres
Verdict: Got the Giants right as division champs. Never in a million years imagined the Padres would come within one game of winning the wild card.

NL WILD-CARD: Braves (nailed it)
NL CHAMPION: Cardinals (not even close)
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals (definitely in the mix, though Joey Votto appears to be the favorite)
NL CY YOUNG: Roy Halladay, Phillies (probably got it right)
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jason Heyward, Braves (solid choice, it'll be either him or Buster Posey)


1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays
Verdict: I should've given the Rays more respect.

1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals
Verdict: Should have flip-flopped the Twins and White Sox, otherwise got it right.

1. Mariners
2. Angels
3. Rangers
4. Athletics
Verdict: Not even close. The Mariners lost 101 games, the Angels finished under .500 and the Rangers won the division.

AL WILD-CARD: Red Sox (wrong AL East powerhouse)
AL CHAMPION: Yankees (could get this right, but it's wide open)
AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (had a solid year, but Josh Hamilton or Miguel Cabrera will win it)
AL CY YOUNG: Felix Hernandez, Mariners (if voters ignore his won-loss record, he'll win)
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Brian Matusz, Orioles (won 10 games, but Neftali Feliz, Austin Jackson or Brennan Boesch will get the award)

WORLD SERIES CHAMPION: Cardinals (what was I thinking?)


Anonymous said...

"1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays
Verdict: I should've given the Rays more respect."

And the Orioles less.

Steve M. said...

Always fun looking back on the predictions. Ladson failed miserably I see, and only got the pessimistic award right on JFlo never playing a MLB game in 2010!

Continues to show he knows nothing about the team he covers full time. Bill Ladson's guesstimate on the attendance 2,500,000. Haha

Steve M. said...

How many games will the Nats win in 2010?
Bill Ladson -- 83
Craig Heist -- 75
Adam Kilgore -- 73
Pete Kerzel -- 71
Ben Goessling -- 70
Dave Sheinin -- 69
Mark Zuckerman -- 68
Winner: Sheinin. It all came down to yesterday's season finale. Dave and I were on pins and needles straight through the 14th inning, at which point the Nats pulled out victory No. 69.

I had Nats with 72 as they had a good interleague schedule for 2010 and unfortunately didn't do well with it. If only they swept the Borioles in Baltimore, I would have had my 72!

Dan Heuchert said...

If Stras had stayed healthy, attendance could have been much higher.

Anonymous said...

Dan, sure, if, if, if.

If Strasburg stayed healthy, got run support and won 10 games instead of 5 that would have skewed most of the numbers plus Batista would not have started and attendence would have been 80,000 to 120,000 higher based on the declining phenomenom of seeing him pitch. The numbers are what they are which is what makes predicting fun. Some of his predictions are so far off.

Sam said...

Mark, this shows how smart you are and how well you cover the team. Kudos to you!

On the other hand, Mr. Ladson needs to do some soul-searching...or just start using his head...

N. Cognito said...

Seattle? Really. I mean really.

Don't feel bad Mark. There's a few heads at ESPN that always pick the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Ladson came up so empty on the predictions and looked like a fool on most of them. Desmond an All-Star? 2.5M attendance?

bdrube said...


83 Wins? Ha!

JD said...

I,m thinking Jiffy Lube for Ladson.

Les in NC said...

I have to agree Ladson was seriously high when he predicted this years Nats had 83 wins in them! I had this years win total "ceiling" at 75...
I figured the bullpen changes alone (during the off season) had to net us about 10-15 wins because our 'pen in '09 was so terrible. I should have factored in the Riggleman effect of about -5 games (which we could have had a chance to win during inter-league play alone, if he had played Morse over Harris as DH).

NatBiscuit said...

Mark, thank you for your great service throughout this year and thank you for your continuing contributions.

DCDingo said...

Mark, let me join the chorus of voices thanking you for your timely stories and insightful analysis. Your site is definitely the best thing to happen to Nats coverage for a while. I hope this is working out financially for you and I'm happy to contribute once again. Thanks also to the knowledgable and usually temperate frequent posters at this site -- I've learned a lot.

Sunderland said...

Just one more point of confirmation for what I've always thought of Ladson.....

JaneB said...

I'm usually grumpy as all get out, suffering withdrawal on the day after the regular season ends. And yet, here I am laughing out loud and feeling such gratitude for Mark and all of your.

Four months till pilchers and catchers... I think I'll make it. Thanks everyone!

Barney said...

I had the Nats at 65-67 wins. Pretty good, I think! Unless, realize that I cheated a bit and waited until April 10th to make that prediction after seeing a few "real" games. I guess it wasn't exactly in the spirit of the thing. What stuck out for me was the fact that the offense was not very good and we weren't going to win a lot of 2-1 and 1-0 games. Getting a front-line pitcher is #1 with the front office but I'd be happier with 2 good hitters who were at least OK fielders. It would enhance the rest of the lineup!

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Mark, thanks for this. Pretty interesting, and it made me sad all over again about Strasburg.

One thing I think would be interesting would be an analysis of the Nats with respect to league-wide payroll spending - are they not spending enough, or are they spending poorly (relative to other teams), or both?

Thanks for the coverage this year, I've really enjoyed it.

natsfan1a said...

So, Kilgore for rookie of the year? After some cipherin' it seems like he got more of them correct than any of the wily veterans did. But I'm sure you guys were just trying to make him feel welcome, right? ;-)

Seriously, I generally don't even try to do predictions, so good on y'all for taking a flyer with them. I suppose it comes with the territory in sports writing, eh?

Sec3MySofa said...

I'm noticing how much easier (if onionless) it is to take anonymous potshots, compared to simply posting your own predictions, as Mark did.
I've been looking for mine, and I can't find them yet, but I'd be surprised if they were close to much at the end.
I think I was short of 69 wins, overestimated the Cardinals (all that starting pitching!), and favored my own native Giants.
Well done, mostly, Mark.

Anonymous said...

I ran into George F. Will at Nats Park on Opening Day. I asked him how many wins he predicted for the Nats, and he said 79.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I did not do any Nationals specific predictions before the season but if you had asked me, I would had Zimm in ASG, 81 win season, and bullpen as the worst unit at the end of the season. All wrong!!!

My MLB predictions were as follows:
AL West: Seattle, AL Central: Detriot, AL East: Boston, AL Wildcard: Tampa Bay.

AL Champion: Seattle (the most disappointing team of the season).

NL West: Giants, NL Central, Cardinals, NL East: Phillies, NL Wildcard: Dodgers

NL Champion: Giants (still possible but very difficult with their type of offense).

AL MVP: Evan Longoria (solid bat but not a great season offensively)
AL ROY: Neftali Feliz (nailed it for sure)
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander (not even close)

NL MVP: Albert Pujols (safest bet but won't happen)
NL ROY: Jason Heyward (should be Posey hands down)
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay (most likely)

World Series Champs: Don't even ask.

Oh and this was my first time doing predictions.

Bill B said...

Mark, Not an original comment, but worth repeating: Awesome reporting the whole year! Really enjoyed it.

BTW, don't feel bad about the Mariners pick. A lot of folks picked them in the West. An epic collapse! Analysts were talking about the brilliance of their GM in the spring. Now, not so much. (For half the season they had arguably the two best pitchers in the AL, King Felix and Cliff Lee.)

Faraz Shaikh said...

Seriously dude. They did unbelievably bad. They have the best lead off hitter, had two of the best pitchers, decent infield defense and one of the best OF defense. But below avg performances from Guti, Figgy, Lopez, and really pathetic bottom of the order hitting just killed all their chances.

Anonymous8 said...

Pittsburgh Pirates, 105 losses.

7 of the 9 top payroll teams didn't make the playoffs!

Mets clean house.

Tampa Bay Rays win the AL East ahead of the NY Yankee$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

N. Cognito said...

I've got some really bad news...Mike Wise is back to scribbling with his crayons.

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