Now that the regular season is over for the Dodgers, it's fun to look back at our preseason predictions for the team and how we did. There are some things we got right, many things we got wrong, but mostly this is an exercise to embrace the genius of Phil Gurnee.
At the end of spring training collectively we made predictions for the Dodgers' record on the season, and predicted a season of 91 wins, will all six of us (Craig Minami, David Young, Brandon Lennox, Mike White, Gurnee and I) picked the Dodgers to win the National League West.
The division-winning Dodgers won 92 games, so that's a point in our favor. Especially for White and me, with our predictions of 92 wins on the nose. Gurnee was the only one to get the correct order of finish in the NL West, giving him benefit of the doubt of the Giants and Padres tying for third place.
Young was ambitious, slotting Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and his Rookie of the Year winner Hyun-Jin Ryu all in the top five of National League Cy Young Award balloting.
Young and Gurnee incorrectly had the Dodgers making big trades. Young saw Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis coming from the Yankees, while Gurnee predicted Chase Utley and Cliff Lee would find their way to Los Angeles from the Phillies.
I thought Matt Kemp would "bounce back and have a fantastic season" (oops!) but I was hardly alone in that sentiment. I also incorrectly had the Giants as a wild card team and called the Reds and home-in-October Nationals as "the class of the National League."
I would be much more wrong on May 19 when, after a three-game sweep in Atlanta, I declared the Dodgers season over. Oops, indeed.
Minami said four pitchers would make 29 starts, though they only had three make 28 starts, with Chris Capuano fourth at 20 starts. Minami said two Dodgers would get 15 saves which is close enough since Brandon League saved 14 games. But most importantly, Minami correctly predicted Vin Scully would come back in 2014.
Both Minami and Lennox had Hanley Ramirez moving to third base, and Lennox was a little too ambitious in forecasting Dee Gordon as the regular shortstop and Onelki Garcia as the setup man, though Lennox gets partial credit since Garcia was actually called up in September. Lennox also gets credit for calling Luis Cruz to the bench, though he was certainly not alone here, and his prediction that Yasiel Puig would hit 20 second-half home runs is close enough to Puig hitting 19 home runs in four months.
White correctly said the team would struggle out of the gate, and that "much will be written about the $200+ million team under-performing." White also predicted a division win for the Dodgers and his call of "a surprisingly stress-free run down the stretch" was mostly accurate except for concern over various injuries in September.
But the most amazing part of this prediction piece was a paragraph so perfect that I owe Gurnee an apology.
This prediction is so insanely correct that, given that I forgot actually pasting the words into the post when writing, I assumed Gurnee went back to edit the post well after the fact as a lark. But sure enough, I still have Gurnee's email from March 25 with this prediction:
Much like 1992, the most anticipated Dodger season in 21 years is derailed by injury, and non-performance from one time All-Stars. The vaunted Dodger rotation depth dissipates so fast that Stephen Fife gets five starts. Even iron man Adrian Gonzalez is not immune leaving the Dodgers with a starting infield of Hairston / Ellis / Cruz / Uribe for one game too many. Dodger fans are left to ponder what exactly does $250 million buy, while the visiting Dodgers are greeted by "Beat LA" fervor from every stadium, as they become the nation's favorite baseball whipping boy. Unlike the 1992 team, the 2013 version has a Puig in reserve, and plenty of money. By June the Dodgers can not hold back the Dodgers fan chants of PUIG PUIG PUIG, and Yasiel Puig is inserted into the every day lineup against the Padres on June 3. Puig isn't Mike Trout but does a very reasonable Raul Mondesi imitation.
Even though the Dodgers entered the season with eight starting pitchers under contract, Fife's fifth start came by June 20, and he ended up with 10 starts on the season.
We never got Gurnee's infield, but Hairston-Schumaker-Cruz-Uribe did start on April 27 so he gets partial credit. And since Gonzalez's 157 games played were his fewest since 2006 that counts, too.
But most amazing was his dead-on call of Puig, even down to the everyday lineup debut date of June 3, which was also his major league debut.
The moral of this story: Listen to Phil Gurnee. The man knows.