Some would-be “experts” might not want to indulge in a stroll down memory lane, but if you look at clubs before the season and in April and May, you’ll see such teams like the Orioles, Royals, Nationals and Mariners who were playing over their heads and eventually fell back into what they are.
Other clubs have talent but excuses for their failures. The Athletics, Dodgers, White Sox and Rockies can be reasonably placed into this category. Without going into detail, you can look at a team like the A’s—who were overrated for numerous reasons—and say that the injuries to their pitchers Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson hurt them on the mound; that the slow starts from Josh Willingham and David DeJesus robbed them of an improved offense.
The White Sox have been a dysfunctional train wreck for whom GM Kenny Williams is about to hit the trapdoor to send his players—en masse—into his James Bond villain style trap of crocodiles with laser beams attached to their heads.
The Dodgers are mired in (Mc)Court with legal proceedings hovering over them. In fairness, had they stayed healthy, they had a chance to be pretty good. (And I’m not pulling a Francesa and saying that because I picked them; it’s true.)
Certain clubs regularly straddle the line between good and mediocre and they do it on an annual basis; they’re treading the fine line between being deadline buyers and sellers. The Rockies are one such club.
Then there are teams for whom the writing was on the wall if you chose to read it. The concept of the Astros replicating the 2009 Padres and making drastic improvement because of a strong second half the previous season was idiotic. The Padres had a lot of talent to justify their play; the Astros didn’t. It was a groundless, baseless assertion that came from absolutely nothing other than both playing well for a memorably stretch; there was no context, nothing.
And finally there are the overachievers. The Pirates have been around .500 and near first place when no one expected them to do so. While they’ve slumped lately, they gave their fans a reason to think they could get better eventually. The Mets have played above their heads in the face of rampant injuries; they overcame a horrific start and legal/sale issues of their own to play respectably.
The Diamondbacks have been a revelation.
No matter how a knowledgable voice comes to his conclusions, there are bound to be deviations; but for the most part, teams are going to play up to their talent levels. Did anyone believe that the Red Sox were going to have an off year after their atrocious start? With that talent?
Who saw Albert Pujols having the year he’s had?
That the White Sox would’ve gotten similar production had they chosen to the pitcher hit rather than using Adam Dunn as their DH?
Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia doing the work they’ve done for the Yankees?
Joe Mauer being booed?
There’s a reason they play the games and no one’s infallible, but with a fundamental understanding of players and people you can—within a framework—pigeonhole clubs and players as to where they’re going to be and what they’re going to do.
For many, that fundamental understanding is missing, clouded by a smug arrogance and a refusal to admit that they may be wrong.
Either they’re pledging allegiance to a corporate entity nudging them into a certain direction (the Favre Effect of needing webhits and ratings) or they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Will they admit they were wrong? Will they come up with a nonsensical caveat? Will they cling to their agendas regardless of reality?
It depends. The insecure, egomaniacal and partisan will justify themselves like a paid endorser; the truth-tellers with self-belief and confidence will admit mistakes and chalk them up to experience.
It depends one where you’re getting your information and what you believe.