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10.31.2003

Predictions Schmedictions

It's always boring to look back at the pundits' preseason predictions. The last five years, it's basically been Blah blah blah Yankees blah blah blah Yankees blah blah Braves blah blah Red Sox blah blah Braves, with a few Astros, Twins, Giants, A's and Mariners thrown in like croutons in a big Yankees/Braves salad.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the preseason predictions put together by someone who goes by "Tango Tiger" and writes for Baseball Primer. (I should say I think he/she writes for Baseball Primer. The baseball-geek community has more inbreeding than a remote Appalachian valley, and it's hard to tell who's indepedent, who's associated with a certain site, which site is which, etc. Sometimes I think it's just three people writing under a costume box full of fake names. Voros McCracken? Tom Tippett? Aren't those guys from a Dickens novel? "Please, Mr. McCracken, sir, won't you spare us just a crust of bread this morning?" said little Tommy Tippett as he shifted from foot to foot in the snow, greasy rags draped over his thin shoulders.)

So, anyway, this, ahem, Tango Tiger chap or chappette has compiled great preseason predictions which had nothing to do with pennants and championships. Instead, 6 pundits and a bunch of Baseball Primer readers predicted the OPS and ERA of dozens of hitters and pitchers.

The results are fun to read and mildly instructive, too: a few players had solid to very good years under the radar, at least when you look reductively at OPS or ERA. Who knew that Kip Wells had a 3.24 ERA? Or that Luis Gonzalez's .934 OPS was exactly his average from 2000-2002?

Barry Bonds had an even better year than his three-year average, or the pundits, or the readers, could predict. His three-year baseline was 1.231 OPS; the pundits guessed 1.248; the readers guessed 1.268. Barry's actual 2003 OPS: 1.278.

The question is: will it be higher or lower in 2004? I predict lower, given the turmoil he's facing this winter (Balco, grief over dad) and the inevitability of turning 40. I hope I'm wrong.

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