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Revisiting Opening Day predictions

Oct 4, 2012, 4:21 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Well, at least I came close on the attendance prediction.

I've often said it's important that we as sportswriters be held accountable for what we write. We ask players and managers to be accountable for their performance. It's only right that we hold ourselves to the same standard.

Which makes this day-after-the-season tradition one of the more enjoyable — albeit embarrassing — posts of the year.

You may recall back on Opening Day when I and eight of my counterparts who cover the Nationals made our season predictions. Well, it's time to revisit those predictions and see how we did. (Hint: We didn't do nearly as well in 2012 as the Nationals did.)

As an added bonus, I'm also including my Opening Day predicted standings, postseason results and major award winners. Yeah, I'd like to have a few of those back, too.

Enjoy, and try not to mock us too much…

2012 OPENING DAY MEDIA PREDICTIONS

Who will represent the Nats at the All-Star Game?
Mark Zuckerman (CSNwashington.com) — Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan ZimmermannRead more »

  1. Feel Wood - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Pete Kerzel (MASNsports.com) — Ryan Zimmerman, Gio GonzalezWINNER: Ladson was the only one to get Desmond right (though I suppose we could raise the technicality that Desmond never actually represented the Nats AT the game). Zuckerman, Kilgore, Kolko and McNally got Strasburg right. Nobody had Gio.And here I thought peric was the only one around here who considers Pete Kerzel a nobody.

  2. joemktg - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Notwithstanding the Morse prediction, it looks like Sheinin is buying.

  3. TheManBearPig - Oct 4, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    It's kind of surprising that no one thought LaRoche would play more than 132 games. Before his injury shortened 2011, if you exclude his rookie year, he had averaged 146 games per year, and he played 150 and 151 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Durability is just one of the reasons the Nats should do what it takes to keep him.

  4. rarumberger - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    How did you not see the Marlins total collapse coming a mile away? Their season was over from the second they added Zambrano to the mix with Ramirez and Guillen.The talent they brought in wasn't even close to making up the deficit between them and the Phillies/Braves/Nationals. And if they weren't winning, they were guaranteed to go crazy. It happened pretty much exactly the way most people expected it, except that few thought they'd trade Ramirez away this soon. Worst roster construction EVER.

  5. rarumberger - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    TheManBearPig – Laroche was widely assumed to be on the trading block to make room for Morse/Moore/Marrero. Plus he battled injuries and barely played throughout spring training.Even the Laroche supporters wouldn't have predicted that he and Desmond would carry the entire offense on their shoulders for the first two months – much less carry them into the best record in the division, and later all of baseball.

  6. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    I only made one prediction, and that was that Harper would be up as soon as possible in April, as soon as it didn't impact an extra year of retaining his service. Anyone who thought he "wasn't ready" for the majors was kidding themselves. Davey, Werth, LaRoche and Ankiel were the best possible mentors/coaches he could have had.

  7. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Should have included RZ in that mentor/coach list, sorry.

  8. Bzl. - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    What's great about this is how (in most cases) actuality exceeded even the loftiest predictions!Never heard of Pete Kerzel until right now…

  9. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    Geez, Mark — That Baseball Writers Assoc. membership card doesn't come w/ a crystal ball, does it? Pomeranz?

  10. Diz - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Well, I guess the radio guys were right when they said Teddy would win yesterday. I just hope they don't get the 2nd piece right and retire him.On a side note. Since the wild card play in is on Friday, that means their number one starter will be pitching on our first home playoff game on Wednesday next week (Medlen or Lohse). That'll make a win at home pretty tough, against our #3, either Det vs the Braves or Jax vs the Cards. That makes winning at least one on the road even more imperative.

  11. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Season Summary 98-64, Final Rank:1, GB: 0.0Days in First 149 Biggest Lead 8.5 Farthest Behind 2 Monday, Apr 9Most Games over .500 35 Most Games under .500 never Longest Winning Streak 8 Saturday, Aug 4 to Saturday, Aug 11Longest Losing Streak 5 Thursday, Apr 26 to Tuesday, May 1 and Wednesday, Aug 22 to Tuesday, Aug 28Most Runs Allowed 12 Friday, Sep 28Most Runs Scored 14 Monday, Aug 13Longest Game (innings) 14 Saturday, Jun 16Times Shutout by Opponent 8 Times Opponent Shutout 9

  12. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Nats Lady — You might as well have included DeRosa, Tracy and a bunch of others in that list. Harper had a charmed season — a whole dugout full of players who laid themselves out to help make him a success. Werth and LaRoche, I think, were foremost, but there are a lot who were exceptional teammates.

  13. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Theo, right. Even Michael Gonzalez called him "our baby brother," in that Cubbies brawl.

  14. NatsFanGino - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    WINNER: Ladson was the only one to get Desmond right (though I suppose we could raise the technicality that Desmond never actually represented the Nats AT the game). Zuckerman, Kilgore, Kolko and McNally got Strasburg right. Nobody had Gio.Did anyone have Bryce? :)

  15. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    The Fillies fired a bunch of coaches and the Bosox just made it official with Bobby V. This makes me wonder about players "playing" for a manager. Is something is going on between Cholly and Papelbon. Why put him in yesterday for the 8th with the game 3-1 Nats? Papelbon threw total junk, resulting in a walk and a dinger. I don't mean he was missing, he was throwing pitches not even in his usual repertoire. He either didn't expect to be put in, or didn't want to be. Contest of wills there?That's not the kind of thing a guy forgets in the off-season. Same with that Jimmy Rollins benching for lack of "hustle," even though Rollins said he was fine with it. Either the guys are pros or they're not, and I like Davey's style of treating them as pros.

  16. Section 3, My Playoffs Sofa - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Notwithstanding that Davey will sit your ass down if you mime catching a fly ball.

  17. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Sec 3, so true! Glad you remembered that. Morse sure straightened out his act after that, didn't he? He'll never be great in the outfield but he's improved.

  18. bowdenball - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    I'll defend Mark on the NL ROY. Nobody thought much of Frazier or Miley, which is why they didn't make it to the majors until their Age 26 year. Both guys had better stats this year in the majors than they did in AAA last year. My guess is you can scour the internet and not find a single person who picked either. Harper is different, but nobody thought he'd get called up early enough to wage a legitimate campaign for the award.Pomeranz was far more highly regarded. He was the centerpiece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade back when Jimenez was really good.

  19. Cwj - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    NatsLady, yeah MLB network showed Papelbon throwing several knuckleballs during that inning!That was strange…

  20. Cwj - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    I'm still stewing over Rollins' remarks about injuries, second place etc.Also, the folks on MLB network never once mentioned the Nats while discussing injuries. There is still a slight bias against the Nats in the national media.And they're STILL talking about Strasburg! Ugh

  21. Cwj - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    I'm curious, anyone here predict the Nats would win 90+ games? I seem to recall a few of us who did…I predicted 87-75, but also said the Marlins were highly overrated. So I was right on one thing :)

  22. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Cwj, I don't think many people outside of the DMV have any CLUE as to how the team pulled together after injuries, how a guy like Lombardozzi stepped up, the protectiveness of Harper that enabled him to thrive after that long slump, etc.

  23. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Rollins doesn't have a lot of fans even in Filly. I've been on some other websites and most phans think it was lack of class, sour grapes…Typical comment to JRoll, "Just say the Nats were the better team this year and let your play show who's better next year."

  24. Feel Wood - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Diz said… Well, I guess the radio guys were right when they said Teddy would win yesterday. I just hope they don't get the 2nd piece right and retire him.They should declare that because he's reached his winnings limit they are shutting him down. Then let him roam the park in perpetuity wearing a hoodie like Strasburg.

  25. bowdenball - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    I think we're going overboard with all this "Harper thrived because the Nats created such a good environment" stuff.Harper thrived because he's really really good at baseball. That's like 99% of why he did what he did. All the other stuff might help a little, and the media and players love to talk it up because it makes for a good story. But Jayson Werth and Davey Johnson aren't responsible for his lightning quick bat or his incredible feel for the strike zone or his ridiculous arm.

  26. Drew - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Freudian typo of the year: MLBTR on the firing of Bobby Valentine:"His dismal is not much of a surprise."

  27. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    bowdenball, Harper's talent goes without saying, as does Trout's. But there have been plenty of rookie phenoms who haven't lived up to their talent, gotten into drugs, DUI's, etc. I remember ALR and Ankiel taking Harper to restaurants where he could have dinner when the rest of the guys hung out a bar. No way am I saying the support of the guys for Harper resulted in his ROY stats. Harper is a once-in-a-generation type (along with Stas).But he didn't come to a team populated with knuckleheads, either. The guys and Davey gave him the best possible environment to "express his talent" and–yes–go to the playoffs.

  28. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    CWJ — I can't or am not interested in documenting it but I recall saying very early on — in ST, as I remember — this team was "capable of winning 91 0r 92 games." Not exactly a prediction — hedged a bit, I confess.

  29. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Wow, lotta hitting coaches getting fired/reassigned.Twins, Mariners, Royals, Fillies…

  30. bowdenball - Oct 4, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Sure, NatsLady. But I think that sort of stuff happens all the time on virtually every team. We just don't hear about it in the media because the rookie in question didn't appear on the cover of SI at age 15.Personally I prefer to give Harper the credit for avoiding some of the perils of fame and fortune so far. Sure it helps that he wasn't on the 2011-2012 Red Sox, but I think most clubhouses and staffs would have been able to guide a guy that talented, with his head screwed on that straight, to the season he had. I just don't want fans to to shortchange the kid in our rush to pat the organization on the back.

  31. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    LOL, bowdenball–no one is shortchanging Harper!! Kid gets brought up at 19, All-Star, probably ROY, and playoffs in his first year? And he wants twenty more years! I think what was suggested is a little balance to say this team is more than just Stras and Harper (and RZimm, sort of)–because that's all outsiders see.

  32. UnkyD - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Bowden: don't lose any sleep over it. Nobody here's gonna shortchange The Kid. It's a big story, with lotsa characters, and there's plenty of genuine credit to go around…

  33. Pappy - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Who is Dave Sheinin? Boy, he sure didn't think much of the Nats last spring, predicting only 83 wins. Nor did he think much of Harper (7 HR), Werth (.264 Avg), Desmond (.310 OBP), Morse (18 HR, w/o injury) or LaRoche (31 Games Played). The only item he wasn't the cellar-dweller was Storen for Closes, where he was the high-man at 40.

  34. Avar - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    No mocking here, everyone's predictions were off, it was a year of exceeding expectations. I think I predicted 91 wins for the Nats. Never would have dreamed of 98. What a year.

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    A few posters took their time last night to revisit the predictions. I guess Mark is to busy to read their work. Clearly a lot of their time went into it on baseballswami's request and they knew Kerzel picked Gio.

  36. Cwj - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    No doubt the veteran players had an influence on Harper. The "chemistry" of this team appears to be fantastic.I wonder how Harper would have performed in, say, Boston :) Talk about zero chemistry, that pretty much defined the Red Sox this year.

  37. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Cwj, I'm a big proponent of chemistry (see previous posts), but in this I agree with bowdenball, Harper would have done fine anywhere, including Boston–if they had brought him up as early. In fact, he might have helped that team overcome their dysfunction because he would have drawn eyes away from Bobby V et al. (Well, if Bobby V would allow eyes on anyone except himself). The question is how someone like Gio would have done in Boston.

  38. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    I also feel they would not have shut Stras down in Boston. Too desperate. When I heard Davey say (yesterday on 106.7) that Stas would not be on the playoff roster "if I have my way" I knew that here is the guy who has the best eye on Stras, watched him day in day out, and who shut him down a game early because he knew he was worn down. Is that the eye Bobby V has?

  39. baseballswami - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    So,Gio won the Warren Spahn award for left handed pitchers. I am not familiar with that award, but that's awesome for him. Is that a prestigious award and I am just not in the know? Hope he has some nice, empty shelves so that he can start filling them with hardware! I think it's funny that when we read these predictions now, the Nats writers consistently undersold on almost everything! Thanks for the extras, NatsLady — I hadn't realized that we were NEVER under .500 the whole year?? I also think that two losing streaks of 5 and one winning streak of 8 show absolutely remarkable consistency. Also only shut out 8 times. I am glad we finished 4 games up on the Braves and not 1 – shows it wasn't a fluke or a back in. Hope all the Foolies are sucking on it today at their homes, in their underwear, in front of the tv.

  40. baseballswami - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    And speaking of playoff rosters………? Surely they can't just keep everyone in town until Friday night waiting to hear if they are on the roster.

  41. Joe Seamhead - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    The above was Mark's Media Predictions from April %th. I had a bunch of what turned out to be Clown Picks, Bro, but on the day before, April 4th, Mark had a MLB Predictions and I posted what I think was pretty close:Joe Seamhead said… My prediction all along has been that Davey Johnson will be the NL Manager of the Year.That's not going to happen with a 3rd, or 4th place finish.I'm telling you NI er's, the last series against the Phils will be be meaningless because the Phils will be collecting ML Medicare by then, and be out of the race. The dogfight will be with with the Nats and the Braves. April 04, 2012 7:09 PM

  42. Cwj - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    NatsLady- Good points.Joe- You were right on the money with that! Good job :)

  43. Feel Wood - Oct 4, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    baseballswami said… And speaking of playoff rosters………? Surely they can't just keep everyone in town until Friday night waiting to hear if they are on the roster.Everyone who was on the expanded roster in September will probably travel with the team throughout the postseason whether they are on the active roster for that series or not. Also, guys like Ramos who are on the DL may travel with the team too. If they're not allowed to be in the dugout during games, they'll have seats in the stands. Even though they're not active, they're still with the band, as it were.

  44. NCNatsie - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    I don't recall posting any specific numerical predictions, but I did post several pieces predicting big years for Desmond and LaRoche. The guy who really exceeded my expectations was Werth — and I thought he would do well. But he was amazing this year, IMHO.

  45. NCNatsie - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    It's after 4:00. Where's tonight's game thread?

  46. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Swami @ 3:46 p.m., Actually I think they can (and will). Particularly the pitching staff. The platoon splits between the Cardinals and Braves are so starkly different, that I expect a surprise (or two?) based on which team wins the play-in game. They may not keep everyone around (e.g., Eury Perez, no offense intended), but I assume Messrs. Rizzo and Johnson will watch the play-in game closely and completely before making the final decisions about the final pitcher or two to put on the playoff roster.

  47. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    So Buck is sending Joe Saunders out for the one game playoff.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    NatsJack, check Saunders record vs Texas. Mot good.

  49. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    I think the Orioles record against Texas is mostly not good. But for one game and how deep a funk the Rangers are in, who knows.I know I'll be watching.

  50. Steady Eddie - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    Eugene @ 4:10 pm — Exactly.Hat tip to NatsLady in "Best in the Bigs" thread for her comments giving RHP-LHP splits:NatsLady said… Here are the platoon splits:ATL vs. RHP 64-37ATL vs. LHP 30-31STL vs. RHP 57-57STL vs. LHP 31-17October 04, 2012 7:59 AM NatsLady said…BTW, Nats–vs. RHP 69-45vs. LHP 29-19October 04, 2012 8:01 AMClearly those splits are what Davey saw when he said he'll pitch southpaws vs. Atl and righties vs. StL. Even more fascinating is they've succeeded by feeding on their strength (~64% wins), but are literally mediocre against their Achilles heel (.500 or slightly below) — whereas Nats are steady against everyone — 60.5% and 60.4%. Along with the MLB-tops run differential, does give you strong hope if not confidence in the postseason crapshoot — and also explains why Davey won't name the NLDS roster until after he knows who we're facing.

  51. baseballswami - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Even if they let the players travel with the team — I mean, of course we know the major players, but don't you have to get mentally prepared? I would think that especially pitchers need to be gearing up. You can't just wait until Friday night and then say " you – in, you- out". Mentally and emotionally I think they would have to know if they were going to be part of the team. I know in previous years there were some hard choices made, some fan favorites left out. Is there a spot for DeRosa? How many starters/ relievers will they carry? Is Bernie enough speed out there? ( Personally I don't see Eury Perez as being at all ready for prime time, even just running – looks like a terrified rabbit out there). I don't expect Corey Brown to make the team, I think it's mostly pitchers that will need to be sorted out. I know they want to know if they are facing the right-heavy or left-heavy line-up – just seems like a tough thing to wait that long to know.

  52. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    swami….the rosters for the one gamer tomorrow don't have to be in till 10:00 AM in the morning.

  53. A DC Wonk - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    That makes winning at least one on the road even more imperative. Agreed. The standard line is often: "split the games on the road, take 2-of-3 at home."

  54. A DC Wonk - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    But he didn't come to a team populated with knuckleheads, either. The guys and Davey gave him the best possible environment to "express his talent" and–yes–go to the playoffs.Yes — players in general, and certainly Davey, know the peril of knuckleheads and their impact on young players. Look no further than Davey's Mets and the wasted potential of Gooden and Strawberry. Yeah, they were great players, but they could have had long HoF careers.

  55. A DC Wonk - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    Seamhead — I remember your prediction, and it seemed so extreme that I thought, at the time, you were exaggerating for effect. In any event, you get the "prediction of the year" award in my book.As for me, I predicted 89 wins. But can I pretend I was being dyslexic, or making a typo, and I meant 98?

  56. Joe Seamhead - Oct 4, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    Wonk, I honestly believed it at the time because of my faith in Johnson and because I thought that Phillies were showing signs of complacency, along with age. But I still am having a very hard time believing that this isn't a dream and that somebody isn't going to wake me up.

  57. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 4, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Wasn't sure who DC Wonk might have been might have been implying were "knuckleheads" on the '86 Mets, then looked at the roster. Hernandez, Backman, Strawberry, Dykstra, Foster, Sid Fernandez . . .. That must have been a zoo. (Apart from Ray Knight.) I'm not sure any one of them could be singled out for leading Gooden or Strawberry astray but it wasn't for lack of opportunity.

  58. A DC Wonk - Oct 4, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Theo: add to that list Kevin Mitchell. (And, if I recall, Davey, one of the youngest managers in a long time — he was only in his 40's, used to go out drinking with the players. Davey's learned since then). And the stories of trashing planes, and etc.No need to single out anyone for bad influences — but the full combination couldn't possibly have been healthy for the then (1984) 19-year old Gooden.

  59. NatsLady - Oct 4, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    I think Davey was a lot younger then (in 1986) and the culture was a lot different. I don't know how much a manager could do to stop the self-destruction on the '86 Mets, but from a book I read on that season, he didn't much try.

  60. A DC Wonk - Oct 4, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    I think Davey was a lot younger then (in 1986)Ummm, yeah . . . by about 26 years or so I would guess ;-)

  61. Secret wasian man - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    I had 81 81. More than presently surprised. Just great enjoyed agreeing and disagreeing with you folks all season. It made the season more enjoyable. Okay I see dc wonk shirts. What is it? I can't back space Pleasantly surprised

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 56 44 --
ATLANTA 55 48 2.5
MIAMI 49 53 8.0
NEW YORK 49 54 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 45 58 12.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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