The Tenth Inning – Week 2 ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
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By Mike Ivcic
Preseason prognosticators use past evidence to make a future prediction. Often times, the evidence used only ends up supporting the original thesis. Last season nearly everyone assumed the Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels would be good baseball teams and likely challenge for postseason glory. And, indeed, all five teams earned playoff berths, the Yanks and Phils met in the Fall Classic and the Yankees hung banner 27. But if it was that easy, what would be the fun in making predictions, right?
See, every year in baseball, there’s a team that comes shooting out of the gates on fire, stays that way for the entire year and, even if they don’t make the playoffs, go down as the surprise team of the season. Think the ‘08 Tampa Bay Rays or ’07 Florida Marlins. Likewise there’s always a hot team that catches everyone by surprise, and maybe people start to believe, but by the All-Star break that team is sub-.500 and everyone’s wondering why they fell for the “hot-start” trick yet again. A classic example here would be last year’s Toronto Blue Jays. The third team is the team most people expected to be good, but starts out awful and never turns it around. People in Cleveland are nodding about the ’06 Indians right about now. And finally there’s the team people picked to finish last and started out that way, only to suddenly discover baseball magic and wind up playing meaningful games into October. Last year’s Rockies would be a great example here, but so too would the Athletics and Astros a few years back who both got ridiculously hot late and made the playoffs.
So this week, after two weeks, it’s time to take a shot at predicting THOSE four teams. Much harder to do than picking the Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals, and Red Sox to make the playoffs. And so…
The team that wasn’t supposed to be good, started well, and will stay competitive all year:
The team that wasn’t supposed to be good, started out well, and will eventually trail off:
The team that was supposed to be good, started out slowly, and eventually turned it around:
The team that was supposed to be good, started out slowly, and never recovered:
This week’s question: Who are the only two players in the majors who have posted seasons of 20 home runs AND 20 stolen bases in each of the last four years?
Look for my column, “The Tenth Inning,” every Monday for the UltimateCapper
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