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A look back at 2014 pre-spring rankings

Comment from user Vik KG:

These articles would be interesting, if at the end of the year, every writer reviewed themselves to see how close they were to correctly predicting the seasons results.

It doesn't really mean much if you make 1000 predictions throughout the year but never hold yourself accountable.

We all know what kind of track record Dave has making predictions, not much better than the rest of the espn "experts"

I don't mind making myself accountable. Now that we've completed the rankings let's look back at last year's predictions. Maybe I should have done this before compiling this year's, to see what kind of lessons could be learned.

30. Astros

Projected record: 61-101

Actual record: 70-92

Where I went wrong: I didn't account for the breakout seasons of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.

29. Phillies

Projected record: 66-96

Actual record: 73-89

Where I went wrong: The Phillies actually had pretty good health. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd each played 151-plus games. And they were still bad.

28. Twins

Projected record: 67-95

Actual record: 70-92

Where I went wrong: Pretty close. Phil Hughes had a big year.

27. Cubs

Projected record: 68-94

Actual record: 73-89

Where I went wrong: I didn't account for Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks all posting sub-3.00 ERAs.

26. White Sox

Projected record: 71-91

Actual record: 73-89

Where I went wrong: I'd say we can attribute those two extra wins to Jose Abreu being awesome.

25. Marlins

Projected record: 73-89

Actual record: 77-85

Where I went wrong: The offense improved even more than expected (132 more runs).

24. Mets

Projected record: 73-89

Actual record: 79-83

Where I went wrong: Did you have Lucas Duda hitting 30 home runs?

23. Rockies

Projected record: 74-88

Actual record: 66-96

Where I went wrong: The pitching somehow got even worse.

22. Mariners

Projected record: 74-88

Actual record: 87-75

Where I went wrong: Big miss here. They allowed 200 fewer runs as the defense improved more than anticipated, the bullpen was lights out and Roenis Elias and Chris Young came of nowhere to add rotation depth.

21. Brewers

Projected record: 76-86

Actual record: 82-80

Where I went wrong: I had been burned by the Brewers the previous two seasons so I was afraid to pick them higher.

20. Giants

Projected record: 78-84

Actual record: 88-74

Where I went wrong: The Giants were just a little better across the board. They scored 36 more runs, allowed 77 fewer. The rotation held up better than expected, the bullpen was better, Michael Morse actually wasn't terrible, Joe Panik provided a second-half answer at second base and Jake Peavy came over at the deadline and had a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts.

19. Blue Jays

Projected record: 78-84

Actual record: 83-79

Where I went wrong: The back end of the rotation wasn't a complete disaster (Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison).

18. Royals

Projected record: 79-83

Actual record: 89-73

Where I went wrong: The pitching staff didn't regress as much as expected, as the Royals allowed only 23 more runs than in 2013. They scored only three more runs so their run differential was actually worse than 2013. The biggest key was that the rotation stayed healthy, as four guys each made 30 starts.

17. Padres

Projected record: 80-82

Actual record: 77-85

Where I went wrong: Well, I didn't think they'd hit .171 in June.

16. Orioles

Projected record: 81-81

Actual record: 96-66. Another big miss.

Where I went wrong: This was all on the pitching/defense side as the Orioles, as anticipated, scored fewer runs. But they allowed 116 fewer. I was worried about the closer, but Zach Britton -- out of nowhere -- had a great season and the rotation was very good even without a No. 1-type ace.

15. Indians

Projected record: 82-80

Actual record: 85-77

Where I went wrong: Did you have Corey Kluber winning the Cy Young Award?

14. Yankees

Projected record: 84-78

Actual record: 84-78

Where I went wrong: Nailed it!

13. Pirates

Projected record: 84-78

Actual record: 88-74

Where I went wrong: I was worried about the bullpen after Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli had been so dominant in 2013. Melancon was great again and while Grilli got traded, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes both had ERAs under 2.00 and won 17 games. Josh Harrison was big as well.

12. Diamondbacks

Projected record: 85-77

Actual record: 64-98

Where I went wrong: Everywhere? Arizona had finished .500 in 2013 despite a lot of injuries so I thought they'd be better. I remember a spring training discussion with Christina Kahrl, and she said they'd be awful. She was right.

11. Angels

Projected record: 85-77

Actual record: 98-64

Where I went wrong: I'm not going to apologize for missing the boat on Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker.

10. A's

Projected record: 87-75

Actual record: 88-74

Where I went wrong: They took a circuitous route to get there, but the A's were what we thought they were.

9. Reds

Projected record: 87-75

Actual record: 76-86

Where I went wrong: Joey Votto and Jay Bruce combined were worth 11.3 WAR in 2013, 0.8 in 2014.

8. Braves

Projected record: 90-72

Actual record: 79-83

Where I went wrong: The Braves had won 96 games in 2013. As expected, they couldn't match 2013's historic run prevention, but the offense also scored 115 fewer runs, which was more predictable than I realized (no, B.J. Upton wasn't going to bounce back, and Dan Uggla was washed up).

7. Rangers

Projected record: 90-72

Actual record: 67-95

Where I went wrong: Everybody got injured. But I may have overrated them, anyway.

6. Red Sox

Projected record: 91-71

Actual record: 71-91

Where I went wrong: I wrote that they were a "safe bet." Umm ... I did mention the age of guys like David Ortiz, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, and all were worse -- plus rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. weren't as good as predicted. In the end, they scored 219 fewer runs and allowed 59 more.

5. Dodgers

Projected record: 92-70

Actual record: 94-68

Where I went wrong: Pretty close here.

4. Rays

Projected record: 93-69

Actual record: 77-85

Where I went wrong: They actually allowed fewer runs than in 2013, but the offense dropped 88 runs. Evan Longoria had a bad year, Wil Myers got injured, the catchers were horrible and they had some bad luck hitting with runners in scoring position. Not as bad a miss as the 16 wins would indicate, really. If that makes sense.

3. Nationals

Projected record: 93-69

Actual record: 96-66

Where I went wrong: Well, Bryce Harper wasn't an MVP candidate.

2. Tigers

Projected record: 94-68

Actual record: 90-72

Where I went wrong: Justin Verlander had a terrible season, but Tigers were otherwise close to what everyone predicted.

1. Cardinals

Projected record: 95-67

Actual record: 90-72

Where I went wrong: Not a big miss, but the offense did take a big step backward from 2013.

Anyway, a few general observations:

1. There was more parity across the sport than I anticipated, as I predicted eight teams to win 90-plus games and only six did. I only predicted four 90-win teams this year, which will probably end up being on the low side by a team or two.

2. I had more bad misses at the top than at the bottom or in the middle. This is why computers are smarter than humans: I erred too much in picking the same teams as 2013 (Red Sox, Rays, Braves), when we get more turnover at the top than we used to.

3. The big misses almost always had to do with underestimating run prevention. This makes sense, as pitching/defense is inherently more difficult to predict than offense.

There's a follow-up post to be done next week on which teams are good bets to significantly improve their run prevention in 2015, which could tell us who are the best sleeper bets.