Daze of Future Passed

I swap sports magazines with my friend Z-bo. He subscribes to Sports Illustrated, while I get ESPN: The Magazine, just because it comes free with my online Insider sub. We save them up for 3-4 months and then trade, so by the time I get around to reading SI, it’s old news — which can be interesting in its own way.

From the “Hot/Not” box in SI’s June 11 issue:


“Oakland is laughably bad, having lost 10 of 11 and ranking 28th or worse in every major offensive statistic except HRs.”

When that was written, the A’s were 23-31. As of June 11, the date on the magazine, they were 26-35, a season-worst 9 games under .500; they were last in the division, 9 games behind Texas.

Flash forward: Starting June 12, they won 5 in a row, sparking a 27-9 run that led to a 68-33 close-out. They never lost 4 straight the rest of the way, and they averaged 5 runs per game for those last 101 contests.

Now, nobody foresaw such a turnaround. Still, whoever dubbed them “laughably bad” deserves a rookie hazing. Anyone who’s followed the big leagues closely for even a few years knows that neither a 23-31 record nor losing 10 of 11 is unusual. The record projects to 69-93; worse marks are posted every single year — five teams in 2012, three in 2011. And even a good team can lose 10 of 11: The Dodgers closed June on a 1-11 skid, blowing a 5-game division lead and falling to 43-36; they finished 86-76. Baltimore lost 9 of 11 from May into June, dropping from 1st place.


In a more personal vein, here’s the wrap to Joe Sheehan’s coverage of Johan‘s no-hitter:

“Santana has come through surgery with both the physical ability and the skill adjustments to be the Mets’ ace for the rest of his time in New York.”

Flash forward: [Sigh…] Johan made 10 starts after the no-no, going 3-7 with a [gulp] 8.27 ERA and .964 OPS. He went out for the year in August with back inflammation, leaving a trail of five straight starts yielding 6+ runs. Just once before had he ever given 6+ runs in even two straight starts.

I’m not really poking fun at Joe Sheehan; I’m sure my own remarks at the time were even more optimistic. But the lesson is: If a pitcher’s been out for a year after surgery, give him a full season before you predict his future.


Our last one is kind of intriguing. A poll of MLB players published in that June 11 issue asked:

“Who is the most overrated pitcher in the game?”
— The winner: 
C.J. Wilson.

I don’t know when the poll was done, but at press time Wilson had a 2.54 ERA, which he trimmed to 2.43 by the All-Star break. In 2011, he had a 2.94 ERA, 150 ERA+ and 206 strikeouts. And in 2010, his first year as a starter, he went 15-8, 3.35.


True, it only took 14% of the vote to “win” that survey, but it still surprised me.

Flash forward: Score one for the electorate. Wilson’s second half saw a 4-5 record and 5.54 ERA.

I’m just guessing, but maybe the voters were reacting to his new Angels contract (5 years, $75 million) — which some folks thought excessive at the time, though you’d hardly think so now — and/or his 2011 postseason (0-3 with a 5.79 ERA and no Quality Starts in 5 tries).

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42 Comments on "Daze of Future Passed"

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Dalton Mack

Wish I had a relevant baseball comment to make, but I’m loving the Moody Blues reference!


Well, at least there’s someone out there who’s found a good use for his ESPN magazines. Color me jealous…


I begged ESPN asking to not send me the magazine. I get it automatically by having an “insider” account. I even offered to pay more money to not have the magazine sent to me. I’ve never read a single article in it. When it arrives every month, I take it from my mailbox, walk into my home, and chuck it straight into the trash. Lousy design, lousy articles.

no statistician but

Kind of reminds one of comments on this site around that time on Konerko and a little earlier on Pujols. It’s a long season.


I have to admit that fairly well along into the season I not only felt that would the A’s be bad but epically bad possibly even historically bad. Even thru much of their hot streak I believed it was just some sort of a fluke and that before the season was over that they would come crashing back down to reality.

But even I knew that even after Santana threw his no-no that it was foolhardy to call him all the way back.

Bryan O'Connor

Check out these Preseason ZIPS Projections. 32 A’s batters included, one with a projected OPS+ over 100- Cespedes at 101. Pitching looked better, but Anderson, McCarthy, and Braden were supposed to carry the rotation, while Parker and Colon projected below average. I guess that’s why they play the games.


Apropos of prediction, has anyone read Nate Silver’s book? I’m about halfway through it now and it’s quite a good read. The section on baseball won’t be massively illuminating to anyone here, but it’s all interesting nevertheless.

Jason Z

My wife and I have not and will not ever join Facebook.

We laugh at Facebook and its users from way above on
our high moral ground.

Mike L

If anyone is interested, a story about Joe Tinker’s grandson in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/pages/sports/baseball/index.html


JA, I do the same thing. My neighbor gets SI (I haven’t had a subscription since I was a teen–I had a brief ESPN The Magazine subscription as an adult) and gives us all of the issues when she is done with them so I end up reading stories several months later.

I noticed the very same thing about that Oakland article a month or so ago.