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Predictions and reality: How did the SnakePit stack up?

Time to see where we went wrong - or right! - peering into our crystal baseballs...

21st Biennale of Sydney Media Preview Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

At the end of March, we called up the writers to come up with an exact figure for the number of D-backs wins this season. They responded. The average estimate came in at 89.8 wins. The 2018 D-backs came up just a bit short of that. :( This year, no-one nailed the actual 82-win result, but one of the current writers did peg the 81-83 range, in which the final tally occupied the middle spot. There were a total of ten votes, out of the 184 cast at the time, which got the range right, so if you were in that group, reach over your shoulder and give yourself a pat on the back...

Here are all the numbers chosen by the writers, with a post-season commentary from most on how their expectations stacked up against the real thing. [And a quick note: the SnakePit Casino should be doing its final reckoning later this week too]

Dano_in_Tucson: 90 wins

Keegan Thompson: 83.5 wins

I’m not going to pretend any sort of forecasting ability because the 2018 season was anything but predictable. It’s cliche but there is a reason the games are played. This division was ravaged by injury and weakened as a whole because of it. Had the Diamondbacks season been reversed from how it started to how it ended I may have felt better about the final outcome. The insanely hot start in April created unreal expectations. The Diamondbacks have been roughly a .500 team for this decade and have done it every way possible with incredible peaks, valleys, and plateaus.

Michael McDermott: 84 wins

Makakilo: 90 wins

How close were my predictions:

  • Runs scored (on target but missed bullseye): predicted 12% reduction, actual 15% reduction. (Compared to 2017 season)
  • Runs allowed (missed target): predicted 9% reduction, actual 2% reduction. (Compared to 2017 season)
  • Underperform the Pythagorean (on target): predicted 3.6 win underperform, actual 4.3 win underperform

Three factors with impact that I did not factor into my prediction:

  • Hitting was inconsistent. Two examples follow. 19% of D-back runs were scored in the first inning, while 6% of runs were scored in the ninth inning. May hitting (2.85 runs per game) and June hitting (5.43 runs per game) were 2 standard deviations apart.
  • One run games went poorly (20 wins, 31 losses). An even split would have added 5-6 wins.
  • Disappointing results against three poor teams. Against Mets 2 wins, 5 losses. Against Reds 3 wins, 3 losses. Against Rangers 2 wins, 2 losses. It would be reasonable to have 4 or 5 more wins against these teams.

Hazzard21: 91 wins

Jim McLennan: 90 wins

What happened to the 2018 D-backs? September happened, that’s what. Seriously. On August 30, the D-backs were 74-60, on pace for 89.5 wins. A perfectly possible 16-12 finish, and I’d have nailed it. Instead, the team thereafter went 8-20. [Under other circumstances this would provide some pleasing symmetry, considering they opened the year going 20-8 over the first month of the season.] Consistency was never this team’s best attribute, and a downturn in performance came at the worst possible time, meeting the buzz-saw which was the September schedule. The bullpen went 2-9 with a 5.52 ERA for the month. If there was one thing which killed the season, that was it.

Jayego9: 95 wins

Charlie Gebow: 92 wins

I’m not going to apologize for believing that there was hope in this dark, cold, and frightening world of ours. And while my cynical and jaded peers were more “correct”, I still strive for greater things. Also, the team was cynical and jaded, especially on offense, in May and September, thus they won 10 fewer games than I predicted.

Xipooo: 85 wins

Off by 3? I’ll take that. I certainly didn’t think we’d get off to that great of a start, nor did I envision the starting pitching to be so good. I knew there would be an offensive dip due to JD leaving, but I didn’t imagine it would last so long and that none of his replacement parts would contribute all that much. But here we are.

Turambar: 96 wins

Whelp. Not quite right was I? Right up until September it sure as hell looked like I’d be spot on, but then the wheels fell off. We, as fans and editors, have discussed the why for weeks now so I won’t hash over that too much more. Good D and solid arms can only do so much when the bats refuse to show up in any consistent manner. Sighhhhhhhhhh

Nate Rowan: 85 wins

Well, my number is not too far off, but I couldn’t have been more wrong on how they got to 85 wins. I’d predicted that the offense would remain at about the same level of production as 2017 and that regression from starting pitching would be the downfall of the team. Just completely reverse those predictions and bam, I’m spot on.

ISH95: 96 wins

So funny thing, a couple key points of my prediction were actually correct. The Giants were a bad team, just like I said, and for most of the season, the Rockies bullpen wasn’t anywhere near worth the money. Also, the Padres are still a joke! Problem is, basically every prediction I made about the Diamondbacks was completely wrong. I said the bullpen would be a strength. In the end, it wasn’t. I thought Dyson and Souza would help the team. They did not. I thought we would make mid season acquisitions that would help the team. An argument could be made that they actively hurt the team. 96 wins was probably pretty lofty to begin with, but if even a couple of those assumptions had worked out to be true, they would have gotten a lot closer, but that’s why you play the games, or something.

James Attwood: 87 wins

Once again, I was bit by my heart telling me to be optimistic and to look for good things out of the team, rather than polluting my fan experience with negativity. While I did correctly expect the offense, pitching depth, and team health to come into play, I underestimated just how bad things would get. Even if we were to go by the team’s Pythagorean wins, I was still optimistic by one game.

The offense, which I expected to struggle, wound up being even worse than expected. Paul Goldschmidt had another good season, but he also had some significant struggles during a poor stretch for the team. Steven Souza, Jr. had a terrible season at the plate, as did Alex Avila. Even A.J. Pollock had a down year. On top of all that, injuries took their toll on the team and really exposed the lack of depth. The team was without both Pollock and Souza for a stretch. They basically lost Lamb for the entire year. Taijuan Walker went down for Tommy John surgery. Shelby Miller was both terrible and got injured, meaning they couldn’t even turn to him to mop up. Archie Bradley’s fingernail posed an issue. Randall Delgado was lost for basically the entire season. Even the injury replacement, Clay Buchholz, was unable to finish the season - because of injury.

Inconsistent offense taxing the bullpen? Check. Pitching in general (but mostly the bullpen) costing the team some games down the stretch? Check. Heath taking a bite out of the team? Check. Next time I need to double up just how bad I think the impact will be.

Jack Sommers: 81-83 wins

While the overall win total turned out to be correct, things were different than what I expected. I thought they’d have around a league avg. offense, and somewhat above league avg pitching. But I felt a lot of regression for the pitching staff was in order.

As it turned out, they had an 84 OPS+, 14th in NL, and 88 wRC+, 11th in the NL. Different park factors between BR and FG make up most of that difference, but either way, the offense was well below avg. for the 2018 season. Certainly injuries played a part, but injuries occur every year. The players that were added to the roster during the offseason were terrible the entire , so the season. The depth just wasn’t there to pick up the slack when Lamb, Souza, and Pollock took turns missing time and seeing their performances impacted by their injuries.

On the pitching side I thought there would be regression down to about 105-115 ERA+, and they came in at 117, ranking 2nd in the NL. While they did not approach last year’s ERA+ , (which was 131 at end of season but retroactively adjusted to 128 due to park factor changes) they were still really good for most of the year, despite injuries. FWIW, FG ERA- 91 put them in a three-way tie for 2nd in the NL as well.

So bottom line, hitting was worse and pitching was better than I expected, and they canceled each other out. Of course the late season bullpen collapse, while not totally unexpected, created a huge deficit in one run games. (20-31) It’s notable that the team pythagorean WL was 86-76. One could argue that 86 wins was their true talent level as well. But when I see arguments that they were a playoff team if not for Torey’s bullpen decisions, like I see on twitter a lot, I just don’t buy it.

Steven Burt: 84 wins

Not bad! I questioned their starting pitching depth, and it was a problem. 40 starts between 7 different guys and only a diamond in the rough, Clay Buchholz, salvaged their starts. They actually started 20-8, opposite of my below .500 prediction. On the offensive side, there are even more question marks than when we entered 2018. Lamb and Souza had seasons ruined by injury, and while Nick Ahmed did show something, he actually hit worse than the previous year although that is an improvement in this new humidor Chase Field. The division was very tight all year long and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out next year.