Did Anyone Predict the Red Sox Would Do Well This Season?

Amidst the many mea culpas being offered by sportswriters, we search for the clairvoyant among them.

John Farrell

Associated Press

Given a few days to reflect on the Red Sox’ improbable Word Series victory, many sports writers have offered amusing mea culpas by revisiting just how bad their pre-season predictions were, but justifying them by noting that everyone else was wrong, too. So we wondered, did any particularly prescient people predict the Red Sox would pull off a World Series win. Did anyone even come close, for that matter? Dustin Pedroia seemed confident enough back in March:

But did any, perhaps slightly more objective observers, predict this to happen—predict even a playoff berth for the Red Sox?

Yahoo! Sports sure didn’t. Nor did Sports Illustrated. It was mostly swings and misses at the Worldwide Leader, too.  Certainly we at Boston were caught off guardAnd, as has been pointed out in the many posts rounding up the bad predictions, it seems that nobody—absolutely nobody—actually picked the Red Sox to win the AL East. (More on that in a moment.)

A few of ESPN’s national pundits did pick the Red Sox to earn a measly Wild Card spot, but with 43 different predictions, the third-eye-blind baseball writer is bound to pick the Red Sox once or twice. Meanwhile, local media members who projected a playoff appearance, like ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald or the Worcester Telegram’s Bill Ballou—apparently the forgotten man who actually did pick Boston to win the AL East—couldn’t possibly foresee how the Red Sox would contend: with John Lackey on the pitcher’s mound, dominating opposing hitters.

Except Joe McDonald predicted exactly that. While the Dan Shaugnessys of the world would prefer to shout from the press box that no one else believed the Red Sox would win the World Series or the AL East either—incorrectly, as it turns out—they’re selectively ignoring Ballou’s and, to a greater degree, McDonald’s brilliant foresight. To revisit McDonald’s preseason predictions, he made a few notable claims: “The Sox will be a playoff team,” he said. And “Lester and Lackey will come up big.”

McDonald does more than predict that the Red Sox will back their way into a Wild Card spot. The Red Sox would contend if healthy, he argued, carried by the strength of their rotation. A motivated John Lackey would return to top form. For good measure he also correctly called Ellsbury’s comeback year. And McDonald is likely weeks away from having his final prediction—that the ultra-talented, but oft-injured centerfielder will relocate through free agency—confirmed as well.

Sure, neither Ballou nor McDonald picked the Sox to win the ALCS, much less win the World Series, but in this case, truly no one did. Well, perhaps, even that’s a stretch. ESPN commenter Marty2841 came about as close as one could reasonably expect to predicting the Red Sox season in one of the thousands of (mostly) negative responses to McDonald’s prediction post.

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But clairvoyant commenters aside, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the preseason projections of McDonald and Ballou, especially with all the pundits making themselves feel better by noting that no one else got it right etiher. Somebody get them a duckboat!

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