Just over a year ago, last January 21, I published my predictions of the topics I thought could evolve into the top five stories across the Cardinal Nation in 2011. With the benefit of full hindsight, including the top 20 stories of 2011 countdown now in the books, this is a look back at my initial forecast. After all, anyone and everyone can make predictions, but how many come back later to review how they fared?
The original top five projections follow, along with where the stories actually ended up, including links to the before and after articles. I won’t be repeating my 2011 summaries here, so click on the links if you’d like to read those detailed stories.
My predictive powers were only so-so. While all five of my guesses from one year ago made the top 20, I sidestepped the possibility of Tony La Russa retiring, the eventual number three story.
As always, I also did not predict how the season would end up, which turned out to provide the subjects of four more of the eventual top six stores (along with La Russa’s departure). Albert Pujols’ contract situation was a no-brainer, then and now.
|2011 prediction story||Prediction rank||Actual rank||2011 actual story|
|Pujols’ pending payday||1||2||Pujols leaves|
|Berkman’s stand||2||9||Berkman’s rebirth|
|Third and last time for third base?||3||10||Freese’s fantastic finish|
|Keeping Carpenter||4||19||Carpenter’s extension|
|Who follows Franklin?||5||17||Closer changes|
My original top five predictions:
1. Pujols’ pending payday
All it took was a World Championship to knock this story out of the final number one position. While this subject has been talked to death already, I thought it was at least somewhat interesting to note that this was my number one story prediction in each of the last two years. One thing is clear – a three-peat is definitely out.
2. Berkman’s stand
One year ago, I said we would either look back at the signing of Lance Berkman as “a bold move or a bad risk.” Clearly, I feared the latter, while it was the former that came to pass. Berkman was a leader both on and off the field in 2011. Perhaps his story ranking ninth is taking him for granted a bit.
One must hope the Cardinals have not pushed their luck by showing faith (via a one-year, $12 million contract) that their (and Berkman’s) good fortune will continue in 2012.
3. Third and last time for third base?
2011 was David Freese’s third shot at holding down the third base position. 12 months ago, it was his chronic ankle problems that were causing the greatest concern. It turned out that Freese once again did serve major disabled list time last season, though it was primarily due to a fluke hit-by-pitch broken hand.
All that was forgotten by the post-season, a time in which Freese put on a historic performance. It was legendary, not just in comparison to past Cardinals stars, but in the history of Major League Baseball. That is what caused Freese to make the top story list – not his injuries.
Needless to say, Freese has solidified his job and seems aligned to bat just behind Matt Holliday and Berkman in 2012.
4. Keeping Carpenter
Last year at this time, I expressed concern that Chris Carpenter’s career may be nearing its end. With the added pressure of losing his co-ace, Adam Wainwright, for the entire year, all he did was lead the league in innings pitched and win some of the biggest games of the regular- and post-season.
In between, there were rumors of an in-season trade that intensified as the Cardinals seemed to slip out of playoff contention. Those whispers never became anything more.
Before last season, I also worried that the Cardinals would not pick up Carpenter’s pricey option for 2012, but noted the two sides could agree to a lower-cost extension. I did get that part right.
In hindsight, I may have done Carpenter an injustice by placing his 2011 down at story number 19. He should never be taken for granted.
5. Who follows Franklin?
The former closer was heading into the final year of his contract and hinting about retirement afterward, so a change was clearly in the air. Of course, none of us expected Ryan Franklin’s demise would begin on opening day and be completely over less than 90 days later.
Four different relievers followed as closer, with Jason Motte, the most likely choice coming in, seizing the job over the final month of the regular season and through the playoffs.
Next up: In my final article of this series, I will outline my predictions for the top five Cardinals stories of 2012.