MLB 2006: A Look Back on the Season

The World Series is now officially over and with it the 2006 baseball season. This is now a perfect time to look back on what a season it was and all the surprises that developed. It is a great time to look back and answer the questions that were asked and see just how the predictions that were made turned out.

Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth in all-time career home runs on May 28th. For a while it seemed as if Hank Aaron’s record would be safe, as Bonds was a shell of his former self for much of the season. He eventually heated up some to finish with 26 home runs on the season, 21 shy of tying Aaron, 22 shy of owning the record outright. 2007 will very much feature Bond’s chase of history, but right now we are not looking to the future, but instead back at the past.

History did not repeat itself, when Billy Beane and his Oakland A’s finally won a post season series on the backs of his Moneyball approach. The Oakland A’s swept the Minnesota Twins in three games before being swept themselves by the Detroit Tigers in four. The Braves finally failed to win the Division and found themselves shut out of the playoffs completely.

Over in the American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays failed to catch up to the Yankees or Red Sox despite their off season spending spree. However, the Boston Red Sox failed to make the post season themselves as age and ineffectiveness caught up. The Yankees won the division easily, but only to see Steinbrenner’s millions go to waste with an early exist from the playoffs by the hands of a pesky Detroit team.

The Detroit Tigers were obviously able to put their recent woes behind them as they made it all the way to the World Series on the backs of a balanced lineup, a flame throwing relief corps and a young rotation. The Brewers were unable to put all their recent failures behind them, but they were able to build a solid foundation for future success in a division that was won by a team only one game over .500. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Devil Rays continued their losing ways and one has to wonder just when they will ever really compete again.

And then of course there were all the developments that no one could have even known enough to ask about before the season. We saw the Phillie’s Ryan Howard chase the recently renewed 61 home runs. He fell short, but it sure was a fun chase to follow. Not to be outmatched, Albert Pujols put up some pretty hefty numbers of his own, though they ultimately fall short of historical due to a few weeks missed with injury during the season. A-Rod decided to let his post season troubles carry over into the season as he had a “down year” that most players would kill for.

There were few consistent dominant pitchers as the major leagues found themselves without a twenty game winner for the first season in quite some time, while over in the senior circuit no starting pitcher finished with an earned run average below three. The New York Mets also attempted to reach the World Series on what was basically a one man rotation of Tom Glavine. Not all the pitching was mediocre, as the Twin’s Francisco Liriano put together a rather impressive stretch of starts before falling to injury, and Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon started the year absolutely unhittable before blowing a few saves and eventually tiring down the stretch.

I guess it is time to look back on those predictions and see exactly what went wrong and occasionally (and when it counts) right.

AL Division Series

New York Yankees over Chicago White Sox in 5

Oakland A’s over Cleveland Indians in 3

The White Sox and Indians disappointed greatly and failed to even make the post season, while the Yankees fell the Tigers in four. Oakland on the other hand did sweep an AL Central team in the divisional round, but that team was the Twins rather that the Indians.

NL Division Series

Atlanta Braves over San Diego Padres in 5

St. Louis Cardinals over New York Mets in 4

Of the teams predicted to make the playoffs from the senior circuit, on the Braves failed to meet expectations. Instead the New York Mets won the East and swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round. The St. Louis Cardinals faced the San Diego Padres and won in four games.

AL Championship

Oakland A’s over New York Yankees in 5

The Oakland A’s did make it to the Championship Series, but instead of prevailing over the Yankees in five, they were swept by the Detroit Tigers.

NL Championship

St. Louis Cardinals over Atlanta Braves in 4

The Cardinals did meet the NL East division winners in the Championship Series, except for the first time since 1992 that team was not the Braves. Instead the Cardinals defeated the New York Mets in a tough seven game series featuring one of the greatest catches in baseball history by Endy Chavez.

The World Series

St. Louis Cardinals over Oakland A’s in 6

That’s right. Look it up. Check for yourself again. I predicted the World Series winner! Me, myself and I predicted the whole shebang. Before the season even started. We’ll ignore that the Cardinals defeated the Tigers in five rather than the A’s in six, because it is the winner that counts and that winner is me.