Picking a 2013 World Series winner
Surprises, disappointments and picking next year's champ
Today on ESPN.com we're giving you an updated version of our Future Power Rankings, which we first unveiled in February. With that in mind, we asked our experts to discuss this year's biggest surprises and disappointments, as well as make a 2013 World Series pick. All of that in today's Triple Play.
1. What's the most disappointing team of 2012?
Eric Karabell (@karabellespn), ESPN Fantasy: The Philadelphia Phillies get that honor. Not that anyone expected 102 wins again, but they're not going to win even half their games for the first time in a full decade, despite the payroll, the top starting pitchers, the overrated, overpriced closer, etc. Losing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard didn't help, but most of the players who were healthy, like Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee and the departed outfielders, underperformed.
Molly Knight (@molly_knight), ESPN The Magazine: No contest: the Angels. The fact that they're playing .500 ball is astounding. Especially considering that in addition to adding Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the offseason, they also introduced the world to the second coming of Mickey Mantle in the form of Mike Trout. Good Lord is he fun to watch. He may be the best player to come along in 20 years. But their pitching has been atrocious. I picked them to win the World Series before the season and now a playoff berth isn't even a given. Yikes.
Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj), Beaneball: The Angels were a good team in 2011, added Pujols and Wilson before the season and Ernesto Frieri and Zack Greinke in the middle, and watched Mark Trumbo turn into one of the most fearsome power hitters around. Oh, and that Trout guy is apparently Mantle all over again. Yet somehow they're only 3½ games ahead of the Mariners, and they're four back of the second wild-card spot. I call that a major disappointment.
2. What's the most surprising team of 2012?
Karabell: All due respect to the 1971/1979 World Series combatants (Pirates/Orioles), but who expected the Washington Nationals to have the best record in baseball? They nearly reached .500 last season for the first time since 2003 and now they're on the way to 100 wins. Sure, it always seems to be about Stephen Strasburg, but this is a deep team with a lot of pitching. Watch out in October.
Knight: It's gotta be the Pirates simply because they haven't had a winning season since 1992. (Related: Mike Trout turned 1 that year.) I picked the Nationals to make the playoffs before the season started so I'm not that shocked they're doing well, but I'm surprised they have the best record in baseball. I cannot fathom the circus that will overtake D.C. if the Nats play in the World Series days before Obama vs. Romney is decided. I hope it happens. But that's doubtful without Strasburg.
Wojciechowski: The Nationals. I actually picked them to finish last in their division before the season. I did not think the Gio Gonzalez trade would work out for them and the offense looked suspect. I thought people were overrating Bryce Harper's ability to have an immediate impact. I was more or less right about Harper, but wrong about the rest.
3. Pick your 2013 World Series winner.
Karabell: Watch out for the Nationals in future Octobers as well. This isn't a one-and-done season for this franchise, and next year when Strasburg has no restrictions on his way to an NL Cy Young Award that he might even deserve this year, they could do this again. In 2013, I'll say Nationals over the Buffalo Bills, um, I mean the Texas Rangers. It will be four Series losses in a row for them.
Knight: The Nationals! Strasburg will be back. Ryan Zimmerman will be healthy, Jordan Zimmermann and Harper will be a year older and better. And the goodwill of all people -- except maybe Mets and Phillies fans -- would be with them.
Wojciechowski: The Nationals again. Strasburg's innings limit should be off (unless, of course, they remove it this year and blow out his arm in the process), and Harper could be ready to make a full-season impact. Even more important, most of the team's core is young and/or under contract, leaving its payroll situation in a reasonable place for Mike Rizzo to make upgrades.