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Prediction Addiction

By Mike Mack

Alas, opening day has finally arrived and Twins fans everywhere are eager to watch the Twins take on the Angels in LA (although many may also be annoyed with a late West Coast series right out of the gate).

Even without Joe Nathan, there is plenty of optimism in Twinsville. I'm always curious, though, what the expert opinions are outside of the Twin Cities. How many national writers and analysts believe the Twins will win the AL Central? Do any predict them to win the AL pennant, or even the World Series? I checked out five popular websites to find out what some of the experts think of the Twins' chances. Here's a breakdown of my findings from espn.com, si.com, cbssports.com, and mlb.com.

Sports Illustrated; http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/baseball/mlb/03/29/expert.picks/index.html -- Eight of the 13 experts predict the Twins will win the AL Central, with four picking the White Sox and one picking the Tigers. Tom Verducci and Lee Jenkins have the Twins going to the World Series and Jenkins has the Twins topping the Cardinals in a rematch of the 1987 World Series. Verducci has the Twins losing to the Phillies in the World Series. Verducci's prediction is sketchy, however, as I discovered that he has the Phillies beating the Rays in this mlb.com video -- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/baseball/mlb/03/29/expert.picks/index.html (Verducci's prediction is at 2:24.)

ESPN; http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/preview10/news/story?page=10expertpicks -- ESPN.com features a whopping 36 expert predictions. Of the 36, 17 have the Twins winning the AL Central, while 14 have the White Sox and five pick Detroit. Only one writer, Jim Caple, has the Twins winning the AL pennant. Caple has the Twins losing to the Giants in the World Series.

CBS Sports; http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/13145522 -- Of the five cbssports.com staff members, two believe the Twins will win the division, two pick the White Sox and one picks the Tigers. Senior fantasy writer Eric Mack, like SI's Jenkins, has the Twins and Cardinals in the World Series. But Mack predicts the Cards will prevail.

USA Today; http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2010-04-02-baseball-predictions_N.htm -- Three of the five USA Today MLB staff members predict the Twins will win the division, while the White Sox and Tigers each got one vote. None of them have the Twins winning the American League.

MLB.com -- I was hoping to get several predictions from MLB.com experts, but the network's "Playoff Preditions" video does not actually contain full predictions of all the division winners. (This is the same video that contains Verducci's "other" World Series prediction.) Mysteriously, the video opens with wild card predictions, then goes right to the projected World Series matchups. Thankfully, the legendary Peter Gammons did not omit the division winners in his video -- http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100404&content_id=9070794&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb. Gammons has the Twins narrowly winning the AL Cenral over the White Sox.

In sum, 31 of the 60 experts in this "study" have the Twins winning the division, 21 went with the White Sox, and the other eight have the Tigers. Three experts -- Jenkins, Caple and Mack -- definitely have the Twins going to the World Series (not sure about Verducci). Nobody picks the White Sox or Tigers to advance to the World Series. Jenkins, clearly the wisest expert in this field, believes the Twins will be the last team standing in October.

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