Monday, April 28, 2014

Sports Illustrated 1987 Baseball Preview Issue

I was recently looking through an old box of sports magazines that I have at my mom's place and came across the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview Issue from 1987. On the cover as you can see are then Cleveland Indians sluggers Cory Snyder and Joe Carter. The cover proclaims an "Indian Uprising" and that "Believe It!! Cleveland is the best team in the American League." In the article Pow! Wow! The lost Tribe is back, thanks to the bats of young sluggers Joe Carter and Cory Snyder by Ron Fimrite dated April 06, 1987.

Now, if my recollection of the 1987 season is correct, the Minnesota Twins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1987 Fall Classic, not the Indians. I wanted to take a look back at the predictions made in 1987 for the season and how the predictions stood up to the reality.

Before I go into how things turned out, I keep seeing the term "Rabbit-ball" being used to refer to the 1987 season. What does the term mean? Keep in mind, according to Larry Granillo in his article Living through the Rabbit Ball in 1987 from SBNation dated June 13, 2013:
After a big-league record for most home runs in a season in 1986, home runs suddenly increased by an additional 20 percent -- that's 700 home runs! -- that season...Where there were more than 20 sluggers hitting at least 30 homers in 1987, there were only five in 1988.
Now realizing that the ball was probably juiced that season (there has never been an official admission by the powers that be), here is how SI laid out their predictions:

Now here are the final standings for the 1987 season:

Here are the year end awards for the 1987 season:

The only accurate predictions made were the selections of Benito Santiago as National League Rookie of the Year and Wade Boggs as the American League Batting Champion. As impressive as Wade Boggs' .363 batting average is, Tony Gwynn ripped off a .370 batting average in the NL.

Dan Pasqua? Really SI? Pasqua never hit more than 20 Homers in a season for his career. He did that with the Chicago White Sox in 1988. I can see picking Schmidt in the NL but Pasqua? Speaking of Schmidt, Schmitty hit home run number 500 on April 18, 1987.

Mark McGwire won the American League Rookie of the Year award and would become the second of three consecutive Oakland A's to win the AL Rookie of the Year award (Jose Canseco in 1986 and Walt Weiss in 1988)

Both Roger Clemens and Dave Stewart won 20-games in the AL. For Stewart this was the first of four consecutive 20+ game seasons as the ace of the Oakland A's (20 in 1987, 21 in 1988, 21 in 1989, 22 in 1990). Rick Sutcliff would win 18-games for the Chicago Cubs to lead the NL in wins.

Steve Bedrosian winning the NL Cy Young Award is surprising to me. I can't say that I even remember "Bedrock" having that kind of a season, while closing for the Phillies. Nolan Ryan led the NL with a 2.76 ERA with 270 strikeout with an 8-16 record. Makes you wonder that if Sabermetricians had the Cy Young vote that year, Ryan would have gotten more votes for NL Cy Young.

Vince Coleman became the last ballplayer to steal over 100 bases in a season. Coleman followed up his 107 stolen bases in 1986 with 109 stolen bases for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987.

And The Cleveland Indians finished with a league worse 61-101 record, far below predictions. All the main predictions in terms of records were off from what SI prognosticated.

The magazine also had the following articles:
- Whatever Happened to the Strike Zone by Peter Gammons
- The Long and Short of It by Peter Gammons
- Game 6 by Peter Gammons
- Once Upon a Time in Cleveland... by Robert W. Creamer
- Manager on a Hot Seat by E.M. Swift
- More Than a Media Darling by Peter Gammons
- Fathers and Sons
- Taking the Sting Out of Batting by James E. Reynolds
- Working Hand In Glove by Lee Chilton

And my favorite of the bunch which while written in 1987, I feel transcends time by feeling as if it was written today:

- Let's Just Play Ball by Ron Firmite

Give the magazine a read if you want a stroll down memory lane. You can access the issue in its entirety with pictures and advertisements here: Sports Illustrated 1987 Baseball Preview Issue from the Vault Reader

Until Then Play Ball,
Baseball Sisco