An evaluator expertly defined the folly of preseason predictions the other day without really meaning to, as he reminisced about how the 2014 season played out. "If somebody told you last March," he posited, "that the [San Francisco] Giants would finish the season with Travis Ishikawa in left field, Gregor Blanco in center field, Joe Panik at second base and with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum out of the mix for any meaningful roles, what would you have said?"
You probably would have assumed that the Giants finished fourth or fifth in the NL West, at the end of a disastrous season. You probably would have assumed that Bruce Bochy and his players would spend October lounging on their couches or fishing piers, or, in the case of Hunter Pence, weighing a climb of Mount Everest as he rolled on a scooter. There's no way you would've envisioned that Madison Bumgarner would hog-tie the playoffs and World Series and throw more than twice as many innings than any other pitcher in the postseason.
This is a roundabout way of arguing, again, that March forecasts are pretty useless, as the circumstances that shape any predictions now are bound to change within 24 hours or so, much like the weather.
The guesses of reporters about how the season will play out are probably significantly less reliable than the Farmer's Almanac forecasts for the year ahead, because the Almanac editors only have to choose from a small range of variables: sunshine, clouds, rain, snow, sleet. Baseball reporters, on the other hand, have to choose among 30 teams.
But boy, predictions are fun.
Here is who I believe will win the World Series, along with divisional and wild-card predictions: