I’ve always thought ESPN was full of itself and overly obsessed with their own importance and insight, so I was very excited to look back at their predictions for the 2008 Florida Marlins. Now, I know that the Marlins performed better than we expected (81 wins with 6 games to go) but ESPN’s predictions were so dire that I want us all to read and laugh.

First, here is the view from Bob Klapisch:

The bigger problem is the bottom half of the batting order, which is filled with question marks and experiments. It’s no stretch projecting the Marlins in the last third of the NL in runs scored. (Bob Klapisch)

Next, let’s see the actual win/loss projections:

  • Jayson Stark: 70-92, 5th in NL East
  • Tim Kurkjian: 64-98, 5th in NL East
  • Buster Olney: 68-94, 5th in NL East
  • Keith Law: 68-94, 5th in NL East
  • Steve Phillips: 66-96, 5th in NL East

You have to give Jayson Stark some credit. He’s only off by 11+ wins.

How about Jeremy Hermida? He was their sleeper:

Jeremy Hermida has fallen off a lot of fantasy radar screens, but remember, the former 11th overall pick is just 24 years old. After the All-Star break in ’07, he hit .340/.401/.555, with a dramatically improved line-drive rate. A season-long line of .300/25/90 is possible.

Even when they got something right, they still screwed it up:

Don’t rely on Kevin Gregg to be a closer all year. Gregg earns the most money on this team, and has two more arbitration years ahead. The Marlins aren’t going anywhere, and they’ve got a bunch of power-arm closer replacements. Expect a midsummer trade.

or

Just as Cabrera will be missed, so will Willis, who gave the Marlins real mound presence and a legitimate chance to win every fifth day. There’s no such guarantee in the current rotation. Olsen has upside, but his ERA soared to 5.81 last year, the third season in a row that mark has increased. The league’s average against him ballooned from .239 to .315. Sergio Mitre is out until June with a forearm strain, opening the door for Volstad at the back end of the rotation. But his lack of major league experience will keep the Marlins from rushing him.

(For the record, Gregg performed well until August and most people who followed the Marlins knew that Dontrelle was sinking fast).

And please, don’t get me started with their fantasy stats projections: Jacobs with 13 HR, Cantu with 5 HR and 35 RBI, Ricky Nolasco with 5 wins.

Now, before you all begin to hammer me for, well, hammering ESPN, they did get a few things right, including:

Chris Volstad, a former first-rounder, throws an almost effortless 90-94 mph.