Friday, March 21, 2014

Cody Stumpo's 2014 MLB predictions

It doesn't feel real, but I guess technically the baseball season is about to officially start. I spent a fair bit of time this winter going over each team, thinking about which players would play how much and where, and how well they would do.

There are plenty of projections systems out there, and if you just average them, they actually do a pretty good job of predicting what will happen. So, from a certain point of view, it's an unnecessary exercise. But I do it because it forces me to think at least for a minute about each and every person who will likely play Major League Baseball this year. I have a moderately informed opinion about Danny Valencia and Logan Schafer and Bruce Rondon, and probably about 900 other people.

This year, I had a special interest in understanding if the Dodgers were really as good as they seem to be. I mean, remember they went 42-8 for a couple months last year, and they have that crew substantially back in place.

I do see the Dodgers as by far the best team on paper. I tried really hard not to be biased in how I projected the Dodger players vs. any other teams. Bias probably crept in; at least I know spent more time on the Dodgers and was able to rely more on information beyond the stat page for their players (since I know more of their situations than that of others).

The methodology was to evaluate each position player's fielding skill at each position, baserunning skill, and hitting.  Hitting broke down into more supporting detail, where I'm ultimately thinking about a decision tree like: what are the chances he walks or strikes out vs. whether he hits the ball. If he hits the ball, what's the distribution of how hard and with what trajectory might he hit it, and therefore (given also how fast he runs) what outcomes does that lead to in terms of outs, singles, doubles triples and home runs.

For pitchers I do something similar to that for hitters. So, there's a fair amount of rigor in it, although it's also a bit subjective since I am ultimately giving my personal opinion about each low-level input, given what I know. This, as opposed to entirely computer-based systems which apply a (typically linear) fit to past data and generate everything at the press of a button.

At the end of the whole process, the WAR framework helps convert all those individual performances into team wins.  I was happy to see that my projected league did have about 81 wins per team (as well as OBP, SLG, ERA in line with recent years), so overall I'm more or less doing it right. I was also happy to see that the spread across teams was more like typical reality than most projection systems will give. If they're trying to give the fair over/under number for wins basically, for each team, they're not going to give out many 95 win or loss seasons. But I will.

Enough with the preamble, on to my expected standings.  I want to release these before the season officially starts.  I've tried to keep my info up to date with free agent signings and injuries and position battles and so forth but expect a few more not insignificant things before the season starts in earnest. The Dodgers look much much better to me than any other NL West team. Of course, stuff could go wrong. I'll have another column on what could go wrong and what it would mean. But if nothing major goes wrong, this is how I see the Dodgers coasting to the playoffs.

So, rather than worry about the NL West, I'll focus on some other likely playoff teams as I go into detail in later columns.

Also, I'm tired of seeing the East at the top of the standings, so let's start with West.


NL West
Wins 
AL West
Wins 
x-Dodgers
98
x-Athletics
90
y-Giants
82
y-Angels
89
Diamondbacks
81
Rangers
84
Padres
79
Mariners
79
Rockies
78
Astros
65
NL East

AL East

x-Nationals
89
x-Rays
93
Braves
81
y-Red Sox
91
Mets
74
Orioles
84
Phillies
73
Yankees
81
Marlins
69
Blue Jays
79
NL Central

AL Central

x-Cardinals
92
x-Royals
83
y-Reds
84
Indians
83
Pirates
81
Tigers
82
Brewers
77
Twins
67
Cubs
71
White Sox
67

I see a very distinct top tier of teams and quite a gap between them and the mediocre teams. While the AL looks to have some great races, the NL division winners look pretty cut and dry to me.

And hey, what's that, the Tigers in 3rd place? Well, the Tigers as of now have no shortstop, no bullpen, no left fielder and a rookie third baseman. They do, however, have three great starters and two good ones. They do have one great position player and two good ones. But that's just a lot of holes. They will probably do something about it, but as of today, they are just not that good. The Royals and Indians don't have any superstars, but they are each strong enough to be right there with the wounded Tigers. It'll be harder for them to upgrade, and ultimately I do expect the Tigers to win the division. I'm just projecting the roster they have in place though, and not the front office moves.  I am looking at major-league ready minor-league depth, but in the Tigers case, they don't have it at the spots they need it right now.

As I'm writing this, the Tigers just traded their sixth starter, Jose Alvarez, for a utility infielder who's about as good as three other guys they already had. Their 6th starter is now Robbie Ray? Unless all five starters stay healthy all year, they are going to be in a real pickle from that desperation move.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment