There are two predominate projection sites in the MLB world. One is by Baseball Prospectus based on PECOTA, and the other is FanGraphs based on run differential fprecasts. Although the teams are not complete, and transactions today are not included (such as Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber), it is kinda fun to see where these teams are projected based on what their off-seasons have been like and the player forecasts. These are NOT the final projections and they will be consistently updated. Updates happen based on injuries, free agent signings, and trades and they will either go up pr down from these baseline projections.
First is the Baseball Prospectus standings.
The divisions of most interest will be AL East and NL East based on all the moves those teams made. In this case, I am shocked! BP has NYY as the best team in the EAST and by 6 games! They make NYY 11 games better than Tampa Bay! PECOTA seems to like the moves NYY has made especially on defense. They have slightly more runs scored than TOR but 50 fewer runs allowed than either TOR or TB. I guess if you believe NYY will score the most runs and allow the least runs, they would be the number one team in the division. We’ll have to see what FanGraphs thinks of this.
BP cannot decide between ATL and NYM so they are tied atop the NL East. Actually, this may very well be a true outcome. The two teams are quite similar in runs scored and allowed too. Almost mirror images of each other. PHI is a distant 3rd but this does account for the Schwarber addition, so PHI could marginally narrow the gap.
I am not surprised by CHW in the AL Central as they are the cream of that division. I do find it interesting that DET is still a cellar dweller. DET did finish a few games above .500 after the All-Star break, so the expectation is that they would improve in the standings. Plus they signed Javier Baez. Yet, there they are at the bottom again. It looks like the offense is their issue. I find the NL Central to be quite intriguing as well. It should be a battle between MIL and STL. MIL has the pitching and STL can hit. However, BP has MIL WAY out front. They are expecting them to score some runs too! I am not sure I agree with this either. I don’t mind MIL as the front runner, but I don’t think they are 13 games better than STL!
I am surprised to HOU is only 1.5 games better than LAA! Again, this comes down to pitching which we all know LAA struggles at. BP believes a healthy Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon will make for a potent offense as they are projected with 795 runs (only NYY 796) has more. I do agree with SEA though. I think they are at least one more season away from being a contender. In the NL West, it is all LAD, and rightfully so. SD has work to do and with Tatis out for half the season, this will not be their year. I believe SF is in the right spot (around .500). They are a regression ripe team as they had many players with career seasons last year. Let’s see what FanGraphs looks like.
At least here we see TOR and NYY tied with 92 wins. TB is only 5 games behind them so I think it is more realstic. I am surprised that both projections like NYY as well as they do. My mind seems to think TOR is better by a small margin than NYY and TB are 2nd and 3rd not necessarily in that order. BOS has work to do, and BAL is just ready to compete yet. The Central is the same but a bit different. CHW is a runaway favorite, but all the other teams are within 5 games of each other! I don’t foresee any of these teams breaking out to make the expended playoffs. I do like DET’s chances of being a .500 team though. In the West, HOU is 8 games better than LAA and that sounds better than the BP projection. HOU still has a tremendous offense and their pitching is better than LAA as well. They have SEA around .500 as well.
The NL shows FanGraphs like ATL by 2 games over NYM. I can see that or I could see NYM 2 games better than ATL. At least there is not a tie here! I see this as ATL with a better offense and NYM with the better pitching. PHI is close 3rd though and could make the expanded playoffs! It is interesting that again MIL is the Central favorite. At least, in this case, MIL is only 6 games better than STL. I don’t think the gap is that large and would not be shocked to see STL win this division. I am interested to see where CIN and CHC end up. Or better, which one of these teams will be forecast higher. Again the West is LAD but a much narrower margin of 6 games. Interesting to see SFG not that far behind SDP which makes sense based on SDP troubles (Tatis).
Both models suggest Colorado is the worst team in the NL and Baltimore to be the worst team in the AL. Oh, have the Oakland A’s fallen! Both models like OAKto be cellar dwellers in the AL West. Neither model is suggesting a 100 win team either.
Again, these are early projections and will get better as the next few weeks go by. It is worth keeping an eye on. There is a lot of work that goes into these models. they are not the be-all and end-all, so it is ok to have a difference of opinion. However, the caution is that the models are based on player projections and runs created. They do have meaning and should be used as a guide.