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The Prospectus Hit List is back for its sixth season! This year, on the orders of Dr. James Andrews, I’ll be publishing separate AL and NL editions, as well as publishing a combined ranking for those who wish to quibble over interleague superiority. As ever, we at BP are determined to put our best foot forward when it comes to predicting the upcoming season, and the foundation of our predictions is PECOTA. From the basic projections, our staff adjusts for expected playing time, strength of schedule, reliever leverage, and team defense to generate the Projected Standings, which have been updated frequently throughout the spring based upon the latest news and analysis. The Hit List Factors below are the Pythagenpat winning percentages derived from the latest runs scored and runs allowed projections, which are included in parentheses at the end of each team capsule. As you quibble with the rankings-I certainly have-remember that projections are not destiny; they’re shorthand for a wider range of probabilities centered on the stated won-loss records. As proud as we are of our system’s track record, we’re eager to put the theoretical behind us and watch the season unfold. Play ball!

Rk Team
Overall WL
Week WL
Hit List Factor
Comment

1


Red Sox
95-67
.592
Flat
Defensive Posturing? New England worrywarts may fret about a lack of offense straight out of some Borgesian nightmare. Indeed, the winter’s key arrivals-John Lackey, Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron-tilt more towards run prevention, bolstering the rotation both directly and with a renewed commitment to defense borne of last year’s sorry 28th-place ranking in Defensive Efficiency. As for the offense, relax chowdaheads, we’ve got the Sox projected for a True Average of .270 (second-best in the majors), not to mention the top record in all of baseball. (847 RS, 696 RA)

2


Rays
92-70
.571
Flat
Rays-ed Hopes: The darlings of 2008 got a harsh lesson in come-back-to-earthiness last year, but this team is so stacked it should carry an NSFW tag. The addition of Wade Davis to the rotation, the continued development of David Price, and a bounceback from B.J. Upton all add to the upside achievable by this talented corps, headed by MVP candidate Evan Longoria and the lineup’s Swiss Army knife, Ben Zobrist, and backed by an organizational depth which is simply unrivaled. (820 RS, 705 RA)

3


Yankees
91-71
.566
Flat
No rest for the World Champions. Despite their efforts to get younger-punting Johnny Damon and Hideki Matusi for Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson-their success still hinges upon whether Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera can continue defying the aging process, not to mention whether Alex Rodriguez‘s hip remains intact. PECOTA sees the Yanks having their hands full battling the younger Rays and deeper Red Sox, and that’s without accounting for their efforts to ward off the inevitable distractions surrounding The Jobacalypse. (859 RS, 749 RA)

4


Athletics
83-79
.517
Flat
Averaging 75 wins since 2007, the A’s make for a surprising choice to break out of the latest AL West scrum. Indeed, “breaking out” is a stretch given how tightly bunched around .500 its four teams are. Unless and until the likes of Chris Carter and Michael Taylor show up, the A’s lineup is merely ordinary, a great distance removed from the walk-and-wallop days, but at least it’s not dependent upon the wishful thinking of healthy seasons from Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby. Headed by ace-in-the-making Brett Anderson and a roll of duct tape that will be stretched to accommodate both Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer, it’s the rotation which will make or break Billy Beane‘s boys. (731 RS, 705 RA)

5


Rangers
83-79
.512
Flat
Last year’s upstarts won’t sneak up on anyone this time around, and while the holdover talent is plenty good, what’s really interesting here-particularly in light of last year’s Elvis Andrus-led defensive improvement-is the daring remake of the rotation into one that can miss bats. Towards that end, not only have they brought in Rich Harden, but they’ve brought Colby Lewis back from Japan and C.J. Wilson forward from the bullpen. As with the A’s, things could get very interesting if and when this team dips into its own reserves to give Neftali Feliz and Justin Smoak key roles. (800 RS, 780 RA)

6


Mariners
82-80
.509
Flat
The additions of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and even Milton Bradley have turned Jack Z‘s Mariners into the hip pick in the AL West. PECOTA sees the upgraded defense amply supporting the somewhat shaky rotation behind Lee and Felix Hernandez, but it’s got plenty of concern for an offense where only the front four hitters-Ichirio Suzuki, Figgins, Casey Kotchman and Bradley-forecast for True Averages above .260, with Kotchman’s .262 still a significant drag from the first base spot, to say nothing of the three hole. In the Pacific Northwest, 3-2 games may be the new grunge. (727 RS, 713 RA)

7


Twins
81-81
.501
Flat
The loss of Joe Nathan to the surgeon’s table notwithstanding, there’s plenty of reason for optimism in the Twin Cities. Start with the new ballpark and its pricey-but-possible byproduct, the Joe Mauer contract extension. Move along to the upgrade to a real live middle infield (Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy) and the returns to health not only of rotation anchor Kevin Slowey but of potential staff ace Francisco Liriano (take the under on that projected 4.58 ERA) and you’ve got hopes for Central success that should remain undimmed even amid the dreaded closer-by-committee controversy. (815 RS, 813 RA)

8


White Sox
79-83
.487
Flat
Fronted by Jake Peavy for a full season, the rotation should be a strength, but Ozzie Guillen can emphasize the running game until Juan Pierre‘s cow is waved home, and the White Sox will still live and die by the long ball. Judging by the forecast for a .417 SLG (10th in the league, and in a hitter’s park), that means facing this lineup’s utter mortality. Full years of Carlos Quentin, Gordan Beckham, and Alex Rios will help, but the Sox have too many low-OBP sinkholes, and the Mark Kotsay/Andruw Jones DH plan is a big bowl of wrong-even more so if Oz makes good on his threat to bat Kotsay third. (748 RS, 769 RA)

9


Tigers
79-83
.486
Flat
Dontrelle Willis‘ startling overtures towards adequacy underscore the Tigers’ biggest challenge: getting more than 1.7 WARP from a quintet on whom they’re spending $65 million this year, almost half their payroll; they’re left banking on Willis and Jeremy Bonderman while sinking the cost of Nate Robertson. Easier to understand is their bet on a pair of former Yankees, Austin Jackson and Johnny Damon, to upgrade the top two spots of their lineup, though the team’s PECOTA forecast of a .259 True Average suggests that makeover may only scratch the surface. (762 RS, 784 RA)

10


Indians
79-83
.485
Flat
With no Central team set to run break away from the pack, the Indians may wind up making a competitive bid even as they rebuild. Particularly so if Fausto Carmona can deliver upon a spring which has him back in his dazzling 2007 form, helping new manager Manny Acta avoid falling back upon the eminently hittable leftes which have pockmarked recent Cleveland rotations. The return to health of Grady Sizemore, a full season of Matt LaPorta, continued development of the already-impressive Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo-not to mention the anticipated mid-summer arrival of Carlos Santana-at least lift this team into the realm of sleeper, which is more than one might hope for after consecutive years of trading away Cy Young winners. (767 RS, 792 RA)

11


Orioles
78-84
.480
Flat
While there’s no guarantee that the Orioles can snap their string of 12 consecutive losing seasons, PECOTA thinks they can at least be within hailing distance of .500, and with Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz joining the growing cast of young studs from day one, they’ll certainly be more interesting than in years past. Which isn’t to say there won’t be growing pains, or that other potential flaws-Brian Roberts‘ back, Garret Atkins’ dying bat, Miguel Tejada‘s adaptation to the hot corner, not to mention a whole lot of average-at-best rotation filler (Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brad Bergesen)-won’t manifest themselves. (797 RS, 831 RA)

12


Angels
78-84
.477
Flat
Fallen Angels? Despite winning five division titles in six years, the Halos enter 2010 as AL West underdogs, at least where PECOTA is concerned. Blame the losses of John Lackey, Chone Figgins, and Vlad Guerrero, the latter two to division rivals. Much hinges upon the ability of Brandon Wood to make good on his once-blue chip status, the rebounds of Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, and Scott Kazmir, and the potential maturation of Jered Weaver into a ground-ball-generating staff leader. Don’t put it past manager Mike Scioscia to squeeze extra wins out of this projection via his skillful bullpen management, but don’t be surprised when this team doesn’t dominate the division as in years past. (796 RS, 835 RA)

13


Royals
76-86
.467
Flat
Zack Greinke and Billy Butler aside, the Royals have turned into a zombie flick; how else to explain the employment of undead retreads like Jason Kendall, Yuniesky Betancourt, Rick Ankiel, Jose Guillen, and Kyle Farnsworth, to say nothing of the sheer existential horror of the franchise’s past decade and a half? Hope and faith here is best left to individual quests: another Cy Young-caliber season for Greinke, a rebound for Alex Gordon, continued success mining stathead wisdom for Brian Bannister, and so forth. (738 RS, 792 RA)

14


Blue Jays
72-90
.440
Flat
The Doctor is Out: So the Blue Jays begin the post-Halladay/Ricciardi era facing the distinct possibility of being overtaken in the AL East by another flock of luckless birds, and this writer will have to find a new whipping boy beyond the embattled ex-GM. The lineup projects for plenty of power, particularly if Travis Snider can live up to his impact-player billing. But patience is in shorter supply, unless you’re talking about the organization’s ability to burn through young arms. Shaun Marcum‘s back from Tommy John surgery to be the Opening Day starter, but can the likes of Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow survive this franchise’s arm-mangling tendency? (732 RS, 830 RA)

The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Thursday.

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wonkothesane1
4/02
Interesting that the A's come out as the best in the west. Most analysts see them as an also-ran to the other 3 competitors. Obviously, some of that is due to the Angels incumbency as division dominator, the sexiness of the Mariners offseason and the Rangers winning record last year. But, you look at the A's and you don't really see a contender. Maybe their upside isn't that of their rivals, but their downside isn't as low so it averages to a higher HLF?
ScottBehson
4/02
Take the A's prediction with a HUGE boulder of salt. BP's models tend to overrate the A's and Indians and underrate the Twins and Angels. (all models have small biases, this just happens to be BP's) Before you -1 this comment out of existence, please consider the A's are consistently picked at or near the top of the AL West every year at BP and have finished, on average 18 games out of 1st place the past 3 years.
jjaffe
4/02
...aaaaaaand like clockwork, there's the first accusation of bias for the Hit List this spring. It's a tradition almost as old as Opening Day. I'm well aware that the system has been wrong about the A's - my best guess is that a good chunk of it has to do with optimistic projections (human-influenced playing time estimates included) for injury-vulnerable guys like Eric Chavez, Bobby Crosby, and the Duke. On the other side of the aisle, the link between the Angels' recent penchant for overachievement and Scioscia's skill at running a bullpen is one I've actually explored at length on the site and in the book. But beyond that, I'd love for you to explain to our readers how our bias is actually BUILT INTO the model. Really, do enlighten us.
oira61
4/02
Jay -- I like the A's. I'm not accusing you of bias in the same way that one accuses a political reporter of bias. But come on man, the A's have been overrated by Pecota every year since they started to suck (2007). Rather than ask us to explain Pecota -- I don't understand it -- may I suggest you, and maybe Nate and Clay if you can get them, get under the hood and see if you can find that pesky loose valve that's causing that annoying "let's go Oakland" chant.
randyj
4/03
x10
alskor
4/03
"The A's have been 'overrated' in my estimation two years in a row! There must be something wrong with this system that I admittedly don't understand! Also, don't bother trying to explain it to me, just *fix* your system!" "What? No - I'm 100% positive it couldn't be injuries, luck and random variance. Why do you ask?"
drewsylvania
4/03
I don't think he was saying that there is a deliberate attempt by BP to inflate the A's (not sure if that's what you were saying, either). But if the system has been, as you admit, wrong about the A's, there must be some reason for it. One could call that reason a "bias" by PECOTA. Maybe the problem is the charged word "bias".
Oleoay
4/03
Any projection system is skewed one way or another based on whatever elements it is measuring. For example, a system that looks at batting average will favor different teams than ones that favor on base percentage. The main reason for that is there's still no "perfect stat" or combination of states to _exactly_ evaluate players. What we have are a bunch of approximation models for things like offensive production, defense and pitching and models try to estimate the "norm" but are rarely completely comprehensive. Close, perhaps, but not perfect.
ScottBehson
4/04
Hi Jay. I love your work. I love BP. I've been a paying subscriber for as long as you've had them, and I cannot see a time in which I will not continue to subscribe. I know you know all about statistical analyses, so this is nothing new to you. However, ANY projection system will tend to have less than fully 100% non-skewed results. Take the case of multiple regression. We apportion the sums of squares of the dependent variable among the independent variables in the model. The remainder is called "error" which is generally assumed to be randomly distributed. However, it hardly ever is. "Error" truly means variance in the dependent variable that cannot be attributed to the independent variables you have built into the model. I presume PECOTA has many (and all of the most important) variables specified in your model. However, it cannot account for everything. My best guess is this- the factors not in the model, such as manager, precision around injuries, "intangibles", "chemistry", etc.- all have small, usually inconsistent effects, but not zero effects. This results in "error" that most attribute to luck, randomness or noise, that could more accurately be portrayed as "unexpalined variance". Most of the time, unexplained variance, even in the best models, is not fully random. I do not accuse BP of intentional bias. However, it is clear that PECOTA tends to highly rate some teams that make decisions in a manner consstent with BPs approach and tends to underrate some teams that take differing approaches. The reason is the "unexplained variance".
christopherchu
4/02
I love my A's. I love BP. And I love the Prospectus Hit List. I'm terrified of having my heart broken. Again. A's as 4th best in the AL? I reeeeeallly want to believe it's true. I want to have a shot at avenging 2001. Slide, Giambi, slide!
jjaffe
4/02
You know, the A's were exactly six runs ahead of the Rangers when I ran these numbers. In today's depth chart update, they're four runs ahead. The differences between Seattle, Texas and Oakland are negligible relative to the potential for introducing subjective errors in estimating playing time, particularly in a system which is updated on a nearly daily basis. So if you want to pretend they're sixth so your hopes don't get too high, be my guest.
Oleoay
4/03
Out of curiosity, with the updates to PECOTA's methodology, the introduction to SIERA and TAv, did the Hit List calculations change at all?
jjaffe
4/03
The Hit List calculations are based upon what comes out of PECOTA - individual performances boiled down to wins and losses - not what goes into it. As far as I know, SIERA isn't part of it yet, though it may eventually be. True Average is still calculated the same as EqA was, so the level of its involvement in the Hit List, which is in making the third-order Pythag adjustments, isn't part of the preseason Hit List. I have yet to find a really good reason to deviate from the same Hit List methodology I've been using for the past five years. A certain element of the readership would like the list to reflect more immediate changes in team fortunes, but the quick and dirty studies I did on shorter increments of team performance (past week, past month, etc.) showed that they're not particularly indicative of team strength, which is to say that they added no value whatsoever to the predictive power of the Pythag-based winner percentages which underly the calculation of the Hit List factor. I may try to do a more formal study towards that end, because the original one was done as a comment to a column.
Oleoay
4/03
Thanks for the insight Jay. I like the Hit List and wasn't suggesting a change was needed, just curious if the recent wave of changes at BP influenced the calculations at all.
jjaffe
4/02
PECOTA really, REALLY likes the A's rotation, even with the injury risks that Sheets and the Duke present, and it really does not like the Angles' rotation. Some of that may have to do with defense on balls in play, though I haven't run the numbers myself or checked with Clay to see where they're at, relatively speaking. I happen to think the system is a bit aggressive on Oakland and too conservative on the Angels, but that's why I don't deliver these goodies without comment.
wonkothesane1
4/03
I'm cool with that. At least I have a flash point so to speak now. If (big if, little if, whatever) the A's rotation begins to falter I can abandon the idea that they are a favorite or even a contender.
kdierman
4/02
I'll take the UNDER on the Mariners and Royals' win projections....you still have to score more runs than your opponent to win. The Computer can't account for Mike Scosia's managing prowess thus the OVER on Angels wins looks juicy - especially if Santana rebounds from the Verducci effect and Kazmir pitches the way he did the last six weeks in Anaheim.
DonnieBaseball
4/02
Angels below the Indians? With that staff? Not a chance. They belong one rung above the Royals at best.
CaveDweller
4/02
It seems that PECOTA is incapable of projecting to the extremes (either high or low) and always regresses back to the middle. Look at the projected Runs Scored above compared to how they did last year: Projected - Team - 2009 Runs 859 NY 915 (in 2009) 847 BOS 872 820 TB 803 815 MN 817 800 TX 784 797 BALT 741 796 LAA 883 767 CLE 773 762 DET 743 748 CHI 724 738 KC 686 732 TOR 798 731 OAK 759 727 SEA 640 On the projected side, there's a range of 132 runs between top and bottom with 4 teams at 800 and above and no one below 700. But from 2009, there was a range of 275 runs between top and bottom with a more diffused bell curve of 1 team over 900, 4 more over 800 and 2 below 700. I haven't gone back beyond 2009, but it seems unrealistic to expect all the runs to be so evenly scored between 14 teams. Perhaps it's impossible to predict which teams are going to have outlier seasons (good or bad) for runs scored, but it seems extremely likely that some of the teams above are going to over or underperform by a significant margin to become those outlier teams. PECOTA doesn't seem able to account for this.
jjaffe
4/02
I believe it was Colin Wyers who had a much more eloquent summation of this, but essentially, you have to remember that projection systems such as PECOTA aren't built to identify outliers, they're designed to minimize error and to approximate distribution, and that includes a whole lot of regression to the mean. When we say the Yanks are going to score 859 runs, that's the weighted mean of a whole lot of possibilities. Teams don't end up as outliers without a whole lot of things coming up right (or wrong) - say, several guys hitting or pitching to their 70th to 90th percentiles (or 30th, or 10th). And that, by definition, is an unlikely occurrence, which no projection system is going to nail. Now, one thing I think would be very interesting for us to try to do would be to present team run totals (scored and allowed) using some kind of probablistic distribution the way we do with individual players. If we could tell you, for example, that not only are the Yankees projected to score 859 runs but that their 75th percentile projection is for 930 runs and their 25 percentile projection is for 820 runs. That might do a better job of making the potential outliers more visible.
CaveDweller
4/02
Jay - Exactly what I was looking for. You might have a team like the Twins with a wide swing (if Hardy, Hudson and Young all take off or them all crashing) vs. a team like the Jays with a narrow run scoring band (very little upside but perhaps very little downside). Does PECOTA take a player like Mauer and take his forecast (his percent chance of injury, percent chance last year was a peak year, percent chance he could improve) and then convert him into a static number (he's worth 60 runs scored) and then just add up all of the static numbers for each player on the team to get the run scored amount? Or does PECOTA give a run score range for Mauer (he's worth 40-80 runs scored) and then use those ranges (and their associated probabilities) to create a single value for the team? Because with all of the percentages built into the system, you should be able to generate a model which could factor what happens if the bulk of the team plays at their 30% forecast versus their 70% forecast. Then you would have a scoring range for each team.
cwyers
4/03
The problem is that PECOTA percentiles measure two things - rates and playing time. So if you use the percentiles to drive a range of forecasts, you have to somehow adjust other players as well according to how each player's playing time changes. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I don't know if it can be done well. Clay Davenport's Playoff Odds Report does account for many of those things and provides a range for teams. I don't know when Clay is going to fire that up, though.
louisbarash
4/03
I think this is right, but any statistical system is going to have a hard time predicting the extremes. A statistical prediction is based on the most likely outcome. And the most likely outcome is not an extreme, but something closer to normal. Take the Yankees last year. Why did they score more runs than projected? Well, the new ballpark helped a little. But the key differences were that Jeter had a season that no one his age should expect (while not unprecedented it was highly unusual), Matsui had much more playing time than expected and Swisher played more than expected (because Nady was hurt). Would you want a model that predicted that Jeter was going to have that kind of season at that age? Or one that assumed that, despite what the Yanks were saying, Swisher would play every day and Nady wouldn't? Or that a 34 year old outfielder coming off knee surgery (for the umpteenth time) would have 100 more plate appearances, triple his HR output and double his RBI output? A model has to project based on past information. If one thinks that Liriano is going to be the pitcher he looked like four years ago -- which is certainly not impossible -- then I agree the Twins are going to be the favorite in the Central. But there is no way for a statistical model to assume that Liriano will perform at 80-90% of his Pecota projection and everyone else will perform at 50%. These projections are just a start. They say if everyone does what they're expected to do, this is what the teams are putting on the field to start the season. And given that around 35-40 players hit each team's roster every year, it is a reasonable expectation that the folks who perform over their projection will be offset by those who underperform. But as we see every season, some teams just don't regress to that mean. A bunch of guys put together career years and the rest do what they're supposed to, and a pennant is won. It will certainly happen this season. Despite these projections, some team will win at least 87 games in both the West and Central. Your job Mr. Phelps, should you choose to accpet it, is to figure out who they are.
joekalicki2
4/02
i believe the white sox will finish higher then the twins, due to pitching i think we have by far the best staff and bullpen in the al central especially with the loss of joe nathan to the twins, also i think moving out of the metrodome will hurt the twins by a few games
mnsportsguy1
4/03
Dont you need to score to win though?
irussma
4/02
The other piece that throws off these preseason projections is in-season trades, which tend to make the bad teams worse and the good teams better, thus making overall run differentials more extreme than they would have been if every team had kept the same exact players. For example, the Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez at last year'd trade deadline, which by itself accounts for a significant chunk of the 25-run swing between their projected and actual runs scored. Then again, the Indians scored more runs than their projection despite trading Martinez away, FWIW.
alskor
4/03
Very true. Sometimes player exceed their true talent level. If Cesar Izturis hits .290 this year we'd all just shrug and chalk it up to luck. Yet, if a team scores 30 more runs than PECOTA projected apparently the system must be broken.
greensox
4/03
The computer/pecota predictions of the Indians to contend are ridiculous. If the Twins get a little better than average starting pitching, they should win the central...but that's no cinch that they get that.
greensox
4/03
Angels, Tigers, White Sox, Twins are under rated on this. Rangers (pitching?), As (a BP tradition to overrate this ball club), Indians (see As), Orioles are overrated.
Richie
4/03
Actually, I half-recall reading something that teams moving into new ballparks do lose some of their homefield advantage that first year. Often do better overall, with extra $$$ to spend on players. But typically have a smaller spread between home/road record.
ZacharyRD
4/03
This would be a really interesting, and a relatively easy study if anyone wanted to find out for sure.
louisbarash
4/03
This projection IMHO is not really grounds for any meaningful argument. The projection has the Sox, Rays and Yanks as the class of the league -- all over 90 wins. And it has the Jays and Royals at 10 under .500 or worse at the bottom. I don't see much argument about that. The remaining teams are tightly bunched from four games over to eight games under, which could flip based on normal Pythagorean differnces. In the West, the only real prediction is that the Angels will bring up the rear, the other three teams are one game apart (and just two to four games over 500). Its not like the projection is saying the As (or any of these teams) are really good. The same is true in the Central, where the teams (other than the Royals) are all two wins apart, with the division winner at only .500. Given how close each race is projected, there is nothing here to go Vegas on. One thing is clear, the projections are slightly optimisticly biased. They project 1,148 wins and only 1,120 losses and I can predict with virtual certainty that the final league record will be 1,134 and 1,134 (barring unplayed games or a significant change in the rules). I do wonder where that comes from.
krissbeth
4/03
Inter-league play is where the non-.500 overall record comes from. Otherwise, yes, these rankings seem fine.
jjaffe
4/03
Krisbeth is correct. For what it's worth, the AL has been an average of 33 games over .500 for the past five years due to interleague play. See the slicing and dicing here. In fact, though I'm splitting the two leagues into separate lists this year, one idea I'm leaning towards is to publish - via the blog, or appended to the second list of the week (I haven't decided upon the schedule) - a combined ranking applying some kind of league adjustment based upon the AL's interleague dominance. It will probably be on the order of 30 points, such that a .500 AL team would rank at .530 in the combined list, while a .500 NL team would rank at .470.
crperry13
4/03
Honestly, I stopped reading when I saw the A's are #4. I'll resume in May.
drewsylvania
4/03
Check the W-L records. They show that the A's, Rangers, Mariners, Twins, White Sox, Tigers, and Indians are separated by only four wins. Looking at the rosters for each of these teams, I have no trouble with the idea that each of these teams is close to the others talent-wise.
greensox
4/03
The Indians tied with the Royals last year; the only signficant change is that, this year, they won't get 1/2 a season of Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee. But somehow, they are 10 games better? And this organization hasn't invested in players in the last 5 years, except for, drum roll please, 10 Mill for Kerry Wood in the worst economic year for players in a generation. But is their GM ever pounded for his decision? Nope. In fact, he has 2 executive of the year awards for his efforts. It's a joke.
jjaffe
4/03
As noted above, I'd say that healthy seasons of Grady Sizemore and Jake Westbrook, full seasons from Matt LaPorta, Justin Masterson and Chris Perez, the midsummer arrival of Carlos Santana and a possible rebound from Fausto Carmona would all count as significant changes from last year. I'm not saying that makes the Indians contenders - I think the forecast is optimstic - but the bar is low in the Central. Beyond that, note that I've been quite critical of Mark Shapiro here, here and numerous times elsewhere. You might also note that he was kicked upstairs over the winter for the highly regarded Chris Antonetti to take over. He's got his work cut out, particularly in improving the Indians' sorry draft record of recent years. But at least you won't have to worry about Shapiro getting any undue hardware.
alskor
4/04
You're also confusing talent with results. Even the injured Tribe of last year had a pyth 7 games better than they finished with. Their expected W-L was 73-89. Add in the guys who are back healthy...
crperry13
4/05
I know that. I understand that these projections are PECOTA-based and not subjective. But still, reason screams that it just doesn't make sense, so what I'm saying is I'll let the season play itself out for a little bit before I can take objective PECOTA-based rankings seriously. There's too much guesswork about health, playing time, roster moves, etc for this exercise to mean much. The A's are NOT the 2008 Rays. The quantity of talent is just not there.
drewsylvania
4/05
You're absolutely correct. But the 2008 Rays were projected to an 88-74 record, significantly better than the 83-79 record projected for these A's.
qwik3457bb
4/03
I would argue one little thing. The Yankees' projection in runs scored shows a 60 run drop. OK, this is possible, taking into account the potential dropoffs at DH, LF, SS and C. But there'll be some improvement at 3rd (barring suspensions) and CF. OK, I can live with the falloff of 60 runs there, though I think it's more likely to be 30 or 40 runs. The Yankees' projection is also based on the fact that Yankees' run prevention only improves by 4 runs. I assume this is because the system projects backsliding by Pettitte, Rivera, the bullpen, and Jeter's defensive improvement, because the change from Hughes/Wang/Mitre/Gaudin to Vazquez is worth at least 25 runs even if Vazquez' ERA is about 4.70, plus the defensive improvement from Melky/Damon/Gardner to Granderson/Gardner/Winn/Thames is worth about another 15-20 runs. In my opinion, the Yanks' run prevention improves by at least 30 runs, and that's worth about 3 games more in the standings. OK, it's a modest quibble, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. For now, anyway.
cdamon
4/04
Except Cabrera was actually a better hitter last year than Granderson And any improvement in 3B is less than certain. A-Rod only played 14 fewer games last year than 2008, but he had a year better rate-wise than his career averages. He is at the age where declines, albeit minor, are to expected. Overall being flat there seems likely. You can't include dropping Hughes from the rotation and then count him in the rotation. And you would be hard pressed to find 25 runs from the other 3, as while Wang was awful, but he only pitched very few innings, Gaudin was actually significantly better than Vazquez's median AL history and Chamberlain was about the same as Vazquez will likely be.
drecappa79
4/04
After these projections, I think I will not be renewing my subscription to BP.
arcee555
4/04
ditto, Well that decision had already been made with the player projections.
drewsylvania
4/05
Then you were already on the fence anyway.
Oleoay
4/06
Because of the use of the word "quibble", I'll be renewing my subscription.
alien1011
4/04
As a baseball fan, I hope that PECOTA is exactly right and we end up with two divisions with 5 games between all the participants and a great race for the AL east and wild card.
bishopscreed
4/04
I have no problem with the Royals' ranking, but disagree with the comment. "Hope and faith here is best left to individual quests" -- really? When PECOTA has them only 5 games off the pace? This team isn't good by any means, but if things break right, they could still plausibly win the division. It's not likely, but it's enough for hope and faith.
Oleoay
4/05
If you have no problems with the Royals ranking and the Royals are ranked as the 13th best team in the AL out of 14 teams, with the next team (Indians) ranked 3 slots higher, than yeah, hope and faith is best left to others. Not only do things have to break _very_ right for the Royals, but things have to break _very_ wrong for the rest of the division. Sure, any team can plausibly win, but the Royals are among the least likely to plausibly do so.
bishopscreed
4/05
Oh, I agree! But I'll keep my hope alive for at least a week or two. :)
papagiorgio01
4/13
When do the new Hit Lists come out?
jjaffe
4/16
Thursdays for NL and Fridays for AL.