American League Final Standings, a sneak preview

This is my second year of making predictions on the web. Last year I correctly called all 6 Division winners (No, I didn’t pick the Tigers for wild card), and also predicted the St. Louis Cardinals to be the best team in baseball. If I had added “in the postseason” instead of “regular season”, I would have nailed it. My predictions for last season can be found here.
The predictions are based on two things, projected hitting, pitching, and defensive stats from the CHONE system (posted on my blog 1-6-07), and my totally subjective decision of who is going to be allowed to play and in what role. I try and determine who the team’s management will give playing time to, so Minnesota has Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson, the gopher brothers, in the rotation instead of a good crew of younger and better pitchers.
This same approach was also done recently on the Hardball Times by John Beamer, using the THT projected stats. My results are pretty similar, but there are a few things the two systems see differently. Baseball Prospectus has similar predictions for their PECOTA system, and if you are a subscriber I recommend checking that out as well.
AL East:
Yankees 95-67, Red Sox 93-69, Blue Jays 80-82, Orioles 75-87, Devil Rays 73-89
AL Central:
Indians 90-72, Twins 89-73, White Sox 83-79, Tigers 82-80, Royals 66-96
AL West:
Angels 88-74, A’s 84-78, Mariners 79-83, Rangers 74-88
The Yankees and Red Sox are favorites for another division and wild card finish, just like pretty much every year except last. I thought the Blue Jays would have a better chance, but after Halladay and Burnett the pitching just is not there.
The Indians have a powerful and young offense, they should top 200 homers, their starting pitching is good enough to keep them in games, and it seems every other year they have an OK bullpen. The Indians outscored the opposition by almost 80 runs last year. Its hard to do that and have a losing record, and I’m betting they don’t do it again. The Twins are a talented team, how quickly they pull together and give the Indians a challenge depends on how quickly they decide to put their best rotation out there.
I’m glad to see the Angels return to their rightful place. They have done everything in their power to keep the West close, like not getting a big bat in the offseason, multiple starting players breaking bones or needing surgery (Rivera, Figgins, McPherson), and starting pitchers not quite being ready for the start of the season (hope Weaver and Colon get healthy and stay that way). The Angels are still the favorites because they have tremendous depth and a farm system that is on the verge of producing some real major league position players, not just gather awards from Baseball America. I am in no way objective when it comes to the Angels, that’s my team and I want to see them run away from this division, but when the numbers say they don’t have it, I report that too. Last year’s prediction had the A’s winning the west, which they did, but this year the when the numbers talk, I like what they are saying.

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15 Responses to American League Final Standings, a sneak preview

  1. SABR Matt says:

    HA!
    Not to start off by dissing Sean’s projection method, but those of you watching the AL West should be well aware of how banged up the Angels are already and how great the Mariners are hitting. 🙂

  2. John Beamer says:

    Sean — I like these numbers. I think your system is a little bearish on the Rangers but not by much … anyway, we could argue all day!!!
    Quick question: How did you calculate wins — did you do BsR and work out a win% or did you define a replacement level or average and base wins from that?

  3. Sean Smith says:

    John – I did baseruns and then a pythag. I used the players I project as starters, about 4-5 backups per team, 5 starters, and 6 relievers. Any extra IP or outs were assigned to a generic replacement level.
    On the Angels, I have accounted for all known injuries. Colon and Weaver are projected around 140 innings, Rivera and McPherson not at all, and Figgins at 85% of his initial projected PA – that doesn’t actually hurt because it means more PA for Maicer, an equivalent player.

  4. John Beamer says:

    No NL projections, or do they come later?

  5. Sean Smith says:

    NL projections will be coming soon, tonight or tomorrow but no later than start of the season.

  6. Matt Souders says:

    I’m curious, Sean. What are your projected batting lines for Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez, Jose Guillen, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Jose Vidro. These are the five players that just about every projection method I’ve viewed thus far is catastrophically underrating (Beltre because of his inconsistency to date, Ibanez because at his age, continued excellence defies probability, Guillen because his recent track record doesn’t line up well with his actual abilities, Betancourt because his track record is too short to make much sense yet and his skills are still evolving, and Vidro because what appears to be a consistent downward trend is actually a consistently rising increase in his leg injuries, and the smoothness of his recent decline will fool most statistical methods into projecting a continuation of said decline even though he is now DH’ing and therefore less likely to be injured again).

  7. marc w says:

    Matt, why not go look up the batting lines at Fangraphs?
    They’re all posted there, along with the Marcels, Bill James, etc.

  8. Sean Smith says:

    As Marc mentions, these are the same CHONE projections I posted on my blog and that are also available at fangraphs.
    My projection for Beltre, if I recall, is better than what most other projection systems give him and better than he’s played so far since being a Mariner. Guillen is probably better than what projections show, and no, I’m not looking forward to my team facing him.
    Vidro- My projection is a weighted average of his performance, with regression to the mean, aging factors, and other estimates that improve projections, like weight for power and speed for BABIP. His trend has nothing whatsoever to do with anything in my projection.
    He’s a pretty odd choice as a DH though, as he’s pretty much the same player as Todd Walker, who just got released, and probably not as dangerous as your new benchwarmer, Ben Broussard.

  9. Matt Souders says:

    Vidro is still a .300/.370/.500 hitter when he’s fully healthy. Do the research…check out his split data from healthy periods and injured periods. It’s no mistake that he’s hitting the stuffing out of the ball this spring…he’s healthy right now. If DHing keep shim healthier…expect a significant rebound from the last couple of years.

  10. Sean Smith says:

    Ah, the optimism of spring.

  11. Matt Souders says:

    Ah, the RESEARCH of winter.

  12. Sean Smith says:

    If you have the research go ahead and post it.
    But Vidro has slugged .500 only once in his life. The 4 year stretch where Vidro generally hit in the .300/.370/.500 range were for prime ages 25-28. Even if we ignore 3 years of decline, write it off as injury related and assume he’ll be healthy, its not likely he’ll be the same player at age 32, especially in a tougher league.
    I’m willing to change my mind if I saw some convincing data, but from here it just looks like typical fanboy optimism.

  13. Matt Souders says:

    Go to retrosheet.org
    Pull up his month by month split data.
    Heck, I’ll do it for you.
    2005:
    March/April: .314/.384/.570
    May – Injured
    June on: .266/.318/.386 (knees bothered him this whole time)
    2006:
    March/April: .344/.398/.484
    May .296/.363/.357 (minor knee problems)
    June: .287/.327/.376
    2nd Half: .256/.317/.383 (major knee problems)
    Looks like a clear pattern to me. He’s healthy…he hits roughly .300/.370/.500, he’s injured, he loses the ability to drive off his lower legs and becomes a self-defense slap hitter with no power.
    If DHing makes his knees less prone to injury recurrance, he’ll sustain his hot starts for longer than one month this year…eventually…he’ll still wear down because of his age and the existing knee problem, but it probably won’t happen until July or August this time instead of May.

  14. Sean Smith says:

    Why stop with 2005?
    2004: April/Mar: .253/.333/.386
    May: .207/.277/.315
    June: .388/.438/.602
    July: .282/.400/.493
    August: .333/.391/.460
    His injury occured late in the year, when he missed half of August and all of September. Players have good months and bad months all the time. I can buy that he could be a better hitter than he’s shown if healthy. But I’m not buying that the best month he has out of every year represents his true ability.

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