I’ve done another forecast run, incorporating new injury information, like the recent UCL tear for David Hernandez, which unfortunately probably will end his season, and drops the Diamondbacks down a notch in my team totals.
In addition, I’ve been tweaking how I deal with players with very limited MLB data. Now I will consider current year spring training numbers for players with very little MLB experience, in addition to that tiny MLB experience. Alas, I still don’t have minor league numbers to toss into the soup!
The driver for this was what I felt was a very overly optimistic projection for James Paxton, who was showing up at nearly 200 innings. Interestingly, adding this year’s minor league stats to the 24 innings he had last season did little to change his rate stats; indeed Paxton’s FIP actually went down by adding the spring numbers. But his innings dropped a lot based on a more recent run. Why? Because the Mariners have named fellow rookie lefty Roenis Elias as their #4 starter, and the latest depth chart no longer includes Hisashi Iwakuma, who is likely to start the year on the DL. Iwakuma still projects to over 150 IP in my model, but adding a new starter to the mix sops up a lot of the extra innings the model was giving to Paxton before. Indeed newcomer Elias has pitched even better this spring than Paxton. Both are potential sleeper candidates based on their current roles.
The Mariners are continuing their slow decline in my standings projections, as they now are projected to finish 4th, but my model is still putting them in the thick of the AL west race, with 84 wins just 3 games behind first place Oakland. That division is still the tightest, as the Angels and Rangers project to be just a game back. The Rays and Red Sox look set to duke it out for the AL East, while Detroit should cruise in the central to the league’s best record.
In the NL East, the Nationals project to beat the Braves by 6 games, and edge out the Cardinals for the league’s best record (mouse over the win totals to see another decimal place of precision). St. Louis has a 5 game lead over the Reds, with the .500 Brewers in 3rd. My heavily mean-reverting model does not think much of Pittsburgh this season, as it has them dropping a little below .500. The Dodgers may project to be the weakest division winner, but they also project to have the biggest lead, 7 games over the Giants. While the NL races aren’t nearly as close as the AL coastal divisions are, the West is again the tightest division in the league, as just 10 games separate the first place Dodgers from the last place Rockies (who are in a virtual tie with the Padres and Diamondbacks).