Polishing the Crystal Ball…

I’ve been hacking on my projections model, and now have a first cut for 2014 available.
In the process of projecting wins and saves I look at projected runs scored and allowed for each team, so in the table below I just take those projected runs and convert them to wins and losses. My model currently does not take defense into account, but I am trying to project playing time based on both a player’s own history and his position on the team’s current depth chart (which also is a major factor in allocating saves).
So without further ado, here’s how my model sees the 2014 MLB season:

AL East Won Lost RS RA
Rays 89 73 707 642
Red Sox 87 75 730 683
Yankees 82 80 683 674
Blue Jays 80 82 729 742
Orioles 77 85 696 734
AL Central Won Lost RS RA
Tigers 92 70 742 652
Indians 78 84 700 722
White Sox 76 86 664 702
Royals 76 86 673 715
Twins 65 97 640 777
AL West Won Lost RS RA
Athletics 87 75 702 655
Mariners 86 76 693 655
Angels 84 78 721 692
Rangers 83 79 715 698
Astros 73 89 671 735
NL East Won Lost RS RA
Nationals 92 70 691 598
Braves 87 75 699 647
Phillies 79 83 661 678
Marlins 78 84 641 663
Mets 76 86 650 690
NL Central Won Lost RS RA
Cardinals 93 69 720 616
Reds 85 77 671 635
Brewers 83 79 696 681
Pirates 80 82 651 658
Cubs 66 96 594 722
NL West Won Lost RS RA
Dodgers 86 76 652 607
Giants 81 81 633 632
Padres 78 84 641 666
Diamondbacks 77 85 664 700
Rockies 74 88 676 736

Click on a team name to see the individual projections for players on that team at the RotoValue site.
My model sees the Detroit Tigers as the AL’s best team, and they also have the weakest division competition, as their 92 wins put them 14 wins ahead of the runner-up Indians. The other AL divisions project to have tight races, with the Tampa Bay Rays 2 games ahead of the world champion Boston Red Sox, and the Oakland Athletics projecting just 1 game ahead of the revamped Seattle Mariners. Yes, that one really surprised me also. Sure, they added Robinson Cano, but there must be something else going on to cause them to surge so much. One thing that stood out to me was my model’s quite aggressive projection for rookie James Paxton, currently pegged as their #4 starter. Paxton pitched wonderfully in four starts last September, but I think my model is indeed projecting him too aggressively, and quite likely the Mariners team as well.
The AL West does rate as the most competitive division, with the Angels and Rangers also within 4 games of the leading Athletics. Those two teams, along with Seattle and Boston, project to fight it out for the two wild card spots.
By contrast, each NL division has a clear projected leader at least 5 games ahead of other teams. St. Louis’s 93 wins top my projections, and give them a comfortable 8 game lead over Cincinnati. Washington projects for 92 wins, 5 games ahead of Atlanta, while the Dodgers’ 86 wins are 5 ahead of the Giants in the NL West.
The Braves and Reds are the projected wild-card teams, with the Brewers, Giants, and Pirates chasing them.
These win totals should be considered an over-under for each team. The best team will almost assuredly win more than the 93 games I project for St. Louis, and the worst will win fewer than the 65 I see for the Twins. Tom Tango wrote a good explanation of this nearly a decade ago talking about individual players, but the same thing applies to team projections as well.
I’ve tinkered with my model this year, regressing offensive players by position rather than overall, and taking into account team depth charts in my algorithm to project playing time, and I still adjust team totals so that they’re reasonable. This is one more reason why James Paxton’s projection was so optimistic: before that last playing time adjustment, the Mariners did not have enough IP from their pitching staff, and since Paxton had better projected rate stats than most other pitchers, he got  a larger boost in playing time.
I’ll continue tweak these projections further, incorporating newer injury information and updated depth charts in the model until the start of the season. You can always get the projections here:
And if you’d like to download the data, the link on the top right corner of the table, saying how many players are found and shown, will download a .csv file of all the data.

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