Your Stance On the Team Projections (American League)

Last week, I said I would run my next community polling project just as soon as we got ZiPS projections all uploaded and folded in with Steamer. That’s precisely the news I woke up to today, so, here we go. Steamer’s up, ZiPS is up, we have an updated playoff odds page, and here are the current American League team projections, based on the numbers and our depth charts:

AL Projected Records
Team W L
Red Sox 88 74
Astros 88 74
Indians 87 75
Blue Jays 84 78
Mariners 82 80
Yankees 82 80
Tigers 81 81
White Sox 81 81
Rays 80 82
Rangers 80 82
Angels 80 82
Athletics 78 84
Orioles 78 84
Twins 78 84
Royals 77 85

I know — you see the Royals in last. You can’t help but chuckle. Maybe you agree with it, and maybe you don’t agree with it, and in either case, it’s probably kind of funny. But, good news! This is your chance to sound off, in a way. Projections are given to you. They’re presented to you, and maybe you sometimes feel like you’re being force-fed. You’re not obligated to actually agree with what the projections are saying, and here, I want to know how the community feels about each individual team projection. I want to know where people think the projections are right on, and, more interestingly, I want to know where people think the projections are being stupid. Could be they’re not being stupid, at all, but I want to know about the perception. I ran this project a year ago, and I love it. I hope you also love it. Together, let’s crowdsource the projected 2016 American League standings. (We’ll all look at the National League tomorrow.)

Something I’d like for you to keep in mind: please vote according to what we know now. Don’t vote anticipating midseason additions or subtractions. It’s one thing if you think a team will or will not call up a top prospect, but don’t vote planning on trades. I think everything else is self-explanatory, so, have fun. For each team and each poll, I’ll offer brief commentary that serves little purpose since I don’t want to actually bias anything myself. I plan to examine the voting results later this week. Thank you and I love you!

To proceed directly to a specific team projection poll, click on the team’s name below.

Angels, Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees

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Angels

  • Team Projection: 80-82

This is probably as close as you can get to characterizing a roster as being “star and scrubs.” Mike Trout might be almost singlehandedly keeping the Angels from having to tear down and start over, but then, you know, what’s most important is they don’t have to tear down and start over. They have Trout; Trout is their advantage. It’s a huge advantage. They shouldn’t be penalized for that, certainly not while Trout remains so durable. It’s clearly a roster littered with question marks, and even Andrelton Simmons has his own question marks since there’s a belief elite range is of lesser importance in the shifting era.

Astros

  • Team Projection: 88-74

Now the Astros get to come in as the favorites, after winning 86 actual games while managing a BaseRuns record of 97-65. They’ll get a whole year from quite possibly the best shortstop in baseball, and Ken Giles adds what had been a missing element to the bullpen. It’s not entirely clear what they’re going to get out of first base, and there are enough questions in the rotation to keep the roster from seeming elite. But, you know, it was obvious a year ago: The Astros have arrived. Here’s to tanking!

Athletics

  • Team Projection: 78-84

Maybe you would’ve expected the A’s to try to rebuild, but rebuilding just isn’t in their DNA. They say they can’t afford to do it, and though you can reasonably question whether that’s true, their model is to try to win every single season and in some way, if not in the most important ways, it’s admirable. This is a roster that’s very light on stars. Oakland genuinely can’t afford many stars. They’re trying to make up for that with depth, and versatility. The bullpen that sank them a year ago has been greatly bolstered, so if you squint, you can see something exciting here, something more than the sum of its parts. The sum of its parts is unexceptional.

Blue Jays

  • Team Projection: 84-78

The Blue Jays just had a BaseRuns record of 101-61, and a regular record of 93-69. They’re not going to have David Price this time, but he started just 11 games for them, and they could get a full year out of Troy Tulowitzki, who’s just a season removed from being baseball’s best shortstop. So a lot of this has to do with your interpretation of regression to the mean. To what extent will Jose Bautista repeat? To what extent will Josh Donaldson repeat? To what extent will Edwin Encarnacion and Marco Estrada repeat? I’m not going to answer for you. You submit your own answer, dang it.

Indians

  • Team Projection: 87-75

BaseRuns was weird last year. We’ve been over this. The Indians were another freaky team, falling eight wins shy of its BaseRuns estimate. Much of the roster is intact, with more Francisco Lindor as a selling point, and with less Michael Brantley as a drawback. You pretty much know what the Indians are all about, and while it went relatively under-covered, the Juan Uribe acquisition filled a need. For just another year, it’s possible to look at the Indians and see a major contender.

Mariners

  • Team Projection: 82-80

Jerry Dipoto kept himself busy, and the depth situation is far better than it used to be. Buying low was a popular move, with Dipoto counting on bouncebacks, but then, you know, bouncebacks are never guaranteed. There are questions about those guys, there are questions about pretty much the entire bullpen, and there are questions at the top of the roster, with Felix Hernandez having shown some worrisome signs, and with Hisashi Iwakuma having failed a Dodgers physical. Robinson Cano, at least, seems to be back to 100%, but this team will probably need to be driven by its stars.

Orioles

  • Team Projection: 78-84

A popular assertion in my weekly FanGraphs chats is that the Orioles might’ve missed an opportunity to start rebuilding. That gives you a sense of what some people think about them, but to their credit, they’ve put a lot of resources into the roster this offseason, and any roster with Manny Machado on it has to have a pretty good foundation. Of course, it’s not a roster that includes Dexter Fowler, it turns out, but Fowler probably wasn’t going to be an impact player anyway. There’s power on this team. There’s excellent relief pitching on this team. There’s probably not enough good starting pitching on this team. Your answer here might depend almost entirely on what you think of the bullpen. The Orioles have gotten far with good bullpens before.

Rangers

  • Team Projection: 80-82

The Rangers won the division, and now they get a full year of Cole Hamels, and much of a full year of a rehabilitated Yu Darvish. The pitchers make people excited, which is entirely fair, but it is worth remembering how last year’s Rangers at least statistically overachieved. Adrian Beltre is still the best position player and he’s about to turn 37. They had to scramble to put Ian Desmond in an unfamiliar position to cover up for an absent Josh Hamilton. What I think I’m most interested in here is the bullpen, which was fantastic last year down the stretch, but, you know how bullpens are.

Rays

  • Team Projection: 80-82

Did you know PECOTA projects the Rays to win the AL East? I don’t bring that up to try to bias your vote. I just wanted to bring it to your attention, in case you weren’t aware. The Rays didn’t have the most sexy winter, but in classic Rays fashion, they’ve assembled a fairly deep and fairly flexible team, with lots of talented pitching candidates once a few stragglers get healthy. It’s not hard to see similarities between the Rays and the A’s, with Chris Archer playing the role of Sonny Gray. But the Rays also get to have a Kevin Kiermaier.

Red Sox

  • Team Projection: 88-74

Dave Dombrowski didn’t mess around. He wanted a better rotation, so he threw money at an incredible starter, and he wanted a better bullpen, so he threw prospects at an incredible closer while also adding Carson Smith. So to a large extent the Red Sox are fixed, but they still have last year’s two biggest problems, and they’re lined up to start. The rotation behind David Price can still rightly be considered unreliable, and Xander Bogaerts, for all the hype, finished with seven home runs and a .372 BABIP. There is a lot here to love, but I remember saying the same thing a season ago.

Royals

  • Team Projection: 77-85

Do we need to keep going over this? The projections have their reasons for believing what they believe. You either believe in them or you don’t.

Tigers

  • Team Projection: 81-81

It was a down year for Detroit, so ownership and the front office responded by aggressively reloading. Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann get a lot of the press, but maybe just as important are the combined bullpen additions of Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, and Justin Wilson. It’s also worth noting Victor Martinez feels healthy again, and between the last two years he dropped by more than 6 WAR. There’s a lot going on here. The Tigers refused to give up, and regardless of whether that was wise, here we are, and here they are.

Twins

  • Team Projection: 78-84

The Twins might look the most interesting they’ve looked in years. Still not particularly strong, perhaps, but I can’t wait to watch Byung-ho Park. I can’t wait to watch more Miguel Sano, and you never know when Byron Buxton might put his tools together. Jose Berrios is on the way, and Trevor May made a highly successful adjustment to the bullpen. Last year’s Twins, I think, were easy to dismiss, before the year started. You can’t say the same about this year’s ballclub.

White Sox

  • Team Projection: 81-81

Another team right on the fringe of being good, the White Sox addressed some of their gaping holes while somewhat curiously staying away from Ian Desmond. Still, they put Brett Lawrie at second and Todd Frazier at third, and though they lost Jeff Samardzija, Jeff Samardzija wasn’t actually a good pitcher last season. As I wrote about last week, this season might in large part be determined by the development or lack thereof from Carlos Rodon. Erik Johnson, for whatever it’s worth, also had a greatly improved 2015, so he’s back on the radar as a thing. It’s a deeper roster now, which they hope translates into being a better roster.

Yankees

  • Team Projection: 82-80

The best position player is projected for 3.0 WAR, and the rotation is filled to the brim with injury question marks. The Yankees’ greatest asset is what seems like maybe the best bullpen of all time, but then we still don’t know how much time Aroldis Chapman will have to miss, and just in terms of statistical performance this year’s bullpen will have a difficult time out-performing last year’s bullpen. The Yankees won 87 games. The Yankees would love to once again win 87 games.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Roger McDowell Hot Foot
Member
Roger McDowell Hot Foot
3 months 1 hour ago

Well, the Royals vote was funny. I confess I don’t think I’m voting quite rationally, since I’m skewing a bit more toward thinking the forecasts miss low than thinking they miss high, and those wins have to come from somewhere. Don’t know how to keep track of this (apart from “so laboriously it’s obviously not worth it for a web survey”) but it’d be interesting to do this kind of voting constrained to a fixed pool of wins to allocate.

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Member
BenRevereDoesSteroids
2 months 28 days ago

They’ll come from the NL like every year.

TWTW
Member
3 months 1 hour ago

The Royals in last? In the league? You have Tampa and Oakland ahead of them, when it’s not even clear if those **saber** organizations are even trying to field competitive teams.

Your formula is broken. What exactly would you say you nerds are doing here again?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
3 months 1 hour ago

“Ah, well here’s your problem! Looks like the ‘unselfish at-bat’ fuse was busted! Put a new one in there and she’ll be purring! I wonder how that happened – if I was a suspicious man I’d say someone with a bone to pick went fiddling in here, but that’s not my place to say.”

Momus
Member
Momus
2 months 28 days ago

Also the “grit” filter was turned off, there was no adjustment made for “playing the game the right way”, and they didn’t add the multiplier for “chemistry” and “wanting to win”.

Roger McDowell Hot Foot
Member
Roger McDowell Hot Foot
3 months 1 hour ago

Now THAT’S the kind of substantive and nuanced, highly empirical and quantitative argument we’ve come to expect about these projections.

Richie
Member
Richie
3 months 55 minutes ago

His ‘name’ strikes me as a dead giveaway.

Dooduh
Member
Dooduh
3 months 36 minutes ago

Sequencing!!

Brent Henry
Member
Brent Henry
3 months 33 minutes ago

Royals projected for 77? Does STEAMER even watch baseball? Does ZIPS even believe in miracles?

Kang Ho
Member
Kang Ho
2 months 28 days ago

Troll rating 2/10

Jeksumr
Member
Jeksumr
2 months 28 days ago

I dunno, 2/10 seems low for the amount of replies a guy named TWTW got

Mr. Observant
Member
Member
Mr. Observant
2 months 28 days ago

Agreed. But if TWTW had used all-capitals to pen his electronic missive he would have won me over! Instead…meh.

shadraaq
Member
shadraaq
2 months 28 days ago

Barrels broh n asshats.

xeifrank
Member
3 months 1 hour ago

The teams by rank look pretty reasonable. The Royals obviously should not be last, I’d rank them in the top half, maybe top third. The records look a little over-regressed. One could probably make some easy money on the win total over/unders if those were Vegas lines.

vr, Xei

BigChief
Member
Member
BigChief
3 months 1 hour ago

Yeah, I think they are reasonable as well. Besides the Royals, most team’s are pretty close to what Bovada has…
Team FG Ws Bov Ws Difference
Red Sox 88 86.5 1.5
Astros 88 87.5 0.5
Indians 87 84.5 2.5
Blue Jays 84 87.5 -3.5
Mariners 82 82.5 -0.5
Yankees 82 85.5 -3.5
Tigers 81 81.5 -0.5
White Sox 81 80.5 0.5
Rays 80 81.5 -1.5
Rangers 80 84.5 -4.5
Angels 80 81.5 -1.5
A’s 78 75.5 2.5
Orioles 78 79.5 -1.5
Twins 78 78.5 -0.5
Royals 77 85.5 -8.5

Noah Baron
Member
Noah Baron
2 months 28 days ago

Where do you think Bovoda comes up with their win totals? Wouldn’t be surprised if they look at FanGraphs and BP

Adam S
Member
Member
Adam S
2 months 28 days ago

OK, which ones? For sure the Royals over 77 feels like easy money. There’s a strong lean to over for the Jays. But then what?

Art Vandelay
Member
Member
Art Vandelay
2 months 28 days ago

Very tough year for betting in the AL (with the exception of KC) because almost every team seems to be reasonably close to a .500 team, including the Royals.

Los
Member
Los
3 months 1 hour ago

I want to look back at this at year end since the AL is so close in all3 divisions and I just wonder if assuming every team is 81-81 will be a decent estimate.

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 1 hour ago

81-81 will be within the standard error for the majority of teams

Mooser
Member
Mooser
2 months 28 days ago

Your going to be damn close to everyone else.

http://tangotiger.com/index.php/boards/viewthread/442/

Damaso
Member
Damaso
3 months 1 hour ago

Two teams jump out to me right away as significantly underrated – and both seem explainable by the vast differences between their fipwar and ra9war – and that’s KC and TOR.

If you believe their pitchers and/or defense gives legit cause to believe their ra9 will continue to significantly outperform their fip, then they’ll significantly outdo those projections.

Now I don’t know what zips says about this difference, but I see that Steamer sees the Jays and Royals both putting up an ra9war a good 4-5 wins higher than their fipwar….which is about half the gaps of last year, but still a huge difference to their projected records here.

Unless the projected standings fold in ra9 factors already – but I don’t think they do.

Runaway Toaster
Member
Member
Runaway Toaster
2 months 29 days ago

“Two teams jump out to me right away as significantly underrated”

What a lede! I had to read on to find out which team could Damaso possibly think is underrated!

Now I wonder which of the teams he thinks is overrated by ZiPS…

DCE
Member
DCE
2 months 28 days ago

He originally dismissed Steamer because it underrated his beloved jays, and spoke in favour of ZiPS which he alleged was projecting the jays as a better team than the red sox in 2015 (spoiler: it didn’t). Funny how Steamer is relevant again now

Damaso
Member
Damaso
2 months 28 days ago

Zips does project the Jays better than Steamer does, actually.

But today’s zips release projects about 4war less than the original zips team projections released here in december for whatever reason.

But still better than steamer.

Damaso
Member
Damaso
2 months 28 days ago

Actually the red sox projection ain’t awful….other than the fact it expects 8war more out of Hanley and Panda than they produced last year.

tz
Member
tz
2 months 28 days ago

+8 WAR from those two isn’t crazy for a projection system. My best estimate for those two is a +6 (+4 for Hanley like the projections say, but only a +2 dead Panda bounce for Mr. Sandoval)

Damaso
Member
Damaso
2 months 28 days ago

not crazy at all, I agree. but imo that is a weakness of projection systems in general – they are necessarily blind to legit sudden changes in talent.

it was “reasonable” to project dead cat bounces for the likes of masterson, craig, victorino, etc. last year, too, but it didn’t happen….and it wasn’t much of surprise when it didn’t.

one of the reasons why imo the sox have failed to reach their projections in recent years is an overreliance on these kinds of dead cat bounce players.

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
2 months 28 days ago

Except that Boston’s “failure” in 2014 was precisely because it was willing to hold back on spending and also dedicate a lot of playing time to less proven kids. The kids as a whole had a rough season (so that had nothing to do with dead cat bounce veterans) and the veterans as a whole were okay but as a group took a step back from the terrific 2013 year. Add in lost depth from 2013, which was the single greatest strength of the WS team, and there you have it.

Last season’s team was very talented, but was short-circuited by a combination of team-wide bad luck on BABIP early in the season, plus the team defense (something that spikes more easily than just about anything else) went from being a projected strength early on to a projected weakness.

Lest you forget, once the dust settled for the latter part of the season Boston was nearly as good as expected initially, despite it no longer being in win-now mode. Given that the team’s core is young and improving and that it added plenty, there is zero reason to doubt that it will be a strong team.

Most importantly, Sandoval and Ramirez went from being two of the key players in the team plan to gravy players who aren’t being counted on for anything.

Legeisc
Member
Member
Legeisc
2 months 29 days ago

If you believe defense is the cause of the difference, it is likely already accounted. If a pitcher has a skill that causes a lower BABIP, that wouldn’t be accounted in FIP-based WAR. For instance, Chris Young probably alone almost is worth a 1.5 to 2 WAR more. I can see adding maybe another WAR for their bullpen. That said, Kennedy probably is a -0.5 WAR. Probably about a 2-2.5 win low prediction.

DCE
Member
DCE
2 months 28 days ago

Are they the only two teams with RA9-FIP WAR differentials though?

Looking at the Jays differentials:
Dickey – 1.1
Happ – 0.4
Chavez – 0.4
Estrada – 1
Cecil/Loup/Osuna/Storen/Sanchez all have 0.1 gaps or thereabouts, we’ll just say another half a win for the bullpen. That’s about 3.5 wins all up. Now a look at the Red Sox:

Price – 1.2
Porcello – 0.5
Buchholz – 0.6
Rodriguez – 1
Elias – 0.6
Uehara – 0.6
and another 0.5 for Kimbrel/Tazawa/Kelly. That’s a 5 win differential there.

Doesn’t look like the Jays are significantly underrated based on this premise

Damaso
Member
Damaso
2 months 28 days ago

good point. I didn’t look past my team and the royals. if steamer is projecting every team for 4-5 more ra9war than fipwar that seems weird.

I looked at the jays and royals specifically because their pitchers have consistently beaten their fwar the past couple years.

Pitchers on the Jays’ active roster have earned about 4 more ra9 than fipwar in each of the last 2 years, while the royals current pitcher have beaten fipwar by a good 8war in each of the last 2yrs.

don’t think the current red sox pitchers have done the same – iirc they’ve actually done the opposite in recent years.

Psy Jung
Member
Psy Jung
2 months 28 days ago

Are those just last year’s numbers? The idea that the Jays are underrated by FIP-WAR centers mosttly on Dickey, who’s consistently worth 1-2 WAR through balls in play, and Estrada, who’s been more variable but induces a lot of soft contact and infield flies. None of those Red Sox pitchers have shown much of that tendency as far as I know, so last year’s numbers shouldn’t be taken at face value.

DCE
Member
DCE
2 months 28 days ago

@Damaso – It’s definitely not every team, I eyeballed a bunch of them but not all of them have a noticeable RA9-FIP gap

@Psy Jung – No they are steamer projections. We are looking to see if certain teams are better positioned to beat their projections since the projections use FIP-WAR (we think), while some teams have about 5 more WAR if you use projected RA9-WAR instead

Psy Jung
Member
Psy Jung
2 months 27 days ago

Do the projections account for team defense in a pitcher’s RA-9 projection? And is there any indication that they deviate from the DIPS orthodoxy that outliers from FIP should be regressed towards it? I don’t know rhe answer, but if either is the case using projected RA-9 wouldn’t be useful. Can somebody turn on the Szymborski signal?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
3 months 1 hour ago

I don’t pretend to know if, how, or why the Royals have thrashed the projections lately, and I’m not convinced that they are close to being the best team in the AL, but 77 is not their baseline to me. I’m am voting like every ass-covering stat nerd should, in the face of a royal-blue tank with “team chemistry” painted on one side and “run manufacturing” on the other.

tz
Member
tz
3 months 46 minutes ago

I’m just going to come out and say it all nerd-like:

– BaseRuns covers the expected impact of sequencing, but can’t capture teams who do better than average with sequencing

– The Royals get better than average sequencing because of how often they put the ball in play, and how aggressively they will take the extra base in those situations.

– These traits do have a positive impact on offensive clutch. It’s been worth about 5 wins to the Royals each of the last two seasons:

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=3&season=2015&month=0&season1=2010&ind=1&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=12,d

VottomanEmpire
Member
Member
VottomanEmpire
2 months 28 days ago

The Royals *got* better than average sequencing (the past two years). It’s not clear whether there is anything predictive or sustainable, or even skill-based, about their success with sequencing from the past two years. I think this has been written about, quite thoroughly, at FanGraphs over the course of this winter.

tz
Member
tz
2 months 28 days ago

I agree there’s a huge luck component in sequencing. However, I remember Cy Morong doing some regressions on the Clutch stat, and there were certain attributes that correlated with Clutch. In particular, the TTO events (homers, walks, and strikeouts) were negatively correlated with offensive clutch.

And since BaseRuns are highly correlated with WPA.LI, wins above/below BaseRuns are highly correlated with Clutch (R-squared over .9 for 2015), since Clutch is roughly the difference between WPA and WPA.LI at the team level over a full season. So there’s a real possibility that a team that eschews the TTO mindset may surpass their BaseRuns projections simply because of certain team attributes not captured by BaseRuns.

BigChief
Member
Member
BigChief
2 months 28 days ago

@tz I’d be really interested in looking at that research done by Cy Morong.

I just looked at the past 5 years to see how much clutch hitting correlated with BIP% and I got an R^2 Value of 0.029. After the 2014 and 2015 Royals, the next three teams that had the highest BIP% were the 2011 Royals, the 2012 Royals, and the 2011 Rangers. All of those teams had negative clutch hitting scores.

tz
Member
tz
2 months 28 days ago

I couldn’t find the article where he showed his full regression analysis, but here are some numbers he quoted on Tango’s site:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/best_and_worst_clutch_hitters_of_the_retrosheet_era/#60

Note there also appears to be a correlation to batter handedness, with lefties delivering slightly higher Clutch.

sp13
Member
sp13
2 months 28 days ago

And clutch was worth about 3 KC wins in 2013. They are pretty consistently clutch. 66% of their lineup hasn’t changed in those 3 years.

tz
Member
tz
3 months 1 hour ago

Fun projections fact:

If you round projected winning percentages to the nearest tenth, the entire American League is projected to finish at .500 this year.

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 1 hour ago

Give some of the missing W’s to the Royals since I believe the AL is at least a 520 league

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 1 hour ago

People don’t understand that projections are just gross estimates. The standard error (1 SD) is +/-6 Wins, and at the 95% level its +/12 wins . Part of the reason for the big spread is nobody can predict injuries, break outs and collapses, moves at the trading deadline, and all of this affects the strength of schedule which we all know is not balanced.

I would say that the Royals projection is curious, but they arguably have the worst 2Bman in baseball and their rotation does not impress anyone. They were rather fortunate with injuries last year (except Holland) and Young pitching like he did. I could see some major regression next year.

They may be a better post season team than regular season due to the rental of Zobrist and Cueto, a shorter rotation and the frequent off days allowing them to maximize their use of the pen. They had a bit of luck in the post season as well and played in a division devoid of good teams.

I’d have the Royals at 82 myself even if the numbers don’t agree. Sometimes you just have to throw out the obvious outliers and just guess

TangoAlphaLima
Member
TangoAlphaLima
3 months 39 minutes ago

Omar Infante has a strong chance of being terrible, but he also has had some injury problems the last few years. If he’s healthy, he could be productive again. And if he’s not healthy or not productive, there’s Christian Colon available to take his spot. Both Zips and Steamer would have Colon at roughly a 1 WAR player if they projected him for a starter’s number of plate appearances.

Not sure that the Royals were “rather fortunate with injuries last year”. You mentioned Holland, but don’t forget that Alex Gordon missed several months, and Alex Rios was injured very early on and out for about a month or two, then was awful when he returned (his injury was a broken hand, which may have in part led to his poor batting performance the remainder of 2015). They also lost Jason Vargas at mid-season. Ventura and Duffy had stints on the DL as well.

And while I loved Zobrist, Cueto was not even a league average pitcher with the Royals.

Antonio Bananas
Member
Member
Antonio Bananas
2 months 28 days ago

Cueto wasn’t a good pitcher, but they effectively replaced him with Kennedy. What do you think that WAR swing in 2016 is?

TangoAlphaLima
Member
TangoAlphaLima
2 months 28 days ago

Cueto’s xFIP over the 2nd half of 2015 was 4.38. Kennedy’s xFIP for the entire 2015 season was 3.70, with a 3.28 mark over the second half. Even after extrapolating Cueto’s second half 2015 numbers over an entire season, I think Kennedy will provide significantly more value to the Royals than Cueto did (to clarify, I’m not saying Cueto is a bad pitcher, I’m just saying he didn’t provide much during his time with the Royals, for whatever reason).

And consider me cautiously optimistic about Kennedy’s chances for success with the Royals. I thought the Edinson Volquez signing was terrible prior to the 2015 season, and look how that turned out. He was a $10 million player that produced 2.6 WAR. There’s a better than zero chance that pitching coach Dave Eiland can help turn Kennedy around as well and make him a high quality starter.

blue fountain
Member
blue fountain
2 months 28 days ago

I agree on the weaknesses for the Royals that the projections pick up. And I think there’s an additional component that is very interesting: the projections also don’t think the great players will be as great. The biggest mystery of all may be Lorenzo Cain. In his age 26 and 27 seasons combined he had 4.4 WAR. In his age 29 season alone he put up 6.6 WAR. The sample size of past performance that looks like that is what, just north of nonexistent? Meanwhile, Gordon did the reverse, posting 2.8 WAR in an injured season after a 6.6 WAR 2014.

Nevermind 2B and RF and SP, the difference between just those two guys being 7 WAR players or 12 WAR players is the difference between being projected in the bottom third and top third of the league. That’s how large the error bars are in all of this.

The Royals don’t even have to win all of those game against other AL teams. The projections also seem to think that the AL and NL are virtually equivalent leagues in 2016, far different from the .557 winning percentage posted by the AL last year. Over the past ten years, the AL has never had a winning percentage as low as .504. In 8 of the past 10 years, the winning percentage has exceeded .530. When the Royals play the Braves and Phillies, one team does have to get a W out of it.

Richie
Member
Richie
3 months 57 minutes ago

I love you too, Jeff. Can you loan me a few bucks?

Brett W
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Brett W
3 months 52 minutes ago

This article is undeniable proof that Fangraphs is biased against my team because they are in the National League.

Brent Henry
Member
Brent Henry
3 months 48 minutes ago

Hey, thanks for the poll. I found myself docking teams expecting bouncbacks from over the hill players (ex: Sandoval, Laroche) and adding wins to the teams hoping their young talent takes the next step.

Also think the Royals are the best team in the AL. Why? Because.

The Dude of NY
Member
The Dude of NY
2 months 29 days ago

I still prefer that argument over they have TWTW.

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
2 months 28 days ago

That’s actually the overlooked reason why Boston’s projection is very reasonable. Many people doubt that Sandoval and Ramirez will rebound all that much, and that’s understandable (though they are essentially a lock to improve a win or two each, as has been shown in previous fangraphs articles).

But on the other hand, the projections don’t assign all that much growth to players such as Betts, Bogaerts, Swihart, and Bradley. In fact, for all but Betts, the projections expect each to take a step back…even though each was also MUCH better in the second half last season.

So whatever pessimism you might have regarding the two veterans, it’s essentially balanced out by the upside of the younger players.

Mattabattacola
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Mattabattacola
2 months 28 days ago

The Royals have far and away the best defensive line-up in all of baseball. My guess is that these projections can’t quantify the defense enough to give them the wins they deserve.

blue fountain
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blue fountain
2 months 28 days ago

I don’t think it’s that they can’t quantify defense? Rather, it’s that they are quantifying it at a lower level of production. Put in higher numbers for key players like Cain and Gordon and the projection system would spit out a higher team win total, right?

Antonio Bananas
Member
Member
Antonio Bananas
2 months 28 days ago

These projections show ridiculous parity. Best team at .543, worst at .475. If you include error bars, I’m sure you’re not far off with any of these.

My only hope is we get like a 3 way tie for the central, 2 way tie for the east and west, and those 4 teams are tied with 1 from the central for wild card. Make it crazy, like 4 straight days of win or go home.

Momus
Member
Momus
2 months 28 days ago

I hate to add to the whole “AL mediocrity” narrative, but frankly I’d move most of these teams closer together. I feel like the Royals and Blue Jays are too low, while the Indians, Red Sox and Astros are too high.

This is obviously not to say I think no team in the league will win 90+ games, just that I think they are too tightly grouped to predict who will win 90+ and who will lose 85+ this season. I think the best team in the American League is probably the Blue Jays, but not so much above the Red Sox, Indians, Astros or even most of the other teams that I would be shocked by almost any team finishing first.

Some team, probably several, will exceed expectations and finish in the low 90s, while others will fall below expectations and finish in the low 70s.

That said, offense is more predictable than defense and pitching from year to year, and the Blue Jays will likely be the best offensive team in baseball again in 2016. It’s important to remember that Toronto wildly underperformed their peripherals for the first half of 2015. If they hadn’t they would’ve run away with both the division title and the best record in baseball.

James
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James
2 months 28 days ago

Are you confusing “mediocrity” with absence of 6 terrible teams to beat up on?

Roger McDowell Hot Foot
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Roger McDowell Hot Foot
2 months 28 days ago

The nice word for it is “parity,” if you prefer.

JediHoyer
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JediHoyer
2 months 28 days ago

Well there certainly are no cubs in this league. Keep in mind that even with everyone underperforming offensively save harper that the nats finished 4 games over .500 and an 89 win pythagrean. Just
Stating that for the inevitable cubs are this years nationals comment.

James
Member
James
2 months 28 days ago

Yeah “parity” is much better.

And you’re right, there is no Cubs team in the AL. I think the closest thing to it is the Astros, and I say that as a pretty optimistic Ranger fan. They may not have a really solid #2 SP, like the Cubs, but hardly anyone in the AL has that. They’re SP depth is great for the AL.

James
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James
2 months 28 days ago

And I guess the ’14 O’s proved that you don’t need an ace to win a ton of games, so possibly the Jays do runaway.

James
Member
James
2 months 28 days ago

Sumabich, *their*

Momus
Member
Momus
2 months 27 days ago

Are you confusing my desire not to want to add to a narrative with support for it? I think it was pretty clear from the way I phrased it that I don’t believe the AL is mediocre – in fact the inter-league record pretty clearly shows that the level of competition in the AL is simply higher, but the teams are more closely packed.

Blinzler
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Blinzler
2 months 28 days ago

Don’t forget, those teams which lose early will likely target some draftpicks after a while. That will make this projection much less radical compared to the likely final standings.

London Yank
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London Yank
2 months 28 days ago

The projections are quite bullish on the Redsox. Is this the second year in a row they are predicted to go from worst to first? When I look at that roster, I see a team that is going to struggle to prevent runs on days when Price is not pitching, coupled with a middle of the pack offense.

Orsulakfan
Member
Orsulakfan
2 months 28 days ago

I see Boston’s high projection as almost as bad as the Royals’ 77-win projection. Boston could be a winner, but only if everything goes right. You could say that about a lot of teams.

London Yank
Member
London Yank
2 months 28 days ago

The Royals and Redsox certainly stand out the most. In one case you’ve got the defending WS winner predicted to be the worst team in the AL, and in the other you have one of the worst teams in the AL predicted to have the best chance to win the WS.

redsoxu571
Member
redsoxu571
2 months 28 days ago

You guys probably missed how Boston repaired all of its early season issues and won quite a bit down the final stretch of the season last year, despite at that point no longer being in win-now mode.

The biggest change was the outfield defense, going from Betts (only second year ever in the OF)/Ramirez(worst OF season ever?)/assortment of mediocre defense to Betts/Bradley/Castillo. Ramirez absolutely murdered the starting pitching, which was actually a lot better than it looked.

Do a team-wide audit. The defense looks to have quite clearly improved over last season’s average. The offense was terrific in the second half and is now the same, with the only clear unprojected downside coming from Ortiz (but balanced out by players such as Bogaerts, Swihart, and Bradley having easy shots at being much better than currently projected).

The bullpen was terrible as a whole last year. Now it adds Kimbrel and Smith.

The rotation was killed by the defense in the first half last year and was actually solid in the second. Now it has Price.

So where is it going to go wrong? It might not be AL leading, but there is no reason to expect the team to not be one of the AL’s better teams, unless you’re in a trolling mood.

Shauncore
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Shauncore
2 months 28 days ago

Finally, a Twins article!

SaltyWorley
Member
SaltyWorley
2 months 28 days ago

The fascinating thing to me is the spread between best and worst. If it were a single division, the projected worst team would only be 5 games back of the best, whereas in the NL, it’s 16.5 games back.

Jason B
Member
Jason B
2 months 27 days ago

Wait, what? The projected worst team is 11 games back here.

SaltyWorley
Member
SaltyWorley
2 months 28 days ago

And this probably puts the Padres/Rockies/Brewers/Reds/Braves/Phillies in the driver’s seat at the trade deadline. If indeed the AL is this bunched up, no AL teams are going to be sellers, which means the dregs of the NL will be perfectly positioned to sell in a buyer’s market.

Famous Mortimer
Member
Member
2 months 28 days ago

It’s nice that you’re happy that your projection system utterly failed on the Royals the past two years, I guess? It’s like you’re pissed off at them for daring to win more than BaseRuns would suggest they would.

Of course, if they fail this year you’ll have been “right” all along, but if they succeed? Will you dare to think that maybe, just maybe, your projection system is no good? Nah, of course not! What would drive page views here otherwise?

James
Member
James
2 months 28 days ago

Just curious, are you speaking to a person right now? Possibly the writer, Jeff?

upandadam
Member
upandadam
2 months 27 days ago

People are sleeping on the Angels so hard

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