2013 Positional Power Rankings: Wrap-Up

Now that we’ve completed our journey through the positional power rankings for the upcoming season, I wanted to give an overview of each team’s forecasts for each spot, and then their overall forecast. Keep in mind that simply summing the linear weights contribution of each individual player is a very crude way to project a team’s performance, since it leaves out things that a good projection system should forecast, such as strength of schedule and the non-linear interactions that effect run scoring. However, for being a crude back-of-the-envelope calculation, it also works pretty well, so as long as you take these in the spirit they’re intended and not as the gospel truth, this kind of exercise can give you a lot of information about where teams stand heading into the coming season.

So, here’s the total results for each team’s forecast WAR from the Positional Power Rankings, and the conversion from that into projected wins.

Team C 1B 2B SS 3B LF CF RF DH SP RP WAR Wins
Tigers 4.7 4.3 2.3 2.9 6.5 1.4 3.8 2.2 2.0 19.6 2.7 52.4 94
Angels 3.7 4.8 3.0 3.1 2.6 5.4 5.0 4.1 1.9 12.7 2.6 48.9 90
Rangers 3.2 1.5 3.8 3.5 5.3 2.7 2.7 2.2 2.4 17.2 3.3 47.8 89
Nationals 3.5 2.2 2.8 3.7 4.6 3.8 3.2 2.6   17.8 2.6 46.8 88
Braves 4.3 2.9 2.6 3.1 2.3 4.1 3.6 5.0   13.1 5.5 46.4 88
Reds 4.1 5.9 3.5 2.7 2.7 2.3 3.6 3.4   13.2 3.4 45.0 86
Dodgers 3.8 4.4 2.0 3.4 2.6 1.7 5.0 2.8   15.9 2.7 44.3 85
Blue Jays 3.3 3.3 1.6 3.9 4.4 1.9 2.4 4.2 1.6 13.6 4.0 44.1 85
Rays 2.3 1.2 3.8 3.5 6.0 2.7 3.7 3.0 1.5 13.2 2.8 43.8 85
Yankees 1.7 3.0 5.1 2.0 3.7 2.2 3.7 0.9 0.7 16.3 4.3 43.6 85
Diamondbacks 4.5 2.7 3.1 2.0 3.7 1.9 3.6 1.6   16.0 4.3 43.3 84
Red Sox 3.1 2.3 4.9 1.9 2.8 1.4 4.1 2.2 2.9 14.0 3.7 43.3 84
Cardinals 5.5 3.2 2.2 1.2 3.7 4.5 3.8 3.2   13.6 2.2 43.2 84
Giants 6.5 3.5 2.3 2.2 4.6 1.8 3.5 2.2   13.3 2.9 42.8 84
Phillies 5.0 1.6 4.0 3.3 2.1 2.1 2.6 1.6   16.6 3.3 42.1 83
Athletics 3.8 1.6 1.9 2.9 2.9 2.7 3.5 2.8 1.2 14.2 2.9 40.4 82
Pirates 3.3 1.9 3.7 2.3 3.2 2.7 6.0 2.2   12.1 2.0 39.2 80
Rockies 3.1 1.4 2.3 5.2 1.3 3.9 3.2 1.8   12.0 4.8 39.1 80
Brewers 4.0 1.8 3.2 2.3 4.3 6.0 3.2 2.3   10.6 1.1 38.8 80
White Sox 2.9 2.4 1.9 2.4 2.2 1.6 3.0 1.6 1.2 15.8 3.7 38.7 80
Royals 4.3 2.2 1.3 2.2 3.3 3.7 2.8 0.6 2.8 11.2 4.1 38.5 80
Cubs 2.9 3.5 2.2 3.5 1.6 2.1 2.5 1.3   14.5 2.4 36.4 78
Padres 3.9 1.9 3.1 2.3 4.8 2.9 3.7 2.2   9.1 1.4 35.3 76
Indians 4.3 2.6 3.2 3.6 2.6 1.6 3.6 1.5 0.3 9.2 1.6 34.1 75
Orioles 4.7 1.5 0.9 3.3 2.5 1.6 3.5 2.4 (0.1) 10.8 2.6 33.4 75
Mariners 3.3 1.3 2.9 1.9 2.7 2.0 2.3 1.4 1.5 11.7 2.2 33.1 74
Mets 3.3 2.9 2.4 2.4 4.9 0.9 1.9 1.3   11.2 1.3 32.5 74
Twins 4.4 2.5 1.2 1.0 1.7 3.0 1.7 1.6 0.9 9.4 1.3 28.6 70
Marlins 1.6 1.5 0.8 1.2 1.3 0.7 2.2 6.5   8.9 2.0 26.7 68
Astros 2.4 1.2 2.7 1.7 2.2 2.2 2.3 1.5 1.4 6.0 (0.8) 22.8 64

(That table is sortable, by the way, so you can go position by position if you’d like to see the spreads at each spot on the field.)

By this measure, the Tigers are the best team in baseball, with a substantial gap over everyone else. While last year’s Detroit team was built around a few great players hoping to compensate for a lot of weaknesses in the supporting cast, this year’s version includes a lot of upgrades at those complementary spots, and that depth pushes Detroit to the top of the pack. I’ve been hailing the Nationals as the best team in baseball due to the fact that their roster really doesn’t have any glaring flaws, but Detroit is similarly sound across the board. Given the weakness of the rest of the AL Central, the Tigers are almost certainly the team with the best odds of playing in October, and as long as they can keep their big guns healthy, they have a very good shot at returning to the World Series.

From there, things go mostly as you might expect. The Angels and Rangers are similarly good teams and should fight for the AL West. The Braves look like the Nationals stiffest competition in the NL East, and the gap there might be smaller than I’ve thought previously. The AL East and NL West are a jumble of teams with similar abilities. The Astros are the worst team in baseball, with the Marlins and Twins not far behind.

But there are some surprises in the mix too. The Blue Jays don’t grade out as a top tier team, even after their aggressive off-season of upgrades. I think the forecast is underselling R.A. Dickey here, and they have a decent chance to beat the 85 win forecast, but they are betting big on some high variance players coming off career years. Their season might very well come down to whether Dickey and Melky Cabrera can retain a good chunk of their breakout 2013 performances. These forecasts are down on both, but there’s certainly upside with both players beyond what is projected here.

And yes, even with the park adjustments, this system is still pretty bullish on Colorado. The bullpen is very good, the rotation doesn’t project as a disaster, and better health from a couple of game’s best players should keep the offense afloat, even if it’s not good enough to keep them in contention. While the Rockies were genuinely awful last year, we may be overreacting to the most recent performance and not acknowledging that there is some real talent on that team. Probably not enough to contend, but enough to finish near .500 as long as Troy Tulowitzki stays on the field for most of the season.

On the not-as-positive side of things, these forecasts are wholly unimpressed by the Indians, and instead of seeing them as upstarts who could give the Tigers a run for their money, this system has Cleveland finishing fourth in the AL Central, closer to the Twins than to .500. Almost all of the negativity comes from the pitching projections, however, and those are the ones with the most variance, especially if Cleveland’s offense provides reasons for optimism and the front office makes some in-season adjustments to the pitching staff. I wouldn’t write off Cleveland just yet, but it’s probably worth toning down the enthusiasm their off-season created just a bit, as there are still some real issues with that roster.

Scheduling and in-season roster moves will widen the spread of actual wins versus what you see here, but I think these numbers also back up the idea that there is a lot of parity in Major League Baseball right now, and picking the winners at the start of the season isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be. Detroit looks like a safe bet at the top of their division, but nearly every other race could be construed as a real toss-up, at least according to these numbers. I’d make a few adjustments here or there in my own personal picks, but overall, I think this system worked out pretty well, and gives us a pretty good overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each team heading into the season.

Now, we’ll just have to see what big surprises lay in store once the games actually start to matter.

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Anon21
Guest
Anon21

The Braves look like the Nationals stiffest competition in the NL East, and the gap there might be smaller than I’ve thought previously.

(deadpans) You don’t say. Why, a respected baseball commentator told me not three weeks ago that the Pecota forecasts putting the Braves and Mets two wins apart were completely plausible, and that it was my problem if I didn’t see that!

Adam
Member
Adam

Yeah, I saw that – it was a glib response that ducked the question. And yet, even as a Braves fan I’m actually less bullish on this year’s team than are a lot of other fans. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying the Braves will be bad. I just wouldn’t be shocked by an 84-6 win season, considering the question marks surrounding the rotation (Hudson’s attrition, Medlen’s regression, Minor’s development, Teheran’s age, etc.) and the lack of position player depth.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

You must be a man of most phlegmatic disposition, not to be shocked by a season in which 72 games are rained out.

I think the Braves have a lot of variability in both directions. But to say that a plausible central tendency is an 82-win season was, as you say, very glib.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar

How did you manage to read 84-86 wins as 84 wins and 6 losses?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Because that’s not how number ranges are presented in any system of writing that I’m aware of? Regardless of the total number of digits in the numbers you’re ranging, you always reproduce at least two digits in the terminal range. Thus, 84–86, correct, 84-6 = 72 missing games.

Joe
Guest
Joe

there’s really no reason to be pedantic here. whether or not the syntax fits with any formal system, its completely clear what he meant. Believe it or not, communicating clearly is more important than adhering to formal systems. Saying something like a 90-72 win season is even more awkward and strange anyway

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

It wasn’t completely clear to me what he meant; I thought he’d left a digit off the six on the way to stating a won-lost record. (Yes, I know now after checking that that wouldn’t add up, but people (like me) who can’t count also read comments here.) And I pretty obviously was not being pedantic, insofar as I responded with a joke.

Adam
Member
Adam

My apologies for the lack of clarity. I meant a range of 84 to 86 wins. Obviously.

Cream
Guest
Cream

For context, here are the exact quotes (from 2 different chats):

Comment From nik: Do you agree with Jon Morosi and Jayson Werth that the Phillies may be the Nats biggest challenge?

Dave Cameron: I think the Phillies and Braves are similar in overall talent level. Atlanta might be a bit better, but the gap isn’t huge. Anyone arguing that one team is clearly better than the other is wrong.

12:02 Comment From Mike: How far apart are the Nats, Braves and Phillies?

12:02 Dave Cameron: Big gap between Washington and the other two, small to non-existant gap between ATL and PHI.

JUpton_MVP
Guest
JUpton_MVP

His answers were such B.S. The Braves and Nats are VERY close talent wise, just as the projections above show. To say that there is a “small to non-existant gap between ATL and PHI” is just unbelievably bad reporting. The ONLY areas where PHI is better than ATL is with the first 2 starting pitchers and 2B.

Some writers just need to admit that they are biased against certain clubs. Last year Cameron predicted the Braves to finish 4th in the NL East. How did that work out?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

“Some writers just need to admit that they are biased against certain clubs”

Well at least that is a totally unbiased perspective brought to us by the ultra-objective “JUpton_MVP”. No fan bias there whatsoever!

JUpton_MVP
Guest
JUpton_MVP

Jason, I created this name as a joke since Cameron said that he voted for Bryce Harper as his pre-season MVP favorite. As fans, most of us are at least a little biased. Writers for national websites are supposed to be impartial. However, Cameron has shown over a period of time now that he simply cannot be impartial when discussing the Braves. From predicting them to finish in 4th in their division last season (an eventual 94 game winner) to continually making fun of one of the most exciting young shortstops in baseball (and now even his acolytes are even making fun of Simmons). And now he is saying that the Phillies and Braves are close talent-wise but the Nats are far ahead of them. Whaaaaat???????

Again, I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. All of the other writers on this site seem pretty impartial so it’s not like I think that about every writer here.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Why on earth would Cameron be biased against the Atlanta Braves? Does that make any sense at all? Come on.

bleh
Member
bleh

The projections show Atlanta getting 4 WAR from their catchers, I don’t think there’s any chance that happens with McCann’s health. And it looks like they’re going to lose Venters. So I think the ATL projection is a few wins too high.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Wrong quote, bro. From the 2/20/13 chat:

Comment From Anon21
re: Pecota standings projections (for the NL East, since those are the only ones I’ve looked at). When your system spits out projections that look implausible (Braves win 82 games, Mets win 80), should you try to correct what went “wrong” (relative to consensus), or is that antithetical to forecasting?

Dave Cameron: If you think ATL winning 82 games or NYM winning 80 is implausible, then the problem is likely more with your perception than with the system.

And yet! Here we are, and it still is looking completely implausible without multiple serious injuries to Braves players. That’s what I’m riding Dave about.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Beat me to it…his answer is pretty hilarious in light of the fact that these projections set the difference as 14 wins, compared to just 2 for Pecota, but then again I stopped paying attention to Pecota after the whole Matt Weiters debacle.

Cream
Guest
Cream

In retrospect, you are right. I was looking for those quotes that could be potentially perceived as a slight against the Braves and stopped with those two. The Mets one was from a different chat.

What’s interesting is that I agree with him on this statement. So if you assume that the probability is normally distributed, there is a decent chance of those outcomes.

If you assume the Braves are a true 88 win team, their spread with +/- 1 std deviation would be 77-100. The Mets, as a 74 win team would be 63-85. This is with a std deviation of 11.5. This translates to a roughly 30% chance that the Mets would meet or exceed 80 wins 30. Similarly, the Braves would be expected to win 82 or fewer games 30% of the time.

Again, this assumes a normal distribution with a standard deviation of 11.5 (which is the best guess I’ve found online).

I don’t know about you all, but I would not consider an outcome with a 30% probability (Braves winning 80) to be implausible.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

What’s implausible is forecasting that as your central tendency, as Pecota did. Sure, if Juan Francisco accidentally rips Kris Medlen’s right arm off and uses it as a bat, the Braves will end up winning fewer games. Likewise, if Bryce Harper hits 120 home runs, the Braves won’t place anywhere close to the Nationals.

But you’re supposed to project based on the most likely outcome, and I maintain that any projection spitting out the Braves as most likely a .506 team, given their current roster, is producing implausible results.

Cream
Guest
Cream

Oh, I absolutely think that the PECOTA projections for the Braves and the Mets are nuts. I wish there was a way to bet against it, but unfortunately, no bookie is dumb enough.

yep
Guest
yep

An issue here is dynamicity of Rosters.

Projection systems project for the year, because that’s what fans care about, but with the general shake-up around the mid-season trade block it is ridiculous to think a projection system can legitimately predict with decent accuracy further than the AST.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Those aren’t the quotes he was talking about.

Anon21 –
“re: Pecota standings projections (for the NL East, since those are the only ones I’ve looked at). When your system spits out projections that look implausible (Braves win 82 games, Mets win 80), should you try to correct what went “wrong” (relative to consensus), or is that antithetical to forecasting?”

Dave –
“If you think ATL winning 82 games or NYM winning 80 is implausible, then the problem is likely more with your perception than with the system.”

Now implausible might not have been the right word to use, but those projections clearly deserved some scrutiny when compared to other projection systems and the “smell test.” Dave saying the issue was with the guy asking the question and not system seems unnecessarily snarky when you consider the guy had a point.

Cream
Guest
Cream

I understand your larger point, but he did say ‘or’. The likelihood of both of those happening does seem to be relatively implausible. The likelihood of at least one of them occurring would seem to be plausible.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Good point, but in that case I think he was ducking the question that I posed, which was that the combination of those two projections was implausible. Maybe that didn’t come across clearly in the question; either way, I think Dave’s answer projected a dismissive attitude towards the Braves that was not warranted by the evidence.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Yeah Cameron has been down on the Braves all season. He implied he thought they were the sixth best team in the national league in some other chat and kept on avoiding the question when I’d ask him why he thought the dbacks were better

JUpton_MVP
Guest
JUpton_MVP

He was down on them last year too. I have never accused a writer of being biased but it is extremely obvious that Cameron is not impartial when it comes to the Braves. I have no idea why. On all other topics he is on point and an exceptional writer.

snack man
Guest
snack man

Around this time last year someone asked him in a live talk what chance the nationals had, listing all the players who were coming back and he said that the fan was assuming that the luck would be all good in 2012 and not typical like it was in 2011.

Nobody has a glass ball, I don’t think he was wrong to say those thing; just that a person who believes that he has a glass ball is more than a little silly.

camfrommaine41
Guest
camfrommaine41

Dave, i agree with this for the most part. The calculations put the worst teams at the bottom ,the better teams atop. With that said you even said cleveland has holes , i.e. nick swisher batting clean up, starting pitching obv. With that said in a weak division. I think the bull pen is under rated at one time working together pestano and perez were 36-1 last season.

camfrommaine41
Guest
camfrommaine41

Kazmir is 29, brett myers is a work horse dice k is two years removed from Tommy john surgery. Matt capps is a good bull pen option. The tribe hhas marwho has the abiltty to hit 40 hr