Sunday, April 05, 2009
Baseball Prospectus is forecasting the MFY at 99 wins, the Sox at 95 and TB with 94 wins. BP forecasts runs scored and against based primarily on their PECOTA player projections, then plugs that into Bill James Pythagorean formula to calculate winning percentage. James’ Pythagorean equation has a 9% margin for error mostly due blow out, one-run and other close games. Besides the aforementioned run distribution, player forecasts, head-to-head record, inter-league play and the potential for additions to the organization can impact the projections. Run distribution and head-to-head record is too difficult, if even possible, to plan for and significantly impact. The baseball gods have more say on these two factors than any player, manager or general manager, which leaves three factors to analyze.
The A.L. East plays the N.L. East this year. The Sox play six against the Braves and MFY have two series versus the cross town Mets. The Olde Towne Team’s inter-league schedule is equal to the MFY. The Rays have the advantage with a weaker inter-league schedule. They play the Marlins six times and for some reason play the Rockies instead of the Braves. It would be a shame if the Rays just get ahead of either club by kicking the crap out of two teams that both project to only 71 wins. Mathematically, those nine games should boost the Rays by about 1.5 wins.
PECOTA does a good job at projecting player production, but injuries and odd career paths tend to give the system issues. With that in mind, a healthy Posada could easily blow away his 250/336/406 line in 361 PAs. Chamberlain is projected to have a 3.12 E.RA. but in only 140 innings. In thirty starts, Joba da DWI should log a minimum of 160 IN. The pair have upside, which would offset the question mark that is A-Roid. The 99 win total is solid, but A-Hole has to get his over 425 PAs and C.C. Sabathia needs to be on the mound for 220 IN. The MFY, as would every team, have a big drop off after the duo.
B.J. Upton played through shoulder injury last season. It was better in October and we know all too well that Upton went off in the postseason. PECOTA isn’t aware of his shoulder injury that killed his power and forecast him to hit only 15 dingers. Other than Carlos Pena, Pat Burrell and the relievers at the end of the game, everyone else is on the right side of 30. The Rays have more upside than down; 95+ wins would not be a big surprise.
PECOTA sees Jon Lester’s 2007 comeback from cancer season as a young pitcher that struggled. He spent time at four different levels. Hence, the system is skeptical of Lester’s 2008 year and projects him with a 4.57 E.R.A in 170 IN. Even though the southpaw could give something back in 2009, he should surpass his PECOTA forecast by a .5 E.R.A and 20 IN. Similar to Upton, Ortiz played with a bad wrist last year that hurts his projection for 2009 - 268/373/500 over 588 PAs. Unlike Bossman Junior, Big Papi is on the wrong side of 30 and relatively un-athletic slugger. A return to form is not out of the question, but don’t bet the farm. PECOTA projects Smoltz 3.69 E.R.A. to be the best of any Sox starter. If he makes more than 15 starts, the Olde Towne Team will likely be in good shape and top 95 wins.
If the A’s and Tigers are out of the race, Matt Holliday and Magglio Ordonez are two bats that can change a race. Holliday will go to the team that puts together the best package of prospects. Ordonez’s contract takes the Rays out of the running and the MFY are unlikely to need an outfielder as are most large market contenders. Mags is mostly to be a Sox if not a Tiger in August. And keep dreaming, Miguel Cabrera is not going to be dealt.
Erik Bedard will be traded and could be a playoff race changer if he returns to form. The 2008 Bedard would be a nice fit for the Rays, as they could have David Price close and save his young arm. Jake Peavy’s contract likely takes the Rays out of the running. The Sox, MFY, Cubs, and others will battle for Peavy, who has no-trade rights. Although the Cubs and “others” may split their attention to Roy Halladay. The Jays will not trade Halladay within the A.L. East.
In summary, the MFY should take the A.L. East if they get and can stay healthy. If not and others do not step up, the MFY could be out of it in September. Outside of the OF/DH slots, they are not a deep club and could have trouble out maneuvering the Sox on the trade market. The Olde Towne Team has deeper pockets than the Rays and more near ready MLB prospects than the MFY. The combo gives them the best opportunity to bring in a top bat or starter that could be the difference in the local nine getting a ticket for October baseball.
MFY - 97 wins - A-Roid comes back but is not the same player
SOX - 97 wins - Smoltz and Lester out perform their projections
TBR - 91 wins - Even though Upton goes 30-30, the pen fails causing them to have a poor record in close games