The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The 2010 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout - National League Edition

Opening Day is less than a week away, so it’s time to present my annual Diamond Mind Projection blowout.  The idea behind this is to take several projection systems and run the 2010 season through Diamond Mind Baseball, which I consider to be the most statistically accurate baseball simulator out there.

I’ve done this for the last few years.  If you want to see how previous runs have gone, here are the links:
2008 Pt 1
2008 Pt 2
2009 AL
2009 NL

As you can see if you look at the prior runs, the results can be hit and miss, but that’s certainly understandable.  This year, I’m using five different projection systems, and I’ve run each one 1000 times for a total of 5000 iterations.

Before I present the projected standings, it's disclaimer time.

1) Projection systems are inherently limited in their accuracy, particularly for pitchers. We can get a rough idea of how most players will perform by looking at their past histories and how similar players have performed, and factoring in aging and regression, but abilities/talent can change in ways that can’t be forecasted.

2) Playing time distribution in these simulations will not match the actual playing time of the players involved. I used the rosters and depth charts available at and at the very cool site MLB Depth Charts as my guide to set these up as realistically as possible, but it’s a possible source of error. Rosters were set up to have 35-40 or so active players per team, and to get a reasonable amount of playing time from the bench and extra pitchers, to more closely model reality. Basically, no players are set to play more than 90% of the time, starting catchers are restricted to at most about 75% of the games, and I've made sure teams get a non-trivial amount of starts from their 6-8 starters. The healthier a team is in 2010, the more likely they will be to exceed these projections.

3) We cannot predict injuries and/or roster changes. These simulations do include projected playing time based on past health issues, so someone like Rich Harden is not expected to make 30 starts. I've also included random injuries which may lead to some of the outlying results you see, but there’s no way to account for all the fluctuations that will happen with rosters this season.

4) These are the averages of 1000 seasons, so the results will tend to regress towards the mean. The final standings will not look like this, because they only play the season once. The idea behind is not necessarily to tell us how the final standings will look. Think of it more as a starting point for discussion. You can look at these and think about why you think teams will be better or worse.

5) These are NOT my predictions. These are projections based on running a computer simulation thousands of times with projection data that is inherently limited. If your favorite team doesn’t project well, don’t blame me, blame the computers and spreadsheets that projected them. I guess you can blame me for the CAIRO results if you want, otherwise you can take heart in the 2005 White Sox projecting to win 79 games, the 2006 Tigers projecting to win 80, or the 2007 Rockies projecting to win 79.

6) Since this is all automated, I don’t break ties. I simply award all ties a share of either the division title or wild card when it happens which is why you may see some funny decimal places in the standings that follow.

7) While the Diamond Mind engine is pretty good at giving us some variance in player and team performances over multiple simulations, it's not quite good enough to model reality. Diamond Mind's standard deviation for team wins is generally in the six to seven win range, but given the possible variations in playing time and in player performance, a better standard deviation is probably closer to the 10 to 13 win range. So I've taken the results from each set of projection and then run them through a Monte Carlo simulator 100,000 times. It won't change the average win totals much, but it will give us a slightly higher standard deviation on team wins which will give us slightly different division and wild card percentages which should be more realistic.

OK, so now that the disclaimers are out of the way, onto the projected standings. I am showing W-L to one decimal place to deal with displayed rounding issues and so I don't get people asking me why the wins and losses don't add up to exactly 2430, not to imply that these results are that precise.

There's too much crap to fit it all into one post, so I've created a separate page for each projection system, and I'll be creating a separate post for the American League's combined results. I will use this post to show the results of the aggregate for the National League. You can follow the links below to look at how each individual system sees things.

2010 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout - CHONE Edition
2010 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout - Marcel Edition
2010 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout - Oliver Edition
2010 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout - PECOTA Edition
2010 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout - CAIRO Edition

As an aside, I wanted to include Dan Szymborski's ZiPS as well, but it's being included in ESPN Insider's preview stuff so I was not able to do so. Yet another reason to hate ESPN.

And here are the combined NL standings of all the projections:

National League
TM W L StdW RS RA Div WC W+/- RS+/- RA+/-
Phillies 89.7 72.3 79 - 100 816 732 38.0% 10.0% -3.3 -4 23
Braves 88.3 73.7 77 - 98 770 706 33.0% 9.9% 1.3 35 65
Marlins 80.0 82.0 69 - 90 764 770 13.1% 6.2% -6.0 -8 4
Mets 76.1 85.9 65 - 86 774 817 8.6% 4.4% 6.1 103 60
Nationals 74.8 87.2 64 - 85 717 777 7.4% 3.7% 15.8 7 -97
TM W L StdW RS RA Div WC W+/- RS+/- RA+/-
Cardinals 90.6 71.4 80 - 101 748 675 41.7% 9.2% -0.4 18 35
Cubs 83.1 78.9 72 - 93 738 729 19.3% 7.9% 0.1 31 57
Reds 80.6 81.4 70 - 91 730 740 14.9% 6.4% 0.6 57 17
Brewers 81.6 80.4 71 - 92 759 762 16.3% 7.2% 3.6 -26 -56
Pirates 72.3 89.7 61 - 82 685 772 5.0% 2.6% -1.7 49 4
Astros 68.8 93.2 58 - 79 669 786 2.9% 1.5% 6.8 26 16
TM W L StdW RS RA Div WC W+/- RS+/- RA+/-
Dodgers 86.3 75.7 75 - 96 751 700 30.6% 7.9% -8.7 -29 89
Rockies 83.8 78.2 83 - 94 778 751 23.4% 6.9% -8.2 -26 36
Diamondbacks 82.2 79.8 82 - 92 726 711 19.4% 6.2% -5.8 6 -71
Giants 81.1 80.9 81 - 91 697 701 17.3% 6.0% 6.1 40 90
Padres 75.9 86.1 75 - 86 677 720 9.3% 3.9% 5.9 39 -49

One thing I need to note, since it may not be obvious. Those standings are NOT saying the Dodgers are going to win the NL West with 86 wins. They are saying the Dodgers projected to win the NL West most frequently. In order to actually win the division, the NL West winner had to win 91 games on average. Here are the average wins for each place in the NL.

1 92
2 87
3 82
4 77
5 71
NL Central APW
1 90
2 84
3 80
4 77
5 73
6 68
1 91
2 86
3 82
4 78
5 69
Wild Card 88.8

Regular readers know that this whole exercise is an excuse to make fancy pie charts, so here's how the NL divisions title percentages look for the aggregate in pie chart form.

I'll run through the divisions and teams briefly:

NL East

Average Projected Wins: 90
Division Title Percentage: 37.2%
Wild Card Percentage: 10.4%
Playoff Percentage: 47.7%
Last year's NL champs look strong again after bringing in the guy I still have projected as the best pitcher in baseball. It's tough to see them not being in the hunt all year. Chase Utley continues to be one of the top two or three most valuable players in baseball, but he also continues to fly under the radar for some reason.

Average Projected Wins: 88
Division Title Percentage: 33.2%
Wild Card Percentage: 9.8%
Playoff Percentage: 43.0%
The Braves look like they're going to be right there with the Phillies according to these projections, even after trading away their best starting pitcher from last season. Having Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson around for more games will help cover for the loss of Javier Vazquez, and they've added some offense with Troy Glaus and Melky Cabrera, who just has to outhit Garrett Anderson to be an asset, which shouldn't be too hard. Jason Heyward will break camp as the starting RF and is one of the best prospects in the game, so they should be a fun team to watch in 2010.

Average Projected Wins: 80
Division Title Percentage: 14.5%
Wild Card Percentage: 6.3%
Playoff Percentage: 20.8%
Although probably not as good as the Phillies or Braves on paper, the Marlins have some good young talent and I wouldn't be surprised to see them contending, especially if they can get good seasons out of Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez.

Average Projected Wins: 76
Division Title Percentage: 8.1%
Wild Card Percentage: 4.5%
Playoff Percentage: 12.7%

Even if the Mets are healthier than last year (and they almost HAVE to be, don't they?) their rotation is frightening after Johan Santana. I've assumed Carlos Beltran will miss two months, so if he can play more frequently than that it would help, but I just don't see how they're going to get enough good innings out of the rotation aside from Santana to be much better than around .500. You never know though.

Average Projected Wins: 75
Division Title Percentage: 7.0%
Wild Card Percentage: 3.9%
Playoff Percentage: 10.8%

The Nats are projected to improve more than any other team in baseball. The bulk of that comes from an expected improvement in run prevention, which is based on a few gambles. Stephen Strasburgh is one wild card here. He wasn't projected in every system so I used his average projection for the ones that didn't have him projected (except for Marcel) and I limited him to about 100 innings. If he ends up pitching more than that and/or pitching more effectively than projected, that would be a big boost. Chien-Ming Wang is also someone who could contribute by mid-season, but I also restricted him to about 15 starts.

NL Central

Average Projected Wins: 90
Division Title Percentage: 40.9%
Wild Card Percentage: 9.5%
Playoff Percentage: 50.4%

The Cardinals may not be the best team in the National League, but they look like the team that's most likely to make the postseason. They've got the best player in the game in the lineup in Albert Pujols and a nice supporting player with Matt Holliday and a rotation fronted by Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter is clearly a nice thing to have, Colby Rasmus gives them a high upside player who could exceed his projections. The left side of the infield doesn't look so great, but they're pretty clear favorites in the Central.

Average Projected Wins: 83
Division Title Percentage: 20.0%
Wild Card Percentage: 8.1%
Playoff Percentage: 28.1%
It's easy to forget that the Cubs actually did win 83 games last year in what seemed like a bad year. Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano should rebound a little, although Ted Lilly will miss some time and coming off a shoulder issue may be a risk, and it's doubtful Randy Wells can pitch as well as he did in 2009. They should be able to contend if a few things break right though.

Average Projected Wins: 82
Division Title Percentage: 16.2%
Wild Card Percentage: 6.9%
Playoff Percentage: 23.1%

The Brewers look three or four wins better on paper than last season, primarly thanks to an expected improvement in the pitching staff. Yovani Gallardo was surrounded by a sea of suck last year, but Braden Looper's gone, with new import Randy Wolf looking like a decent upgrade and the expectation is that Manny Parra and David Bush should be better. Getting Rickie Weeks back after a lost year will help the offense, as will losing Jason Kendall. It'll be interesting to see what they get out of Jim Edmonds, who I thought had no chance of making the team.

Average Projected Wins: 81
Division Title Percentage: 15.4%
Wild Card Percentage: 6.3%
Playoff Percentage: 21.7%

There's not much difference between the Cubs, Brewers or Reds on virtual paper right now. The Reds were one of the two teams that initially surprised me when running these, although going from 78-81 wins isn't that big of a jump. Swapping Drew Stubbs in for Willy Taveras should be a nice improvement on offense, and getting some more innings from Aaron Harang will help. On the negative side, losing Edison Volquez hurts, although he may return by August.

I did not include any innings from Aroldis Chapman here, because frankly the only projections he had stunk, and I figured if he was going to pitch to those projections he wouldn't be in the majors. He looked good in spring and we know he's got one of the best arms in baseball, so he could help the Reds sneak their way into contention.

Average Projected Wins: 72
Division Title Percentage: 4.6%
Wild Card Percentage: 2.6%
Playoff Percentage: 7.3%

7.3%? So you're saying there's a chance?

Average Projected Wins: 69
Division Title Percentage: 2.9%
Wild Card Percentage: 1.6%
Playoff Percentage: 4.4%

I wonder if the Astros can talk Roger Clemens out of retirement?

NL West

Average Projected Wins: 86
Division Title Percentage: 30.3%
Wild Card Percentage: 7.3%
Playoff Percentage: 37.5%

It may be Joe Torre's last season as a manager, and they have that ongoing divorce stuff happening, but the Dodgers bring back the bulk of the team that won 95 games last year, although they lost Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson. It'll be tough for Clayton Kershaw to match what he did in 2009 on a rate basis, but he could be more valuable pitching more innings even if it's at a lesser rate of quality. I'm still skeptical about Vicente Padilla suddenly becoming a good starter, but the Dodgers look solid.

Average Projected Wins: 84
Division Title Percentage: 23.5%
Wild Card Percentage: 7.0%
Playoff Percentage: 30.5%
The Rockies also look solid, although they have to replace Jason Marquis's 216 good innings. Jeff Francis's return from the DL could help with that, although I didn't want to assume he'd be back and healthy for a full year so I restricted him to about 20 starts.

Average Projected Wins: 82
Division Title Percentage: 19.9%
Wild Card Percentage: 6.6%
Playoff Percentage: 26.4%

The NL West is really tightly bunched, although you'll eventually see another division that's even more tightly bunched. The biggest question facing the Diamondbacks in my opinion is how many innings they can get out of Brandon Webb. I limited him to about 150, so if he can pitch more than that they should be able to narrow the gap a bit with the teams ahead of them.

Average Projected Wins: 81
Division Title Percentage: 17.2%
Wild Card Percentage: 6.0%
Playoff Percentage: 23.1%

I thought the Giants would look a little better than this, but bringing back Bengie Molina kind of screwed them up. If they'd have gone with Buster Posey instead they might be a couple of wins better, but they may have reasons to think that Posey's not ready or that it didn't make sense to bring him up yet. Obviously with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain they've got a puncher's chance, but you have to wonder where the offense is going to come from.

Average Projected Wins: 76
Division Title Percentage: 9.2%
Wild Card Percentage: 3.3%
Playoff Percentage: 12.5%

The Padres aren't the Astros at least. They've got the makings of a potentially interesting rotation with Mat Latos and Clayton Richard around, and Jon Garland isn't flashy but should be good for 200 decent innings but Chris Young hasn't been able to stay healthy EVER so it's tough to see them getting enough out of the rotation to make up for an offense that's less than exciting.

The American League edition should go up a bit later today or tomorrow morning.
--Posted at 12:20 pm by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)


Page 1 of 1 pages:

Those is some mean pie charts you gots there.

They’d be even better if I didn’t f up the Cubs/Reds.

[2] Also, your NL Central table has the Brewers with a better record than the Reds, but lower in the standings.

They’re still really cool.

I feel bad for the Astros though, having their logo squeezed in like that. I’m sure I’ll feel worse for the Jays, later.

Also, your NL Central table has the Brewers with a better record than the Reds, but lower in the standings

Yeah, I see that.  Apparently Excel and I disagree on what the phrase ‘sort from largest to smallest’ means.

Wow, SG! This is some incredible stuff! You, sir, have outdone yourself. Take a bow.

The Mariners are mis-sorted in the AL West for the Chone and Oliver pages.

Actually, a few of those divisions are screwy.

[9] CAIRO clearly isn’t doing it’s job, the Yankees didn’t win any of these divisions.

Great work, SG.

By the way, ESPN used ZiPS, but they only ran 100 simulations. What’s up with that?!?

Fascinating as always.
I’ll take the over on the Giants and the under on the Braves.

By the way, ESPN used ZiPS, but they only ran 100 simulations. What’s up with that?!?

Not sure.  I gave Szym all my tools to run as many iterations as he wanted, maybe they just didn’t see the sense in going past 100 for whatever they were using them for.

Not looking good for the Mets.

A positive for the Mets this spring has been that some of their prospects have been impressive. It will be interesting to see if they trade some of them for immediate help if/when they struggle.

I gave Szym all my tools to run as many iterations as he wanted, maybe they just didn’t see the sense in going past 100 for whatever they were using them for.

I guess, but when you’re running a piece in a magazine about “who the computer predicts will win!” you’d really think you’d run more than a 100, right?

Such an odd decision on their part.

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