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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 2013 MLB Projection Blowout

With Opening Day rapidly approaching, it’s time for my 2013 MLB projected standings blowout.  The idea behind this series of posts is to try and project how the 2013 MLB season might look given what we think we may know right now.  I’ve been doing a version of this since 2005, and you can see the results by looking at the following links.

2008 Pt 1
2008 Pt 2
2009 AL
2009 NL
2010 AL
2010 NL
2011 AL
2011 NL

A quick look at the previous seasons shows that the results are hit and miss.  Projections don’t pretend to be omnisicent, so they can only tell us so much about how things play out.  Hence the following disclaimers.

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 actual 2013 playing time. I used the rosters and depth charts available at MLB Depth Charts plus whatever I’ve read over the offseason 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 2013, the more likely they will be to exceed these projections, and vice versa.

3) We cannot predict injuries and/or roster changes. These simulations do try to adjust projected playing time based on past health issues, so someone like Erik Bedard 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 NOT my predictions. These are projections based on running a computer simulation hundreds of 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 2006 Tigers projecting to win 80, the 2010 Giants projecting to go 81-81 or the 2012 Orioles projecting to win 70 games.  These are not meant to tell you how the season is going to play out.  I prefer to think of them more as a starting point for discussion, with a range of something like 10 wins in either direction based on how things actually end up playing out.  You can look at them and argue about why you think some teams will be better or worse.

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

6) These are the averages of hundreds of thousands of simulated 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.  If the first place team in a division projects to win 85 games, it doesn’t mean 85 wins will win the division, but I’ll get into that into more detail further down in this post.

7) Even if you knew exactly what every player would do, and exactly how much they’d play, you would not get the standings right.  A few one run games or a disparate performance in more crucial situations can cause any team to over/under achieve what their stats say they should have done.  So if that’s true, you have to figure that since we have no idea what any individual player do or how much they’ll play, the margin of error on these is massive.

There’s too much stuff to fit it all into one post, so I’ve created a separate post for each projection system.  I will use this post to show the results of the aggregate/average of all the projections. You can follow the links below to look at the individual projection systems’ results.

This year, I’m using five different projection systems.  You can click on each of the links below to get some more information about each system and to see how their specific projected standings look.


I should note that the Marcel projections used here were generated using Python code provided by Jeff Sackmann and are not the “official” projections, although they should be almost identical.  I’ll also mention that ZiPS will have its own projected standings so these should not be considered the official version.  Playing time distribution, run environments and park factors may cause some divergence between what ZiPS forecasts and what mine say.  When in doubt, go with the official version.

With all the disclaimers out of the way, on to the projected standings.  These are the combined results for all five projection systems.  The standings are rounded to the nearest win so if the total W-L doesn’t add up to 2430-2430 that’s why.

American League
TM W L RS RA Div WC1 WC2 PS% W+/-
Blue Jays 89 73 795 728 29.1% 9.9% 9.6% 48.5% 77-100
Rays 88 74 715 644 27.6% 9.5% 8.8% 45.9% 77-100
Yankees 85 77 774 745 18.6% 7.9% 8.2% 34.7% 73-96
Red Sox 82 80 819 803 15.4% 6.6% 8.2% 30.2% 70-93
Orioles 79 83 738 766 9.3% 4.5% 5.8% 19.6% 68-90
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Tigers 89 73 797 714 46.4% 6.6% 6.8% 59.8% 77-100
Royals 81 81 716 721 19.3% 5.6% 6.5% 31.4% 70-92
Indians 80 82 741 744 18.7% 5.0% 6.2% 29.9% 69-91
White Sox 76 86 718 767 12.4% 4.0% 4.8% 21.2% 65-88
Twins 67 95 693 825 3.2% 0.9% 1.6% 5.6% 56-78
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Angels 91 71 763 656 40.0% 12.3% 9.3% 61.7% 80-103
Rangers 88 74 795 727 30.1% 12.0% 10.0% 52.1% 77-100
Athletics 87 75 731 679 24.6% 12.1% 10.0% 46.6% 75-98
Mariners 73 89 660 722 4.7% 2.9% 3.8% 11.4% 61-84
Astros 60 102 649 866 0.5% 0.3% 0.7% 1.6% 49-72
National League
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Nationals 90 72 690 598 44.5% 11.3% 8.3% 64.0% 79-102
Braves 88 74 673 622 32.3% 11.5% 9.7% 53.5% 77-99
Phillies 80 82 665 680 15.1% 7.2% 7.9% 30.1% 69-92
Mets 73 89 645 703 5.3% 3.1% 4.2% 12.6% 61-84
Marlins 69 93 624 731 2.8% 1.9% 2.5% 7.3% 57-80
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Reds 89 73 741 662 41.0% 8.9% 7.9% 57.8% 78-101
Cardinals 85 77 686 655 26.8% 8.8% 7.8% 43.4% 73-96
Brewers 79 83 704 733 13.4% 5.5% 6.5% 25.3% 67-90
Pirates 78 84 665 691 11.6% 4.3% 5.6% 21.5% 66-89
Cubs 74 88 652 705 7.2% 3.3% 4.1% 14.6% 63-85
TM W L RS RA Div WC WC2 PS% W+/-
Dodgers 87 75 677 618 30.9% 9.4% 8.9% 49.2% 76-99
Giants 87 75 665 613 28.3% 9.1% 9.0% 46.4% 76-98
Diamondbacks 84 78 716 696 22.7% 8.1% 8.0% 38.8% 73-95
Padres 78 84 643 668 11.0% 4.4% 5.4% 20.8% 66-89
Rockies 74 88 775 847 7.2% 3.2% 4.2% 14.6% 63-85

W: Projected final 2013 wins
L: Projected final 2013 losses
RS: Projected final 2013 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2013 runs allowed
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
W+/-: Projected wins within one standard deviation

As noted earlier, this is NOT saying that you can win the NL West by winning 87 games.  It’s saying that the team that finished in first most frequently in that division averaged 87 wins over hundreds of thousands of seasons.  Here are the average win totals for each spot in each division.

1 94 91 95 94 92 92
2 89 84 89 87 85 87
3 85 79 83 80 81 83
4 81 74 73 73 76 78
5 75 66 60 66 70 71
WC1 91 90
WC2 87 86

Here is how each division broke down in terms of percentages using the aforementioned pie charts.

In the AL East, we’ve got the mostly tightly bunched group of teams in baseball, with just 10 wins separating Toronto at the top and Baltimore at the bottom.  Toronto and Tampa Bay look like they’re neck and neck as of right now.  The Yankees are already ravaged by injuries and at this point it doesn’t seem like it would take a lot for them to end up having a losing season and even finish last.  Should they lose Robinson Cano or CC Sabathia for any significant amount of time that may be exactly what happens.  Boston has improved quite a bit from where they were at the end of last season, although they apparently still have a ways to go.  The projections are expecting a big regression from Baltimore, although they have enough talented young players with upside that they could beat their projections by quite a bit.

The AL Central basically looks like Detroit and everyone else.  Kansas City and Cleveland are jockeying behind the Tigers.  It’ll be interesting to see what the Indians get out of Scott Kazmir, who did not have a Steamer projection and projected pretty poorly in all the other systems.  He’s throwing harder than he was when last seen in the majors and could surprise some people.  For the Royals, it looks like Big Game James may not get into many big games this year, although stranger things have happened.  The White Sox are projected to fall off a bit from last season, and the Twins look like they aren’t going to be very good.

There’s a new floormat in the AL West, and it’s the Houston Astros.  Can they lose 100+ games for the third year in a row?  The projections think they can.  Houston projects to be so bad that they have essentially balanced out the league difference between the AL and NL.  Last year, the AL went 1150-1118 thanks to interleague play.  If you add Houston’s 55-107 to that you get a record of 1205-1225.  Los Anaheim looks like the favorite here and project to win more games than any other team in baseball, with Texas a strong second.  The Angels do have some concerns in their rotation, which could open the door for the Rangers.  Oakland projects to fall back a bit from last year, but still should be in contention.  Seattle still doesn’t look particularly good, although they should score some more runs this year, which is something.

The Nationals project as favorites in the NL East, especially now that the restrictions are off Stephen Strasburg.  The Braves aren’t quite at their level, but project to be pretty good as well.  The Phillies appear to be showing their age, and if Roy Halladay doesn’t bounce back they could be in trouble.  The Mets don’t look good to me, especially with Johan Santana looking iffy and the Marlins may be as bad as the Astros.  If Placido Polanco is hitting cleanup to ‘protect’ Giancarlo Stanton, it’s hard to see them winning 60 games.

In the Central, the Reds look like the clear favorite.  The Cardinals were closer before losing Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal, but they seem like the second best team in the division.  Pittsburgh and Milwaukee are neck and neck with each other and the Cubs look to be bringing up the rear.

In the West, the Dodgers are spending money like there’s no tomorrow but I’m not so sure they’re spending it all that well.  They project a hair better than San Francisco but given the margin of error inherent in projections there’s really no difference in their projections.  The Diamondbacks had a bizarre offseason and losing Adam Eaton for two months hurts, but they should be in the mix if a few things go their way.  The Padres look a bit better than I expected, although still not good and the Rockies stink.

Usually there’s a surprise team or two in here but this year nothing really stands out.  In general it seems that aside from a handful of really bad teams we’re seeing more parity.  Between that and the second wild card you can pretty much see any team in baseball sneaking into the postseason.  Except the Astros.

And there you have it.  The 2013 projection blowout.  Results are not guaranteed.

On an unrelated note, our sister site, the Replacement Level Red Sox launches today. Check them out at

--Posted at 6:59 am by SG / 45 Comments | - (0)


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Great job as always SG.  I’ll enjoy not being productive at work today… I hope.  I mean there is no way the Yankees can be worse than their made out to be by us… is there?

Not even CAIRO can get us above 85 wins. We’re screwed.

I mean there is no way the Yankees can be worse than their made out to be by us… is there?

I’m sure Brian Cashman will find a way.

Not even CAIRO can get us above 85 wins. We’re screwed.

The scary part is the Yankees projected worse than Houston until I changed the underlying assumptions and components to make them look better.

SG in CAIRO and this (didn’t notice in the others) the Red Sox only have 161 games with wins and losses combined. Are you predicting a tie or was there a rounding error somewhere?

Must be a rounding issue. I’ll look into it.

edit: Found it on a few of the other projections too and it’s fixed now.

I just hope the Yankees don’t hove around .500.  Be good, or be bad.

If Ichiro and Teixeira and Mo and Jeter and Youkilis and Pettitte all find the fountain of youth and drive a 90+ win campaign, I can enjoy that (once Wells is cut in May).

If our fears come true and they stagger to a 72-win season, they can at least start taking steps to rebuild, e.g. trade Granderson & Kuroda in July.

But if they hover around .500 5-8 games out of contention, they’re just going to make more stupid trades for old players.

[6] - Why trade?  Bernie never retired.  Sign him for league minimum. 

Actually, while typing that up I realized I honestly would have preferred that to Wells.

How much worse are the Astros than the Twins?

I imagine the Twins benefit some from being in a division that only has 1 strong team, whereas the AL West has 3 strong playoff contenders.

As usual my favorite part is the expected wins for division winners, showing us that our only hope is that the gods of variance favor us.

I also hope for the future compatibility of the Diamond Mind simulator with Freudian-based projection systems, giving us simulated insights into players who are too fond of their mothers and on the sexualization of the batting stance, among other things.

[9] Where Diamond Mind is powered by numbers, magic and processing power, Freudian-based projection systems simply need cocaine.

[10] I understand.

FWIW, Dave Cameron posted the FanGraphs Positional Power Ranking wrapup.  The team wins are based on true talent (projected) and FG writer crowdsourced guesses on playing time, rather than simulations.  But they also have the Yankees coming out to 85 wins, the difference being they also have the Jays and Rays at 85 wins (and Sos at 84).  So by their account, there are basically 4 teams who are equally talented in the AL East.

from the Dave Cameron chat, this question was posed:

Comment From Jaack
Was the Vernon Wells trade just an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke that’s going to blow up in a week? I find it hard to believe there is actually someone named Kramer Sneed or Exicardo Cayones.

[12] Going into 2013 everyone knew that the two biggest holes to fill would be RF and C. So nice to see that the sum of the Yankees’ mitigation efforts has got them to 29th out of 30th teams for both positions in this power ranking.

[13] Saw that.  Fortunately I knew about Sneed and Cayones already, and that they aren’t actually propsects…

[14] Catcher the only two who were readily available (and looked like upgrades) were Martin and Pierzynksi.  I’m fine they stayed away from Pierzynski.  Career year (or close) at his age, plus all the other baggage.  Martin most of us (J a rare exception I think) believe they should have signed, we differ about the exact reasons why they didn’t sign him, and also how big a mistake it was.

RF…really no consensus either, though most people just think they should have done SOMETHING better.  Most of the other available RF either weren’t that good or were overpriced.  I mean, I think they should have signed Upton for the deal Atlanta did.  Others think that is twice what he was worth.  Melky they should have done, but we also don’t know if they ever had a shot.  Others…Hunter and Victerino I think are overpriced, many others (e.g. Ross) aren’t that good (and overpriced), Hamilton I think if you have ANY budget constraints is too volatile…Swisher I think made the most sense in hindsight, but you can also see the risks at his age that after a year or two that could be bad contract.

But yes, I think if they had a do-over they probably would have been more aggressive to get Martin locked up early, and more aggressive either to get someone like Upton on a big deal, or try to sign Swisher early, or something.

[15] Same, but it was still funny.

Jaack was ignoring the possibility that Sneed and Cayones were included in the trade because of their names, so it’s not unexpected that they are improbably named.

But I’m still hoping for an april fool’s joke and that it turns out Wells was released unconditionally.

Shouldn’t a team that’s having serious 40 man roster issues stop picking up fungible righty relievers and putting them on the 40 man roster?

[19]  From your lips to Hal’s ears.

[19] Probably.  They could feel that there’s a better chance they can hold on to some guys on MiLB deals now than later; e.g. maybe Adams would be more desireable to other teams a week from now.  So they get the best of both worlds, Adams in minors and a slightly deeper/better bullpen.

It’s also possible that every time a player hits waivers they flip a coin, heads they pick him up and drop somone from the 40-man, tails they pass.  Be glad Betancourt came up tails.

It’s also possible that every time a player hits waivers they flip a coin, heads they pick him up and drop somone from the 40-man, tails they pass.

I don’t think the Yankees are that dumb. They are using a magic 8 ball, not a coin.

On behalf of myself and all others facing felony charges, thank you for the projections and analysis, SG!  MelhallImightneedalawyerprobonolaterifthingsdontworkout

Those RLRSB guys are cockeyed optimists.  How do we get summa that?

Better players, probably.

[25] Have a season so bad that you’re team can’t possibly be worse than they were? Since 2014 will probably be pretty painful, look for some serious optimism in 2015, assuming we haven’t all given up on the Yankees or joined Mel Hall.

Cano scratched with a “stomach bug.”  Probably arsenic poisoning.

[28] Twist: It is an actual bug. And by bug, I mean one of the aliens from Starship Troopers.

Rico. You kill bugs good.—Carver from ‘The Wire’

Still projecting better than TWN. I’ll take it.

After all that projectumerating, I’m imagining SG recuperating by lying on the floor of his Mom’s basement, a cold towel over his eyes, listening to whalesong.

[32] Joba plays in a band ?

How shitty must Otero feel to be dumped a day after the Yankees claimed him.

Nova allowed 7 runs in 5 innings as part of an uninspiring Spring.

[34]  Yeah, I mean, the Yankees will play ANYBODY these days.

I for one hate: parity, competitive balance, other teams wising up, the Yankees transformation from the evil empire to pennywise and pound foolish, putting many eggs in few baskets, fairness, aging, DNYS, small ball, Girardi’s optimism, not having the 4 best hitters in baseball in the middle of the lineup, mom’s basements, the world baseball classic, interleague play, bob costas, mariano’s bald spot, no good mustaches, the detroit tigers, other teams prospects who are as good as advertised, the moat, was watching, randy levine, the vernon wells deal, mark texeira’s batting stance face, Edwardo Nunezhands, dead Steinbrenner, alive Steinbrenners, bud selig, the non existence of Fire Joe Morgan, david robertson’s insistence on wearing pants, no swisher, Rickety Jeter, curt schilling, tendon sheaths, and of course buck showalter.

[37] I complain about the lack of Rick Sutcliffe or Tim McCarver from this list. Or at least Steve Phillips or John Kruk. Maybe even Hawk Harrelson. John Sterling. Bubba Crosby. Tony Womack. My hurting head.

I never thought Wainwright would make it to free agency in the first place, but for what it is worth, he is now locked up by St. Louis.

McCarver is retiring apparently. After this year.

That’s a really great list. I also can’t fucking stand Bob Costas.

[37, 41] “In right field, Tarasco, going back to the track, to the wall…and what happens here? He contends that a fan reaches up and touches it! But Richie Garcia says no, it’s a home run! Here comes Davey Johnson, out to argue as Jeter comes across to tie the game.”

[38] Concur, and where is Joe Buck on this list ?

[37] Schteeve wins the season.

[0] SG, thank you for my annual pie binge!
[37] Schteeve, I like the way you think.

Honestly, the projections and Hal making the Yankees seemingly profit-focused instead of winning-focused puts my expectations at ‘meh.’ I’ll root for them but…I can’t get really invested in getting to the playoffs (or winning the division). It would just hurt too much considering it’s laundry.

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