Friday, March 31, 2017
CAIRO 2017’s Final Preseason Projected Standings
With the Yankees opening their 2017 season on Sunday April 2, it’s time for CAIRO to make its final preseason team projection as well as take a stab at the generally futile exercise of projecting the team’s outlook as well as that of every other team in MLB.
I guess the most important place to start with such an exercise is looking at the playing time assumptions. This is how I allocated playing time among the position players.
This is based on the team adding up to 4100 outs. No truth to the rumor that Pete Kozma will be providing 4000 of those.
For the sake of context, last year’s Yankee team hit .252/.314/.405 and scored 680 runs. This year’s version using these assumptions would hit around .260/.327/.423 and score 715. It helps that four of the five players who were their worst offensive producers last year ignoring position are gone (Dustin Ackley, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira). It also helps that last year’s worst offensive producer (Aaron Hicks) is projected to be at least a little bit better. I’m not sure I believe it, but I don’t like to argue with CAIRO because he gets grumpy.
A 35 run improvement is obviously good news, and with young players like Sanchez, Bird, Gregorius (when back from his injury), Castro (if he stops swinging at every single pitch), Judge and Kozma, there’s a lot of potential upside here. There’s even more that I didn’t bother listing in the minors, with other young players knocking on the door such as Clint Frazier, Kyle Higashioka and possibly Gleyber Torres later in the year to name three.
I suppose it’s worth nothing that the average AL team scored 732 runs last year, so even 715 isn’t a great offense by any means. But it’s getting better, and will be even better if they can figure out how to disappear their fifth worst offensive producer in 2017 from CF.
Last year’s team was about average defensively according to UZR and DRS. CAIRO thinks they’ll be a bit better than that this year.
Anyway, the good news when projecting the 2017 Yankees is the improvement of the offense. If onlly the pitching forecast was so sanguine…
The biggest potential issue impeding the Yankees’ postseason aspirations this year is the starting rotation. Masahiro Tanaka is a legitimate top of the rotation starter. but after that it’s a whole lot of uncertainty. You can squint and see a scenario where Michael Pineda pitches to his peripherals and pitches better than he has, but I wouldn’t count on it. I think CC is cooked and his projection is ridiculous, but maybe he will surprise me. I think Severino will flash good and bad, but I just don’t know which will happen more frequently. I’d like to think some of the other guys on the outside of the rotation looking in can help at some point, but after Jordan Montgomery none of the projections inspire confidence. Luckily, forecasting pitchers is hard and there’s a chance CAIRO could be completely wrong on some of them.
The bullpen should be pretty good if they can ever get handed a lead. Obviously Chapman and Betances are elite. I’m not a giant Tyler Clippard fan but as your third reliever you could do a lot worse, and Adam Warren should be pretty good in the middle. I feel the Yankees need a lefty better than Layne and Shreve but it’s not critical right now. I assume they’ll be rotating through the righty relievers from Barbato, Heller, Holder, Jones and German based on performance and whenever they need a fresh arm or two.
Anyway, if you use these depth charts, you get a team that would score about 715 runs and allow 709. Say they save an additional six on defense. That gives them an estimated Pythagenpat winning percentage of .507, or 82 wins.
The next step is to take this team though some season simulations. I first ran 10,000 simulations using Diamond Mind baseball and then ran another 990,000 using the results from that through my Monte Carlo simulator. So what does that tell us?
W: Projected final 2017 wins
L: Projected final 2017 losses
RS: Projected final 2017 runs scored
RA: Projected final 2017 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
The simulations give the Yankees a couple of more wins than the spreadsheet projection, despite a slightly worse run differential. This is most likely due to it deploying the relievers in a way that maximizes their value as opposed to a spreadsheet that just adds up runs scored and runs allowed.
Based on these, the Yankees have about a 14% chance at the AL East division title, and a one in three chances at qualifying for the postseason. That feels about right to me.
As for the rest of the divisions, I don’t see anything really strange aside from how closely bunched the AL West came out. I’d expected a bit more separation in there than that. I also don’t think the Nationals are as good as the Cubs. The Dodgers could be, but I doubt it.
Anyway, enjoy the last pre-season game tonight. The Yankees have finalized their opening day roster. and we’ll have real baseball on Sunday!
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