Stats & Info: PECOTA

BP's projected NL standings: Rox in, L.A. out

April, 2, 2010
4/02/10
8:00
AM ET
With Opening Day a few days away, let's look into Baseball Prospectus' equivalent of a crystal ball, a projection system called PECOTA, to predict the National League standings. For the AL projections, click here.

NL EAST

The Phillies are picked to win their fourth consecutive NL East title with an 89-73 record, and the second-place Braves are expected to grab the wild card with an 85-77 mark.

The Phillies should again have a potent lineup with first baseman Ryan Howard blasting 38 home runs and driving in 117 runs, right fielder Jayson Werth adding 31 homers and second baseman Chase Utley hitting .286 with 26 homers. Newcomer Roy Halladay will lead the pitching staff with 16 wins, a 3.23 ERA and 184 strikeouts, while left-hander Cole Hamels will return to his 2008 form with a 14-win season.

The Braves will get to the playoffs even though PECOTA does not think rookie right fielder Jason Heyward will make it look as easy as he has in spring training, projecting him for a .274 batting average and 12 homers. Despite his spring struggles, center fielder Nate McLouth should be the top threat with 24 homers and 23 steals.

Rounding out the division will be the Marlins (80-82), Mets (78-84) and Nationals (74-88). The middle infield of shortstop Hanley Ramirez (.312, 29 homers, 30 steals) and second baseman Dan Uggla (32 homers) will again shine for the Marlins, big-ticket free-agent left fielder Jason Bay will hit .260 with 29 homers for the Mets and the greatest pitching prospect ever, Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals, will be called up in time to make 17 starts and go 6-7 with a 4.45 ERA and an eye-popping 138 strikeouts in 117 innings.

NL CENTRAL

The Cardinals are projected to have the largest margin of victory of any division winner, going 88-74 and finishing nine games in front of the Cubs (79-83) in the NL Central. The Astros (78-84), Brewers (78-84), Reds (77-85) and Pirates (71-91) will all fall on the wrong side of .500.

The Cardinals are expected to lead the majors by allowing just 655 runs as Adam Wainwright wins 14 games, Chris Carpenter wins 13, Kyle Lohse wins 11 and Brad Penny wins 10. First baseman Albert Pujols will have another banner season by hitting .320 with 36 home runs and 116 RBIs, but right fielder Matt Holliday might prove to be a bit of a disappointment after signing a $120 million contract, as he is projected to hit just 22 homers.

Other significant performances expected in this division are Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder (42 homers, 117 RBIs) and left fielder Ryan Braun (35, 110) combining for 77 home runs and 227 RBIs. Astros center fielder Michael Bourn should be good for 55 stolen bases.

NL WEST

PECOTA believes the tightest National League race will be out West, where the top four teams will finish .500 or better with five games separating them. The Rockies (86-76) are picked to win and be followed by the Diamondbacks (83-79), Dodgers (82-80) and Giants (81-81). The Padres will trail the pack at 73-89.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is expected to lead a balanced Rockies attack with a .293 average and 25 home runs. Ubaldo Jimenez (13 wins, 176 K's) and Jorge De La Rosa (12, 187) will form a potent righty-lefty duo by combining for 25 wins and 363 strikeouts.

Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton is pegged for another All-Star season with a .273 average and 26 homers. Third baseman Mark Reynolds is expected to hit 29 homers and cut his strikeouts all the way down to 159. Right-hander Dan Haren has the look of a Cy Young candidate with projection of 16 wins and 202 strikeouts.

Center fielder Matt Kemp will be the Dodgers' star with 23 homers and 28 steals. Right-hander Tim Lincecum's 16 wins and third baseman Pablo Sandoval's .314 batting average will make the Giants formidable. Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is expected to belt 38 home runs to again shine on a last-place club.

So, there is no need to patiently wait until Oct. 3, the final day of the regular season. We've already told you what's going to happen in 2010.

John Perrotto is the editor-in-chief at BaseballProspectus.com.

BP's projected AL standings: Yanks in third

April, 2, 2010
4/02/10
8:00
AM ET
With Opening Day a few days away, let's look into Baseball Prospectus' equivalent of a crystal ball, a projection system called PECOTA, to predict the standings in the American League. For the National League, click here.

AL EAST

PECOTA pegs the New York Yankees to go 90-72. While that record would be good enough to win any of the other five divisions in the major leagues, it will get the Yankees only a third-place finish in the AL East behind the Boston Red Sox (95-67) and wild-card-winning Tampa Bay Rays (91-71). Thus, the Yankees will go home in October, a year after winning it all.


PECOTA loves Boston's depth, particularly on offense. In fact, it projects everyone in the lineup to reach double-digits in home runs, starting with first baseman Kevin Youkilis (25) and continuing with designated hitter David Ortiz (24), center fielder Mike Cameron (22), catcher Victor Martinez (20), right fielder J.D. Drew (20), second baseman Dustin Pedroia (18), third baseman Adrian Beltre (18), left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (11) and shortstop Marco Scutaro (10). Throw in 56 stolen bases by Ellsbury and a .314 batting average from Pedroia, and it's easy to see why the Red Sox are expected to score 847, second in the majors and eight less than the Yankees.

The Rays are projected to eke out one more win than the Yankees for the wild card. The middle of the order is pegged for 93 homers with third baseman Evan Longoria hitting 34, first baseman Carlos Pena belting 33 and second baseman Ben Zobrist reprising his "Zorilla" role with 26. Add in 46 stolen bases by left fielder Carl Crawford, 37 steals by center fielder B.J. Upton and 14 wins by James Shields, and the Rays should win a lot of games.

The Yankees' only problem will be having the misfortune of playing in the AL East. The lineup will again be power packed withAlex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson all expected to hit at least 27 homers. Javier Vazquez and CC Sabathia are expected to pace the team with 14 wins apiece, and Mariano Rivera can be marked down for another 40 saves.

The Baltimore Orioles (78-84) and Toronto Blue Jays (72-90) will reprise their roles as AL East also-rans, although designated hitter Adam Lind is pegged as a 30-home run man for Toronto.

AL CENTRAL

The AL Central won't have any juggernauts but should provide a wildly entertaining race with all five teams projected to finish within four games of each other. The Twins are pegged to become the first team to win a division with a nonwinning record at 81-81, putting them two games ahead of the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers -- all tabbed for 79-83 marks -- and four games in front of the Kansas City Royals (77-85).



Joe Mauer is expected to come back down to earth after his phenomenal 2009 season but still lead the way for the Twins by hitting .322 with 20 home runs. First baseman Justin Morneau should be good for 31 homers and 110 RBIs while Matt Guerrier (18 saves) and Jon Rauch (16 saves) should effectively combine to make up for the loss of closer Joe Nathan to season-ending elbow surgery.

Other top performances to expect in the AL Central include a 15-win, 3.19 ERA season from Royals ace Zack Greinke, a 38-homer year by Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, a 30-homer season from White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin and 48 stolen bases from Sox left fielder Juan Pierre.

AL WEST

One-game playoffs to determine either a division title or wild-card spot have become annual occurrences recently, and PECOTA sees a tiebreaker being needed in the AL West after the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners tie for first at 83-79, only one game ahead of the Texas Rangers (82-80) and five in front of the three-time defending division champion Los Angeles Angels (78-84).



PECOTA has high hopes of the A's Kurt Suzuki blossoming into one of the league's top offensive catchers by hitting .278 with 13 home runs. Brett Anderson's 11 wins will lead a rotation in which five pitchers notch at least nine victories while reigning AL rookie of the year Andrew Bailey is pegged for 33 saves.

Ichiro Suzuki's .317 batting average and new second baseman Chone Figgins' 41 stolen bases will highlight the Mariners' offense. Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee are projected for 14 victories each atop the rotation.

Right fielder Nelson Cruz's 32 home runs are expected to top a Rangers lineup that will have five 20-homer men while rookie center fielder Julio Borbon is tabbed for 31 steals. Angels first baseman Kendry Morales will prove his 2009 breakout season was not a fluke as he goes deep 32 times.

John Perrotto is the editor in chief of Baseball Prospectus.

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