Thursday, March 28, 2013
Previewing the NL East
By ESPN.com and ESPN The Mag
Editor's note: ESPN.com has teamed with ESPN The Magazine and the SweetSpot Blog Network to produce this year's preview capsules.
Baseball has become so unpredictable that we needed to invent an entirely new way of guessing what will happen next. Below you'll find ESPN Insider Dan Szymborski's projections for the likely range of every team's wins based on projections for every player on every roster. Why, Dan, why now? Because since he started doing this 10 years ago, Dan's median prediction has been accurate within 6.5 wins on average.
We also asked Szymborski to create a new metric, the unpredictability index, which gauges what version of hope fans of every team should have. The metric is an offshoot of Szymborski's ZiPS projection system -- a sabermetric standard-bearer that factors in age, injury history and statistical highs and lows going back four years, and makes its projections based on database comparisons across MLB history. With it, he sums up the volatility from 0 (what you see is what you get) to 2 (who knows).
Meanwhile, Tim Kurkjian predicts division standings, including wild-card teams, and offers up the breakdowns that show how Szymborski's best- and worst-case scenarios will play out.
Click on the links below to go directly to a capsule for each National League East team:
Washington Nationals | Atlanta Braves | Philadelphia Phillies
New York Mets | Miami Marlins
Information courtesy of Nationals Baseball
- 98 wins if ... After logging more
bases than any other teenager in
MLB history, Harper wins the MVP
in his first full season, while
Strasburg leads the rotation with
220 innings and 20 wins. The
Nats' loaded bullpen (eighth in
ERA before adding Soriano) ends
games after six innings, and the
infield defense is the best in the
game thanks to a tandem of Gold
Gloves at the corners in Adam
LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman.
- 88 wins if ... Last season's NLDS
collapse is still on their minds,
Strasburg gets hurt again,
Zimmerman's shoulder keeps him
off the hot corner, Harper can't
get out of his postseason slump
(3-for-23!) and Denard Span
gets nowhere near his
career-best OBP, .392 in 2009.
- Unpredictability score -- 0.81: With Stephen Strasburg and
Bryce Harper safer bets than
last year and the team as a
whole deeper going into this
season, the Nats are both a
very good team and one
lacking a major downside.
Information courtesy of Capitol Avenue Club
- 97 wins if ... Closer Craig Kimbrel
and the bullpen dominate even more
than last year (2.76 ERA, second in
MLB), and an Upton HR race and fast
start by Jason Heyward ignite the O.
- 85 wins if ... The Uptons combine for
personal lows (.240 BA, 350 K's),
the Braves sorely miss Chipper's
career 13.3 strikeout rate and
Brandon Beachy's arm, and they
can't build on 23 straight wins when
Kris Medlen starts.
- Unpredictability score -- 1.44: The Uptons aren't
the only question.
lacks the depth it
had last season,
Beachy to start
the season. But
could give the
Nats' pen -- not to
Boys -- a run for
Information courtesy of Crashburn Alley
- 87 wins if ... Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee
and Cole Hamels combine for 63
wins -- 13 more than they had in 2011 --
new 3B Michael Young recovers from
a career-low .370 SLG and Ryan
Howard returns to 40-homer form.
- 74 wins if ... Delmon Young's ankle
ruins his first half, Michael Young
plays like he did last year -- the
second-worst 3B, according to
ultimate zone rating (UZR) -- and new
leadoff man Ben Revere flounders.
- Unpredictability score -- 1.47: If a dynasty is a
is descending to
base camp. But if
improve on his
.675 OPS and
40 steals, and
the real Halladay
returns and is
part of a solid
starting trio, the
Phils just might
oxygen to make
Information courtesy of Mets Today
- 72 wins if ... Johan Santana regains
form after a winter resting his arm,
rookie Travis D'Arnaud draws
comparisons with Buster Posey and
David Wright celebrates his new
contract with an even better year
than 2007 (.325/.416/.546).
- 62 wins if ... The outfield, ranked
29th in WAR last year, doesn't
produce, and the unchanged
bullpen, 29th in MLB with a 4.63
ERA, falls flat yet again.
- Unpredictability score -- 0.87: Mets fans should
be wishing their
team were less
Ike Davis and
upside, from top
to bottom the
team is probably
too weak to
surprise with a
run toward the
Information courtesy of David Schoenfield
- 74 wins if ... Giancarlo Stanton
smashes a personal-best 55 homers,
shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria keeps
up the spectacular plays, Logan
Morrison tweets hilariously and an
under-pressure Jeffrey Loria sells.
- 60 wins if ... The roster purge
has created a team that no one
wants to watch and Stanton
asks out and is traded in late
July, but despite the pressure,
Loria refuses to sell.
- Unpredictability score -- 1.69: The (once-again)
marks than the
While they have
talent to start
to build the next
2013 will be