2-3-2011: Handicapping the AL East

It’s February, and we’re all itching for things to get started. I went ahead and did a little exercise based on my projections. Consider these a back of the envelope prediction for the division.

For offense, I plugged in OBP and SLG into Baseball Musings’ lineup analysis tool, multiplied by 162 games, and took away 8% of those runs based on the play of substitutes and injuries, etc. Historically, it’s worked out that way for the Sox the past few years.

Team Offense R/G Runs
NYY 5.57 830
BOS 5.50 820
BAL 5.35 797
TB 5.06 754
TOR 4.77 711

The Yankees still have the most thump, but not by a large margin. Adding Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford is nice, but it’s full seasons of Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury that will really narrow that gap. Baltimore has added a lot of pop this offseason, and they could be dangerous to pitchers’ ERAs this season. The Rays’ offense may be a bit better than this, but my projections don’t really like Ben Zobrist or Reid Brignac all that much. The Blue Jays have some potential, but they remain punchless as usual.

For runs allowed, I plugged in pitching projections and took a weighted average ERA based on projected rotations and bullpens. I assumed that each team needed to produce about 1440 IP, of which 950-1000 IP had to come out of the rotation, and the rest came from the bullpen. This gives me just earned runs, so I need to tack on an extra 8% to account for unearned runs.

Pitching ERA xRA
BOS 4.01 706
NYY 4.16 733
TB 4.19 738
TOR 4.30 757
BAL 4.64 817

Bouncebacks from Josh Beckett and John Lackey will fuel the Sox rotation, and the revamped bullpen has plenty of depth for Terry Francona to draw on. The Yankees need another huge season from Phil Hughes if they want to win this season, and at least one of their free agent pickups or prospects to break out. If I had to bet on one name, I’d probably list Andrew Brackman. Despite trading Matt Garza to the Cubs last month, the Rays will still feature strong pitching. Despite their own rebuilding plan, the Blue Jays bullpen could be their Achilles Heel, and the Oriole rotation still needs time to develop.

Finally, based on runs scored and runs allowed, I give you our pythagorean standings for 2011:

Team W L Pct xRS xRA
BOS 92 70 0.568 820 706
NYY 90 72 0.556 830 733
TB 83 79 0.512 754 738
BAL 79 83 0.488 797 817
TOR 76 86 0.469 711 757

It appears that while Tampa Bay has clearly taken a step back, the division as a whole has tightened up quite a bit. The previous few years, I’ve had the winner of the division with 94-96 wins. What say you, Red Sox fans?


One Response to 2-3-2011: Handicapping the AL East

  1. Pingback: 10-6-2011: The year that was « Red Sox Talk

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