I hadn’t spent much if any time looking at Baseball Prospectus’ (BP) 2011 projections, that is, until now. Guess what: There’s another reason why it’s great when your team wins the World Series: their “Depth Chart” appears free to all at BP. This is also the case for the Texas Rangers, who in case you’ve forgotten, lost to the Giants in the Fall Classic. In five games.
They call their projections PECOTA – Pouring Endlessly and Cleverly Over These Algorithms. I made that up, but that’s because I don’t know what it actually stands for. Your turn to try.
For those Giants fans that are already worried the Giants are being underestimated, don’t be. For starters, you should never be worried of that because it doesn’t really matter. No, really, it doesn’t matter. You also shouldn’t this year because it’s simply not the case.
Baseball Prospectus is currently projecting the Giants to win the NL West by three games, besting the Dodgers. They have the Giants winning 90 games (two less than 2010) and the Dodgers winning 87. Beyond that, the Rockies grab 83, the Friars fall to just below .500 with 80 and the Diamondbacks… well their still in the cellar, though 74 wins is a nine game improvement.
But there’s more. BP also is projecting the Giants to have 1) the second best run differential (RD) in the National League at +86 runs and 2) the second lowest figure of runs against (RA). First is of course the Phillies. Just kidding. It’s the Dodgers. What?
Actually, this makes perfect sense. A couple reasons: the Dodgers have a solid rotation which includes Clayton Kershaw – a budding ace – to go with Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla, as well as a very good bullpen.
I guess Padilla is having some issues with a nerve in his forearm. I guess we could start singing a jingle like Jonny Gomes, but we won’t do that here. But only because Padilla’s no ace. I mean, if Kershaw goes down I reserve the right to celebrate. Rob Neyer said I could.
I said a couple of reasons. I meant a few. I always thought a couple meant two, a few meant three and some meant four. That’s just me, but I digress. The other reason is the ballpark the Giants, Phillies and Dodgers play in. The Giants and Dodgers play in more neutral, less offensive parks. Actually, the difference isn’t what some people make of it because the Citizens Bank Park is regarded as a more neutral park when you really get down to it than is generally perceived (or portrayed) by most fans and the media. But when push comes to shove, Chavez Ravine (LA) is the most pitcher friendly, followed by AT&T (SF) and then Citizens Bank Park (Philly).
There’s also the fact that despite the Phillies’ wunderrotation – new word – their bullpen probably isn’t as good as the Dodgers’ and Giants’. They are all close though, at least in terms of RD: 637, 640, 657.
As I mentioned in passing earlier, the Giants have the second best run differential. First place does go to the Phillies with their +94 and 91 wins, but that’s just eight runs and one game in the standings. They win the East, in this projection. Rounding out the National League (NL) is the Cardinals with a +62 RD and 87 wins, despite losing Adam Wainwright. Make sure to mark your calendars for the Braves versus Dodgers one game playoff – they’ll fight for the last spot with 87 wins each.
Please also take note of the fact that the Brewers are the next in line with 85 wins. This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone. They added Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke this offseason and already had a very solid offense anchored by Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Standings are very fungible, a little luck (bad or good), an injury here or there, and voila: the Cubs win the Central. This stuff happens.
Personally, I’ll take the Brewers in the Central right now on a whim. I have the right.
That’s the standings, kids. I’ll give you some thoughts on the player projections in due time. Probably. Hint: Brandon Belt is projected to be the second best hitter on the Giants in 2011, but won’t really play enough for it to matter.
Update: BP ran the numbers again and the Brewers are now on top in the Central, although in a virtual tie in the standings with the Cardinals. Waino's loss to Tommy John surgery figures to make a tight race in the Senior Circuit's weakest division.