Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions, Part 2: National League

Carlos Gomez and the Brewers are everyone's favorite sleeper pick. Consider me a believer.
Most predictions for the National League have been a little bit bland as there is virtually zero deviation from the expectation that the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Nationals will win their divisions. As much I'll be rooting for some unpredictable chaos to throw those sure-thing predictions into disarray, I can't help but pick those three to be atop their divisions myself.

I do think the NL East will shape up differently than most are expecting, though.

(Win projections via Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system.)

NL West
1. Dodgers
PECOTA: 98 wins
My take: Under

The PECOTA system is known for being ultra-conservative, I don't remember ever seeing it pop out a win estimate this sky high. Taking the under here only means I don't think the Dodgers will be a 98-win juggernaut and the best team in baseball. They'll still be pretty damn good, though. You can try to nitpick their weaknesses (second base is nebulous, there's no real center fielder, the bottom of the rotation is troublesome, the manager is clueless strategy-wise), but the fact is: this team is going to be very good. Not 100-wins good, but certainly in the mix with the Nationals and Cardinals for top team in the NL.

2. Giants
PECOTA: 87 wins
My take: Over (Wild Card pick)

The Giants have transformed over the years from a team reliant on pitching & defense into an offense-oriented squad while its pitching lags behind. The run prevention is still bolstered by a strong defense and lefty Madison Bumgarner has established himself as an ace, but their once-dominant bullpen has a new tendency for hemorrhaging baserunners, Ryan Vogelsong's magic pixie dust has completely worn off (5.73 ERA last year, currently getting crushed in Spring Training) and, much to fans' dismay, Tim Lincecum just isn't the same Freak anymore. A full season from nifty pickup Tim Hudson and expected bounceback from Matt Cain will help on the mound and the offense is certainly deep enough to carry this team, leading me to believe this new version of the Giants is still plenty good enough to contend and possibly knock off the favored Dodgers.

Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions, Part 1: American League

Tampa Bay's ace David Price will lead my World Series pick.

The new baseball season is suddenly upon us. Things are slated to begin a bit earlier than usual this year as the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will play the opening games of the regular season this weekend on the other side of the planet in Australia. Following that, Spring Training will awkwardly continue for another week before the rest of the teams kick off their season.

Here in Austin, I'll spend the next week or so hastily packing up to move into a new apartment with my girlfriend. Should be an exciting, hectic, and memorable time which will be almost immediately followed by a two-week trip to the Iberian Peninsula.

All of which is to say: I don't quite have the time to write as thorough an MLB preview as I had been doing for the previous 4 years. So I'll keep things as brief as I can this time around.

As always, I will use the season projections provided by Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system as a baseline and determine whether I think each team will finish above or below that baseline. These predictions are not all that serious, I wouldn't bet on most of them (the last four years my success rate is below 40% with plenty of embarrassing misses) since the 162-game season provides immense opportunity for variance, injuries, sudden breakouts or collapses, and every other kind of unforeseen event. But I'm a certified baseball addict with opinions about everything and what better place to share them than here?

Without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2014 baseball season.

Starting with the American League...