|MLB teams are as tightly clustered as ever. (art by Chenglor55)|
Predicting baseball has become harder than ever. This is a good thing. It's more fun to watch it all unfold when you have no idea which team might suddenly start firing on all cylinders and plow through everyone.
Trying to predict what the final results will be in six months from now, with so many variables in between, is also a fool's errand. But we do it because it's fun to talk about, read about, and write about baseball.
What I've gathered here are more like expectations than predictions. A key part of this, though, is that after doing so many of these over the years, it is not just an expectation but a certainty that some of these predictions will be very, very wrong. There will be injuries, there will be sudden performance dropoffs, there will be midseason trades that transform mediocre teams into contenders, there will be breakout stars and broken legs and torn UCLs. There will be lots of unforeseen events between now and October.
But this is how we like to talk about baseball when the season starts. We make predictions.
As usual, I'm starting off with Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system, noting the PECOTA win projection for each team and then choosing an over/under on that number. I will also rank the teams in each division and pick two Wild Card teams in each league.
First, a quick word on the difference in expectations between the two leagues.