Super Early Projected 2011 Standings

I've been thinking about projections off and on for a little while. It's always interesting to me when people get excited about having player projections. Player projections don't tell you anything surprising. All of the different systems have their own little tricks, but at their heart, each and every one of them comes down to a simple weighting of recent performance, along with some kind of aging component. That's all. You can usually predict what a projection system will have to say about a player long before its release.

The real fun, for me, is in the team projections. Obviously, you can't have team projections without player projections, but while we can usually do the math in our heads for one player at a time, it's much harder for the human brain to put a team's worth of projections together and come up with a record. That's when the computers really come in handy.

So with that in mind, a few days ago RLYW released some really early projected standings for the 2011 regular season, based on the CAIRO system. I don't think I need to go over all the reasons why you shouldn't take these numbers as gospel, but that doesn't mean they aren't fun to look at, and some inferences can be made. Among them:

  • The Mariners really do have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. They're not favorites by any means, and they're probably the worst team in the AL West, but I think 10% sounds about right. For his career, Chone Figgins has drawn a walk in 10% of his plate appearances. Is it ever a surprise when Chone Figgins draws a walk?
  • The Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but they still look like the strong favorites, as one must remember that Lee only started 15 games for them a year ago, and had an ERA near 4.
  • I think the consensus opinion is that the Angels are one Adrian Beltre away from contending for the division title. What these projections suggest is that the Angels are more like one Adrian Beltre away from being about even with the A's. Both the Angels and A's are fairly good teams, but they're also flawed in ways requiring more than an easy fix.
  • Only once in the last seven years has the AL East not won the Wild Card. From the looks of things, the door might be open in 2011, as both the Rays and Yankees have been weakened.
  • CAIRO thinks the current Phillies roster will allow approximately two runs a month.

Go give those standings a look, and as you head into the New Year, keep in mind that, as rough as things have been, they could be an awful lot worse.

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