Early Off-Season MLB Power Rankings

I will be doing weekly MLB Power Rankings based off of projection systems throughout the offseason and into the season. Steamer is the only projection system available at the moment and already corrects each team for accurate playing time. The rankings will change with more and more signings and trades! I will give notes on what happened around the league each week to affect the rankings and who moved up, and who moved down.

Steamer is a projection system that is publicly available through FanGraphs. Steamer is constantly updated with every free agent signing and every trade on a team to team basis. Signing a player like Tim Hudson reduces the playing time projection of other pitchers on the Giants, for example. Signings of more players also increases the replacement level of the league, so that the league WAR and wins is always the same. A replacement level team should win 47.7 games.

I have compiled the current projections (as of Nov 19, 2013) for each team and converted to wins. If there are vacant playing time spaces on teams (where a FA is missing), it is usually filled with players from the team, or is assumed to be filled with a replacement player (0.0 WAR). Recent international free agent signees, Jose Abreu (White Sox) and Alex Guerrero (Dodgers), are not projected by Steamer, so I have arbitrarily assigned them both 1.5 WAR (could be conservative).

You might say “The Red Sox won the WS, they have to be #1″ or “The Yankees are too low, they know how to win”. Just keep in mind that this is strictly projections and not subject to any bias (save for my projections of Guerrero and Abreu). I have not done any adjusting whatsoever. Also keep in mind that this is based off of CURRENT ROSTERS. Free agents are not included.

Here are the current MLB Power Rankings based on Steamer Projections (increase table view to 50 if each team is not already listed). The previous ranking column here is based off of actual 2013 team WAR.

41Red Sox39.88874
822Blue Jays38.78775
2628White Sox26.67488

Wow! This gives a lot of hope for the 2014 Blue Jays season. This is the projected total with this lineup:

C Arencibia/Thole
1B Encarnacion
2B Izturis/Goins (split evenly)
SS Reyes
3B Lawrie
LF Cabrera
CF Rasmus
RF Bautista
DH Lind

SP Dickey
SP Buehrle
SP Morrow
SP Happ
SP Rogers

The Blue Jays are expected to find another C, 2B, and a SP or two this offseason. This could increase the current projections, but it’s not as black and white as just adding their WAR. Playing time has to be adjusted, and other league signings affect the baseline for WAR as well. With the right additions, I could see this team be projected to win 89-90 games!

Here are the Divisions with these projections, with playoff teams bolded:

AL East

Red Sox 88-75
Rays 87-76
Blue Jays 87-76
Orioles 83-79
Yankees 73-89

AL Central

Tigers 92-70
Royals 86-76
Indians 84-78
Twins 76-86
White Sox 74-88

AL West

Rangers 89-73
Angels 88-74
Athletics 87-75
Mariners 78-84
Astros 70-92

Three way tie for the 2nd wild card with A’s, Rays, and Jays!

NL East

Braves 82-80
Nationals 81-81
Mets 76-86
Phillies 72-90
Marlins 67-95

NL Central

Cardinals 85-77
Pirates 83-79
Reds 80-82
Brewers 76-86
Cubs 74-88

NL West

Diamondbacks 87-75
Dodgers 86-76
Giants 86-76
Padres 79-83
Rockies 74-88

Theoretical World Series: Tigers vs. Diamondbacks with Tigers winning it all.

Note: Josh Johnson is not included, as the data extraction was before his signing. He is projected for 2.4 WAR and this likely pulls the Padres to 81-81 while two other teams somewhere would lose a win.

The Other Guys
Welcome to Breaking Blue and Sabermetrics

Author: Chris Carruthers

Chris has been a baseball (and Jays) fan for 15 years. He has also played since the age of 6, working his way through Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball as a catcher and first baseman. He got interested in sabermetrics after viewing the movie Moneyball. His continuous self-learning in sabermetrics and advanced stats is driven by his engineering background and love for numbers. Chris's go-to website is FanGraphs, where he has had a few previous community submissions. Chris also enjoys music and plays guitar in his sparse spare time from his studies. He also follows hockey and his favourite team, the Calgary Flames. Follow Chris on Twitter @CCBreakingBlue.

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1 Comment

  1. What were the Steamer projections for the past several years immediately prior to the beginning of the season and, if possible, could you run a differential analysis compared to actual results for each team (team total, not individual player component).

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