Friday, February 20, 2004

2004 American League Predictions

My 2004 American League Predictions - Based on 2003 Win Shares
(as of 2/20/2004)

With Spring Training right around the corner, 2004 Predictions are starting to fly. Baseball Crank (AL West and AL East) and Phil Rogers are two who have started the inevitable onslaught of prognostications. Well, here are my two cents:

My idea was to take BaseballGraph's 2003 Win Shares and move each player (and his win shares) to his new team. This redistribution would allow me to "predict" the 2004 standings. Obviously, there are huge failings in this system, so let's address a couple of them.

1)The assumption that an individual will exactly reproduce his 2003 performance is preposterous. Some players will be better this year and some will be worse. I hardly even have to say that. So, when you finally see my projections, just consider them as a baseline.

2)Teams needed an average of 1,440 innings from their pitching staff and 6,250 plate appearances in order to make it through the 2003 season. Those numbers are likely to stay about the same in 2004, so I've adjusted playing time for a number of players in order to match "guesstimated" usage and to meet the team-level requirement of roughly 1440/6250. (I actually tried to make each team's 2004 total within 5% of their 2003 total for IP and PA.) When doing so, I've just pro-rated a player's Win Shares based on his "adjusted" playing time.

3)I didn't nail each team's 2003 IP and PA totals with my playing time adjustments, so to make the comparisons even, I fudged the last few percent (up or down) to 100% of last year's total. This really doesn't have a huge overall effect, but it does compensate for the fact that you're not going to get Win Shares from plate appearances that don't happen. Consider this adjustment #1.

4)My projections are mostly optimistic - a best-case scenario in terms of health for most players. So, when I summed up the wins for each team (after adjustment #1), the league total is about 2,520 wins. The problem here is that thirty teams each playing 162 games and winning half of them works out to 2,430 wins. In order to correct this, I've adjusted each team's win total down 4% in order to make things add up. (Call it a final adjustment)

5)In some cases, I'm projecting a full season based on only a few Plate Appearances. Using small sample sizes like that to project perfomance over the long haul is clearly a big mistake, but I'm willing to live with it. After looking through the results, I don't feel like there are any truly eggregious errors.

So, without further fanfare, the American League Projections:


Remember, this is based on 2003 performance only, so it's just a baseline. And you'll note that I have the American League finishing a combined 46 games over .500, which would have to be the result of really beating up on the National League in interleague play. Since the National League was 22 games over .500 last year, I think we'd all be surprised if the American League made such a large reversal. Regardless, I feel like my projections will be directionally accurate. Detroit may not win exactly 61 games, but they will definitely be one of the worst teams in all of baseball, yet again.

With that in mind, here are the playoff contenders as I see 'em...


NEW YORK, 117 Wins - Projecting a team over 100 wins makes me a little nervous, so predicting 117 makes me feel light-headed.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
G Sheffield6786783533
A Rodriguez7157153331
J Posada5885882827
J Giambi6906902827
D Jeter5426502121
H Matsui6956951918
K Lofton6106101817
B Williams5215211313
M Lamb4210077
E Wilson14730044
M Cairo29029033
J Flaherty11611633
T Clark28010021
D Bragg18118111
R Sierra33610011
T Houston1035011
A Boone654000
E Almonte111000
J Girardi262600

Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
J Vazquez230.7230.72120
K Brown211.0211.02019
J Contreras71.0200.01918
M Mussina214.7214.71918
M Rivera70.770.71717
P Quantrill77.377.31111
T Gordon74.074.01110
J Lieber141.0180.099
F Heredia87.087.098
S Karsay88.350.066
G White46.746.744

The key, as everyone already knows, will be the health of the pitching staff. If Kevin Brown, Lieber and Contreras each goes down, the Yankees will have a tough time replacing those innings. Then again, the Yanks could afford to lose 45 win shares and still win 100 games - They could replace both Jeter and Posada with players contributing ZERO win shares and still make the playoffs. This team is that good. It will take a collapse of epic proportions for a team this talented to miss the playoffs.

BOSTON, 103 Wins - The only real additions from last year's squad are Schilling, Foulke and Bellhorn/Reese. These moves make the Red Sox a better team, but they're nowhere near the Yankees.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
M Ramirez6796792827
N Garciaparra7197192524
B Mueller6006002423
T Nixon5135131919
J Damon6906901818
J Varitek5215211716
K Millar6186181615
D Ortiz5095091515
E Burks22815033
M Bellhorn30720022
B Daubach21921944
G Kapler24724744
D Mirabelli17617622
P Reese12040066
A Hyzdu757511
T Shumpert999911

Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
K Foulke86.786.72121
P Martinez186.7186.72019
C Schilling168.0200.01817
B Kim122.3180.02019
D Lowe203.3203.31211
T Wakefield202.3202.31212
M Timlin83.783.788
S Williamson62.762.788
A Embree55.055.055
B Arroyo17.380.099
J Shiell23.323.311
E Almonte11.311.300
N Bierbrodt43.343.300
Re Garcia18.018.000
R Mendoza66.740.000

There aren't too many wild assumptions in there, so I feel pretty good about this projection. The Red Sox should win the wild card with ease, but they're not in the same league as the Yankees. A lot of people had the Sox as a favorite in the AL East before the A-Rod/Soriano trade, but the trade didn't make a huge difference in the Win Share projections. The Sox have been behind the Yankees all along in my book. They'll be lucky to even sniff a lead in the AL East after the All Star Break.

SEATTLE, 87 Wins - Adding Raul Ibanez, Rich Aurilia and Scott Spezio to your starting lineup doesn't sound like the best way to upgrade your team, and the numbers prove that out. The Mariners won 93 games last year, but will only win about 87 this year (according to the projection).
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
B Boone7057053029
I Suzuki7257252322
R Winn6606602120
E Martinez6036032019
R Ibanez6716001413
J Olerud6346341514
R Aurilia5456001414
S Spiezio58140098
B Davis26926977
D Wilson33733777
R Santiago50710011
W Bloomquist22017522
D Hansen15915933
P Borders151511
W Gonzalez737311
Q McCracken22622611

Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
J Moyer215.0215.01817
E Guardado65.365.31514
R Franklin212.0212.01312
S Hasegawa73.073.01313
J Pineiro211.7211.71313
F Garcia201.3201.388
G Meche186.3186.388
J Mateo85.785.777
R Soriano53.053.077
R Villone106.780.044
M Myers36.336.311
K Jarvis92.030.000
A Looper7.07.000
J Putz3.73.700
A Taylor12.712.700

Their eight best positional players (hitting and fielding combined) are Bret Boone, Ichiro, Randy Winn, Edgar Martinez, Raul Ibanez, John Olerud, Rich Aurilia and Scott Spezio. Average age in 2004: 33! These Mariners are much more likely to get worse than get better. On the whole, the Mariners should be right in the thick of the AL West hunt, although I suspect they'll fall short of the AL West crown. They're just too damn old.

OAKLAND, 86 Wins - Big losses in the forms of Keith Foulke and Miguel Tejada are going to cost the A's about 10 wins overall in 2004. I see the A's dropping from 96 to 86 wins.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
E Chavez6546542524
M Ellis6226221817
E Durazo6456451716
E Byrnes4604001313
S Hatteberg6225001111
M Kotsay5415411413
B Kielty5096001414
D Miller4004001010
E Karros36520044
B McMillon17517555
A Melhuse8620099
J Dye25330022
F Menechino10910922
M Scutaro919122
B Crosby1460077
M Edwards6600
E German4400
J Grabowski9900
G Koonce8800
M Watson252500

Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
T Hudson240.0240.02322
B Zito231.7231.71817
M Mulder186.7200.01817
M Redman190.7190.71111
C Bradford77.077.099
C Hammond63.063.077
R Rincon55.355.366
R Harden74.7170.099
A Rhodes54.054.044
J Duchscherer16.380.066
J Mecir37.037.011
C Harville21.721.700
M Ramos13.013.000
B Reames1.31.300
M Wood13.713.700

I have the A's with the 5th best pitching staff in terms of Win Shares, but only the 22nd best team in terms of hitting Win Shares. It's no secret that the A's will struggle to score runs, but I'll consider any contributions from Jermaine Dye and Bobby Crosby to be gravy. This system has very low expectations for the two of them, so anything they do will help the A's exceed my projections for them. Barring injuries, the A's will be in a dogfight with the Angels and Mariners to the end.

ANAHEIM, 85 Wins - The Halos were big mover is the offseason, acquiring Bartolo Colon, Kelvim Escobar and Vladimir Guerero. Those acquisitions make a big difference in this projection.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
G Anderson6736732524
J Guillen5345342019
V Guerrero4676002322
T Salmon6216211716
B Molina4304301615
A Kennedy5105101413
J DaVanon38215054
D Eckstein5175171110
T Glaus3676001514
C Figgins27015044
D Erstad28460077
S Halter39325011
J Molina12312322
A Amezaga12012011

Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
B Colon242.0242.01716
B Donnelly74.074.01211
K Escobar180.3180.31212
S Shields148.3148.31212
J Washburn207.3207.3109
F Rodriguez86.086.099
J Lackey204.0204.087
T Percival49.349.387
B Weber80.380.388
R Ortiz180.080.022
A Sele121.750.011
D Turnbow15.315.322
C Bootcheck10.310.300

After "career" years from a lot of players in 2002, the Angels bottomed out in 2003. They only won 77 games, and got disappointing seasons from Glaus, Ramon Ortiz and Jarrod Washburn. If those three players can improve their game a bit, the Angels will be tough team to beat. I don't see the Angels as prohibitive favorites this season, as seems to be the popular notion. As I alluded to before, it's a toss-up between the A's, Mariners and Angels, making the AL West the most interesting pennant race in the AL.

KANSAS CITY, 87 Wins - The Royals are 8 games better than anyone else in the AL Central, based on their players' 2003 seasons.
Position Players:
Player2003 PA2004 PA2004 WSAdjusted WS
C Beltran6026503029
A Berroa6356351615
M Sweeney4636001918
J Randa5665661414
B Santiago4344341313
M Stairs3574001414
A Guiel4014011111
D Relaford5575571110
J Gonzalez3464501312
T Graffanino28128198
K Harvey52460087
K Stinnett20720744
D Brown14314322
A Brown161600
G Dawkins3300
D DeJesus101000
J Patterson252500

Player2003 IP2004 IP2004 WSAdjusted WS
D May210.0210.01717
J Affeldt126.0126.01212
B Anderson99.399.31211
C Leskanic52.752.788
M MacDougal64.064.098
D Carrasco80.380.366
R Hernandez91.791.766
S Sullivan64.064.066
J Grimsley75.075.044
K Snyder85.385.344
K Wilson72.772.744
K Appier111.7111.733
M Asencio48.348.332
J Gobble52.752.733
N Field21.721.722
C George93.793.722
M Venafro19.019.011
R Bukvich10.310.300
J Cerda32.332.300
J Dawley7.07.000
R DeHart4.04.000
D Reyes12.712.700

You'll notice that only one of the Royals pitchers threw more than 130 Innings in 2003. I don't really know what to make of that, but it can't be good. I think the Royals are good enough to win the division, but I also think the other teams are not. I have the Twins ranked 18th (out of 30) in both hitting and pitching Win Shares, and I just don't see how they're going to make the playoffs.
Sorry About Your Luck - The Blue Jays and Orioles could be good enough to win the AL West or AL Central crowns, but it'll take a miracle for either of them to sneak into the playoffs from the East.
Coming soon, the National League.


  1. I'd like to think that these winshares do account for an accurate win-loss record and thusly would determine the actual standings. But in all of this numerology, what did it determine last year with the Marlins winning? An interesting topic would be to compare how last year's rankings would have been predicted versus the actual outcomes. Maybe that has been done, but I just radonmly found this site...

  2. WOW, i think you must be a yankees fan. 117 wins? the yankees have no chance at getting that this season with there great pitching staff (cough cough). Im sorry but the yankess got second this year right behind the sox.
    1)Red Sox
    5)Devil Rays