18 July 2012

2012 Playoffs: Who Gets In? (July 18)

Over half of the season is over and the trade deadline is fast approaching.  It is in times like this that an organization needs to decide whether to push forward and make the team better through a trade or to deal away veteran talent for prospects.  To help provide some context, I decided to project how well each team is expected to do over the rest of the season.  The projections are based on each team's fWAR, translating that into a winning percentage (Replacement Level Wins + Position Player WAR + Pitching WAR), and multiplying that with games left.  The idea is that this will help determine which moves to make.

This will be a recurring feature as the season plays on.

American League

Team Wins Proj. Wins Total *
NYY  56 43 99 East
TEX  55 44 99 West
CHW  50 38 88 Central
 LAAA 50 40 90 WC 1
 DET  47 36 83 2 GB
 TBR  47 33 80 5 GB
 OAK  46 34 80 5 GB
 CLE  46 33 79 6 GB
 BAL  46 30 76 9 GB
 BOS  46 39 85 WC 2
 TOR  45 33 78 7 GB
 KCR  38 34 72 13 GB
 SEA  39 30 69 16 GB
 MIN  38 32 70 15 GB
This method expects the three division leaders to remain where they are as well as LAAA keeping the first Wild Card position.  A bit of a surprise, this method predicts that the Red Sox will take the second Wild Card by a narrow margin against Detroit. 

A rough arbitrary measure I typically use is that for every month left, a team should consider to be able to make up three games.  From that perspective, I would say that Detroit, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Cleveland, and the Red Sox are all in a fight for the second Wild Card.  Those are the teams that can realistically see themselves as buyers.  Of those, Tampa, Oakland, and Cleveland need to be big buyers.  Little pieces (e.g., Jim Thome, Juan Pierre) will not greatly affect their team's chances.  They need big items.  Detroit, as long as Boston does not greatly upsize, can be more tentative at the deadline with only a couple games of difference.

Perhaps the fan base with the most to be concerned about are the Orioles and Blue Jays.  Both teams appear far more involved in the Wild Card race than they really are.  Although spending most of the year in first or second place, the Orioles rate out using fWAR as the worst team in the AL.  The Blue Jays do not seem quite as bad, but still have quite an uphill climb.

The Royals, Mariners, and Twins are not fooling themselves and should do whatever they can to trade for as many pieces to help them over the next five years.

National League

Team Wins Proj Wins Total *
WSN  52 41 93 East
CIN  51 39 90 Central
SFG  50 37 87 West
 PIT  50 34 84 4 GB
 ATL  49 41 90 WC 1
 LAD  48 34 82 6 GB
 STL  47 41 88 WC 2
 NYM  46 36 82 6 GB
 MIA  44 34 78 10 GB
 ARI  43 40 83 5 GB
 MIL  43 38 81 7 GB
 PHI  41 37 78 10 GB
 CHC  36 31 67 21 GB
 SDP  37 29 66 22 GB
 COL  35 33 68 20 GB
 HOU  34 29 63 25 GB
Similar to the AL, this method also sees the top division leaders remaining in the lead.  Atlanta is expected to move up a slot and take the first Wild Card while the Cardinals would jump over the Dodgers and Pirates for the second one.

The teams in play for the Wild Card appear to be the Pirates, Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals, Mets, and Diamondbacks.  All of them need to get better to increase their odds of making it to the postseason.  There does not appear to be a race as close as the Tigers and Red Sox, but there are several teams in striking distance.

The Marlins and Brewers may be the only two teams in the NL that think they have a decent shot at the playoffs.  The Phillies may think they need to improve as well to respect their fan base (a la a Orioles 1996).  They really have been much better than their record indicates, but they have dug themselves quite a hole to get out.

The Cubs, Padres, Rockies, and Astros already appear to recognize they have no hope to compete.  This is not news to any of them.


Unknown said...

So who's your pick to win the World Series?

Jon Shepherd said...

At the moment, I would venture Texas over Washington...but a lot of the season is left and weird things happen in the playoffs.