Monday, April 04, 2005

Season Forecasts

The national media (Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Street & Smith,, CBS Sportsline, etc) consensus for the American League West seems to be that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are the favorite. There is no consensus on the order of the other three. The betting market projects Los Angeles at a 63% chance to win the West, Oakland at 17%, Seattle 13% and Texas 11%.

Baseball Prospectus, with a bit more mathematical approach than the national publications, says Oakland is the team to beat.

  Team          W  L  PCT   RF   RA
Oakland 88 74 .544 834 760
Los Angeles 83 79 .515 787 763
Texas 79 83 .490 868 885
Seattle 77 85 .477 754 791
Diamond Mind, simulating the season 100 times, gives Oakland the slight edge but says that every team has at least a 15% chance of winning the division.
  Team          W  L  Pct   RF   RA  #DIV   #WC
Oakland 85 77 .525 873 817 31.0 1.0
Los Angeles 84 78 .519 803 775 29.0 2.5
Seattle 83 79 .512 795 778 25.0 2.0
Texas 80 82 .494 852 875 15.0 1.5
Overall, this is a very positive story for the Mariners. Remember, this is a team that last year scored 698 runs, gave up 823, and won only 63 games. Six weeks ago I argued that just getting back to .500 was as good as the Mariners could hope for. These projections suggest that .500 is a likely midpoint, not the high end.

In the first twenty-seven seasons since the Mariners started play (from 1977-2003) 24 teams finished with 62, 63 or 64 wins, comparable to the 63-99 Mariners of 2004. The good news is that 21 of those 24 teams improved the next year. The bad news is that only five finished above .500. The best records of those 24 teams were the 1986 Texas Rangers and the 2004 San Diego Padres, who won 87 games.

How many games do the 2005 Mariners need to win to consider it a successful season? That's not quite the same question as how many games do you THINK they will win. For the first two decades of Mariner existence, 81 wins would have been success. For most years in the past decade 90 or so was probably the benchmark of success. This year they are coming off a 63 win
season. Another similar question: how much improvement needs to happen for Bill Bavasi to keep his job?

But the most important question: this year in the World Series? Probably not.

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