One of the fan run projection systems out there is CAIRO. Started by a Yankees fan, the projections were recently run through 10,000 iterations to get a median for the records in each division. Follow the link for the full results as well as the projection authors thoughts. A few of my observations follow the jump.
The Red Sox being that dominant in the division surprised me even with the big acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford this offseason. Their pitching from top to bottom is impressive with Beckett, Lester, Buccholz, Matsuzaka, etc. This projection feels high to me but the Red Sox are a good team.
I still expect more of a fight out of the Yankees and the Rays though. The Yankees losing out on Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte's indecision makes Sergio Mitre one of their starters. Suffice to say that they are hurting for rotational arms. The Rays watched Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano leave for free agency. The former hurts the worst and, even with some nice outfield prospects in the wings, you have to assume that they're losing 4-5 WAR in Crawford alone.
It's a three way dog fight as it has been for the last couple years now in the Central. The Twins sneak up on me every year. They're a team that's built around contact style baseball, good pitching and good defense. They're not on the forefront of the sabermetric movement but year in year out, they prove that they are among the premier scouting teams.
The White Sox seem like a team that can get old overnight and the Tigers starting pitching leaves me wondering. I remain amazed that Justin Verlander can continue to throw as hard as he does and not tear something in his arm. Verlander's been worth 8.3 and 6.3 WAR in the last two years. Yep, I think I'll take him on my underrated list.
With three teams this close the AL Central should be a scramble again. I'll take the Twins again as they have the track record of closing out the deal.
The Angels have rapidly become a mediocre team. They lost their premier slugger (Vlad Guerrero) and still haven't found a way to replace him. Their pitching lacks both depth and frontline talent. The dangerous thing about the Angels is that you never know when they're going to spend millions of dollars to get better.
The Rangers seem like a clear favorite to me though perhaps not 7 wins clear. They built up one of the best farm systems in baseball and are reaping the benefits now.
Can anyone name a starting position player on the Athletics? I can think of Suzuki of the top of my head . . . and then it's a struggle.
Also have to give a shout out to Jack Z and the #6org. Stay strong Mariners.
The Phillies have handed out a couple awful contracts. They've also just kept throwing money at their deficiencies until it looks like they've cleared those up. The pitching is the strength and I think they'll win more games than anyone else in the majors next year barring major injuries.
I'm interested in what Jason Heyward's 2011 stats will look like to finish the year. The Braves are poised in this projection to take the wild card. Their offense as a whole intrigues me as well. They seem to be better than I expect and certain players (Chipper Jones being one) routinely come up with impressive statistical years that I wouldn't have bet on.
The rest of this division looks like a mess.
It's a three way fight among the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds. CAIRO has the Cardinals with a few games lead, which jives for me. The hard part to swallow of this projection would seem to be that the Cardinals haven't really done much this offseason. It's important, if difficult, to remember that they were a better team on paper than they were on the field last year -- the offense had several supremely unlucky individuals. If our pitcher's arms can stay attached, I think we've got a good shot at 90 wins.
The Brewers scare me the most after their acquisition of Greinke and Marcum. The Reds will be dependent on their young players advancing further and their starting pitching not getting blown up to often as that rotation looks weak to my eyes.
Are the Pirates ever going to get out of the cellar?
The Diamondbacks have fallen back from the NL West leaders but the other four teams are within 5 games of one another. The Rockies had an MVP candidate and Cy Young pitcher last year. I still think of them as Todd Helton's team and the team that worked out one of my favorite Cardinals' trades ever. (Hey Larry, we miss you!)
The Giants are a good team despite some terrible contracts (Zito Rowand) but they're a sorry bet to repeat. I think I like the Dodgers more than CAIRO and, like the LA Angels of A, their ability to spend is always dangerous.
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It's way to early too start placing bets on this kind of thing but give me a team on these projections you'll take the over on and one you'll take the under on. While I've let my reasoning fall where it will above, for clarity, I'll take an over on the Rays and an under on the Red Sox.