A BABS-eye View of the 2017 Pennant Races

I hate trying to predict which teams are going to win. Opening Day is just a starting point for a season full of activity, so to project what October will look like based on today’s rosters is pointless.

But here’s the thing… BABS loves doing these predictions.

Frankly, the balance sheet perspective does offer up some interesting insights. The risks associated with six months of roster management are somewhat baked into the process. Could it provide a more accurate view?

Nope. Last year, she predicted the division winners to be the Blue Jays, Indians, Mariners, Mets, Cubs and Giants. While she correctly included the eventual World Series combatants among her picks, so did pretty much every other tout.

But, for the sake of harmony in my online relationship, let’s humor her.

American League East

  1. Boston
  2. Toronto
  3. New York
  4. Tampa
  5. Baltimore

The Red Sox are a popular pick, but BABS sees this division as perhaps the closest in baseball. They are neck-and-neck with Toronto’s offense but lead the Jays’ pitchers by a slightly larger margin. The Yankees, Ray and Orioles could all make runs at various times but will likely fall short.

The element that has the larger impact in this division is each team’s liability profile. Tampa has the most downside risk in the AL and the most batter injury risk in all of baseball (for the second year in a row!). If not for their liabilities, the Rays would be projected to finish second, in a photo finish with Boston. That tells you how close these teams really are. Today.

American League Central

  1. Cleveland
  2. Detroit
  3. Kansas City
  4. Chicago
  5. Minnesota

As close as the AL East projects to be, that is how much of a runaway this year could be for the Indians. While Detroit can match them on the offense side, nobody can touch Cleveland’s pitching staff. The Tribe’s arms boast the best skill in the league and are among the leaders in least amount of risk as well.

Liabilities are fairly evenly spread among the five teams, though Chicago does shoulder slightly more. Many touts project them for the basement but BABS hates Minnesota’s pitching with a passion. The Twins arms have the worst skill rating in all of baseball, and it’s not even close. On paper.

American League West

  1. Houston
  2. Seattle
  3. Texas
  4. Oakland
  5. Los Angeles

The Astros have the most assets and fewest liabilities in the division, which is a winning combination. In fact, they have the fewest liabilities in all of baseball. Injury, experience – they are a fairly healthy lot and have a nice blend of veteran leadership and youth. This won’t be a runaway like in Cleveland, but the Mariners and Rangers shouldn’t provide too much of a threat.

Most notable in the division is the fact that there is no injury risk among Seattle’s core offense. They are the only team in either league to boast this. However, their pitchers have the most injury risk in the A.L. According to BABS.

National League East

  1. Washington
  2. New York
  3. Miami
  4. Atlanta
  5. Philadelphia

According to BABS, the NL East will boast the closest race for the division title. The Nats and Mets are virtually indistinguishable in terms of their overall net profile. Washington is slightly better at the plate; the Mets are better on the mound. But here’s the kicker: the Mets have the most risk of any team in the division. Filter out the injury risk and the Mets win this division outright.

Miami, Atlanta and Philadelphia trail the Mets offense, in that order, but not by all that much. The difference is on the mound, and it’s huge. Right now.

National League Central

  1. Chicago
  2. St. Louis
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Milwaukee

This is the only division that BABS predicts in the same order as last year. The Cubs repeat as leaders and pace the field pretty easily. There is a decent separation between the Cards, Bucs and Reds/Brewers.

The Cards actually grade out with a slightly better offense than the Cubs, but it’s not significant. In fact, the Reds are right there as well. The differences are all in pitching. Still, the Cards will likely be in the wild card race. According to what my spreadsheet says.

National League West

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Arizona
  3. San Francisco
  4. Colorado
  5. San Diego

BABS thinks the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. She’s got them running away with the NL West by the largest margin of any other division. Arizona and San Francisco will battle to the wire for second place – the D’backs on the strength of their bats, the Giants on the strength of their arms – but both falling short of a wild-card nod.

The Rockies continue their bi-polar ways, ranked No. 1 in offense and No. 26 in pitching, but now also No. 1 in Risk (that’s not a good thing). If they could overcome their injury woes, they would be right in the thick of the race for second place. A certain Vegas wager is riding on this.

A few more interesting lists:

Most Injury Risk
NY Mets
LA Dodgers

Least Injury Risk
San Diego
San Francisco

Most Experienced
LA Angels
St. Louis
NY Mets/Miami

Least Experienced
Chicago White Sox
San Diego

Most Overall Risk
LA Dodgers
NY Mets

Least Overall Risk

5 thoughts on “A BABS-eye View of the 2017 Pennant Races

  1. Norman Lichti

    Interesting and fun, but as you say, pointless. Rosters change.

  2. Robert DiPietro

    This is a great article. Gives some insight on potential World Series wagers but i feel like its great to see a teams risk/experience profile as a whole. Can help in determine perhaps which prospects or mid timers will/can have a chance to play. I think it would be even better to see the full lists and not just top 5’s. Ron, i was wondering if you took into account projected starting lineups or just team rosters as a whole. Thanks for the info. Keep up the great product!

  3. Carlos Colon

    Love the article Ron, this article gave a totally different perspective than the usual sports illustrated projections or any other main stream type of projections. Its pretty simple, skillsets; assets and liabilities say it all but like my hometown hero, Derek Jeter always said, “you could look good on paper, but the games still have to be played on the field.” – Classic Jeter quote. I do believe that Houston has a good shot of improving their playoff chances and getting far in the post season. Cleveland just has “too much “sauce” and will make it far in the post season as well.

  4. Shawn McLaughlin

    Boy were you right about the Mariners pitching staff. Goodness 2017 was BRUTAL. And there lineup did not fair so well either, Not terrible like the pitching, but still not good.

    1. Shawn McLaughlin

      Their lineup.

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