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
- New York
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
- Kansas City
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
- 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
- New York
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
- St. Louis
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
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- 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
Least Injury Risk
Chicago White Sox
Most Overall Risk
Least Overall Risk