Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Predictions: AL Central

As Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future. These predictions for upcoming season are going to be pretty quick and dirty. You don't want to spend a lot of time reading them anyway, do you? Unlike other prognosticators, though, I'll revisit these to see how badly I did.

Since baseball games are the product of runs scored and runs allowed, I'm going to focus on those two metrics in developing my 2014 predictions.  Here's the National League WestCentraland East, along with the American League West and East

Detroit Tigers - 96-66 in 2013, 4.9 runs scored per game (2nd in MLB), 3.9 runs allowed per game (7th in MLB): They've still got Miguel Cabrera and those starting pitchers, they've added a strong closer in Joe Nathan, but the injury bug has bit LF Don Kelly and SS Jose Iglesias. Their hitters are the second-oldest int he league, so time's running out on this team to win a World Series. Prediction: Fewer runs scored, same number allowed, 91-71.

Cleveland Indians - 92-70, 4.6 runs scored per game (6th in MLB), 4.1 runs allowed per game (14th in MLB): After the Pirates, the Indians were the happy-story team of 2013. But they lost SPs Ubaldo Jiminez and Scott Kazmir via free agency (those two combined for 37% of the team's starting pitcher innings) and didn't add a lot. I could see them regressing a lot. Prediction: Fewer runs scored, more allowed,  84-78.

Kansas City Royals - 86-76, 4.0 runs scored per game (18th in MLB), 3.7 runs allowed per game (6th in MLB): The Royals continue their quest to end the longest postseason drought in American sports today. SP James Shields is a free agent after this year, LF Alex Gordon is 30, and the bullpen's best-in-the-league 2.55 ERA last year probably isn't sustainable, so the clock's ticking. But the club addressed weaknesses at 2B and RF, adding Omar Infante and Norichika Aoki, and has one of baseball's most exciting rookies, hard-throwing hurler Yordano VenturaPrediction: More runs scored, same number allowed, 89-73.

Minnesota Twins - 66-96, 3.8 runs scored per game (25th in MLB), 4.9 runs allowed per game (29th in MLB): The Twins' starters were historically bad last year, which is why the addition of OK-but-not-great Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes via free agency is a big upgrade. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the Twins offense, and stud slugging prospect Miguel Sano is out for the year with Tommy John surgery. Prediction: Same number of runs scored, fewer allowed, 69-93.

Chicago White Sox - 63-99, 3.7 runs scored per game (29th in MLB), 4.5 runs allowed per game (23rd in MLB): The White Sox's Cuban import, 1B Jose Abreu, could provide pop that was lacking last year. Fangraphs projects him to be 33%-40% above league average, with power and good on-base skills. CF Adam Eaton, acquired by trade, is a formerly highly-regarded prospect looking to improve from a change of scenery. This is team with an offense that's the analogue to the Twins' pitching - can't help but get better. Prediction: More runs scored, same number allowed, 68-94.

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