The offseason is over and real baseball has started. The main course has finally arrived after the hors d’oeuvres of the Mariners/Athletics opening series in Japan. The teams are set — pace, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel — and my last bit of ZiPS business is to put on record the final projected standings for the 2019 season. These are computer-generated projections, remember, and as a result, they certainly do not reflect which teams I hate and which teams I like. If they did, I clearly would not be considered very effective at applying my personal biases, having grown up in Baltimore, booing the Yankees.
Also note that there’s a new little chart I’m including this year that I’m dubbing the “division matrix.” Essentially, one of the least understood things about the projected mean standings is that they are mean projections and not necessarily the win totals that will actually win the division. Take for example, the NL East. The Cubs have the best projected record at 87-75, but that doesn’t mean that on-average they’ll win the division by winning 87 games, because not all teams simply perform to their mean projections (nor does ZiPS expect them to). So on the division matrix, the 90th percentile means that 10% of the time, the divisional or Wild Card winner will have at least the number of wins listed.
The standings also do not reflect the two wins for the Mariners and two wins for the A’s. I felt it was kind of cheating to include them in preseason projected standings. But I also didn’t want to make the final projected standings before those games took place, as teams have made about 10,000 small moves since then, keeping me awake and in our depth charts 24/7 for the last week.
And I really shouldn’t have to mention it in the current year, but 0.0% is not literally 0.0%. It’s rounded. So Marlins fan, I’m saying there’s a chance.
Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.