Your Stance On the Team Projections (American League)

Last week, I said I would run my next community polling project just as soon as we got ZiPS projections all uploaded and folded in with Steamer. That’s precisely the news I woke up to today, so, here we go. Steamer’s up, ZiPS is up, we have an updated playoff odds page, and here are the current American League team projections, based on the numbers and our depth charts:

AL Projected Records
Team W L
Red Sox 88 74
Astros 88 74
Indians 87 75
Blue Jays 84 78
Mariners 82 80
Yankees 82 80
Tigers 81 81
White Sox 81 81
Rays 80 82
Rangers 80 82
Angels 80 82
Athletics 78 84
Orioles 78 84
Twins 78 84
Royals 77 85

I know — you see the Royals in last. You can’t help but chuckle. Maybe you agree with it, and maybe you don’t agree with it, and in either case, it’s probably kind of funny. But, good news! This is your chance to sound off, in a way. Projections are given to you. They’re presented to you, and maybe you sometimes feel like you’re being force-fed. You’re not obligated to actually agree with what the projections are saying, and here, I want to know how the community feels about each individual team projection. I want to know where people think the projections are right on, and, more interestingly, I want to know where people think the projections are being stupid. Could be they’re not being stupid, at all, but I want to know about the perception. I ran this project a year ago, and I love it. I hope you also love it. Together, let’s crowdsource the projected 2016 American League standings. (We’ll all look at the National League tomorrow.)

Something I’d like for you to keep in mind: please vote according to what we know now. Don’t vote anticipating midseason additions or subtractions. It’s one thing if you think a team will or will not call up a top prospect, but don’t vote planning on trades. I think everything else is self-explanatory, so, have fun. For each team and each poll, I’ll offer brief commentary that serves little purpose since I don’t want to actually bias anything myself. I plan to examine the voting results later this week. Thank you and I love you!

To proceed directly to a specific team projection poll, click on the team’s name below.

Angels, Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees



  • Team Projection: 80-82

This is probably as close as you can get to characterizing a roster as being “star and scrubs.” Mike Trout might be almost singlehandedly keeping the Angels from having to tear down and start over, but then, you know, what’s most important is they don’t have to tear down and start over. They have Trout; Trout is their advantage. It’s a huge advantage. They shouldn’t be penalized for that, certainly not while Trout remains so durable. It’s clearly a roster littered with question marks, and even Andrelton Simmons has his own question marks since there’s a belief elite range is of lesser importance in the shifting era.


  • Team Projection: 88-74

Now the Astros get to come in as the favorites, after winning 86 actual games while managing a BaseRuns record of 97-65. They’ll get a whole year from quite possibly the best shortstop in baseball, and Ken Giles adds what had been a missing element to the bullpen. It’s not entirely clear what they’re going to get out of first base, and there are enough questions in the rotation to keep the roster from seeming elite. But, you know, it was obvious a year ago: The Astros have arrived. Here’s to tanking!


  • Team Projection: 78-84

Maybe you would’ve expected the A’s to try to rebuild, but rebuilding just isn’t in their DNA. They say they can’t afford to do it, and though you can reasonably question whether that’s true, their model is to try to win every single season and in some way, if not in the most important ways, it’s admirable. This is a roster that’s very light on stars. Oakland genuinely can’t afford many stars. They’re trying to make up for that with depth, and versatility. The bullpen that sank them a year ago has been greatly bolstered, so if you squint, you can see something exciting here, something more than the sum of its parts. The sum of its parts is unexceptional.

Blue Jays

  • Team Projection: 84-78

The Blue Jays just had a BaseRuns record of 101-61, and a regular record of 93-69. They’re not going to have David Price this time, but he started just 11 games for them, and they could get a full year out of Troy Tulowitzki, who’s just a season removed from being baseball’s best shortstop. So a lot of this has to do with your interpretation of regression to the mean. To what extent will Jose Bautista repeat? To what extent will Josh Donaldson repeat? To what extent will Edwin Encarnacion and Marco Estrada repeat? I’m not going to answer for you. You submit your own answer, dang it.


  • Team Projection: 87-75

BaseRuns was weird last year. We’ve been over this. The Indians were another freaky team, falling eight wins shy of its BaseRuns estimate. Much of the roster is intact, with more Francisco Lindor as a selling point, and with less Michael Brantley as a drawback. You pretty much know what the Indians are all about, and while it went relatively under-covered, the Juan Uribe acquisition filled a need. For just another year, it’s possible to look at the Indians and see a major contender.


  • Team Projection: 82-80

Jerry Dipoto kept himself busy, and the depth situation is far better than it used to be. Buying low was a popular move, with Dipoto counting on bouncebacks, but then, you know, bouncebacks are never guaranteed. There are questions about those guys, there are questions about pretty much the entire bullpen, and there are questions at the top of the roster, with Felix Hernandez having shown some worrisome signs, and with Hisashi Iwakuma having failed a Dodgers physical. Robinson Cano, at least, seems to be back to 100%, but this team will probably need to be driven by its stars.


  • Team Projection: 78-84

A popular assertion in my weekly FanGraphs chats is that the Orioles might’ve missed an opportunity to start rebuilding. That gives you a sense of what some people think about them, but to their credit, they’ve put a lot of resources into the roster this offseason, and any roster with Manny Machado on it has to have a pretty good foundation. Of course, it’s not a roster that includes Dexter Fowler, it turns out, but Fowler probably wasn’t going to be an impact player anyway. There’s power on this team. There’s excellent relief pitching on this team. There’s probably not enough good starting pitching on this team. Your answer here might depend almost entirely on what you think of the bullpen. The Orioles have gotten far with good bullpens before.


  • Team Projection: 80-82

The Rangers won the division, and now they get a full year of Cole Hamels, and much of a full year of a rehabilitated Yu Darvish. The pitchers make people excited, which is entirely fair, but it is worth remembering how last year’s Rangers at least statistically overachieved. Adrian Beltre is still the best position player and he’s about to turn 37. They had to scramble to put Ian Desmond in an unfamiliar position to cover up for an absent Josh Hamilton. What I think I’m most interested in here is the bullpen, which was fantastic last year down the stretch, but, you know how bullpens are.


  • Team Projection: 80-82

Did you know PECOTA projects the Rays to win the AL East? I don’t bring that up to try to bias your vote. I just wanted to bring it to your attention, in case you weren’t aware. The Rays didn’t have the most sexy winter, but in classic Rays fashion, they’ve assembled a fairly deep and fairly flexible team, with lots of talented pitching candidates once a few stragglers get healthy. It’s not hard to see similarities between the Rays and the A’s, with Chris Archer playing the role of Sonny Gray. But the Rays also get to have a Kevin Kiermaier.

Red Sox

  • Team Projection: 88-74

Dave Dombrowski didn’t mess around. He wanted a better rotation, so he threw money at an incredible starter, and he wanted a better bullpen, so he threw prospects at an incredible closer while also adding Carson Smith. So to a large extent the Red Sox are fixed, but they still have last year’s two biggest problems, and they’re lined up to start. The rotation behind David Price can still rightly be considered unreliable, and Xander Bogaerts, for all the hype, finished with seven home runs and a .372 BABIP. There is a lot here to love, but I remember saying the same thing a season ago.


  • Team Projection: 77-85

Do we need to keep going over this? The projections have their reasons for believing what they believe. You either believe in them or you don’t.


  • Team Projection: 81-81

It was a down year for Detroit, so ownership and the front office responded by aggressively reloading. Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann get a lot of the press, but maybe just as important are the combined bullpen additions of Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, and Justin Wilson. It’s also worth noting Victor Martinez feels healthy again, and between the last two years he dropped by more than 6 WAR. There’s a lot going on here. The Tigers refused to give up, and regardless of whether that was wise, here we are, and here they are.


  • Team Projection: 78-84

The Twins might look the most interesting they’ve looked in years. Still not particularly strong, perhaps, but I can’t wait to watch Byung-ho Park. I can’t wait to watch more Miguel Sano, and you never know when Byron Buxton might put his tools together. Jose Berrios is on the way, and Trevor May made a highly successful adjustment to the bullpen. Last year’s Twins, I think, were easy to dismiss, before the year started. You can’t say the same about this year’s ballclub.

White Sox

  • Team Projection: 81-81

Another team right on the fringe of being good, the White Sox addressed some of their gaping holes while somewhat curiously staying away from Ian Desmond. Still, they put Brett Lawrie at second and Todd Frazier at third, and though they lost Jeff Samardzija, Jeff Samardzija wasn’t actually a good pitcher last season. As I wrote about last week, this season might in large part be determined by the development or lack thereof from Carlos Rodon. Erik Johnson, for whatever it’s worth, also had a greatly improved 2015, so he’s back on the radar as a thing. It’s a deeper roster now, which they hope translates into being a better roster.


  • Team Projection: 82-80

The best position player is projected for 3.0 WAR, and the rotation is filled to the brim with injury question marks. The Yankees’ greatest asset is what seems like maybe the best bullpen of all time, but then we still don’t know how much time Aroldis Chapman will have to miss, and just in terms of statistical performance this year’s bullpen will have a difficult time out-performing last year’s bullpen. The Yankees won 87 games. The Yankees would love to once again win 87 games.

Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Roger McDowell Hot Foot
Roger McDowell Hot Foot

Well, the Royals vote was funny. I confess I don’t think I’m voting quite rationally, since I’m skewing a bit more toward thinking the forecasts miss low than thinking they miss high, and those wins have to come from somewhere. Don’t know how to keep track of this (apart from “so laboriously it’s obviously not worth it for a web survey”) but it’d be interesting to do this kind of voting constrained to a fixed pool of wins to allocate.


They’ll come from the NL like every year.