2012 MLB Predictions: Projected Standings, Most Likely World Series, Preseason Ratings

The Major League Baseball regular season officially started in Tokyo on March 28th, but in most fans’ eyes, the true opening day is Thursday, April 5th. The last spring training games wrap up this evening, and the Cardinals visit the Marlins tonight in a game that counts, then half of the league gets in on the action tomorrow afternoon.

As the season gets underway, it’s time to release our preseason ratings and projections.

The main purpose of these ratings is to provide a data-driven starting point for our MLB projected standings, which we rolled out yesterday afternoon. We’ll have fully automated win-loss predictions, playoff chances, and World Series win odds, and all the info will be updated every single day of the season to reflect the latest results and the most up to date MLB power ratings.

You may look at the projections below and think that they aren’t extreme enough. In a way, you’d be right — the best team in the league will almost certainly win more than the 91 games we’ve forecast for the Yankees, and the worst will likely lose more than 89. However, picking which teams will wildly exceed expectations is rather tricky, and on average these conservative predictions should fare better than more aggressive ones.

However, if you’d like to see our best case and worst case scenarios for each team, check out their team projections page. Here are the Kansas City Royals projections as an example. The table in the middle of the page shows that in about 1 in 10 of our season simulations, the Royals will win 91 or more games. That’s what we see as their reasonably-attainable ceiling. Similarly, if they completely collapse, they’ll fall down to the 65-win range.

Quick Predictions For The 2012 MLB Season

Let’s go over a few of the insights these projections provide, before laying all the details out below.

  • The most likely World Series result is the New York Yankees beating the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course, that exact outcome only has about a 1 in 50 chance of occurring.
  • The NL West appears to be anybody’s to win, with all teams having between a 17% and 22% chance to win the division.
  • There is a roughly 50/50 chance that both AL Wild Cards will come from the AL East. One of the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays will be very disappointed at the end of the year.
  • The Texas Rangers in the AL West are the biggest lock for a division title. It helps that they only have three teams to beat.
  • The AL Central looks like Detroit and four interchangeable teams. No ordering of #2 through #5 would be a surprise.
  • The race for the two NL Wild Cards is wide open. Only Pittsburgh and Houston have less than a 10% shot at snagging a Wild Card berth, and favored Atlanta has only a 17% chance.

Here is how the playoffs would play out, if these projections end up being spot on:

  • Wild Card Round: Red Sox over Rays; Braves over Brewers
  • Division Round: Yankees over Red Sox, Rangers over Tigers; Phillies over Braves, Cardinals over Giants
  • League Championship Series: Yankees over Rangers; Phillies over Cardinals
  • World Series: Yankees over Phillies

Full 2012 MLB Preseason Projections

2012 MLB Preseason Projections
American League
AL EastWLTR RankPlayoffsWild CardWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
NY Yankees9171167.9%29.4%38.5%21.7%11.1%
Tampa Bay8676551.8%28.0%23.8%12.5%6.4%
AL CentralWLTR RankPlayoffsWild CardWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
Kansas City78842425.2%7.0%18.2%2.4%1.5%
Chi Sox76862620.8%6.4%14.4%2.0%1.1%
AL WestWLTR RankPlayoffsWild CardWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
LA Angels8280937.6%15.1%22.5%6.1%3.3%
National League
NL EastWLTR RankPlayoffsWild CardWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
NY Mets80821826.5%13.3%13.2%4.5%2.4%
NL CentralWLTR RankPlayoffsWild CardWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
St. Louis8676649.8%16.4%33.4%12.5%5.4%
Chi Cubs80822026.5%13.0%13.5%4.0%2.0%
NL WestWLTR RankPlayoffsWild CardWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
SF Giants82801134.8%12.7%22.1%6.7%3.3%
LA Dodgers82801531.8%12.2%19.6%6.0%3.0%
San Diego81811630.7%11.4%19.3%5.3%2.7%