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

posted in MLB

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%
  • CcKuestner

    Your division round predictions are incorrect as teams from the same division cannot play each other. It’s been that way since they started the division series. In this case, the Yankees cannot play the Red Sox in the division round and the Phillies cannot play the Braves.It would look more like this:
    Yankees over Tigers; Rangers over Red SoxPhillies over Giants; Cardinals over Braves

    Just thought I would let you guys know

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    CcKuestner — According to MLB.com, the new playoff format (with the added single-game Wild Card round) has led to a changed in that rule:

    “In another interesting wrinkle to the new long-term playoff rule changes, beginning this year a division winner and Wild Card team from the same division will be able to meet in the Division Series, which was not the case in the past.”

    This is from the article on MLB.com announcing the new playoff format (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120229&content_id=26927024)

    I couldn’t find any official rules on the MLB site that referred to this, so it’s possible this article is wrong, and they’ve since gone back to the old rule. If you have a source indicating that this isn’t right, we would definitely like to know, as obviously we don’t want to have incorrect predictions up here.

    But for now, it appears we are correct.

  • CcKuestner

    David Hess: I didn’t realize that MLB had changed the ENTIRE format of the playoffs. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Yeah, other than a little bit of discussion right after the change was made, it’s received surprisingly little attention. It would have been easy to miss.

  • Markc3711

    I am a die hard white sox fan. how is your preseason projection looking now? how bout them cubs?

  • SporadicPulse

    favor the yankees much? They are not the best team in baseball.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    SporadicPulse — Given that the Yankees have the 3rd-best record in baseball (and the 2nd-best run margin) while facing a schedule that is basically tied for the toughest (http://www.teamrankings.com/mlb/ranking/strength-of-schedule-by-team), I’m not sure I agree that the Yankees aren’t the best team in baseball. They have at least *played* the best so far. And as you can see above, this meshes well with the preseason prediction, which means we should be a bit more confident that their true talent actually matches their performance.

    P.S. These are our preseason predictions. If you’re curious about the current projected standings, you can find those here: http://www.teamrankings.com/mlb/projections/standings/

  • Jacob Gaba4

    You’re definately right cckuestner. Whoever made these projections probably doesent follow the MLB that much so they got it all wrong. I think you’re predictions are a lot more accurate.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Jacob — As we pointed out below, the playoff format changed this year with the addition of the extra Wild Cards. Now teams from the same division CAN play each other in the Division round. See 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Baseball_postseason#Three_Round_Playoff_System for more details.

  • Aquaria

    So much wrong, it wasn’t even funny.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    If you expected us to do significantly better than this, I think you may have unrealistic expectations. These projections fared fine if you compared them to other expert predictions. For example, ESPN had 49 (!) people project the MLB playoffs in the preseason. Only one person out of those 49 picked more playoff teams correctly than our projections did (Pedro Gomez): http://espn.go.com/mlb/preview12/story/_/page/12expertpicks/espn-expert-team-predictions-2012-baseball-season

    Given that the main goal here is to have a reasonable starting point for our season projection system, I think these were a success. They were certainly better than starting every team with an exactly average rating.