Team Projected Standings: AL West
I finally have them ready. The projected standings come from the same source that told you, one year ago, that Tampa Bay would win 89 games and be a contender. That projection was wrong. They weren't just contenders, but American League Champions. At the time I think the Vegas over/under was in the mid 70 win range. I should have put some money on them, but I'm not that into gambling and missed that opportunity.
My method is slightly improved from last year. Last season I assigned playing time to all the hitters and pitchers based on what I thought was most likely, added up the runs scored and allowed, and generated Pythagorean W-L records. Then I looked at how far over I was on the league as a whole (did I project the league to play at a .515 percentage?) and removed the same number of wins per team to make sure the leagues add up to .500. I call this removing the Lake Wobegon effect.
For this year I've gotten a bit more advanced. I've compiled a team schedule spreadsheet, telling me how many games each team has against each opponent. Then I match up each team's initial W-L% and see how they will play each other head to head using the odds ratio. For example, Boston and New York are both behemoths, but in the 19 games they play they will of course combine to go 19-19.
I have the American League going 137-115 in interleague play, a .544 percentage. This is how they played in 2007 and 2005, but the AL was even more dominant than that last year and 2006 (a .611 percentage that season). I consider my .544 prediction realistic but on the conservative side. I wouldn't trust any prediction made that puts the two leagues as equal. They may have reasoning that shows why the NL will catch up this year, but more likely they are just being lazy and are not recognizing the disparity between leagues.
So, finally the AL West:
LA Angels 86-76
Bobby Abreu is a two win upgrade over playing Matthews or Willits in the outfield, or playing Wood or Rodriguez at third with Figgins in the outfield. A's have improved the offense but the pitching is unproven and questionable (check out the 2nd half ERA of last year). In addition, they will have at least one defensive hole, you can't hide both Cust and Giambi at DH. Mariners have greatly upgraded the defense, and have intelligent management for a change. They don't have the bats to contend, but could be a challenge in the future because they have money to spend and will likely spend it on better players than Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, and Carlos Silva. Rangers have, through position changes, effectively replaced Milton Bradley with Omar Vizquel in the lineup. They won't score runs like last year, and still have no pitching.
Here's my track record on the AL West:
2008: Angels, 91 wins, first by 8 games (In my Feb 2008 archives)
2007: Cannot find, I know I picked the Angels but not by how much. I was writing for MVN but I think the archives have been lost, or at least are hard to find)
2006: A's 90 wins, 6 ahead of the Angels. This shows I'm not biased in my predictions, if another team appears to be stronger, I will report that, however distasteful I find it.
So far I'm 3 for 3, if I made predictions before that it was before the blog started, and I have no idea where to find them.