Dan Szymborski over at Baseball Think Factory annually posts his ZiPS baseball player projections. It appears that he now has projections posted for 29 of the major league teams, including all of the National League Central teams. With lots of recent discussion here about how the Reds will fare against the Cardinals, Brewers, and Cubs this season, I decided to compile the projections for each of the NL Central teams and use them to compute the final standings for the upcoming season.
The methodology I used was to compile a full seasons worth of AB (about 5500) for each team ,comprised of their projected starters and reserves. I then computed Runs Created (RC) from the compiled team stats to represent the number of projected runs scored for the offense.
For pitching, I compiled pitching stats for the projected starters (about 960 IP) and the projected relievers (about 480 IP). I then reverse engineered Runs Allowed (RA) from the computed ERA for the entire pitching staff.
Finally, I used Bill James Pythagorean expectation formula, plugging in the RC and RA numbers to compute the expected number of wins for each team. Here are the results:
Team Pyth. WP W L RC RA OPS ERA St. Louis 59% 95 67 800 667 .767 3.79 Milwaukee 56% 91 71 774 681 .758 3.88 Cincinnati 55% 89 73 772 697 .756 3.96 Chicago 53% 86 76 765 721 .753 4.09 Pittsburgh 49% 80 82 773 784 .756 4.83 Houston 45% 72 90 680 756 .709 4.30
The ZiPS projections view the Cardinals as a tick above the Brewers, Reds, and Cubs, who are all packed tightly near the top. The Reds, who are projected here at just two wins off of last season’s pace, would not even make the playoffs as a wild card with the third place finish. Milwaukee’s pitching acquisitions over the winter have definitely, on paper, propelled them into the mix for playoff contention. This also reaffirms that the Cubs do still have a very solid team, and could be in the mix if a few things broke right for them for a change.
These projections, while not quite what Reds fans were hoping for, do show that we are in for another exciting season in the NL Central.