Previews and Predictions

As we’re entering the final stretch of spring training, the 2007 predictions are starting to come with increasing regularity. Here’s what today revealed.

Simulatin’

The Replacement Level Yankee Weblog ran a series of Diamond Mind Simulations. He ran 1000 seasons using each of PECOTA, Marcel, Chone, Diamond Mind and ZiPS. I summarized how the tigers fared below:

I think it is safe to say that the ZiPS projections look to be the most realistic – kidding of course. The truth of the matter is, and I’ve been thinking this as I read all sorts of projections, all teams in the Central not from Kansas City have a legitimate shot at taking the division.

The composite of all 4 simulations have the Tigers 3rd in the division with 87.4 wins behind Cleveland with 88.3 and Minnesota 89.2. The sims weren’t quite as favorable to the White Sox with a projected 75.9 wins.

Sports Illustrated

A less stat/computer/geeky preview from the folks at SI have the Tigers coming in 2nd in the Central and ranked as the 5th best team in the American League. The scouting report is pretty standard citing the Tigers balance as a strength, and injury & last year’s pitcher workload as concerns.

Cranking Win Shares

While not a prediction system per se, the Baseball Crank takes a look at Established Win Share Levels for the AL Central. EWSL attempts to quantify the talent level on a team by looking at past performance and adjusting for age. The Tigers rank favorably because they are pretty solid top to bottom. The downside is that because of the age of the key players, the age adjustments are most unfavorable.

12 Comments

  1. David

    March 21, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    My personal view of the AL

    East
    New York (although old too much positional talent, and the two somewhat iffy starting rotation slots can be filled by trades, minor leaguers, whatever the boss wants)
    Boston – better lineup with the additions of Drew, Lugo, Beckett, Coco and Schilling should rebound, with Dice-K and Papelbon that’s a starting staff, even though I don’t like ‘em they seem much stronger
    Toronto – Lineup not as solid as last year (two .500 pitchers at the end) = 3rd place in AL East :( (Rios next 30-30 guy?)
    Baltimore – Could have 3 dynamite pitchers in Bedard, Cabrera and Loewen with solid offense, still dwarfed against the Yankees or Boston (Nick Markakis, another guy who if avoids a sophomore slump should go nuts, had a great 2nd half last year)
    Tampa Bay – Too much positional talent, not enough on the staff, I’d like to see Kazmir and Howell play a full season

    Central
    Detroit – Strongest 1 through 5 starting staff, no falloff from Kenny, in fact might get better, Verlander worries me, best 1-9 in Central wins the title finally
    Cleveland – They’ve been my sleeper team for ’05, ’06 and now ’07, another great starting staff Westbrook gets it all together, Nixon regains his old stroke, Hafner plays a full season, geeze I’m scaring myself
    Chicago – who ordered middle rotation starters, Chicago that’s who, I knew ’05 was fluky for them, will Dye and Thome repeat? I expect a drop-off from at least one of them, where has the small-ball gone Ozzie? Where has it gone?
    Minnesota – SO SO SO SO overrated, Johan can’t start 162 times, they are a team that should perform just like they did when they came into Comerica Park and were swept by a 33-1 score, they are the APRIL AND MAY TWINKIES of ’06 but worse, no Radke, no Liriano, will Mauer hit .347 again if he’s behind the dish? Will Morneau offer serious competition to defend his AL MVP title doubt it?
    Kansas City – I almost like them more than the Twins, Dayton Moore is a smart man. Shealy, Teahen, Gordon and DeJesus could all bust out big time and with a comeback from Sweeney and solid production from Berroa and Brown this team could have a better offense than Minn or Chicago, Pitching does them in although I think Grienke will be a bonafied ACE after that they have a bunch of inning eaters, who don’t eat the inning very fast…

    West
    Los Angeles – Great SP, better offense with some speed behind it, if they have D they will be the team to beat in the west
    Texas – Dynamite offense (huge years from Teix and Kinsler), Toronto-esque staff except more evened out. My 2nd favorite team
    Oakland – Harden is a monster, but w/o Thomas and Zito this team is dead, torrid offense, Kotsay is out, Kennedy could do well
    Seattle – So so staff, great MI defense, decent offense, Mr. Beltre time to prove your worth… Oh yea and Ichiro its time for your career-year to send you packing for FA, try for .400? =P

    Teams that will make the playoffs (95+)
    Yanks, Tigers, Indians, Angels

    88-94 win teams
    Boston, Texas

    .500
    Toronto, Chicago

    75 ish
    Oakland, Seattle, Minnesota

    70ish
    Kansas City, Baltimore

    65ish
    Tampa

  2. Pingback: SI: Tigers not playoff bound; prediction roundup » Mack Avenue Tigers : A Detroit Tigers Blog

  3. Kathy

    March 22, 2007 at 12:06 am

    I think the Tigers will win over 90 games and Verlander will settle down within the month.

  4. Kyle J

    March 22, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Those projections show how tight the AL Central race is likely to be this year. The range of projected wins is only 5. But the projections range from a 1st to a 3rd place finish, and the % odds of making the playoffs vary by 36 percentage points.

    It’s going to be an exciting, but very tense, year.

  5. ez

    March 22, 2007 at 10:28 am

    I wrote this post another great Tiger site on Febraury 7. It looks like I agreed with the simulations. I hope I am wrong and we win 96….

    Looking back at the number of wins it took for a team from the AL to make the playoffs, I see that the Tigers won 95 and were the Wild Card team. Runner up to WC was the Chisox at 90 wins. Therefore, it seems to me that we will need to win 91-95 games in order to make the playoffs. I am not bothering to go back a number of years to see wild card records for teams, perhaps I ought to, but this is more of a conversational stream-of-conscience thread. How likely is it for the Tigers to win 91-95? Bear in mind that there is little guarantee the Wild Card going through the AL Central. Minnesota won 96 and took our division. Should 96 be the minimum number we are shooting for? It seems if playoffs are our goal then we should budget for 95-96 wins. This win total seems almost unreachable to me for several reasons.

    First, the AL Central, already brutal last year, is improved this year. One can easily argue that the Tigers are better. That is great, we will need it. This year the White Sox won’t be playing under the yoke of a recent World Championship. The White Sox have made some material pitching changes, but still have Jenks in the pen and a solid staff. Couple that pitching with a devastating line-up and no WS Winner Baggage and the Pale Hose certainly should be in the 90-95 win range. Looking at Minnesota is always frustrating. No team does more with less. However, look at their record, barely .500 on the road, and dominating in that cheat of a stadium they play in. I went to a game there last August against our Tigers. The stadium’s lights went up noticeably (I would argue drastically) after the Tigers first at-bat, giving the Twins hitters a better view of the pitches. This is not paranoia, it happened. Phucking Twins, man, I hate them. The point is, Lariano be damned, the Twins will reload with Boof Bosner and a fine hitting combination of Morneau and Mauer to win its customary 85-95 games. Cleveland, the media’s preseason darling last year (and underperformer during the season), looks really tough on paper. The pitching is better, if for the only reason Jason Johnson is pitching in Japan, and that line-up of theirs is fearsome. Expect Cleveland to give us fits and win 90. Of course, not every team in the Central can win 90 and that is my point. Even KC is looking better. Winning 90 in this division won’t be easy.

    The second reason I don’t see the Tigers making the playoffs is the injury bug and age concerns. Pudge is 35, and looks great, but still he is 35! I love the grit and professionalism of Vance Wilson, but he is not a full time catcher on a pennant winner should Pudge go down. Maggs has had injury problems, and is not young himself. Although with Maggs we have replacements of a better caliber than Wilson at catcher. Is it realistic to expect Cleven or Thames to produce on a Maggs level should they be called up due to injury? Maybe, but not probably. Guillen is older and we have no SS capable of replacing him should he go down for an extended period as he has the last couple of years. Infante hit in the high .270’s, but is not a 3rd or 5th hitter like Carlos is. Sheffield only had something on the order of 150 bats, and now is playing at Como. Park size, age, and already questionable health make him by no means a guaranteed 100 RBI, 30 HR guy. Pitching is less of a concern. If Rogers finally acts his age, and Jones goes back to, well, being Jones, we have strong replacements. If Maroth can’t find his way back we have Ledezma. If Verlander goes down in a sophomore slump (I don’t think a slump is likely but injury is. JV has never thrown as much as he did last year. We have seen Bondo have ‘arm fatigue’ and miss time. It is not unlikely that the same could happen to JV), then we have Minor and several other AAA candidates. However, by the time we yank Jones from his spot, or Rogers from the rotation should they falter, how many games will we have lost due to this? Remember winning 95 gives little margin for error. Does having two of the following; Ledezma, Zach Miner, or Jordan Tata pitching regularly from the starting rotation leave you with a feeling that we will win 95?

    Another reason I fear for the Tigers making the playoffs is the success of last year. Teams are going to be gunning for us. If memory serves, I have not looked anything up, Arizona, Chicago, Boston, and LAA all missed the playoffs after winning the Series. Of course we did not win the Series, but the point is that we had a great year and we are not going to surprise anybody this year. It is tough to repeat and it will be tough to make a return to the playoffs, let alone the Series.

    I am not trying to be “doom and gloom” but Jimmy and the boys have a tough act to follow. Officially I think we are headed to an 87 win season and, gulp, 3rd place in the Central. I think we will lose 2 of the following 3 for more than 2 months of the year: Maggs, Sheff, or Pudge. I am calling for Guillen to remain relatively healthy. Jones will not be the closer after July 31. Zumaya will have an ERA over 3.5, which is still good, no complaints there, but he will come back to earth a little bit. What I really want from this team is to be in the pennant race in September. Do that and we will have positioned ourselves for a great and legitimate title run in ’08. I can live happily with 87 wins if we show solid play in the dog days of summer, battling frustrating and disappointing injuries and a brutal AL Central.

  6. David

    March 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Boy you’re a negative Nancy…

    As you pointed out, the injury bug could and probably will hit us, but other teams aren’t immune to it and it has already hit the Twins.

    I really don’t think there is much of any chance of Pudge going down, he is in terrific shape, actually ridiculous shape and think he is primed for a great season… if he were to go down I am very impressed with Vance Wilson and think that he has more power than an old Pudge and slightly better game calling skills. Not anywhere the defense of Pudge but w/e.

    Although I am no fan of Maggs I think the way he plays the game according to Leyland (being very conservative in the outfield) will limit his injury risk.

    Don’t know how many times a team’s main DH has gotten injure red but I don’t think it would happen often.

    Guillen holds our offense together even with an added Shef and he could go down and that could really hurt us.

    I think Zumaya will be even more dominate than last year if that’s possible because at points last year he was just throwing gas, MLB hitters can hit gas if they’ve seen a pitch or two. I’m very happy to hear he’s working on his off-speed stuff.

    Jones the warning track man and Mesa scare me and I don’t think either should be given the chance to even hold a ball unless we are up/down by 5 runs…

    OH and I don’t buy the everybody gunning for you theory, you play one team a day, the Tigers gun for the team they play and the other team guns for the Tigers just the rest of MLB… Although some individual players might get up to play the Tigers, just like they always do, when its 95 in the middle of July I bet both teams will be trying to win.

    Also don’t forget we aren’t the only team with injury risks and old players.

    I really believe that this year the Twins will not trouble anyone, they are not a good team. After Santana they have Silva and 3 rooks in their staff = recipe for disaster. Their left side’s offense could be the worst in the league.

    Sox of last year = Sox of this year – McCarthy and Garcia =)

    Tribe scares me and so do the Royals (even though we dominated them last year, can we repeat? hope so)

    Don’t forget that for most of last year we were projected to win 108ish games until our slide around August 7th…

    Strong out of the gate will dispel your crazy notions of an 87 win-team, I say no way!!!

  7. ez

    March 22, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Negative Nancy? I prefer Paranoid Patricia, but I’ll accept whatever you deem appropriate.

    You have many good points, David, though computer simulations say my Febraury predictions are not “crazy notions”.

    Normally I would agree with you on the “everyone is gunning for you” rebuttal, but so many WS teams have failed to make the playoffs the next year that I can’t totally dispell the notion. Perhaps we ought not call it “everyone is gunning for you” and rephrase it “Teams That Were Series Bound Have Struggled The Following Year, G*d D*mned Yankees Excluded”?

    You are right, Pudge looks great in 71 degree Florida, but to use your weather forcast “95 in the middle of July”, how long can Pudge hold up? Time will tell. And I love Vance Wilson, he has a yard of guts and a foot of talent, but he can’t produce at the plate like Pudge, nor hit in the order like Pudge (for example it looks like Pudge may very well lead off or bat 2nd this year. If Pudge goes down it will be the rare day indeed to see VW bat lead off).

    Time will tell, I am hoping for 96, and predicting 87. I am also hoping for some Diety to strike down the Metrodome as the abomination of All Things Sports.

  8. David

    March 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    LOL yea I hope the Metrodome gets destroyed too…

    Still with our pitching 1-5 plus the guys we could call on in 1 or 2 falter/go down (Ledezma, Grilli, Miner etc.) and Zumaya and Rodney you have to at the very least give us 90 I think, even if one or 2 position players went down.

    The thing that I really hope we do is beat the teams we are supposed to beat like last year and the rest will take care of itself.

    By the way are most Tiger fans on the side of the Red Sox or the Yanks?

    Personally I like the Yanks; I like them less and less each year.

    And I really want to see a brawl this year, I’m missing Higgi…

    “Looking at Minnesota is always frustrating. No team does more with less.”

    Yup them and the A’s seem to get it down with young pitching, and D, but both this year seem to be really scraping at the bottom of the barrel and I really think that Radke held Minny’s lockeroom together like glue.

  9. Kyle J

    March 22, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Speaking of PECOTA, perusing the 2007 Baseball Prospectus makes me even more concerned that Shelton and Thames seem to be battling for a single roster spot. Here are the top 6 projected OPS figures for players in the running to make the Tigers’ roster:

    1. Guillen: .868
    2. Thames: .863
    3. Shelton: .819
    4. Granderson: .800
    5. Ordonez: .799
    6. Sheffield: .780

    If they decide to send Shelton down to Toledo to get regular at-bats, I guess I can live with that. But I really hope they’re not trying to trade either Thames or Shelton; I don’t think they’d get comparable value back.

  10. Mike R

    March 23, 2007 at 12:34 am

    I think the Central is the best division in baseball. But, I’m so confused as to the love in the media for the Twins. Mauer and Morneau had seasons that were so batting average driven that both will fall off. Mauer may never hit .310 again let alone win another batting title. I’m not even sold on Cuddyer replicating anything he did last year. Meaning, the drop in production from all three of those guys puts an already semi-weak lineup into the “bad lineup” category.

    I think Matt Garza’s struggles last year with Minnesota aren’t indicative of what he’ll do this year. i think he can win 12-14 games for Minnesota and get on his way to fulfilling his #2 starter potential. They have a great bullpen, but that does no good if they’ve got to pitch the final 4-5 innings 3 out of every 5 days. After Santana and Garza that staff is really weak. There’s an outside chance of having Sidney Ponson AND Ramon Ortiz in it. Enough said.

    I’m concerned about Verlander bouncing back this year. He threw a ton more innings than he had previously and his entire playoff run was a lot of stressful innings throwing in the high 90′s, unlike the regular season when he was pitching and not just throwing. I really think Verlander struggling is a distinct possibility. I think Bondo takes the step forward towards solidifying himself as one of the top pitchers in the AL this year, and Nate Robertson keeps being the most under appreciated starter we have. And the injury issue is one that concerns me as well. Guillen does have a knack for getting hurt and missing him for a substantial part of the year is something I’m hoping doesn’t happen, but is possible.

    For me, as objectively as I can, I’ve got this as my AL Central standings:

    Indians: 93-69
    Tigers: 91-71
    White Sox: 88-74
    Twins: 81-81
    Royals: 70-92

  11. Brian

    March 23, 2007 at 6:00 am

    Every year people say that there is no possible way the Twins can contend. People said it last season. People are saying it this season. Yet every year they contend becuase they have an amazing bullpen and good defense.

  12. Mike R

    March 23, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    They were in contention because they finally got Scott Baker out of the rotation and put in Liriano, where he should’ve been in the first place.