Preseason MLB Power Rankings: Which Team Will Win the 2015 World Series?
At the start of every baseball season, all 30 teams can legitimately claim they have a chance to win it all that year. It's one of the things that makes a fresh season so exciting, trailing only the debuts of the "I should take up knitting" offseason boredom facial hair and the players' new modes of transportation in its awesomeness.
Then reality sets in. Not every team has a 3.33 percent chance of winning the World Series. Sorry, fellow Minnesotans. There are favorites, and there are long-shots. That's where numberFire's algorithms jump in, to separate those two categories and provide realistic expectations.
Below is a chart of numberFire's preseason power rankings, which you can also watch change on a day-by-day basis right here. It should be noted that these are median projections, and thus fairly conservative. To have a team projected to win 95 games would mean the odds that they win more than that would be equal to the odds of winning fewer. So, if the win totals seem as if they skew toward .500, that's because they do, but for good reason.
One of the categories on the chart is labeled "nERD." This is a numberFire-specific stat that tracks the projected run differential between that team and a league-average team on a neutral site. So a team with a nERD of 0.50 is projected to be a half run better than an average team if they were to play on a random day. You can read more about that in our glossary.
Let's take a peek at what the computers say and then delve into some analysis of the initial numbers.
|1||Los Angeles Dodgers||93-69||88.8%||17.2%||0.78|
|3||Los Angeles Angels||87-75||62.9%||8.7%||0.48|
|5||St. Louis Cardinals||87-75||63.1%||5.9%||0.38|
|7||San Francisco Giants||87-75||60.9%||4.2%||0.35|
|8||Boston Red Sox||86-76||55.4%||5.4%||0.34|
|12||Tampa Bay Rays||83-79||39.8%||3.5%||0.24|
|14||Toronto Blue Jays||82-80||32.5%||1.9%||0.16|
|17||Kansas City Royals||79-83||19.6%||0.9%||-0.08|
|18||San Diego Padres||80-82||23.6%||0.7%||-0.11|
|19||New York Yankees||78-84||12.4%||0.5%||-0.13|
|20||Chicago White Sox||77-85||13.1%||0.5%||-0.19|
|23||New York Mets||78-84||14.9%||0.3%||-0.25|
I felt bad for Diamondbacks fans at first. Then I realize they most likely live in Arizona. I no longer feel bad for them.
The only two teams that can't whip out the Dumb and Dumber, "So you're telling me there's a chance," line are those Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. Have at it, Phillies fans. Domonic Brown finna fly, y'all.
On the opposite end, the city of Los Angeles has a 25.9 percent chance of winning the World Series. Again, I'm having trouble feeling sorry for these people.
For comparison with the Dodgers, last year the Tigers opened the season with a 20.8 percent shot at winning it all. They had a 1.04 nERD compared to Los Angeles's 0.78. That would lead you to believe that things, on the whole, are a bit more tightly grouped this year than last.
One team you won't see near the top of the rankings is the Kansas City Royals. As our Sal Cacciatore wrote last week, Kansas City wasn't as good as their record indicated last year. After the ridiculous postseason run, expectations were through the roof. But does that translate into sustainable success? numberFire's algorithms say no, divvying out only 79 wins to the fightin' Ned Yosts.
Another interesting thing about these power rankings is how they gaze upon the teams that make big moves in the offseason. The Boston Red Sox, for instance, brought in Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, and suddenly they're ranked eighth among all teams.
If we're talking offseason moves, we have to talk about the San Diego Padres. I'm not sure if they're still going by the Padres or if they've changed that, too, but the offseason moves seem to have helped the team make strides on the projections. They're projected at 80 wins and have a 23.6 percent chance at the playoffs despite playing in the same division as the defending world champs and the top-ranked team for this year. That said, 80 wins this year would only eclipse last year's total by three, so we'll see if all of the wheeling and dealing pays off.
A couple of teams that started lower than I thought they would have are the Chicago White Sox and the Miami Marlins, who checked in at 20th and 24th, respectively. The Sox have made improvements to their line-up with the Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera signings, and bolstered an already strong rotation by acquiring Jeff Samardzija. That must not be enough to overcome the questionable bullpen, even after the signing of David Robertson.
As for the Marlins, their problem is probably more on my shoulders. You see, I gushed over the Marlins and how much I like them for 2015 back in October. Because of my track record with predictions, I think the algorithms automatically deducted six wins. So, my bad, Marlins fans.
Obviously these projections are far from perfect. Teams will fall short of their projections, and teams will exceed them. But this should give us at least a good baseline of what to expect once opening day rolls around.
Each and every team on this list can still win the World Series if everything goes their way. Yes, even the Diamondbacks and Rockies. That's what makes this time of year so great, and that's just part of the reason I can't wait until April finally arrives.