A sports rating system analyzes the results of sports competitions to provide objective ratings for each team and then sorts the team’s rating and assigns an ordinal rank. A lazy analyst will add the word Power to the beginning of that ranking for added significance. An even lazier analyst will skip the whole ranking ordeal and cherry pick a few teams to talk about - which leads us to April's Three Up, Three Down MLB column from PredictionMachine.com's Analytics Coordinator John Ewing. (Editor's Note: PredictionMachine.com has its own Power Rankings and Full Season Projections that will be launching within the next week for MLB.)
1. Texas Rangers: 17 Wins, 6 Losses, .739 Win Percentage, Leading AL West by 6.5
Coming into the season, the Rangers had lost back to back World Series and were dealing with serious concerns regarding the 2010 American League MVP, Josh Hamilton, and his relapse with substance abuse in early February 2012. So what do the Rangers, PredictionMachine.com's preseason World Series favorites, do? They have been lighting up the league offensively with 124 runs scored, a team batting average of .291 and a slugging percentage of .483. For those who doubted Hamilton, he has hit .395 with nine homeruns in 22 games played.
PredictionMachine.com simulated the remainder of the season 50,000 times (results for all teams to be unveiled at the end of this week) and the Rangers win the AL West with a projected Win-Loss record of 104-58, finishing 18 games ahead of second place.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers: 16 Wins, 7 Losses, .696 Win Percentage, Leading NL West by 3.5
In a divorce, it’s the children that usually end up being hurt the most. With the divorce of former Dodgers' owners Frank and Jamie McCourt (from each other and the team) finalized and Magic Johnson set to take over as part of the ownership group, the "children" have bounced back from just a .509 win percentage in 2011 to one of the hottest starts in baseball. Headlines are grabbed by Matt Kemp’s .417 batting average and 12 homeruns, as well as Dee Gordon swiping every base insight (10 to start the season). However, it is the starting pitching that is proving the difference with a combined 3.13 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 15 Quality Starts, and a batting average against of .212 that is second in the majors.
PredictionMachine.com simulated the remainder of the season 50,000 times and the Dodgers win the NL West with a projected Win-Loss record of 96-66, finishing 13 games ahead of the second place San Francisco Giants.
3. St. Louis Cardinals: 14 Wins, 8 Losses, .636 Win Percentage, Leading NL Central by 3
There might not have been a team coming off of a World Series Championship with more questions to start a season than the 2012 Cardinals. Tony LaRussa retires; pitching coach Dave Duncan steps down; the Cardinals hire an unproven manager in Mike Matheny; and Albert Pujols signs a $240 million contract to play for the Los Angeles Angels. To combat these question marks, the Cardinals made one of the best offseason acquisitions by signing Carlos Beltran to add to an already potent lineup that includes David Freese (.333 BA, 5 HR in 2012), Lance Berkman (.348 BA, 1.022 OPS) and a resurgent Rafael Furcal, who is batting .315. The Cardinals are also getting great pitching from Lance Lynn and Kyle Lohse who both have 4 wins and sub 2.00 ERAs.
PredictionMachine.com simulated the remainder of the season 50,000 times and the Cardinals come back to the pack in the NL Central finishing 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals have a projected Win-Loss record of 84-78. The projection is based on concerns with the Cardinals ability to remain healthy. Freese and Berkman have both missed time due to injuries and Chris Carpenter has missed every game thus far with a shoulder injury.
1.Los Angeles Angels: 8 Wins, 15 Losses, .348 Win Percentage, 9 out of first in AL West
In the offseason, the Angels went all “Yankees” on us and spent $320 million on two players, Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The latter has paid dividends with 5 quality starts, 8.10 K/9 and a 2.70 ERA. The former is batting .217, with 14 strikeouts and ZERO homeruns. It is the last stat that is most concerning to Angels fans as Pujols is in the longest home run drought to start the season of his Hall of Fame career. The Angels do not have a lot of wiggle room being nine games behind the Rangers after the first month of the season.
PredictionMachine.com simulated the remainder of the season 50,000 times and the Angels finish 29 games out of first place in the AL West with a projected Win-Loss record of 73-89.
2. Boston Red Sox: 11 Wins, 11 Loses, .500 Win Percentage, 3.5 out of first in AL East
It may seem silly to have a team that is .500 on the season as part of my Three Down, but the panic button was pushed a long time ago in Boston and sitting at the bottom of the AL East does not alleviate all concerns. Offensively, the Red Sox are a machine - first in the majors with 127 runs scored and second in batting average with a .281 average. These numbers have been posted without Carl Crawford, who went to visit Dr. James Andrews last week (ominous music playing in the background), and with Jacoby Ellsbury, runner-up in the 2011 AL MVP votiing, having played just seven games. All of this offense is not enough to overcome one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball (team ERA of 5.54 through 22 games).
Rest easy at night Sox fans. PredictionMachine.com simulated the remainder of the season 50,000 times and the Red Sox finish with a Win-Loss record of 93-69. This record puts them in a tie for first place in the AL East with the New York Yankees.
3. Kansas City Royals: 6 Wins, 15 Loses, .286 Win Percentage, 5.5 out of first AL Central
The Royals' "Our Time" campaign may have been a little premature. I don't want to say it, but we told you so. Check out PredictionMachine.com’s over/under projections (which are currently projected to go 8-2 on "normal" plays and 20-4 overall) from before the season started. There are some positive things to look forward to in KC. The All-Star game is being played in Kansas City and the Chiefs first preseason game is August 10. Hang in there Royals fans.
PredictionMachine.com simulated the remainder of the season 50,000 times and the Royals finish 42 games out of first in the AL Central with a projected Win-Loss record of 60-102.