2014 MLB Preview

Last Updated: 3/11/2014

For our complete MLB 2014 Preview, please see our Power Rankings, Playoff Probabilities, Team Over/Under Season Win Total picks, World Series Futures picks and Standings Projections and Division-by-Division Breakdowns. Picks packages for every MLB game on the money-line, over/under and run-line are now available in the shop. All-time on PredictionMachine.com, all "normal" or better O/U plays are 250-195 (56% O/U and +$6,498) for a normal $100 player using our Play Value Recommendations) in baseball. Even more notably, highlighted, "normal" or better plays for Team Over/Under Season Win Totals are 33-11 (75% O/U) all-time.



The Predictalator has already played the 2014 MLB season 50,000 times before it's actually played. The Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series a league-high 11.9% of the time (5,952 of 50,000 times to be exact). The Washington Nationals (10.9%), Detroit Tigers (10.5%), Texas Rangers (9.6%), St. Louis Cardinals (7.8%) and Boston Red Sox (7.0%) follow the Dodgers in championship likelihood. In another wide open season, no team has a greater than one-in-eight chance of winning it all and a total of 15 teams have a better than one-in-40 chance of winning the World Series. Here, we break down every team division-by-division.

See: Season Summary and Division Previews: NL EastNL CentralNL WestAL EastAL Central and AL West

How it Works
Just as the Predictalator plays any individual game 50,000 before it's actually played, it can also play every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. That is what we have done for the 2014 MLB season. The actual regular season and playoff schedules have been played 50,000 times, allowing us to compute average records and the likelihood of a team making the playoffs, winning the league pennant and bringing home the World Series trophy.

In this case, using the Predictalator is not as much of a concern to us as making sure that we have the best possible inputs for players' statistics, roles, health and playing time as well as teams' managerial styles and ballpark effects. Ballpark effects, managerial styles and health history are fairly well known, while calculating a player's statistical inputs provides the greatest challenge.

In general, we apply ballpark and level-adjusted, relevant statistics from every game a player has played in his professional career to a fairly traditional player development curve that considers age and previous playing time. Not only does this curve help to set average inputs, it combines with health to dictate the variance (boom or bust potential) of a player's inputs. In the team-by-team breakdowns below, the "most important" pitchers and positional players are the players, often due to their boom or bust likelihood/distributions, who will most drastically impact their teams. Obviously, a season-ending injury to Albert Pujols in the first game of the season will have a more significant impact on the Angels' chances to win the World Series than if the same thing happened to Howie Kendrick. But, the variance for our expectations of Pujols' playing time and performance is minimal. We "know" what the Angels are getting with Pujols. Kendrick is a bit of a wild card as a player who has great talent, yet lacks consistency and, with age and health concerns, may regress considerably this season. How closely to and for how long he can play at his ceiling is incredibly important to the Angels' season. (Also below, Fantasy Sleepers and Duds are chosen based on our projected value relative to current average draft positions. The more relative value, the more likely to be a sleeper. The weakest value relative to ADP is the dud.)

Playing time is more of an art than a science. We have done our best to estimate playing time for all players who are expected to see significant starting time in 2014. That being said, some gaps have been filled in by our best approximations of average bench and role players on teams. This has a very minor impact on average results, yet keeps us from being able to be comfortable providing comprehensive player projections for all players.

After all of that math and analysis, importing a schedule and running the games 50,000 times each is simple.

Season Summary
With a new ownership group, plenty of money (and outfielders) and a relatively weak division, the Los Angeles Dodgers have constructed what we evaluate as BOTH the best hitting lineup and best pitching staff in baseball, an unprecedented feat that should be noted, though potential holes at the bottom of the rotation, current and likely injuries and a suspect defense at key positions keep the Dodgers from being runaway champions. The Dodgers win the World Series 12% of the 50,000 seasons, though the Detroit Tigers are the most likely team to win a division by a landslide. Detroit wins the AL Central an incredible 69.7% of the time in the simulations. The Washington Nationals (59.2%), Dodgers (53.7%) and Texas Rangers (51.8%) are the only other teams that win divisions more than 50% of the time. Other teams that are more than 50% likely to make the playoffs (remember there are two wild card teams in each league that will be playing a one-game playoff immediately after the regular season) include the St. Louis Cardinals (63.9%), Boston Red Sox (62.3%), Atlanta Braves (59.2%) and Tampa Bay Rays (51.7%). At this point, the National League is 51.6% likely to win the World Series. The Houston Astros are the only team never to win a World Series in 50,000 season simulations (the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox also won fewer than 25 times).

Based on the analysis, here is the projected MLB 2014 Playoff bracket. It should be noted however, that this exact bracket only occurred 104 of the 50,000 seasons played by the Predictalator:

American League

Wildcard: Boston over Oakland
Divisional: Texas over Boston
Divisional: Detroit over Tampa Bay
League: Detroit over Texas

National League

Wildcard: Atlanta over San Francisco
Divisional: Los Angeles over Atlanta
Divisional: St. Louis over Washington
League: Los Angeles over St. Louis

World Series

Los Angeles Dodgers over Detroit Tigers

See: Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

NL East Preview

Washington Nationals
Power Rank: 4
Division Standing: 1
2013 Wins: 86
2013 Losses: 76
Playoff Probability: 76.0%
Biggest Strength: Balance - Do Just About Everything Well
Greatest Weakness: Pitching Depth and Uncertainty of Youth
Most Important Pitcher: Ross Detwiler (or whomever is #5 SP)
Most Important Position Player: Anthony Rendon, 2B
Fantasy Sleeper: Anthony Rendon, 2B
Fantasy Dud: Ross Detwiler, SP

Atlanta Braves
Power Rank: 20
Division Standing: 2
2013 Wins: 96
2013 Losses: 66
Playoff Probability: 59.2%
Biggest Strength: Talented Youth (Across the Board)
Greatest Weakness: Immaturity (Lack of Patience, Reckless Baserunning)
Most Important Pitcher: Julio Teheran, SP
Most Important Position Player: Justin Upton, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Alex Wood, SP
Fantasy Dud: Andrelton Simmons, SS

Philadelphia Phillies
Power Rank: 18
Division Standing: 3
2013 Wins: 73
2013 Losses: 89
Playoff Probability: 15.9%
Biggest Strength: Starting Pitching (assuming Hamels is Hamels)
Greatest Weakness: Age/Health Concerns
Most Important Pitcher: Cole Hamels, SP
Most Important Position Player: Ryan Howard, 1B
Fantasy Sleeper: Antonio Bastardo, RP
Fantasy Dud: Kyle Kendrick, SP

New York Mets
Power Rank: 21
Division Standing: 4
2013 Wins: 74
2013 Losses: 88 
Playoff Probability: 2.2%
Biggest Strength: David Wright
Greatest Weakness: Pitching
Most Important Pitcher: Bartolo Colon, SP
Most Important Position Player: Chris Young, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Zack Wheeler, SP
Fantasy Dud: Ruben Tejada, SS

Miami Marlins
Power Rank: 29
Division Standing: 5
2013 Wins: 62
2013 Losses: 100 
Playoff Probability: 1.1%
Biggest Strength: Young, Powerful Rotation (and Giancarlo Stanton)
Greatest Weakness: Everything Else
Most Important Pitcher: Nate Eovaldi, SP
Most Important Position Player: Jarod Saltalamacchia, C
Fantasy Sleeper: Marcell Ozuna, OF
Fantasy Dud: Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

See: Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

NL Central Preview

St. Louis Cardinals
Power Rank: 2
Division Standing: 1
2013 Wins: 97
2013 Losses: 65
Playoff Probability: 63.9%
Biggest Strength: Balance - Do Just About Everything Well
Greatest Weakness: Bullpen Depth and Uncertainty of Youth
Most Important Pitcher: Shelby Miller, SP
Most Important Position Player: Jhonny Peralta, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Oscar Taveras, OF
Fantasy Dud: Joe Kelly, SP

Pittsburgh Pirates
Power Rank: 12
Division Standing: 2
2013 Wins: 94
2013 Losses: 68
Playoff Probability: 38.3%
Biggest Strength: Strong All-Around Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Starting Pitching Depth/Consistency
Most Important Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez, SP
Most Important Position Player: Neil Walker, 2B
Fantasy Sleeper: Gregory Polanco, OF
Fantasy Dud: Charlie Morton, SP

Cincinnati Reds
Power Rank: 15
Division Standing: 3
2013 Wins: 90
2013 Losses: 72
Playoff Probability: 31.6%
Biggest Strength: Joey Votto and Defense
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Offensive Depth
Most Important Pitcher: Mat Latos, SP
Most Important Position Player: Billy Hamilton, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Devin Mesoraco, C
Fantasy Dud: Ryan Ludwick, OF

Milwaukee Brewers
Power Rank: 19
Division Standing: 4
2013 Wins: 74
2013 Losses: 88
Playoff Probability: 15.9%
Biggest Strength: Heart of Lineup (assuming Braun is Braun)
Greatest Weakness: Pitching
Most Important Pitcher: Matt Garza, SP
Most Important Position Player: Ryan Braun, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Khris Davis, OF
Fantasy Dud: Wily Peralta, SP

Chicago Cubs
Power Rank: 26
Division Standing: 5
2013 Wins: 66
2013 Losses: 96
Playoff Probability: 6.0%
Biggest Strength: Defense
Greatest Weakness: Pitching
Most Important Pitcher: Edwin Jackson, SP
Most Important Position Player: Starlin Castro, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Mike Olt, 3B
Fantasy Dud: Junior Lake, OF

See: Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

NL West Preview

Los Angeles Dodgers
Power Rank: 1
Division Standing: 1
2013 Wins: 92
2013 Losses: 70
Playoff Probability: 75.8%
Biggest Strength: Top of Rotation and Heart of Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Immaturity (Lack of Patience, Reckless Baserunning)
Most Important Pitcher: Zack Greinke, SP
Most Important Position Player: Matt Kemp, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Alex Guerrero, 2B
Fantasy Dud: Dee Gordon, 2B

San Francisco Giants
Power Rank: 8
Division Standing: 2
2013 Wins: 76
2013 Losses: 86
Playoff Probability: 42.2%
Biggest Strength: Top of Rotation and Heart of Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Bullpen
Most Important Pitcher: Tim Lincecum, SP
Most Important Position Player: Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Fantasy Sleeper: Michael Morse, OF
Fantasy Dud: Ryan Vogelsong, SP

Arizona Diamondbacks
Power Rank: 16
Division Standing: 3
2013 Wins: 81
2013 Losses: 81
Playoff Probability: 32.8%
Biggest Strength: Emerging Young Infield
Greatest Weakness: Starting Pitching Depth
Most Important Pitcher: Brandon McCarthy, SP
Most Important Position Player: Martin Prado, 3B
Fantasy Sleeper: Mark Trumbo, OF
Fantasy Dud: Bronson Arroyo, SP

Colorado Rockies
Power Rank: 17
Division Standing: 4
2013 Wins: 74
2013 Losses: 88
Playoff Probability: 29.4%
Biggest Strength: Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Inconsistent/Lack of Power
Most Important Pitcher: Jhoulys Chacin, SP
Most Important Position Player: Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Corey Dickerson, OF
Fantasy Dud: Tyler Chatwood, SP

San Diego Padres
Power Rank: 25
Division Standing: 5
2013 Wins: 76
2013 Losses: 86
Playoff Probability: 9.7%
Biggest Strength: Well Rounded Infield
Greatest Weakness: Everything Else
Most Important Pitcher: Josh Johnson, SP
Most Important Position Player: Jedd Gyorko, 2B
Fantasy Sleeper: Joaquin Benoit, RP
Fantasy Dud: Eric Stults, SP

See: Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

AL East Preview

Tampa Bay Rays
Power Rank: 6
Division Standing: 1
2013 Wins: 92
2013 Losses: 71
Playoff Probability: 51.7%
Biggest Strength: Strong All-Around Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Power Bats
Most Important Pitcher: Matt Moore, SP
Most Important Position Player: Wil Myers, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Jake McGee, RP
Fantasy Dud: Jeremy Hellickson, SP

Boston Red Sox
Power Rank: 7
Division Standing: 2
2013 Wins: 97
2013 Losses: 65
Playoff Probability: 62.3%
Biggest Strength: Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Corner Outfield and Infield
Most Important Pitcher: John Lackey, SP
Most Important Position Player: Xander Bogaerts, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Xander Bogaerts, SS
Fantasy Dud: Will Middlebrooks, 3B

New York Yankees
Power Rank: 11
Division Standing: 3
2013 Wins: 85
2013 Losses: 77
Playoff Probability: 49.8%
Biggest Strength: Offseason Additions
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Depth and Health Concerns
Most Important Pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka, SP
Most Important Position Player: Mark Teixeira, 1B
Fantasy Sleeper: Michael Pineda, SP
Fantasy Dud: Brian Roberts

Toronto Blue Jays
Power Rank: 22
Division Standing: 4
2013 Wins: 74
2013 Losses: 88
Playoff Probability: 11.5%
Biggest Strength: Offensive Firepower
Greatest Weakness: Defense
Most Important Pitcher: Brandon Morrow, SP
Most Important Position Player: Melky Cabrera, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Melky Cabrera, OF
Fantasy Dud: Mark Buehrle, SP

Baltimore Orioles
Power Rank: 24
Division Standing: 5
2013 Wins: 85
2013 Losses: 77
Playoff Probability: 19.7%
Biggest Strength: Power (Arms and Bats)
Greatest Weakness: Everything Else
Most Important Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez, SP
Most Important Position Player: Manny Machado, 3B
Fantasy Sleeper: Tommy Hunter, RP
Fantasy Dud: Jemile Weeks, 2B

See: Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

AL Central Preview

Detroit Tigers
Power Rank: 4
Division Standing: 1
2013 Wins: 93
2013 Losses: 69
Playoff Probability: 75.0%
Biggest Strength: Starting Pitching
Greatest Weakness: Corner Defense
Most Important Pitcher: Drew Smyly, SP
Most Important Position Player: Nick Castellanos, 3B
Fantasy Sleeper: Nick Castellanos, 3B
Fantasy Dud: Jose Iglesias, SS

Chicago White Sox
Power Rank: 20
Division Standing: 2
2013 Wins: 63
2013 Losses: 99
Playoff Probability: 5.3%
Biggest Strength: Chris Sale and High Upside Young Position Players
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Depth/Inconsistency
Most Important Pitcher: Nate Jones, RP
Most Important Position Player: Jose Abreu, 1B
Fantasy Sleeper: Nate Jones, RP
Fantasy Dud: John Danks, SP

Kansas City Royals
Power Rank: 18
Division Standing: 3
2013 Wins: 86
2013 Losses: 76
Playoff Probability: 27.4%
Biggest Strength: Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Starting Pitching
Most Important Pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie, SP
Most Important Position Player: Alcides Escobar, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Kelvin Herrera, RP
Fantasy Dud: Jason Vargas, SP

Cleveland Indians
Power Rank: 21
Division Standing: 4
2013 Wins: 92
2013 Losses: 70
Playoff Probability: 9.1%
Biggest Strength: Strikeout Pitchers
Greatest Weakness: Getting on Base
Most Important Pitcher: Danny Salazar, SP
Most Important Position Player: Yan Gomes, C
Fantasy Sleeper: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Fantasy Dud: Trevor Bauer, SP

Minnesota Twins
Power Rank: 29
Division Standing: 5
2013 Wins: 66
2013 Losses: 96
Playoff Probability: 1.6%
Biggest Strength: Farm System (assuming Sano recovers)
Greatest Weakness: Major League Baseball
Most Important Pitcher: Rickey Nolasco, SP
Most Important Position Player: All Unproven Youth in Lineup
Fantasy Sleeper: Josmil Pinto, C
Fantasy Dud: Kevin Correia, SP

See: Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

AL West Preview

Texas Rangers
Power Rank: 3
Division Standing: 1
2013 Wins: 91
2013 Losses: 71
Playoff Probability: 74.5%
Biggest Strength: Power (Arms and Bats)
Greatest Weakness: Pitching Health
Most Important Pitcher: Alexi Ogando, SP
Most Important Position Player: Shin-Soo Choo, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Michael Choice, OF
Fantasy Dud: Martin Perez, SP

Los Angeles Angels
Power Rank: 9
Division Standing: 2
2013 Wins: 78
2013 Losses: 84
Playoff Probability: 37.0%
Biggest Strength: Elite Lineup (when healthy)
Greatest Weakness: Health Concerns (Current and Potential)
Most Important Pitcher: Ernesto Frieri, RP
Most Important Position Player: Albert Pujols, 1B
Fantasy Sleeper: Kole Calhoun, OF
Fantasy Dud: David Freese, 3B

Oakland Athletics
Power Rank: 14
Division Standing: 3
2013 Wins: 96
2013 Losses: 66
Playoff Probability: 50.4%
Biggest Strength: Elite All-Around Outfield
Greatest Weakness: Vastly Improved Division
Most Important Pitcher: Jim Johnson, RP
Most Important Position Player: Jed Lowrie, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Scott Kazmir, SP
Fantasy Dud: Daric Barton, 1B

Seattle Mariners
Power Rank: 13
Division Standing: 4
2013 Wins: 71
2013 Losses: 91
Playoff Probability: 24.7%
Biggest Strength: Robinson Cano and Power Arms
Greatest Weakness: Corner Outfield and Infield
Most Important Pitcher: Hisashi Iwakuma, SP
Most Important Position Player: Dustin Ackley, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Scott Baker, SP
Fantasy Dud: Blake Beavan, SP

Houston Astros
Power Rank: 30
Division Standing: 5
2013 Wins: 51
2013 Losses: 111
Playoff Probability: 0.0%
Biggest Strength: Farm System
Greatest Weakness: Major League Baseball
Most Important Pitcher: Jarred Cosart, SP
Most Important Position Player: Dexter Fowler, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Jesus Guzman, 1B
Fantasy Dud: Jonathan Villar, SS

For our complete MLB 2014 Preview, please see our Power Rankings, Playoff Probabilities, Team Over/Under Season Win Total picks, World Series Futures picks and Standings Projections and Division-by-Division Breakdowns. Picks packages for every MLB game on the money-line, over/under and run-line are now available in the shop. All-time on PredictionMachine.com, all "normal" or better O/U plays are 250-195 (56% O/U and +$6,498) for a normal $100 player using our Play Value Recommendations) in baseball. Even more notably, highlighted, "normal" or better plays for Team Over/Under Season Win Totals are 33-11 (75% O/U) all-time.

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The Predictalator

The Predictalator is the most advanced sports forecasting software available today because it has the ability to account for all of the relevant statistical interactions of the players (playing or not playing/injured), coaches, officials, fans (home field advantage) and weather in each game.

04/21/2014 Highlight: Using the ResultsFinder for the week of April 14th - 20th, one could find that all highlighted, MLB "normal" or better picks went 22-16 (58% ML, O/U, RL). A normal $50 player utilizing our play value recommendations on these picks returned a profit of +$425 for the week

The week in the NBA was even stronger, particularly with the start of postseason play. Overall, for the week, normal or better picks went 3-1 (75% ATS and O/U), including starting the Playoffs 2-0 with such plays. New this, we have added halftime picks which have proven capable of providing strong opportunities to exploit the market. Over just eight NBA Playoff games thus far, halftime normal or better (and there are "better" halftime picks) against-the-spread plays were especially stron,g going 5-0 (100% ATS).

As the NBA and NHL postseason began, all highlighted, "normal" or better picks on the site, including halftimes, went 40-23 (63% ATS, ML, O/U and PL) for the week.

The Predictalator plays every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. This provides us the ability to assign probabilities to the likelihood of just about any outcome occurring in any contest including straight-up, against-the-spread and over/under winners of each game.

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