Accuscore: Red Sox and Phillies are strongest

AccuScore.com
AccuScore uses past performance and statistics to describe how players perform under different environmental, match-up, and game-situation conditions. Using projected starting lineups AccuScore simulates each game of the season one pitch at a time. By repeating the simulation 10,000 to 20,000 times per game AccuScore calculates the precise probability teams have of winning each game, their division, and making the playoffs. Here is the AccuScore.com preseason analysis of the 2011 MLB season. Visit AccuScore.com for weekly updates to the season forecast and all game forecasts.

AL CENTRAL WINS LOSS WIN% WIN
DIVISION
MAKE PLAYOFFS
Minnesota Twins 93.2 68.8 57.5% 54.1% 64.6%
Detroit Tigers 86.7 75.3 53.5% 24.3% 35.8%
Chicago White Sox 85.3 76.7 52.7% 20.8% 31.7%
Cleveland Indians 65.9 96.1 40.7% 0.4% 0.6%
Kansas City Royals 65.3 96.7 40.3% 0.4% 0.7%

The two worst teams in the AL – Cleveland and Kansas City – reside in this division allowing the top three teams – Minnesota, Detroit, and Chicago – to pile up more wins than expected. The Twins, Tigers, and White Sox are all forecasted to win between 85 and 93 games with the Twins the favorite at 54 percent. Minnesota does not have elite starting pitchers, but each of their five starters are solid along with insurance in Kevin Slowey(notes). Both Detroit and Chicago are capable challengers.

AL EAST WINS LOSS WIN% WIN
DIVISION
MAKE PLAYOFFS
Boston Red Sox 94.9 67.1 58.6% 51.3% 66.8%
New York Yankees 89.2 72.8 55.1% 26.5% 43.5%
Tampa Bay Rays 87.0 75.0 53.7% 19.3% 34.8%
Toronto Blue Jays 72.8 89.2 44.9% 1.5% 3.4%
Baltimore Orioles 72.7 89.3 44.9% 1.3% 3.3%

The AL East is again easily the best division in baseball with three teams projected for at least 87 wins and no team below 72 wins. The Red Sox begin the season as the clear favorite with an American League best 94.9 projected wins. Their bullpen acquisitions along with hitters Adrian Gonzalez(notes) and Carl Crawford(notes) strengthened what was already a strong team. The Yankees are forecasted for fewer than 90 wins, but are still the lead contender for the wild card. They could easily exceed this projection if Ivan Nova(notes), Freddy Garcia(notes), and/or Bartolo Colon(notes) can solidify the back of the rotation. The Rays are also a strong contender for a playoff spot, but are running third in the division. They also have room for improvement with plenty of young talent. Toronto and Baltimore both have some nice pieces, but will be trying avoid last place.

AL WEST WINS LOSS WIN% WIN
DIVISION
MAKE PLAYOFFS
Texas Rangers 90.0 72.0 55.6% 55.7% 60.1%
Oakland Athletics 82.4 79.6 50.9% 22.9% 28.2%
Los Angeles Angels 81.1 80.9 50.1% 19.0% 23.6%
Seattle Mariners 69.1 92.9 42.7% 2.4% 2.8%

The Rangers begin the season as the favorite after reaching the World Series a year ago. They are winning the division 55.7 percent of the time in simulations, helped by the acquisition of third baseman Adrian Beltre(notes). Texas is not a prohibitive favorite, however, particularly with questions in the starting rotations. The Athletics and Angels are capable of competing with the Rangers and have a 22.9 percent and 19 percent chance at the division, respectively.

NL CENTRAL WINS LOSS WIN% WIN
DIVISION
MAKE PLAYOFFS
Cincinnati Reds 88.3 73.7 54.5% 37.7% 45.7%
St. Louis Cardinals 86.2 75.8 53.2% 29.2% 36.9%
Milwaukee Brewers 85.4 76.6 52.7% 26.1% 33.6%
Chicago Cubs 74.3 87.7 45.9% 4.7% 6.4%
Houston Astros 70.4 91.6 43.5% 1.8% 2.4%
Pittsburgh Pirates 64.2 97.8 39.6% 0.5% 0.6%

The NL Central should shake out with two distinctive tiers. The Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers are projected for one of the most competitive races in baseball with the Cubs, Astros, and Pirates left waiting another season. The Reds are the current favorite at 37.7 percent for the division crown. That honor would have gone to St. Louis had Adam Wainwright(notes) not been lost for the season. The Brewers are forecasted as the third team in the division, but may have the best trio of starters with Yovani Gallardo(notes), Zach Greinke, and Shaun Marcum(notes). The Pirates are projected for the fewest wins in baseball.

NL EAST WINS LOSS WIN% WIN
DIVISION
MAKE PLAYOFFS
Philadelphia Phillies 97.2 64.8 60.0% 64.7% 75.9%
Atlanta Braves 87.0 75.0 53.7% 19.3% 35.4%
Florida Marlins 84.4 77.6 52.1% 13.3% 25.3%
New York Mets 74.3 87.7 45.9% 1.9% 4.4%
Washington Nationals 69.9 92.1 43.1% 0.9% 1.7%

Philadelphia is projected to ride its four aces – Roy Halladay(notes), Cliff Lee(notes), Roy Oswalt(notes), and Cole Hamels(notes) – to the best record in baseball at 97 wins. The Phillies are not without questions, mainly in the lineup. There has to be serious concern over Chase Utley(notes), and the injury to Domonic Brown(notes) may set him back a full season. The Braves have lots of young talent, and could easily capitalize should the Phillies falter. Jason Heyward(notes) could become a superstar as soon as this season. That also might be true of Florida�s Mike Stanton(notes), who is projected to be among the league leaders in home runs.

NL WEST WINS LOSS WIN% WIN
DIVISION
MAKE PLAYOFFS
San Francisco Giants 91.0 71.0 56.2% 46.4% 55.2%
Los Angeles Dodgers 85.6 76.4 52.8% 24.0% 33.0%
Colorado Rockies 83.7 78.3 51.7% 18.8% 26.8%
San Diego Padres 77.4 84.6 47.8% 6.8% 10.5%
Arizona Diamondbacks 74.9 87.1 46.2% 4.0% 6.2%

San Francisco can celebrate as the defending World Series champion by being the preseason division favorite in the West. The Giants are forecasted for 91 wins, and are winning the division in 46 percent of simulations. The Dodgers and Rockies are the two biggest challengers winning 24 and 18.8 percent of the time, respectively. San Francisco will once again rely on its fantastic starting rotation and superstar in the making Buster Posey(notes). Clayton Kershaw(notes) of the Dodgers might be ready to challenge Tim Lincecum(notes) as one of the best pitchers in the league, and if a solution is found in left field the team could become competitive quickly. The Padres never went away all last season, but are slated to regress under .500.