AccuScore: Crown the Yankees, Twins and Angels

AccuScore uses past performance statistics to describe how players will perform under different environmental, matchup, and game-situation conditions. Using projected starting lineups, AccuScore simulates each game of the 2010 season one at-bat at a time. By repeating the simulation 10,000 to 20,000 times, AccuScore calculates the precise probability teams have of winning each game and their division, and of making the playoffs. Here is the AccuScore.com preseason analysis of the 2010 MLB season. Visit AccuScore.com for daily updates to the season forecast and all game forecasts updated twice a day.

AL EAST PLAYOFF DIV_WIN WINS LOSS WINS 09 WIN DIFF
New York Yankees 83.0% 60.9% 94.9 67.1 103 -8.1
Boston Red Sox 57.2% 26.1% 90.2 71.8 95 -4.8
Tampa Bay Rays 33.8% 12.8% 87.1 74.9 84 3.1
Baltimore Orioles 0.4% 0.1% 71.7 90.3 64 7.7
Toronto Blue Jays 0.2% 0.0% 70.4 91.6 75 -4.6

This is clearly the best division in baseball. The power rivalry between New York and Boston has forced a sort of baseball arms race pulling up the entire division and the rest of the American League. New York is the favorite for the World Series once again. The Yankees have a 61 percent chance of winning the division and an 83 percent chance at reaching the postseason.

Boston is projected to win 90 games, but still trail the Yankees by nearly five wins. Tampa Bay is forecasted for 87 wins, a total that would lead the other divisions, but is solidly third in the East. Boston should be the frontrunner for the wild-card berth, with its biggest competition being Tampa Bay. Baltimore and Toronto have the serious misfortune of playing in this division, and have a combined 0.6 percent chance at the playoffs. The Blue Jays are actually the only team in baseball to have no shot to win their division as presently constructed.

AL CENTRAL PLAYOFF DIV_WIN WINS LOSS WINS 09 WIN DIFF
Minnesota Twins 60.0% 57.4% 87.5 74.5 87 0.5
Chicago White Sox 24.4% 21.5% 82.2 79.8 79 3.2
Detroit Tigers 21.7% 18.9% 81.8 80.2 86 -4.2
Kansas City Royals 2.3% 2.1% 73.4 88.6 65 8.4
Cleveland Indians 0.2% 0.2% 66.3 95.7 65 1.3

Even without closer Joe Nathan(notes), the Twins are the favorites to win the Central. The win the division in 57 percent of simulations, 2½ more times than the White Sox, the next closest squad. Whatever the solution to replacing Nathan, AccuScore does not see the closer role to be a major impediment for Minnesota.

The White Sox are forecasted for a record just over .500, and have a high-risk outfield with Juan Pierre(notes), Andruw Jones(notes), and Alex Rios(notes). Chicago would need a fully healthy Jake Peavy(notes) to contend for the division title, and for the outfield to pan out in a big way. AccuScore sees the Tigers as a middle-tier team with a 22 percent chance at the playoffs. The Tigers would need several things to break their way starting with the health and production of Jeremy Bonderman(notes), and rookies Austin Jackson(notes) and Scott Sizemore(notes).

The Royals and Indians bring up the rear with a combined one in 40 shot at reaching the postseason. Both teams could easily lose 90-plus games, and should be hoping to find building blocks for the future rather than trying to compete in 2010.

AL WEST PLAYOFF DIV_WIN WINS LOSS WINS 09 WIN DIFF
Los Angeles Angels 48.7% 43.6% 86.9 75.1 97 -10.1
Texas Rangers 26.9% 22.4% 83.7 78.3 87 -3.3
Seattle Mariners 21.9% 18.0% 82.7 79.3 85 -2.3
Oakland Athletics 19.2% 16.0% 81.9 80.1 75 6.9

The American League West is the only division in baseball with only four teams, and the only one with each team projected to finish .500 or better. The four teams are separated by only five games.

The Angels are atop the projections with nearly 87 wins and a 43 percent chance to win the division. The Rangers probably have the highest upside of any team in the division with plenty of young players in the daily lineup, and waiting in the minors. Depending on their development, the Rangers could run past their projection or fall behind quickly.

Seattle made several moves in the offseason highlighted by the acquisitions of Chone Figgins(notes) and Cliff Lee(notes). Oakland is fourth in the division, but is still projected to have a 19 percent chance at the postseason. The Athletics probably need to find more offense to complement a talented pitching staff. Even though they are projected for 80-plus wins, they could be out of contention by the trading deadline if they can’t produce offense.