AccuScore: Bay Area teams rise

AccuScore uses past player statistics to predict performance 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 per game AccuScore calculates the precise probability each team has of winning every game and its division, making the playoffs, advancing in the playoffs and winning the World Series. Here is the AccuScore.com analysis after two weeks of play. Visit AccuScore.com for daily updates to the season forecast and all game forecasts updated twice a day.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AccuScore was optimistic that Oakland could improve on last year’s poor 75-win season, giving them a nearly 18 percent chance of making the playoffs. After a 9-5 start, the A’s playoff chances jumped nearly 25 percentage points and they are have moved into a tie with pre-season pick Los Angeles Angels to win the West. The Angels are 6-7, but they dropped only 4.8 points because they have had a tough early schedule with series against the Twins and Yankees. Seattle is also 6-7, but they dropped only 3.2 percent. The big loser in the division is Texas.

When Joe Nathan(notes) got injured, many predicted the Twins would struggle, but AccuScore only had the Twins winning 1.5 fewer games without Nathan and they were our preseason pick to win the Central. After a 9-4 start the Twins have improved their projected win total from 88 to 93 wins. Jon Rauch(notes) is six for six in save opportunities, and more importantly, Francisco Liriano(notes) has looked great. The Royals and Indians are 5-7 and 6-6 respectively, but given they were both projected for 74 wins or fewer, these records are enough to see their playoff chances jump 10.8 points for KC and 5.0 points for Cleveland. The Royals jumped because of quality road wins at Detroit and Minnesota. Of course the biggest reason for their increase is the fact that the White Sox are just 4-9 and have seen their playoff chances drop from 25.8 percent to just 9.6 percent. The minus 16.2 points matches up nearly exactly with the plus 15.8 points for Kansas City and Cleveland. Detroit is 7-5 and on the exact pace AccuScore predicted.

The Blue Jays are surprisingly over .500 and they did lead the East in increased playoff chances (plus 8.8 percent), but they still have just a 9.0 percent chance of making the playoffs. The story in this division is Boston and their awful 4-9 start that includes bad home losses to the Yankees and Rays. In a division where the top three teams are separated by eight to 10 wins, starting 1-5 against your primary competition is taking a severe minus-37 percent toll. While there are 23 more weeks to go, do not be surprised if Boston fans are bemoaning their horrible start when the Red Sox are third in the East at the end of the season.

AMERICAN LEAGUE
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEEK TWO REVIEW PLAYOFF % CHANCE
TEAM 4-Apr 19-Apr % DIFF WIN DIV
Oakland Athletics 17.5% 42.1% 24.6% 35.8%
Tampa Bay Rays 30.8% 46.5% 15.7% 22.0%
Minnesota Twins 58.4% 69.3% 10.9% 64.0%
Kansas City Royals 2.5% 13.3% 10.8% 9.0%
Toronto Blue Jays 0.2% 9.0% 8.8% 3.1%
Cleveland Indians 0.2% 5.2% 5.0% 3.5%
Baltimore Orioles 0.6% 1.1% 0.5% 0.4%
Detroit Tigers 22.8% 23.1% 0.3% 16.8%
New York Yankees 80.8% 80.4% -0.4% 65.5%
Seattle Mariners 22.8% 19.6% -3.2% 15.4%
Los Angeles Angels 46.5% 41.7% -4.8% 35.8%
Texas Rangers 31.4% 16.2% -15.2% 12.9%
Chicago White Sox 25.8% 9.6% -16.2% 6.7%
Boston Red Sox 59.8% 22.8% -37.0% 9.0%

NATIONAL LEAGUE

The West was forecasted to be the most competitive division with the top four teams projected for 81 to 85 wins. The Giants are the big winners after the first two weeks with a 15 point increase in playoff percentage. While the Giants helped themselves with an 8-4 start, their increase has more to do with both the Rockies and Dodgers playing at .500. While the Giants have a two-game lead at the moment, they are better than originally expected because their third and fourth starters, Jonathan Sanchez(notes) and Barry Zito(notes), have looked good. The Padres are the biggest gainers in the division at plus-17.5 points after a surprising 6-6 start. Expect San Diego to slip in the coming weeks once they begin facing L.A., Colorado and San Francisco.

The Cubs and Brewers are just 5-7 but somehow they saw their playoff chances increase slightly. In pre-season simulations their playoff chances were tied to being the NL wild card. While a 5-7 record does not help the cause, the early struggles of the Dodgers, Rockies and Central rival Cincinnati have helped improve the playoff chances of other wild-card contenders. The Reds, Dodgers and Rockies dropped a combined -32 points and some of this drop-off went to these two NL Central teams. The Cardinals are playing well, as expected and maintained their over 80 percent chance they had in the pre-season.

The Phillies are 8-4 and ahead of the pace to win their projected 94 games. However, their playoff chances actually have dropped 14 points to a still solid 72.5 percent. We are not saying the Phillies are not as good a team as expected, we are saying the Marlins could pose a more serious threat than expected. Florida took two of three at Philadelphia, and head-to-head wins make a significant impact on playoff odds because they often dictate who wins a division. The Braves also have played up to high expectations with a solid 7-5 record, but like Philly, they saw their playoff odds drop after two weeks.

NATIONAL LEAGUE
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEEK TWO REVIEW PLAYOFF % CHANCE
TEAM 4-Apr 19-Apr % DIFF WIN DIV
San Diego Padres 1.6% 17.5% 15.9% 13.2%
San Francisco Giants 31.6% 46.6% 15.0% 40.3%
Florida Marlins 10.6% 20.6% 10.0% 11.5%
Chicago Cubs 15.6% 20.6% 5.0% 9.6%
Washington Nationals 3.1% 7.8% 4.7% 4.1%
Milwaukee Brewers 23.8% 26.9% 3.1% 11.6%
Pittsburgh Pirates 0.2% 2.3% 2.1% 0.8%
New York Mets 3.2% 3.0% -0.2% 1.6%
St. Louis Cardinals 84.8% 84.2% -0.6% 76.4%
Arizona Diamondbacks 17.0% 16.0% -1.0% 11.5%
Houston Astros 2.6% 0.8% -1.8% 0.2%
Atlanta Braves 38.4% 31.6% -6.8% 19.0%
Cincinnati Reds 10.7% 3.5% -7.2% 1.3%
Los Angeles Dodgers 32.6% 20.7% -11.9% 15.4%
Colorado Rockies 37.8% 25.5% -12.3% 19.6%
Philadelphia Phillies 86.5% 72.5% -14.0% 63.8%