As we enter another year, I thought I'd kick things off with Ben Lindbergh's analysis of our teams. Note that while the stats project the Yankees to win one more game than the Jays, he thinks the Jays will beat their projection and finish second, while the Yankees will miss theirs and finish last.
His piece is very long and detailed, so I'll just post the Projected Records and Summaries. The complete article is here: https://grantland.com/the-triangle/m...-rays-yankees/
Red Sox - Projected Record and Over/Under: 87-75 — OVER. Asked to project the team’s win total on the Red Sox preview episode of Effectively Wild, Providence Journal beat writer Tim Britton said, “There’s what I think this team as currently constituted would do, and there’s what I think this team, if they show a small weakness and try to fix it at the deadline, would do.” That’s a potentially important distinction. To the extent that a buyer’s market can exist in an era when anyone can win, this summer figures to be a favorable time to shop for top-of-the-rotation starters, several of whom will hit free agency at the end of the year.
Even if the Sox can’t sublet a starter, though, their staff won’t be as big a vulnerability as it seems on the surface. Run prevention isn’t all about pitching: The Sox project to have the AL’s second-best defense, by both DRS and UZR,2 and slick fielders — like Dustin Pedroia, whose glove makes him one of the game’s best second basemen even when hand problems sap his power at the plate — make contact-prone pitchers look good. And that’s without accounting for the full impact of Christian Vazquez, whose defensive DNA appears to be Molina-esque. Vazquez projects to save 28 runs thanks to pitch framing over a full season, according to Baseball Prospectus’s Called Strikes Above Average, which puts him one run off the pace for the major league lead. He’s also superb at controlling the running game: In 55 big league games last year, he led all catchers in another BP defensive stat, Basestealing Attempts Above Average. After accounting for pitchers, baserunners, and game states, Vazquez reduced base stealing attempts by 9.2 percent.
In a division full of flawed teams, the Red Sox’s unmatched offense, solid defense, and deep pockets make them the favorite.
Blue Jays - Projected Record and Over/Under: 81-81 — OVER. If you thought Boston’s pitching was shaky, avert your eyes from Toronto’s relief corps. The rotation has promise, though, even without Stroman. As others have observed, Drew Hutchison’s slider seemed to take on new life late last season, which coincided with a dramatic rise in strikeout rate. Maybe he’ll sustain some of that bump. Dickey and Buehrle have historically been locks to eat innings. Rookie Daniel Norris has come a long way in a short while, and could take time to adjust, but he’s more than the classic quirky lefty: He throws 96, and he’s missed bats at every level. And if Sanchez fails as a starter, he’ll become an instant solution to the bullpen problem. The Jays can’t quite rival Boston’s best-in-show offense, but their bats and gloves are good enough to keep them close.
Yankees - Projected Record and Over/Under: 82-80 — UNDER. If the Yankees had players of the same skill but no-higher-than-normal injury risk, they’d deserve a higher spot. A rotation of Tanaka, Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Eovaldi, rounded out by a combination of Capuano and Nova, could be the best in the division. But the odds of that group staying intact for any significant stretch are infinitesimal. Consider this: The Yankees have nine hitters projected to miss 25 games or more. By comparison, the Braves — a much younger team with only one regular age 31 or older — have none.
We can’t count on the new, fiscally conservative Yankees to pick up players at midseason, either. So we’re left with what we see: a team that would be better if we could roll back its collective odometer to a point several years in the past.