Oct 16, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder (28) and center fielder Austin Jackson (14) celebrate after game three of the 2012 ALCS against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

CAIRO Projections Predict Detroit Tigers To Have Largest Division Lead In Baseball

One of the really fun things about the CAIRO player projections – hosted at the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog – is when they’re used on the site to project the upcoming season’s standings. ‘SG’, proprietor of the website, ran a CAIRO update this morning and posted a version of 2013’s “Too Early and Mostly Useless Projected MLB Standings”.

As the name suggests, we need to be careful not to take the projections too seriously – rosters will still change and there are always unknown factors in baseball – but it’s still fun to look at and probably not completely inaccurate (it at least passes the smell test). Here’s what CAIRO is saying about the American League Central this upcoming season:

TM

 W

 L

 RS

 RA

Tigers

89

73

800

717

Royals

82

80

724

715

White Sox

78

84

731

770

Indians

74

88

703

761

Twins

67

95

695

830

As shown in the table above, CAIRO currently projects the Tigers to win 89 games and win the division by seven games. That win total would be good for third in the American League (Angels are at 93 and Blue Jays are at 91), but the seven game lead would be the largest in all of the major leagues if the projections held true (a tie with Washington’s lead in the NL East, actually).

Detroit’s projection appears to be a rather conservative one too. They won 88 games last year and didn’t appear to be considerably ‘lucky’ with their run differential either. They’ll effectively replace Delmon Young with Victor Martinez, Brennan Boesch with Torii Hunter, half a season of Ryan Raburn with Omar Infante, and half a season of Drew Smyly with Anibal Sanchez. That smells more like a five or six game improvement than a one game improvement to me, but we need to account for aging, injury possibilities, and the fact that projection systems will always project teams and players to be closer to ‘average’ than we might otherwise think.

A lot was made about the Kansas City Royals this offseason after their addition of starting pitcher James Shields, but they don’t appear to be that big of a contender. It depends on what you use ad a definition – simply being above .500 could be one – but the Royals roll in as the ninth place team in these projections with only a +9 run differential. A sizeable improvement over last season’s 72 wins, but nothing close to where the Tigers are supposed to be.

The Chicago White Sox haven’t done much this offseason except let Kevin Youkilis and A.J. Pierzynski walk in free agency so they’re rewarded with a below .500 projection. They won 85 games a season ago, so they’d be seeing a significant drop if they end up at 78 wins.

The Cleveland Indians look like they’ll be bad, but not quite as bad as they might have appeared when the offseason began. They made a few moves to patch some of the ample holes on their roster (Ryan Raburn!), but .500 doesn’t look like it will happen for them. 74 wins would be a six game improvement for them over last season.

The Minnesota twins look to be bad again. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Things can change in a hurry if an injury or two should happen, but the Tigers – based on their otherwise weak division – are positioned to absorb the impact of a catastrophe better than (almost) any of the other projected division winners. That’s never a guarantee, but if anyone can feel really good right now, it’s Tigers fans.

Tags: Detroit Tigers

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