Comparing 2011 Division Projections
Last year before the 2010 season started I looked at how a couple different projection systems saw the season playing out. With this season just one day old, I wanted to do the same for the 2011 projections. Here I take a graphical look at the number of wins six systems project for every team and plot those out for each division separately. This gives a good picture of the range of predictions and how much consensus there is across systems.
I used five projection systems for which I could get win totals and the Vegas regular season over/under win totals. I grabbed the Marcel, Bill James and Cairo projections complied by the folks at RLYW who ran the player-level projections for those systems through the Diamond Mind Simulator to get win totals. I also used THT's Oliver and BPro's Pecota projections (as of March 30th). The Vegas lines are from Pinnacle Sports, so they are not really Vegas's numbers but the offshore ones (also as of March 30th).
All of the projections systems see a pretty clear ordering of the five AL east teams, with a slight disagreement in the cellar dweller Toronto (Marcel, Cairo, Bill James, Pecota) or Baltimore (THT, Vegas). I was surprised to see Baltimore come out on top of Toronto in so many projections. Although not a difference in ordering, THT is not nearly as fond of Tampa Bay as the other systems are. And interestingly Vegas has a lower win total for the Yankees than any other system, I always assumed that there would be a pro-Yankees bias among bettors.
All six projections see the AL Central as pretty clearly two-tiered — with Minnesota, Chicago and Detroit competing for the division title and then Cleveland and KC a solid ten wins behind. Though everyone likes Cleveland more than Kansas City. As in the AL East THT has some outlier values, projecting more extreme values for Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City
The AL West is similarly two-tiered — with Texas and Oakland at the top, and Los Angeles and Seattle bringing up the rear. There is only one disagreement in the ordering with THT thinking Seattle is above Los Angeles. THT also likes the top two teams much more than the other systems do. Vegas is pretty high on LA, seeing them just a slight step behind the Texas and Oakland. If you have faith in the projection systems over the bettors and bookmakers an under on the Angels is a clear play.
There is a farily well agreed upon ordering in the NL East,.THT is again something of an outlier projecting New York and Florida as fairly even while everyone else clearly prefers Florida, and is the only system that likes Atlanta over Philadelphia to win the division. If you trust the projections systems over Vegas this division offers two opportunities: the under on Philly and the over on New York.
Sorry about the color choice here. Both St. Louis and Cincinnati deserve red, but their lines are very close so to keep things distinct. So I went with black for Cincinnati and red for St. Louis. This is another two-tiered division with four teams fairly close at the top (though Chicago is at the bottom of the top tier in most systems) and then two bottom dwellers. Like the AL Central this is projected to be a pretty competitive conference. Again THT is something of an outlier liking Cincinnati and St. Louis much more than the other systems.
Five of the six systems like San Francisco to repeat at NL West champions, with Marcel the lone dissenter picking Los Angeles. THT is again the most bullish about the favorite's win total, as it is the only system projecting more than 90 wins for San Francisco. Vegas likes Colorado by a fairly big margin compared to the projection systems, so there is another play if you are so inclined.