There was a fascinating write up over on FanGraphs yesterday that took the predictions fan voters made on how teams would do for the season and, using a pretty complex simulation, calculated the chances of each team winning their division, winning the Wild Card, and winning the playoffs. As mentioned, the simulation is fairly complex, and instead of trying to explain it and just making myself look silly I’ll let FanGraphs handle that for me.
Sadly, the news for the AL West as a whole was pretty mixed, and for the Angels it was mostly bad. While the Yankees have literally double the chances of winning the playoffs according to this sim than the top team in the AL West (80%-40%), the Rangers and not the Angels are the team in that top stop in the AL West. Admittedly, this surprised me as I would’ve assumed the Mariners would’ve held that top spot, but apparently the fans disagree with me. In fact, the Angels ended up last in the division in this, with only a 16% chance of winning the AL West. Yikes. It gets even worse when looking at the Wild Card, where they’re given only a 1% chance of winning it, verses 27%, 31%, and 28% for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays respectively.
On the bright(-ish) side, no other division in the AL has four teams bunched so closely together in Division Win %, with only 22% separating the Rangers and Angels, where the Royals are 32% behind the Twins and the poor Blue Jays are a full 53% behind the Yankees (and given 0% chance of winning the division… ouch). Of course, that bright side can only be so bright when you consider that even the A’s, who finished in the cellar of the division with only 75 wins last season are giving better chances of winning the division than we are. I think it’s safe to say the fans are expecting the impact of losing players like Lackey, Figgins, and Oliver to free agency and the regression of players like Morales and Hunter to be pretty significant for us.
It should be noted, of course, that this is only a simulation and there is actually a reason we play the games. I’m not (and I don’t believe FanGraphs is, either) saying this is how things are certain to play out, but it does give us some idea of how likely things are to happen this way. Players and teams defy the odds to win, or lose, all the time, and there’s obviously no reason the Angels couldn’t do exactly that. Based on what we’ve seen from the off-season, that may be where we have to pin our hopes this coming season.