Friday, February 25, 2011

Baseball Prospectus Predicts Dodgers 2nd In NL West Behind Giants

Can't believe I missed this story, but Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus ran the PECOTA projections and put the Dodgers second in the NL West, three games back of San Francisco (link insider only). Here's her writeup on the Dodgers:

Los Angeles Dodgers 87-75

Why they might win: Relatively quietly, the Dodgers assembled a rotation to contend by re-upping Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda and adding reliable innings-eater Jon Garland. Their bullpen is deeper, younger and better than the Giants', which contributes to an initial projection for the league's best run prevention.

Why they might not win: Just three teams in the league are projected to post lower OBPs than the Dodgers' .322. Signing or re-signing all that pitching left few dollars for the lineup, and most of those were invested in Juan Uribe -- another low-OBP regular. If the Dodgers suffer yet another injury-plagued season from leadoff man Rafael Furcal, this bad situation could become grave overnight.

Player who could surprise: Closer Jonathan Broxton had an awful season in 2010, protecting the leads he was handed just 78 percent of the time. But thank Joe Torre for some of that: After a 48-pitch blown game against the Yankees on June 27, Broxton gave up almost two baserunners per inning and seven runs per nine for the remainder to the year. PECOTA is projecting a comeback with a 2.70 ERA, but we'll see how rookie skipper Don Mattingly handles his young closer's first setback.

Player who could disappoint: Depending on how you look at it, Matt Kemp could, at least relative to expectations of superstardom, by slugging .449 and belting 21 homers. James Loney will, but that's because he'll continue to be one of the worst-hitting regulars at first base, projected to hit just .276/.340/.399.

BP also projected the Rockies in third with an 83-79 record, the Padres in fourth and the D'backs in the cellar. Not all hope is lost, however; the Dodgers have a shot at the Wild Card, too; looking across the NL, a 87-75 record would be tied with the Braves, projected to be second in the NL East to the Phillies. BP picked the NL Central-leading Cardinals to win with a similar 87-75 record.