Since the World Series ended, a few of us have been busy behind the scenes updating all the team depth charts. They’re still not perfect, and they’ve yet to be updated with a few final adjustments, but for the most part, everything’s in decent shape. We have 30 team depth charts that would look pretty good if the 2017 season were to start today. Very obviously, that will not happen! But free agents have been moved off rosters, onto our free-agent squad. Depth pieces within systems have been given appropriate playing-time estimates. What does the MLB landscape look like with the offseason just beginning? Here’s what I’m seeing:
We aren’t yet actually projecting 2017 wins on FanGraphs. We just have WAR projections, but I’ve gone ahead and converted those into team-win estimates. Which is simply the WAR projection, plus a constant. I can’t imagine much in here is surprising, but, sure enough, the Cubs have baseball’s best projection. They’re threatening to push 100 wins again. The Dodgers are right behind them, and then there’s a gap before you get to the Nationals. (Schedule strength is not taken into account for this.)
A bunch of rebuilding clubs are at the other end. The Brewers look worst here overall, while the Twins look like the worst in the American League. There are 10 teams that project between 76 – 81 wins, so that might represent the bubble. Any of those teams might elect to sell, or to try to push forward. Of some note here, the Astros get the best projection in the AL West, followed by the Angels. The Angels projection is precarious, given the health questions around Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards, and Matt Shoemaker, but you can see how they could have a path.
The point isn’t to reach any strong conclusions. Don’t place any bets based on these projections at the beginning of November. Rather, I think these are most useful as a baseline. These are the rosters the clubs will be adding to and subtracting from over the following months. Last season’s records don’t matter anymore. Whatever the Blue Jays do next won’t be tweaking an 89-win ballclub. It’ll be more like it’s tweaking an 81-win ballclub. Of course, you can argue with that number, but it’s an estimate. It’ll be interesting to compare the spring-training projections to these projections, to see which offseasons made the biggest differences on paper.
Have fun. But don’t have too much fun. This is how the teams all project. And all of the teams will change.