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PECOTA: Indians atop tight division

The new PECOTA projections are starting to be released in various forms. Today, Clay Davenport posted the Depth Charts for all 30 teams along with projected standings based on them. The Depth Charts combine the individual player projections for 2009 with estimated playing time allotments. This first draft (it will be revised over the course of spring training) shows the Indians leading the AL Central with 84 wins, while the other four clubs all winning between 74 and 79. The Indians and Twins in the 1-2 spots conform to my expectations. I am surprised that PECOTA sees the Tigers as a close third with the Royals only a few games behind. Good projection systems are inherently conservative, in that every player and every team represents a wide range of possible results in 2009, and the projection attempts to show the median result for each player and, in the aggregate, for each team. Based on injuries, breakouts, slumps and the way the ball bounces, all five teams have the potential to finish with 70 wins or 90 wins, but as spring training starts, PECOTA sees the Indians as five to ten wins stronger than their rivals. The system sees Victor, Garko, Peralta and Francisco as 750 OPS guys in 2009. Grady leads with an 860 projection, followed by 790 for both Choo and Shoppach. Among pitchers, the projected VORP leader (based on both production and innings pitched) is Cliff Lee by a wide margin, followed by Perez, Joe Smith (!), Wood, Carmona, Betancourt, Jensen Lewis and Scott Lewis, in that order.

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