New projections have Indians winning 85 games in 2014

USA TODAY Sports

The computer says the Indians will contend again

New projections for the 2014 season have the Tribe winning 85 games, putting them right in the thick of playoff contention.

Clay Davenport was a co-founder of Baseball Prospectus back in 1996, and for years he did a great deal of behind-the-scenes work there, generating and maintaining a number of advanced statistics for the site. Among other things, he created and developed Davenport Translations, which estimate MLB equivalent performance statistics based on a player's numbers from various minor leagues and international baseball.

He still has connections to BP, but posts most of his work at his own blog, including well-respected team projections. (You can see the full results here.)

The AL Central standings look like this:

Team Wins Losses Runs Scored Runs Allowed Chance of WInning
Detroit Tigers 91 71 711 618 60.1%
Cleveland Indians 85 77 717 682 24.1%
Chicago White Sox 79 83 682 701 8.2%
Kansas City Royals 77 85 680 712 5.9%
Minnesota Twins 72 90 669 752 1.7%

The 85-77 projection for the Indians puts them just a game behind Boston for the second Wild Card spot. The Indians are given a 43.8% chance of making the playoffs, which sounds pretty good to me. The Tribe's 717 runs scored represent a 28-run decline from 2013, but still rank 5th among AL teams, while their 682 runs allowed are 20 more than they gave up in 2013, and rank 7th in the AL projections.

Detroit's 91 wins are the most of any team in either league, and their 6-game cushion over the Indians represents the second-biggest gap between 1st and 2nd in any division (St. Louis is projected to win the NL Central by 7 games). I'm not at all surprised to see the Tigers projected to win the division, but I am surprised to see them with more wins than any other team.

Much more surprising to me is seeing Chicago projected for 3rd place, only two wins shy of a .500 record. They're projected for 84 more runs than they scored in 2013, which seems like a lot. Similarly, Kansas City is projected to allow 111 more runs than they did in 2013, a massive shift. I expect most people expect the Royals to finish ahead of the White Sox (and perhaps in front of the Indians too), and I'm curious to see how other projection systems have the division turning out.

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