2013 MLB Preview

Last Updated: 3/7/2013 12:00 AM ET

For our complete MLB 2013 Preview, please see our Power RankingsOver/Under Win Total PicksStandings Projections and Playoff Probabilities and Division-by-Division Breakdowns. Picks packages for every MLB game on the money-line, over/under and run-line are now available in the shop. Last season, all "normal" or better O/U plays went 124-90 (58% O/U) in baseball. Even more notably, normal+ plays for the 2012 MLB Team Season Win Totals (now sold separately) went 9-1 (90% O/U).

The Predictalator has already played the 2013 MLB season 50,000 times before it's actually played. The Los Angeles Angels win the World Series a league-high 12% of the time (6,153 of 50,000 times to be exact). The Detroit Tigers (10%), Washington Nationals (10%), Cincinnati Reds (9%), Los Angeles Dodgers (8%), Tampa Bay Rays (7%) and San Francisco Giants (7%) follow the Angels in championship likelihood. In the most open season we have ever seen at this point, no team has a greater than one-in-eight chance of winning it all and a total of 12 teams have a better than one-in-25 chance of winning the championship. Here, we break down every team division-by-division.

See: How This WorksSeason Summary and Division Previews: NL EastNL CentralNL WestAL EastAL Central and AL West

How it Works
Just as the Predictalator plays any individual game 50,000 before it's actually played, it can also play every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. That is what we have done for the 2013 MLB season. The actual regular season and playoff schedules have been played 50,000 times, allowing us to compute average records and the likelihood of a team making the playoffs, winning the league pennant and bringing home the World Series trophy.

In this case, using the Predictalator is not as much of a concern to us as making sure that we have the best possible inputs for players' statistics, roles, health and playing time as well as teams' managerial styles and ballpark effects. Ballpark effects, managerial styles and health history are fairly well known, while calculating a player's statistical inputs provides the greatest challenge.

In general, we apply ballpark and level-adjusted, relevant statistics from every game a player has played in his professional career to a fairly traditional player development curve that considers age and previous playing time. Not only does this curve help to set average inputs, it combines with health to dictate the variance (boom or bust potential) of a player's inputs. In the team-by-team breakdowns below, the "most important" pitchers and positional players are the players, often due to their boom or bust likelihood/distributions, who will most drastically impact their teams. Obviously, a season-ending injury to Albert Pujols in the first game of the season will have a more significant impact on the Angels' chances to win the World Series than if the same thing happened to Howie Kendrick. But, the variance for our expectations of Pujols' playing time and performance is minimal. We "know" what the Angels are getting with Pujols. Kendrick is a bit of a wild card as a player who has great talent, yet lacks consistency and, with age and health concerns, may regress considerably this season. How closely to and for how long he can play at his ceiling is incredibly important to the Angels' season. (Also below, Fantasy Sleepers and Duds are chosen based on our projected value relative to current average draft positions. The more relative value, the more likely to be a sleeper. The weakest value relative to ADP is the dud.)

Playing time is more of an art than a science. We have done our best to estimate playing time for all players who are expected to see significant starting time in 2013. That being said, some gaps have been filled in by our best approximations of average bench and role players on teams. This has a very minor impact on average results, yet keeps us from being able to be comfortable providing comprehensive player projections for all players.

After all of that math and analysis, importing a schedule and running the games 50,000 times each is simple.

Season Summary
The Los Angeles Angels may have lost ace pitchers Dan Haren, Zack Greinke and Ervin Santana, but they may be even better this year with former Rangers star Josh Hamilton in one of the best lineups we have ever seen. Otherwise, the Angels still have solid depth in the rotation, an improved bullpen and the benefit of the worst team in baseball (Houston) being added to the division. Even with notable offseason upgrades and setbacks occurring for almost all of the elite teams in baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays rank just eighth overall in World Series title chances. Teams that have been building over the last couple of years, like the Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers may benefit the most from the wide open MLB race. The Angels win the World Series 12% of the 50,000 seasons, however, the Tigers are the most likely team to make the MLB playoffs at 80%. Other teams that are more than 50% likely to make the playoffs (remember there are two wild card teams in each league that will be playing a one-game playoff immediately after the regular season) include Los Angeles Angels (79%), Washington (76%), Cincinnati (75%), Tampa Bay (60%), Atlanta (56%) and St. Louis (51%).. At this point, the American League is 51% likely to win the World Series.

Based on the analysis, here is the projected MLB 2013 Playoff bracket. It should be noted however, that this exact bracket only occurred 122 of the 50,000 seasons played by the Predictalator:

American League

Wildcard: Toronto over Texas
Divisional: Los Angeles Angels over Toronto
Divisional: Detroit over Tampa Bay
League: Los Angeles Angels over Detroit

National League

Wildcard: San Francisco over Atlanta
Divisional: Washington over San Francisco
Divisional: Cincinnati over Los Angeles Dodgers
League: Washington over Cincinnati 

World Series

Los Angeles Angels over Washington

See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

NL East Preview

Washington Nationals
Power Rank: 4
Division Standing: 1
2012 Wins: 98
2012 Losses: 64
Playoff Probability: 76%
Biggest Strength: Pitching
Greatest Weakness: Impatience
Most Important Pitcher: Dan Haren, SP
Most Important Position Player: Jayson Werth, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Denard Span, OF
Fantasy Dud: Kurt Suzuki, C

Atlanta Braves
Power Rank: 11
Division Standing: 2
2012 Wins: 94
2012 Losses: 68
Playoff Probability: 56%
Biggest Strength: Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Hitting for Average
Most Important Pitcher: Kris Medlen, SP
Most Important Position Player: Justin Upton, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Brandon Beachy, SP
Fantasy Dud: Paul Maholm, Sp

Philadelphia Phillies
Power Rank: 17
Division Standing: 3
2012 Wins: 81
2012 Losses: 81
Playoff Probability: 29%
Biggest Strength: Starting Pitching
Greatest Weakness: Health Concerns (Current and Potential)
Most Important Pitcher: John Lannan, SP
Most Important Position Player: Chase Utley, 2B
Fantasy Sleeper: Darin Ruf, OF/1B
Fantasy Dud: Kyle Kendrick, SP

New York Mets
Power Rank: 22
Division Standing: 4
2012 Wins: 74
2012 Losses: 88
Playoff Probability: 14%
Biggest Strength: Power (Arms and Bats)
Greatest Weakness: Bullpen
Most Important Pitcher: Johan Santana, SP
Most Important Position Player: Ike Davis, 1B
Fantasy Sleeper: Travis d'Arnaud, C
Fantasy Dud: Ruben Tejada, SS

Miami Marlins
Power Rank: 30
Division Standing: 5
2012 Wins: 69
2012 Losses: 93
Playoff Probability: 1%
Biggest Strength: Playing Time for Prospects
Greatest Weakness: Baseball
Most Important Pitcher: Wade LeBlanc, SP
Most Important Position Player: Justin Ruggiano, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Justin Ruggiano, OF
Fantasy Dud: Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

NL Central Preview

Cincinnati Reds
Power Rank: 6
Division Standing: 1
2012 Wins: 97
2012 Losses: 65
Playoff Probability: 75%
Biggest Strength: Balance - Do Just About Everything Above Average
Greatest Weakness: Outfield Defense
Most Important Pitcher: Aroldis Chapman, SP?
Most Important Position Player: Shin-Soo Choo, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Todd Frazier, 3B
Fantasy Dud: Ryan Hanigan, C

St. Louis Cardinals
Power Rank: 15
Division Standing: 2
2012 Wins: 88
2012 Losses: 74
Playoff Probability: 51%
Biggest Strength: Balance - Do Just About Everything Above Average
Greatest Weakness: Health Concerns (Current and Potential)
Most Important Pitcher: Jaime Garcia, SP
Most Important Position Player: Carlos Beltran, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Shelby Miller, SP
Fantasy Dud: Jake Westbrook, SP

Milwaukee Brewers
Power Rank: 20
Division Standing: 3
2012 Wins: 83
2012 Losses: 79
Playoff Probability: 16%
Biggest Strength: Ryan Braun
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Depth
Most Important Pitcher: Mike Fiers, SP
Most Important Position Player: Rickie Weeks, 2B
Fantasy Sleeper: Jim Henderson, RP
Fantasy Dud: Corey Hart, 1B

Chicago Cubs
Power Rank: 26
Division Standing: 4
2012 Wins: 61
2012 Losses: 101
Playoff Probability: 10%
Biggest Strength: Defense
Greatest Weakness: Bullpen
Most Important Pitcher: Carlos Marmol, RP
Most Important Position Player: David DeJesus, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Welington Castillo, C
Fantasy Dud: Ian Stewart, 3B

Pittsburgh Pirates
Power Rank: 25
Division Standing: 5
2012 Wins: 79
2012 Losses: 83
Playoff Probability: 9%
Biggest Strength: Andrew McCutchen and Weak Division
Greatest Weakness: Everything Else
Most Important Pitcher: Jason Grilli, RP
Most Important Position Player: Starling Marte, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Francisco Liriano, SP
Fantasy Dud: Travis Snider, 1B/OF

See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

NL West Preview

Los Angeles Dodgers
Power Rank: 7
Division Standing: 1
2012 Wins: 86
2012 Losses: 76
Playoff Probability: 72%
Biggest Strength: Top of Rotation and Heart of Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Depth and Health Concerns
Most Important Pitcher: Josh Beckett, SP
Most Important Position Player: Carl Crawford, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP
Fantasy Dud: Luis Cruz, 3B

San Francisco Giants
Power Rank: 13
Division Standing: 2
2012 Wins: 94
2012 Losses: 68
Playoff Probability: 56%
Biggest Strength: Top of Rotation and Buster Posey
Greatest Weakness: Infield Defense
Most Important Pitcher: Tim Lincecum, SP
Most Important Position Player: Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Fantasy Sleeper: Santiago Casilla, RP
Fantasy Dud: Barry Zito, SP

Colorado Rockies
Power Rank: 18
Division Standing: 3
2012 Wins: 64
2012 Losses: 98
Playoff Probability: 16%
Biggest Strength: Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Health
Most Important Pitcher: Jhoulys Chacin, SP
Most Important Position Player: Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Josh Rutledge, 2B
Fantasy Dud: Todd Helton, 1B

Arizona Diamondbacks
Power Rank: 21
Division Standing: 4
2012 Wins: 81
2012 Losses: 81
Playoff Probability: 15%
Biggest Strength: Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Immaturity (notably Baserunning and Defense Issues)
Most Important Pitcher: Brandon McCarthy, SP
Most Important Position Player: Adam Eaton, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Tyler Skaggs, SP
Fantasy Dud: Cliff Pennington, SS

San Diego Padres
Power Rank: 27
Division Standing: 5
2012 Wins: 76
2012 Losses: 86
Playoff Probability: 5%
Biggest Strength: Getting On-Base
Greatest Weakness: Pitching
Most Important Pitcher: Edinson Volquez, SP
Most Important Position Player: Yonder Alonso,1B 
Fantasy Sleeper: Yasmani Grandal, C
Fantasy Dud: Jason Marquis, SP

See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

AL East Preview

Tampa Bay Rays
Power Rank: 2
Division Standing: 1
2012 Wins: 90
2012 Losses: 72
Playoff Probability: 60%
Biggest Strength: Balance - Do Just About Everything Well
Greatest Weakness: Catcher
Most Important Pitcher: Matt Moore, SP
Most Important Position Player: Yunel Escobar, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Jake McGee, RP
Fantasy Dud: Jose Molina, C

Toronto Blue Jays
Power Rank: 3
Division Standing: 2
2012 Wins: 73
2012 Losses: 89
Playoff Probability: 48%
Biggest Strength: Offseason Additions
Greatest Weakness: Defense
Most Important Pitcher: Josh Johnson, SP
Most Important Position Player: Jose Bautista, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Ricky Romero, SP
Fantasy Dud: Mark Buehrle, SP

New York Yankees
Power Rank: 10
Division Standing: 3
2012 Wins: 95
2012 Losses: 67
Playoff Probability: 39%
Biggest Strength: Top of Rotation and Heart of Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Age
Most Important Pitcher: Phil Hughes, SP
Most Important Position Player: Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Fantasy Sleeper: Travis Hafner, DH
Fantasy Dud: Ivan Nova, SP

Boston Red Sox
Power Rank: 14
Division Standing: 4
2012 Wins: 69
2012 Losses: 93
Playoff Probability: 22%
Biggest Strength: Getting On-Base
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Depth and Health Concerns
Most Important Pitcher: John Lackey, SP
Most Important Position Player: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Stephen Drew, SS
Fantasy Dud: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

Baltimore Orioles
Power Rank: 16
Division Standing: 5
2012 Wins: 93
2012 Losses: 69
Playoff Probability: 18%
Biggest Strength: Adam Jones and Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Everything Else
Most Important Pitcher: Chris Tillman, SP
Most Important Position Player: Manny Machado, 3B
Fantasy Sleeper: Dylan Bundy, SP
Fantasy Dud: Brian Roberts, 2B

See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

AL Central Preview

Detroit Tigers
Power Rank: 5
Division Standing: 1
2012 Wins: 88
2012 Losses: 74
Playoff Probability: 80%
Biggest Strength: Top of Rotation and Heart of Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Defense
Most Important Pitcher: Bruce Rondon, RP
Most Important Position Player: Victor Martinez, DH
Fantasy Sleeper: Joaquin Benoit, RP
Fantasy Dud: Rick Porcello, SP

Chicago White Sox
Power Rank: 12
Division Standing: 2
2012 Wins: 85
2012 Losses: 77
Playoff Probability: 39%
Biggest Strength: Starting Pitching
Greatest Weakness: Impatience
Most Important Pitcher: Jake Peavy, SP
Most Important Position Player: Alex Rios, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Tyler Flowers, C
Fantasy Dud: John Danks, SP

Cleveland Indians
Power Rank: 19
Division Standing: 3
2012 Wins: 68
2012 Losses: 94
Playoff Probability: 12%
Biggest Strength: Speed
Greatest Weakness: Pitching
Most Important Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez, SP
Most Important Position Player: Michael Bourn, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Brett Myers, SP
Fantasy Dud: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B

Kansas City Royals
Power Rank: 23
Division Standing: 4
2012 Wins: 72
2012 Losses: 90
Playoff Probability: 10%
Biggest Strength: Young Lineup and Bullpen
Greatest Weakness: Lack of Depth
Most Important Pitcher: Ervin Santana, SP
Most Important Position Player: Jeff Francoeur, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Ervin Santana, SP
Fantasy Dud: Bruce Chen, SP

Minnesota Twins
Power Rank: 28
Division Standing: 5
2012 Wins: 66
2012 Losses: 96
Playoff Probability: 2%
Biggest Strength: Joe Mauer and Control
Greatest Weakness: Starting Pitching
Most Important Pitcher: Vance Worley, SP
Most Important Position Player: All Unproven Youth in Lineup (Hicks, Parmelee and Florimon)
Fantasy Sleeper: Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Fantasy Dud: Kevin Correia, SP

See: How This Works, Season Summary and Division Previews: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL East, AL Central and AL West

AL West Preview

Los Angeles Angels
Power Rank: 1
Division Standing: 1
2012 Wins: 89
2012 Losses: 73
Playoff Probability: 79%
Biggest Strength: Crazy Good Lineup
Greatest Weakness: Health Concerns (Current and Potential)
Most Important Pitcher: Tommy Hanson, SP
Most Important Position Player: Howard Kendrick, 2B
Fantasy Sleeper: Ryan Madson, RP
Fantasy Dud: Alberto Callaspo, 3B

Texas Rangers
Power Rank: 8
Division Standing: 2
2012 Wins: 93
2012 Losses: 69
Playoff Probability: 43%
Biggest Strength: Power (Arms and Bats)
Greatest Weakness: Bullpen
Most Important Pitcher: Alexi Ogando, SP (?)
Most Important Position Player: Elvis Andrus, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Lance Berkman, DH
Fantasy Dud: Mitch Moreland, 1B

Oakland Athletics
Power Rank: 9
Division Standing: 3
2012 Wins: 94
2012 Losses: 68
Playoff Probability: 41%
Biggest Strength: Depth and Balance
Greatest Weakness: No Elite Strength
Most Important Pitcher: Brett Anderson, SP
Most Important Position Player: Yoenis Cespedes, OF
Fantasy Sleeper: Hiroyuki Nakajima, SS
Fantasy Dud: John Jaso, C

Seattle Mariners
Power Rank: 24
Division Standing: 4
2012 Wins: 75
2012 Losses: 87
Playoff Probability: 6%
Biggest Strength: Defense
Greatest Weakness: Pitching Depth
Most Important Pitcher: Hisashi Iwakuma, SP
Most Important Position Player: Dustin Ackley, 2B
Fantasy Sleeper: Carter Capps, RP
Fantasy Dud: Blake Beavan, SP

Houston Astros
Power Rank: 29
Division Standing: 6
2012 Wins: 55
2012 Losses: 107
Playoff Probability: 0%
Biggest Strength: Get to Use the DH!!!
Greatest Weakness: Baseball
Most Important Pitcher: Jordan Lyles, SP
Most Important Position Player: Tyler Greene, SS
Fantasy Sleeper: Chris Carter, 1B/DH
Fantasy Dud: Brett Wallace, 1B

For our complete MLB 2013 Preview, please see our Power RankingsOver/Under Win Total PicksStandings Projections and Playoff Probabilities and Division-by-Division Breakdowns. Picks packages for every MLB game on the money-line, over/under and run-line are now available in the shop. Last season, all "normal" or better O/U plays went 124-90 (58% O/U) in baseball. Even more notably, normal+ plays for the 2012 MLB Team Season Win Totals (now sold separately) went 9-1 (90% O/U).

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The Predictalator

The Predictalator is the most advanced sports forecasting software available today because it has the ability to account for all of the relevant statistical interactions of the players (playing or not playing/injured), coaches, officials, fans (home field advantage) and weather in each game.

7/21/2014 Highlight: Using the ResultsFinder for the last two weekends July 11th - 20th (since the All-Star break fell during last week), one could find that all playable over/under MLB plays went 26-17 (61% O/U).

The Predictalator plays every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. This provides us the ability to assign probabilities to the likelihood of just about any outcome occurring in any contest including straight-up, against-the-spread and over/under winners of each game.

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