According to Dan Szymborski of ESPN, as covered in an article by Christina Kahrl, the Padres are among nine teams with at least a 10% chance of losing 100 games. This is interesting based on the teams included. Each team has a case as to why they shouldn’t be on this list, but to the casual observer and computer models, their offseason moves do not amount to enough to remove them from the list.
The Astros and Orioles seem like true 100-game loser candidates. But how about the Mariners or the Athletics? Those teams may be bad, but they successfully navigated through the 2011 season without cracking 100 losses. The Mariners lost 95 games, and the A’s lost 88. Neither teams seems to have gotten increasingly worse. The Mariners pulled off a huge trade with the Yankees a few weeks ago, but that should not cause them to drop into the realm of 100-loss teams. The A’s lost Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey, but they are working towards improvement for the long-term.
The Mets will have a transition year in 2012, and I can understand their inclusion on this list. I can also understand their probability rating being at 20%. However, the Twins, the Royals, and the Pirates have surprisingly high 100-loss probabilities.
The Twins played without a healthy Justin Morneau for most of the season last year. They also were without star catcher Joe Maur for a good portion of the season. When Maur was back in the lineup, he was largely ineffective. However, Maur should be starting the 2012 season at 100% health. That alone will help the Twins win more games. Add to that Morneau’s contributions, as he appears to be healthy enough for baseball, and the Twins seem far less likely too lose 100 games than 12%. They lost 99 games last season, so to lose 100, we must assume the Twins got worse.
The Royals have been slowly building a solid farm system and relying on young talent to help compete. For part of the 2011 season, they did just that. But they quickly fell off. Kansas City lost 91 games, but showed signs of life. They seem far from a team we should expect to lose 100 games. While their owner may not want to spend the money necessary to compete for the division, the Royals should actually improve upon last season’s mark. Their pythagorean record was much close to .500 at 78-84.
The Pirates were the fee-good story of the summer last year. They had a winning record to the latest point in the season since 1992. They owned first place off and on during the early summer months. They were a team clearly playing above their talent levels, but not by much. WIth a solid core of young guys, a stud closer, and starting pitching that found a way to eat innings and get guys out, the Pirates found themselves in contention as late as July. However, the wheels soon fell off. They finished with 90-losses and were quickly forgotten. But to assign 10% probability to the Pirates losing 100 games seems like a bit much. They return a lot of the talent that helped them playing winning baseball for so long. They may even win more games this season, but they surely won’t lose 100.
Finally, that brings us to our Padres. The team, a clearly bad team, still managed to win 71 games. They were nine games away from the dreaded 100 loss mark. They made a slew of offseason moves to help themselves improve. Yet, they sill have a 10% chance of losing 100 games. Unlikely. This year’s team should lose less than 90 games. They have a decent shot at even being above .500. Their run production should increase with the current lineup. Their starting pitching should hold true. And their bullpen has actually improved since the mid-point of last season when Mike Adams was traded away.
I understand that a 10% chance of losing 100 games means the Padres have a 90% chance of losing fewer than 100 games. However, even 10% seems high in their case. Without looking at the stats, this is a team that has clearly improved. Once you start looking at the numbers, the projections, and the potential, it is obvious the Padres are a better team in 2012 than 2011. The truth is, the Padres probably have less than a 5% chance of losing 100 game in 2012 – but then again, that’s just a number I pulled from my head, not a probability built from a computer model.