WAR Predictions: AL Central First Half Recap with Second Half Predictions

By Bryan Lutz

If I actually have fans *crosses fingers*, you might remember I did WAR predictions before the seasons, giving my projected final standings of each division. Unfortunately, due to site migration and what not, those slideshows don’t work anymore. But there’s no reason we can’t review the first half, and see if using WAR put me on the right path. I will review every division this week, but tonight we will look over the AL Central.

These were my pre-season WAR projections:

Detroit Tigers 88 74

Chicago White Sox 82 80

Cleveland Indians 79 83

Kansas City Royals  77 85

Minnesota Twins 70 92

Although I had Tigers first, I picked the White Sox to win the division out of blind faith. It turns out that blind faith has come to fruition. Time to break down each team’s outliers (good and bad), and what we can expect during the second half of the season.

Chicago White Sox: 47-38 record, 49-36 pythagorean record 

Good Outliers: AJ Pierzynski (2.6 fWAR; projected 1.5), Alex Rios (2.9 fWAR; projected 2.5), Chris Sale (3.5 fWAR; 2.5 projected)

Bad Outliers: Alexei Ramirez (.3 fWAR, projected 4.0), Third base (-.5 fWAR; projected 1.9), John Danks (.3 WAR; 3.5 projected)

Second Half Outlook: Maybe it’s the homer in me, but I believe the White Sox are leaps and bounds better than everyone else in the division. As you can see, even though they have had some career years, they have several other players not performing to their full potential. Considering the White Sox have the second best pythag in the American League, it’s safe to assume they will keep playing well and win the division,

Cleveland Indians: 44-41 record, 40-45 pythagorean record

Good Outliers: Jason Kipnis (2.7 fWAR; 2.2 projected)

Bad Outliers: Carlos Santana (1.2 fWAR; 4.0 projected)

Second Half Outlook: So far so good on projecting the Cleveland Indians in 2012. Only four teams in the American League have a worse run differential than the Cleveland Indians. They should be grateful they are in the position that they are in.

Detroit Tigers: 44-42 record, 44-42 pythagorean record

Good Outliers: Austin Jackson (4.0 fWAR; 3.0 projected), Quinton Berry (1.3 fWAR, not projected)

Bad Outliers: Alex Avila (1.0 fWAR; 3.9 projected), Doug Fister (.9 fWAR; 4.1 projected)

Second Half Outlook: So far, this prediction is right on par, considering the Tigers are on pace to finish the season with an 88-74 record. Coming into the season, I didn’t buy into the Tigers hype machine. You can look at their UZR/150 for the reasons why I didn’t buy into it. They are also missing Victor Martinez in a big way. People seem to forget how important Martinez was to the Tigers last season. It’s amazing how much a batting average in the high .300s with RISP matters. The Tigers are definitely the biggest threat to overtake the White Sox, but they will need some of their overperformers last year (Avila and Peralta) to come back strong this season.

I don’t feel like breaking down the Twins and Royals because they are pretty inconsequential right now. All I need to say is the Royals and Twins are on pace to be within one or two games of my WAR projections. WAR! What is it good for? Well, it’s apparently good for predicting the American League Central.

Bryan is a featured writer for Rant Sports. Although he concentrates mostly on the game of baseball, you can find him covering things all over the Rant Sports Network.

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