Traditionally, I like to start my preview series each spring with a defensive-focused piece that becomes the centerpiece of the logic-based previews that are to follow. You can check the archives and see the 2012 Detroit Tigers preview and the 2013 Los Angeles Angels preview for examples. In them, I talk about my theory that projecting and even grading team defenses is far different than a mere sum-of-the-parts exercise (’12 Tigers essay) and how the dreaded ‘eye test’ may be responsible for a significant amount of distortion in the Total Zone and Ultimate Zone Rating systems that form the backbone for the defensive portion of differing WAR calculations (’13 Angels).
Owing to the requirements of SEC rules which require publicly held corporations to disseminate to their shareholders materially adverse news, companies are notorious for issuing these negative press releases on Friday afternoons, after the stock market has closed. The thought is that the weekend news cycle may push the negative item to a less-publicized standing by the time Monday morning rolls around and the stock market reopens. Need to issue an earnings warning because your quarterly results are going to fall short of previously-issued guidance? Use Friday to issue a 4:30pm EST press release. Need to announce the sudden resignation of your CEO so that he can ‘spend more time with his family’? No better time than Friday evening. Writing a preview piece for the upcoming baseball season that is relatively negative on the fortunes of your current hometown team – a team on which you are friends with some employees? Write it up Friday night for weekend dissemination in the middle of March Madness!
In the case of this year’s out-of-consensus call, I’m having a little trouble mustering the same level of conviction. So instead of donning a megaphone and shouting from the lectern, I think I’ll just whisper this and get the hell off stage. The Seattle Mariners are going to win the AL West in 2014.
To win 90 games in a season, you should expect to outscore your opponents by roughly 100 runs. Sure, there are exceptions, and while generally rare they can also be very notable. Namely, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles won 93 games while scoring just 7 more runs than their opponents. Still, if you expect (and really, since these previews are always viewed through the lens of Las Vegas expectations, it’s the right viewpoint for this piece) to win 90 games you must have a plan in place where you will outscore your opponents by triple digits over the course of 162 games.