Here is AccuScore's division-by-division breakdown of the Major League Baseball season. Each league has nine teams with at least a 23 percent chance at the playoffs, and only four teams overall have more than a 50 percent chance at the division to start.
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
The two worst teams in the AL – Cleveland and Kansas City – reside in this division allowing the top three teams – Minnesota, Detroit, and Chicago – to pile up more wins than expected. The Twins, Tigers, and White Sox are all forecasted to win between 85 and 93 wins with the Twins the favorite in the Central at 54 percent. Minnesota does not have elite starting pitchers, but each of their five starters are solid along with insurance in Kevin Slowey. Both Detroit and Chicago are capable challengers each with about a one in three chance at the postseason.
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
The AL East is again easily the best division in baseball with three teams projected for at least 87 wins and no team below 72 wins. The Red Sox begin the season as the clear favorite however with an American League best 94.9 projected wins. Their bullpen acquisitions along with hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford strengthened what was already a strong team. The Yankees are forecasted for fewer than 90 wins, but are still the lead contender for the Wild Card. They could easily exceed this projection if Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, and/or Bartolo Colon can solidify the back of the rotation. The Rays are also a strong contender for a playoff spot, but are running third in the division. They also have room for improvement with plenty of young talent. Toronto and Baltimore both have some nice pieces, but will be trying avoid last place in this division.
Los Angeles Angels
The Rangers begin the season as the favorite out West after reaching the World Series a year ago. They are winning the division 55.7 percent of the time in simulations helped by the acquisition of third baseman Adrian Beltre. Texas is not a prohibitive favorite however particularly with questions in the starting rotations. The A’s and Angels both are capable of competing with the Rangers and have a 22.9 percent and 19 percent chance at the division respectively. Seattle however has an incredibly weak roster despite having King Felix and Ichiro, and are only 2.8 percent likely to reach the postseason.
St. Louis Cardinals
The NL Central should shake out with two distinctive tiers. The Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers are projected for one of the most competitive races in baseball with the Cubs, Astros, and Pirates left waiting another season. The Reds are the current favorite at 37.7 percent for the division crown. That honor would have gone to St. Louis had Adam Wainwright not been lost for the season. The Brewers are forecasted as the third team in the division, but may have the best trio of starters with Yovani Gallardo, Zach Greinke, and Shaun Marcum. The Pirates are projected for the fewest wins in baseball with 64.
New York Mets
Philadelphia is projected to ride its four aces – Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels – to the best record in baseball at 97 wins. The Phillies are not without questions though mainly in the lineup. There has to be serious concern over Chase Utley, and the injury to Dominic Brown may set him back a full season. With Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Jimmy Rollins in the decline players like Ben Francisco need to step up for the offense. The Braves have lots of young talent, and could easily capitalize should the Phillies falter. Jason Heyward could become a superstar as soon as this season. That also might be true of Florida’s Mike Stanton who is projected to be among the league leaders in home runs. The Marlins have a puncher’s chance with some talent like Stanton and Josh Johnson, but don’t appear to be quite deep enough to mount a serious challenge. Washington fans can at least enjoy newly acquired Jayson Werth while waiting for the arrival of Bryce Harper and the return of Stephen Strasburg. Ryan Zimmerman is pretty good too. The Mets have no such luck even though they are forecasted for a few more wins.
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco can celebrate as the defending World Series champion by being the preseason division favorite out West. The Giants are forecasted for 91 wins, and are winning the division in 46 percent of simulations. The Dodgers and Rockies are the two biggest challengers winning 24 and 18.8 percent of the time respectively. San Francisco will once again rely on its fantastic starting rotation and superstar in the making Buster Posey. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers might be ready to challenge Tim Lincecum as one of the best pitchers in the league, and if a solution is found in left field the team could become very competitive quickly. The Padres never went away all year in 2010, but are slated to regress under .500 this year. Arizona has major questions in the starting rotation and projected last in a strong division.