If you’ve followed along with the Marlins season preview series so far this offseason, you’ll note that I have put out projections for each and every Marlins starter or significant contributor in the 2011 roster. The lump sum of those projections is actually supposed to serve as a proxy for how many games the Marlins are expected to win this season. Today, I figured I’d share that collective total and comment on how likely this event would be.
Total Projection: 40.3 fWAR, 88 projected wins
That is a huge number. We mentioned earlier in this series that, in order to make the playoffs, the Marlins should be targeting 90 wins to be competitive for a playoff spot, and this number gets them fairly close. Since 2000, eleven teams with at least 88 wins have missed the playoffs in the National League, with 51 teams managing to reach at least that number of wins (the theoretical number of playoff teams from 2000 to 2010 should be 44 teams). Using just a crude calculation of this time period’s sample, it shows that winning at least 88 games gives you a 78 percent chance to make the playoffs in any given season, putting the odds that the Fish make the postseason as pretty good.
Of course, that would assume that this number is completely accurate, and it isn’t likely to be pinpoint. Yes, the projection is based on the numbers we’ve seen in the past, but it does not take into account the Marlins’ competition this season. Were the schedules completely balanced, this consideration would be less of a problem, but they are not and the Marlins will be playing in what appears to be the toughest division in the National League, the NL East. The Atlanta Braves won the Wild Card last season and improved by acquiring Dan Uggla, while the Philadelphia Phillies remain the likely best team in the National League. If I were to do this same exercise for the Phillies and Braves, I would suspect numbers that are higher than the total I have derived here for the Marlins, and as a result all three values should be dropped down due to intradivisional competition.
Here are what some other projection systems are estimating for the Marlins’ standings:
Of the numbers seen here, I find the mid-80’s win projection a lot more believable. Truthfully, I could see the Marlins winning between 80 and 85 games on average with a typical distribution beyond that, meaning that the club could realistically win between 74 and 91 games this season. Not very helpful, is it?
Well, therein lies the fun of the 2011 season. I feel the Marlins can be a true-talent 85 win team, but who knows what will happen during the season. Maybe Javier Vazquez figures it out and returns to his form from a few years ago. Maybe Anibal Sanchez gets hurt early in the year and busts the team’s starting pitching depth. Maybe Chris Coghlan is more competent at center field than we could have ever imagined. There’s a plethora of randomness that could occur during the 2011 season that remains to be seen, and that’s why the teams play the games. If you asked me right now, I would say the Marlins are in line to win 85 games, but a few lucky (or unlucky) bounces here and there could throw an entire season into a new direction. As always, however, it will be interesting to watch. If you wanted a sort of “first look” at the Marlins’ cahnces, however, you now have my opinion on the matter.