Breaking Down the NL Central – Finale

This is the final segment of a series handicapping the NL Central based on a position by position analysis of teams using a variety of projection systems.
Part 1 ( C-1B) | 2 (IF) | 3 (OF) | 4 (BN) | 5 (SP) | 6 (MR-CL)
If you’ve been reading this series since Part 1, you’ll remember that I used ZiPS as a projection base in an attempt to rank the teams in the NL Central from top to bottom. The discussion following Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable #15 sparked “Breaking Down the NL Central,” as I tried to find an objective method of previewing the division to combat the varying degrees of homerism that live in all of us. I believe that this project did just that; by leaving everything up to the numbers, most of the subjectivity was sucked out of the study. You’ll recall that I used these 25-man rosters suggested by a knowledgeable panel of team-specific bloggers:




Molina Ausmus Ross Estrada Paulino Barrett


Pujols Berkman Hatteberg Fielder LaRoche Lee


Kennedy Biggio Phillips Weeks Castillo DeRosa


Rolen Ensberg Encarnac. Koskie Sanchez Ramirez


Eckstein Everett Gonzalez Hardy Wilson Izturis


Duncan Lee Dunn Jenkins Bay Floyd


Edmonds Burke Griffey Hall Duffy Soriano


Encarnac. Scott Freel Hart Nady Jones


Wilson Loretta Conine Clark Bautista Murton


Spiezio Lamb Valentin Mench Doumit Ward


Miles Lane Denorfia Counsell McLouth Blanco


Taguchi Bruntlett Castro Graffanino Hernandez Theriot


Bennett Quintero Hamilton Miller Cota Pagan


Carpenter Oswalt Harang Sheets Duke Z


Reyes Jennings Arroyo Capuano Snell Hill


Wells Williams Milton Suppan Gorzelanny Lilly


Wain. Rodriguez Lohse Bush Maholm Marquis


Looper Sampson Ramirez Vargas Armas Prior


Franklin Nieve Saarloos Villanueva Chacon Miller


Hancock White Cormier Aquino Kolb Wood


Flores Miller Shackel. Turnbow Sharpless Cotts


Johnson Borkowski Stanton Shouse Marte Ohman


Kinney Qualls Majewski Capellan Grabow Howry


Springer Wheeler Bray Wise Capps Eyre


Izzy Lidge Coffey Cordero Torres Dempster

I won’t claim that this was a foolproof undertaking; even the most accurate projection systems settle for about a 60 percent success rate. I won’t try to convince you that this is going to be the exact order of finish; obviously, the game is played on the field. I can’t even say that the method was entirely subjective, as opinions still came into play when assigning values and placing players into a hierarchy. To try to make that last bit as objective as possible, though, I commissioned the help of two colleagues, Erik Manning of and Evan Brunell of Fire Brand of the American League.
I asked Erik and Evan to rank the players the same way I did, and I compiled their results (along with mine) in an Excel spreadsheet for easy computation. If you’d like a copy of that file, e-mail me and I’ll pass it along.
The results:
1. Chicago, 7.76 average per position
2. Milwaukee, 7.70
3. St. Louis, 7.37
4. Houston, 7.18
5. Pittsburgh, 6.87
6. Cincinnati, 6.50
Now, if you believe that a team is the sum of its parts, and you put your faith in ZiPS, you’d head to Vegas and take the Cubs at 7:5 odds to win the Central. (The Brew Crew might be a nice selection at 13:2, too.)
If you’re a realist, you’ll take these findings for what they are, nothing more than a way to kill time before Spring Training starts full blast.
And, for those curious, none of our panelists from Roundtable #14 or #15 came up with that exact order of finish. Someone did come close though:

Cory Humes says (February 12th, 2007 at 10:03 am):
For what it’s worth, I say:
1. Cubs
2. Brewers
3. Cards
4. Pirates/Astros
6. Reds

Genius.  Pure genius.

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  • Pittsburgh Lumber Co. | MVN – Most Valuable Network » Blog Archive » Spring Training Upd

    […] Of course, there’s the work we did here at Lumber Co. and Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable.  I wasted a good bit of time trying to use ZiPS to pick the NL Central Division’s winner.  That study was brought on by the reader response to two separate roundtables.  For what it’s worth, of the ten bloggers who weighed in with their thoughts, none picked the Pirates to finish any higher than third. […]

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