8. How close will the playoff race be?
When advanced stats guys run their models to predict the win totals of every team in the Major Leagues, most of them find one crazy fact staring back at them: the lack of 90-win teams. The only team that’s a sure bet to win 90 games this season are the Washington Nationals, and even then we all know there is no such thing as a sure bet.
It’s not that teams aren’t good. It’s actually the opposite: there are so many good teams. There are only so many games played, and thus a finite number of Ws to be accumulated. The competitive balance between the teams means that very few might win 90 games.
In the National League, for example, the Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Reds, Nationals and Braves all have excellent chances of making the postseason. Of those six teams, only five will make it, and one will be eliminated by the “play-in” game. Then you have teams like the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Pirates, who could also contend if everything goes right for them.
Now look at the American League. The Angels, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, and Rays are probably the favorites to make the playoffs. But you could also see the A’s and O’s making another run, and the Indians and Red Sox are much-improved.
In short, you might see some of the closest playoff races ever.