2016 AL/NL Preview

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Spring is in the air (well, not really in Toronto yet) and you can read a seemingly endless supply of articles about *insert player* overcoming *insert offseason ailment*. Most of them will tell you the Cubs and Dodgers will be good, and that the Phillies will be bad. I won’t do that, because that’s not what I do. I’ll provide some minimal commentary and let the data and visualizations speak for themselves.

All of the projected 2016 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) data shown here has been produced by Steamer, and taken from Fangraphs. The position and birth country information come from Baseball Reference, as such some players may not be sorted to the position that they’re expected to start at in 2016 (I’ve corrected most I believe).


National League


So when all those writers talk about the Cubs, Dodgers and Phillies, they’re right. Generally speaking, the NL is projected to be a league of haves and have-nots. The East is projected to be two-way race between the Mets and Nationals, with similar Hitter/Pitcher WAR splits, and the Mets possessing a better-rounded set of position players. The Cubs, as mentioned, are expected to run away with the Central, led by what is projected as the most hitters WAR, 30.4, of any team in the MLB and the second most pitchers WAR, 21.3. The Pirates and Cardinals are expected to be competitive, but it may not be the three-team race we saw in 2015. The West is a pretty similar story, the Dodgers are good, with an MLB leading 23.1 projected pitchers WAR and hitters that rank third, 24.8 WAR. The Giants should at the very least find themselves in wild-card contention, with a well-rounded team lacking somewhat in pitching.



In the NL Country breakdown, the United States, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, being the three most common places of birth for MLB players are listed first, followed by the remaining countries in alphabetical order. The NL seems to be from a slightly narrower set of countries than the AL, but only two teams’ rosters come from three countries or less, the Giants and the Brewers. The Dodgers are the most diverse NL team with players hailing from eight different countries.


American League


The AL is projected as more even than the NL, with no teams seemingly large favorites or underdogs. The East is projected as the most competitive division with the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays all sporting balanced rosters, though their group of pitchers may hamper the Blue Jays. The Indians are projected as favorites in what is expected to be a tight AL central, but don’t tell Royals fans that. Who knows what Esky Magic they have in store this year? The AL West should also be tight, with the Astros projected as the favorites with an even mix of hitting and pitching.

The AL has the more diverse set of international countries, with players hailing from Aruba, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Nicaragua. However, there are three teams represented by only three countries, the Rays, Tigers and Astros. The AL’s most diverse team, the Yankees, has players from seven countries, trailing the eight countries the Dodgers represent.


Sources :

  1. Baseball Reference, all player data
  2. Steamer, 2016 WAR projections
  3. Google, Geocode API service for latitudes and longitudes


Doug Duffy | Author

I'm just a data scientist that likes to do cool things with data in my spare time. Let's talk about it.

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2016 AL/NL Preview

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