It's that time of year again, when my projection posts go into overdrive. This year, there's no tiebreaker game, so I had to figure out how to re-modify my software to not account for one. I'm a terrible software engineer sometimes.
The team strengths are much lower than last year. There was a significant drop in runs per team this year, from 675 to 659, which is part of how those strengths are calculated. The league average is still .500, but the teams are more closely packed together.
I'll mention the same caveat I did last year. Oakland is statistically the strongest team, but if they used their best starter in the wildcard game, they'd obviously be at a lesser advantage or a disadvantage in their first game against LA. These projections work better the longer a series goes, as they reflect the team's average performance in all games, something that can vary wildly from your ace down to your #5 - or even #3 - starter.
I'm actually a bit conflicted in the AL wildcard game. I like both teams, and would probably root for both against LA, although in the somewhat unlikely event the Cardinals make the World Series, it would be fun to see Pujols and Freese back at the scene of their 2011 win. I suppose I'll be a homer instead of a front-runner, and root for my home-state Royals tomorrow.