One of the proposals that’s been discussed for getting Major League Baseball back on the field is to get everyone together in the greater Phoenix area and Florida to have two leagues – a Cactus League and a Grapefruit League. Over at Fangraphs, Dan Szymborski ran the ZiPS projections for each team based on the division that they would now be in based on the leaked information.
When the plan was leaked out, it wasn’t the best news for Cincinnati Reds fans. The team went from an outlook that gave them a solid chance of making the playoffs, and even a shot at contending for the National League Central division to landing in what was easily the toughest division in all of baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Angels, White Sox, and with their shared-home organization – Cleveland.
Within the National League Central the Reds were projected by ZiPS to finish at .500, four games back of the Chicago Cubs. But they still held a 24.3% chance of making the playoffs, as the error bars with the Reds were quite high due to the upside of the team. In the “Cactus League West” division that is much tougher, the Reds are still projected to finish at .500, but that now would put them 13 games back in a much shorter schedule of the first place Dodgers.
On one hand, Cincinnati’s chances of winning the division fell off of the map, going from 17.8% in the National League Central to just 4.3% in the Cactus League West. But what’s interesting is that their playoff percentage actually goes up with this plan to 25.6% thanks to an increased chance at the wild card.
Last week we took a look at what having the two “spring training” leagues would potentially mean and how one is far more pitcher friendly than the other. The ZiPS projections don’t really get into that aspect of it – and while Dan Szymborski is much smarter than I am, I’m not really sure how well the adjustments can be made for that kind of thing since we’ve never really had a season play out like that and we don’t really know how to truly adjust Major League players in such scenarios. From a whole “what if” situation, though, I would be intrigued to see what would happen. Sure, it would be great if we didn’t even have to entertain the idea – but those aren’t the times we’re living in right now.