The initial ZiPS projections for the 2022 season forecast the Los Angeles Angels finishing second in the American League West with an 81-81 record.
The analytical model takes into account player projections and playing time, then generates a million versions of each team. Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs noted that the ZiPS projections will be updated in during Spring Training after the lockout ends and business resumes.
This would be a four-win improvement for L.A. after making key signings with Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Loup and Michael Lorenzen to bolster their pitching staff.
This would place the Angels 7th overall in the AL, which could be just enough to get them into the playoffs if MLB and the Players Association agree to expand the postseason to 14 teams as the owners wish. However, the players have reportedly pushed for 12 teams to make it.
The Houston Astros remain the favorites in the West as they are projected to finish the season 91-71, the second-highest mark in baseball.
Rounding out the AL West, the Oakland A’s are projected to finish at .500 with the same record as the Angels while the Seattle Mariners fall one game behind at 80-82.
The newly improved Texas Rangers, who made multiple splashes in free agency this offseason, still have a lot of work to do as they are projected to finish last at 73-89.
In the AL East, the New York Yankees are projected to take the division with a 90-72 record after finishing third last season with 92 wins.
Following them are the Toronto Blue Jays (89-73), the Tampa Bay Rays (88-74) and Boston Red Sox (83-79). The only team in the division who looks uncompetitive is the Baltimore Orioles (64-98), however, they have a deep farm system and should get back to being competitive within a few seasons.
The Chicago White Sox are once again expected to be the only quality team in the AL Central, finishing 88-74. None of the other teams in the division are projected to finish at .500 or above.
Despite that, the Cleveland Guardians (78-84) are expected to come in second, followed by the Detroit Tigers (76-86), Minnesota Twins (75-87) and Kansas City Royals (74-88).
ZiPS’ National League projections
In the National League West, the L.A. Dodgers are projected to finish with an MLB-best 94-68 record. Following them are the San Diego Padres (90-72), San Francisco Giants (81-81) and Arizona Diamondbacks (72-90) while the Colorado Rockies are projected to finish last at 66-96.
The defending World Series champion Braves have been pegged to finish ahead of the New York Mets (88-74) by two games in the NL East. The Philadelphia Phillies (82-80), Miami Marlins (80-82) and Washington Nationals (75-87) round out the NL East standings.
For a second consecutive year, the NL Central is expected to be a two-way race between the St. Louis Cardinals (89-73) and Milwaukee Brewers (88-74). The Cincinnati Reds (80-82), Chicago Cubs (76-86) and Pittsburgh Pirates (68-94) are projected to finish under .500.