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Early projections for 2018 standings: ZiPS loves L.A.

Joc Pederson and the Dodgers can look forward to 2018 as they are projected to have the most wins next season. Harry How/Getty Images

You didn't naïvely think that baseball actually ever ended, did you? We don't huddle around hot stoves anymore in the winter, but baseball never stops and teams are already in the thick of it, strategizing for the 2018 season. Even the Houston Astros' front office, which is still cleaning off the dried residue of bubbly fermented grapes, isn't completely thinking about 2017.

As is my tradition, I run a "State of the Franchise" projection for all of Major League Baseball at the start of the offseason. This does not mean that these are the official 2018 projections that you'll see in March, but they are where each team stands with only the players currently under contract. That means no Jake Arrieta for the Chicago Cubs, no Yu Darvish for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and no Eric Hosmer for the Kansas City Royals.

For players with an options or opt-outs, ZiPS projects based on the likelihood that exercising an option or opting out of a contract would be a better idea than not doing so. So ZiPS assumes a >99.9 percent chance that Madison Bumgarner returns to the San Francisco Giants and a less than 0.1 percent chance that J.J. Hardy does (under the option at least) to the Baltimore Orioles.

These numbers do factor in regressions toward the mean (as the projections do) and as these are mean projections, you'll see a smaller spread between best and worst team than you eventually will in 2018's final standings. After all, these are mean projections for each team, and some teams will be fortunate, some teams less so.


The Boston Red Sox may have held off the New York Yankees to win the American League East, but even with a full season of David Price, ZiPS projects that as of right now, it's New York that has the better roster.