Clay Davenport is one of the grandfathers of advanced statistics, working at Baseball Prospectus and devising statistics such as the Pythagenport Formula and Equivalent Average. He has come out with his projected standings for 2014 and.....don't get the Plaza Parade started just yet.
American League Central
Detroit Tigers 91-71
Cleveland Racists 85-77
Chicago White Sox 79-83
Kansas City Royals 77-85
Minnesota Twins 72-90
77-85???? That would be a nine-game decline from last year, despite a $90+ milion payroll and additions like Omar Infante, Norichika Aoki, and Jason Vargas. Under this projection, the Royals would have just a 13% chance of making the playoffs. Such a season would be quite the disaster for the Royals, with the only silver lining perhaps being that Dayton Moore would soon be unemployed.
One caveat, is that projected standings like this tend to cluster near the mean. Over a million simulations, outliers are not going to stand out. There will be no great teams, nor any terrible teams. In these projected standings, there is only a 25 game difference between the best team (Detroit) and the worst (the Cubs).
Still, in relative terms, it is not encouraging that the Royals project to be the third worst team in the league.
Davenport also seems to be projecting a very low scoring environment. Boston is his top scoring team in the American League, but he only has them scoring 723 runs. Seven AL teams bested that last year, with the Red Sox scoring 853 runs. In relative terms, he projects the Royals to have the third worst offense in the league, and finish as the fifth worst at runs allowed. The Royals allowed just 601 runs last year, he projects them to give up 712.
Thank god pennants are decided by BASEBALL PLAYERS who are GAMERS and have HEART and GRIT and CLUTCH and GRRRRR! and not nerds sitting in their mom's basement.