PECOTA Hates Your Team. Except Mine. It Loves Mine.

In a complete shocker to me, PECOTA predicts the following for the American League East:

W L RS RA AVG OBP SLG TAv FRAA
Tampa Bay Rays 91 71 713 619 0.253 0.318 0.411 0.266 57.8
Boston Red Sox 88 74 735 671 0.272 0.334 0.426 0.268 3.8
Toronto Blue Jays 86 76 765 711 0.258 0.331 0.437 0.276 20.5
New York Yankees 85 77 725 686 0.252 0.322 0.409 0.261 12.3
Baltimore Orioles 72 90 697 786 0.257 0.307 0.435 0.262 -19.1

My rooting interest, the Tampa Bay Rays, has been projected by PECOTA to win 91 games. Unlike their AL East rivals, the Yankees and the Red Sox, who made some big splashes with the Aroldis Chapman trade for the former, and the Craig Kimbrel trade and David Price signing for the latter, the Rays have done some nice under the radar off-season moves, for example trading reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies for some much needed offense in Corey Dickerson.

The long forgotten trade of RHP Nathan Karns, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser and CF Boog Powell (I am going to miss that name) to the Seattle Mariners for SS Brad Miller, 1B and anti-lactation activist Logan Morrison and RHP Danny “Lord” Farquhar in November was another subtle little Rays-eque trade. The addition of Hank Conger is, again, another small cog. Alone, none of this seems very impressive, but the brain trust that make up the Rays manage to find value where other teams fail.

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Chris Archer hair status update: big, getting bigger

Add the Rays pitching magic, hope they stay healthy, and presto–there’s your competitive team. Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi, when healthy, stack up one through four against any rotation in the American League East. The fifth rotation spot will come down to a battle between Blake Snell and Erasmo Ramirez. I expect Ramirez to start the season, and then Snell to get the call-up, as Erasmo’s middle name is “No-Third-Time-Through” and Blake’s is “Unlimited Potential.” Blake Snell, their latest left handed pitching prospect, threatens to wreck havoc on the American League, as he is ranked quite highly by most sources. 91 wins? I don’t know about that–I try to be an objective fan if there can be such a thing, and I can’t see that. At the same time, hope springs eternal. Just make it interesting, boys.

In another stunning development, the Cleveland Indians are projected to take the American League Central while the Kansas City Royals are projected to pull a Red Sox per PECOTA–first to worst.

W L RS RA AVG OBP SLG TAv FRAA
Cleveland Indians 92 70 714 615 0.257 0.322 0.406 0.261 37.2
Chicago White Sox 82 80 697 686 0.257 0.319 0.403 0.263 -27.1
Detroit Tigers 79 83 693 716 0.265 0.323 0.409 0.264 -31.4
Minnesota Twins 79 83 685 707 0.251 0.313 0.408 0.258 -8.4
Kansas City Royals 76 86 641 685 0.259 0.309 0.385 0.254 20

PECOTA really likes Cleveland’s line-up and dislikes the Royals’ pitching a lot. I kinda have to disagree. I can’t see them finishing them last although I do think that Cleveland will be a force to reckon with in 2016.

The rest of their projections are not that controversial, at least to me. Houston is expect to capture the AL West.

As for the National League, the Mets are expected to recapture the NL East, with the Nationals coming in second. The Cubs, to no one’s surprise, are projected to come in first place with 92 wins in the NL Central, followed the Pirates in second place, and the Cardinals third. The Dodgers are projected to win the NL West with 94 wins, followed by the Giants.

My dream scenario: Rays-Cubs in World Series, with the Rays winning in 7. I love Joe Maddon, but he must be punished. A girl can dream.

Edit: Lordy, where are my manners? Check ’em out for yourself here.

51 thoughts on “PECOTA Hates Your Team. Except Mine. It Loves Mine.

  1. Logan Morrison isn’t going to do the Razed much good. He is allergic to runners in scoring position. Always has been. His anti-lactation activism pales by comparison with his mantideophobia, and being back in the subtropics returns him to a region where mantids proliferate. To make matters worse, baby mantids, like Republican primary candidates, eat each other. Much to Tweeter’s delight, though, mama mantis has no thingamabobs anyway.

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        • It’s entirely plausible to see the Tigers finishing anywhere between 1st and 5th in the ALC. Of course, same goes for every team in the ALC.

          Well, maybe not the Twins….

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        • I expect Cleveland and the Royals to battle it out. I think the Tigers have an aging core with albatross contracts and a weak minor league system, but they did net some nice additions. I think third place is about right.

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        • Aging core, albatross contracts, weak minors….agreed on all counts. But the talent on the major league field in 2016 doesn’t look to be significantly outclassed by anyone in the ALC…or the entire AL for that matter.

          The Tigers window of contention is definitely more closed than open, and when it does close it will likely stay closed for a fair while….but this year, they’ve got as good a shot as anyone.

          They might be one of the teams whose path to a successful season is most reliant on health. I mean, no team can withstand injuries to half a dozen key players, but I get the impression that their wheels could fall off entirely if just one key guy goes down. Doesn’t seem to be much in the way of fallback options.

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        • I remember a time when voicing a less-than-glowing opinion that was based in rational and objective thought wasn’t considered “hating”….shame those days have passed.

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        • Yep, best case scenario. As a fan, I would hope for that. The Tigers can hit like a dream when healthy.

          However, if the Martinez and Miggy get hurt–and they’ve been hurt a lot of late, and Verlander does not return to form–he’s shown no sign of that, and none of them are getting younger. The rest of the rotation is not exactly thrilling, as much as it pains me because I love Anibal… and will Beautiful Brad ever learn to manage a bullpen?

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  2. Chris Archer is my current favorite non-Cub in the sport. (Of course he used to be a Cub….fuck you Jim Hendry)

    Fun Fantasy Fact : Around this time of year, back in 2012, I traded Jay Bruce and hot-shot young hurler Matt Moore for Ryan Braun in my main keeper league. Looking back at it with a bit of hindsight, and considering that I’m still keeping Braun heading into this season, I’d say that deal turned out pretty alright.

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      • Chris Archer wasn’t really anything close to being Chris Archer back then though. He had a 1.60 WHIP and 7.9 K/9 in 134 IP down in AA-ball.

        But still, it’s the principle of the thing. Why the hell would someone actively trade any player away for Matt Fucking Garza in the first place?

        And on the other other other hand, when Theo flipped Garza to the Rangers a couple years later, he got CJ Edwards, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, and Mike Olt….and three of those guys look like they’ll turn into very useful arms.

        Regardless…my sentiment of ‘fuck Jim Hendry’ stands.

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        • That is entirely possible.

          But that trade was almost literally the last thing Hendry did on his way out the door. When Theo/Jed came in and revamped everything, perhaps the personnel they put in place could have turned Archer around and he’d be in those beautiful blue pinstripes.

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        • I’m happy to report that, two years ago, I took a flier on Chris Archer for $1 in my keeper league. That is part of where Fantasy is fun. You get interested in these players a little bit. And Archer is an interesting dude. The intellectualizing is a little overdone, but at least he’s a guy who thinks for himself.

          Besides being a Fantasy bargain.

          BTW, Indy, good luck with the season, Indy. May PECOTA rain joy on both the Rays and the Astros. That would be a great ALCS series.

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        • He was abandoned by his mixed race parents at a young age. He was raised by his white grandparents. He reminds me a bit of someone else I know and have grown quite fond of, some big eared guy.

          He’s an avid reader who consumes books quickly. Big books without pictures, about philosophy and history. He makes mistakes, but as an imperfect person, I’d like to vouch for him. (Archer: “Who the hell are you, crazy lady, and why are you talking for me?”)

          Can the intellectualizing be overdone? Speaking in Latin on the mound to his catcher, that may be overdoing it. He’s young and learning, not baking a cookie. That kind of smacks a bit of elitism, but maybe I misunderstood you? I was insufferable in college when I took philosophy. (Shut up, I know I still am.) All college students are. He’s sort of in college now, and he has a Twitter account. Help us all.

          On the other hand, I will intellectualize everything. I drove my coworkers nuts yesterday discussing the misogyny in “Centerfold”–“Does she walk? Does she talk? Does she come complete?” when it came on the radio. “It’s just a song, Jo!” I may over-analyze. That’s why I drink.

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        • No, Indy, my critique of Archer was gentle at worst. (Although rule #1 for any pitcher. Never confuse your catcher. If they didn’t say that in “Bull Durham”, they meant it.) At your prodding, I went and read up a little more on him.Like I said, he’s an interesting – and apparently likable – dude.

          You may have put your finger on my rather vague point. We are watching him be a college kid on his own. Lord knows we all had our turn at being insufferable. I think I was responding to some stuff that suggested he had a poor sense of the context in which to intellectualize.. You are right. He will grow up with that.

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    • That seems like more of a business decision than a baseball decision.

      They could decide to give the closer’s job and let him run with it. Then, assuming he’s successful, try to move him at the trading deadline in 2017. A “proven closer” who hasn’t even entered his arbitration years could bring back a very nice haul.

      Or, if they want to keep him around, then there’s no way they give him the closers job. Saves = money when arbitration time comes around.

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  3. Eighty-eight wins may be a little thin to win the AL West, but I think it might not be a bad projection for the Astros. There are reasons to be optimistic that they are stronger this year, but there are also problems.

    This is generally not noted, but they started the season last year 27-14. The rest of the way they were 59-62. It would be suicidal to think they can go on one hot streak this year. And issues abound:

    Who’s on first? (Singleton, Duffy, White or Reed – all unproven)

    Do you really think you can man third with a super utility player?

    Does McCullers have a sophomore slump? And oh, by the way, who is the fifth starter?

    Did they hollow out the minors to get Giles? (I don’t think so, but it’s too early to tell)

    Was Gomez just hurt last year, or has he started his decline? Speaking of which, can Springer have an entire healthy season?

    What do you do if Max Stassi can’t back up catch? And will Castro ever get a hit off of a lefty again?

    If the majority of these work out well, the Astros may get to 90. But they are still transitioning to a good team.

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  4. I’m guessing these predictions, which all have the O’s in last place, don’t include either Dexter Fowler or Yovani Gallardo, both of whom the O’s are expecting to sign any day now and would significantly change the makeup of the team.

    At this point, I really don’t see how anyone can really predict the AL East as it’s going to be insanely tough as all the teams look stupid good this year. You could literally put any team randomly from first to last and I wouldn’t be shocked.

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    • They’re up to date, as of 2/16/16. It includes them. I have a subscription to BP, and I can see who and what they included in their projections.

      Remember that baseball is an advanced statistical stimulation played by a computer in someone’s basement, and this projection absolutely counts. 🙂

      Yeah, I remember when the Rays were projected to win the World Series in 2014…. I am still waiting for that ring ceremony with Maddon leading it. Still waiting. Hmmm. Something seems wrong…

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  5. I really love the pre-season projections. All the arguments/discussions of who’s right, who’s wrong. All the expert analysis of results that are yet to be determined. All the passionate support or refuting of positions. They remind me of the Oracle at Delphi, or Madame Jacqueline’s psychic hot line, and are just as accurate. Maybe next year the experts will consult a sheep’s entrails for their SWAGs.

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    • I see what you’re saying, but there’s a big difference between Shaughnessy making his guesses who is going to win and computer projections based on analysis like PECOTA. The former is more like a gypsy reading your palm (a patient recently did for me–I have a “blue aura” she told me, I’ll never be poor, and I am not going to be a nurse in 2 years–I think I was just emitting the Rays pretty blue 😉 ) and the latter is like a meteorologist making predictions based on data and weather patterns. It’s a sloppy analogy, but you get the idea. Both can be very wrong, but one is based on a wild guess and a hunch, and the other is based on data analysis.

      Fangraphs does their own computer data analysis, ZiPS is one, and their projections are much different for some of these teams, my Rays for instance. I think they may be more on point. PECOTA, I think, is taking the best case scenario.

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      • They still amuse the living crap out of me. Very seldom do the teams match the expectations, positive or negative. I guess I’m just too basic a person. I prefer to wait and see how the games actually unfold, and the players to play.
        Remember when all the “experts” anointed Strasberg the next Koufax prior to ever stepping onto an MLB field?

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        • Me too, bad hair. I love to see how the actual season unfolds–like I joked to scout–“baseball is an advanced statistical stimulation played on a computer in someone’s basement.”

          It’s why we play the game. This is just a fun little exercise to me. I don’t put a lot of stake in this. None of it counts towards the actual standings, although I just wrote an email to Commissioner Manfred asking if we could just start the play-offs right away because PECOTA said so. 😉

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        • Remember when all the “experts” anointed Strasberg the next Koufax prior to ever stepping onto an MLB field?

          Not disagreeing, but have you looked at Strasburg’s stats recently? Obviously there’s a big injury issue there, but:

          Career:
          Koufax – 25.2 K%, 8.6 BB%, 0.79 HR/9, 75 ERA-, 78 FIP-
          Stras – 28.6 K%, 6.1 BB%, 0.85 HR?9, 81 ERA-, 75 FIP-

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        • Church, perhaps that was an inappropriate comparison, but it doesn’t seem ( to me ) that he’s lived up to the wild levels of hype that preceded his arrival. I guess I was just trying to point out that projections and expectations of success are seldom met. Usually due to injury, but sometimes just because.

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  6. Well, last year PECOTA also predicted the Rays to win the AL East (or at least to tie the Red Sox in wins at the top), and the Royals to come in last…. so I will take all PECOTA projections with a Pablo Sandoval-sized grain of salt.

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    • Nope, not win the division. Rays to place second. PECOTA could not predict 4/6 of the rotation going down with injuries in February. It’s not that good. They actually hung in 1st place almost until mid-season, which was far better than I expected with their core strength so decimated.

      It also did not predict Sandoval or Hanley having such sub-par seasons either. No model did. Also, no one expected the Red Sox pitchers to be great, but no one expected the level of incompetence they exhibited. If they had their normal career years, and their hitters had performed to the levels we expected, those predictions would have been on point.

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        • It didn’t have the data on February 16th, your team evolved, for the better throughout, the season. Where the Blue Jays in February the same team the same team they were on August 15th? What changed? Their predictions also adapted accordingly.

          These analysis are for fun, not to be taken too seriously, but I like to analyze why they failed, and when they are correct, why they were right.

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