It’s a day some baseball fans look forward to — and others shake their head at.
Baseball Prospectus released its annual PECOTA Projections Wednesday, an opportunity for fans to get excited about the upcoming baseball season while also feeling slighted by the projections spit out by the Baseball Prospectus computers. PECOTA takes its name from Bill Pecota, who actually has nothing to do with the projections, but played nine seasons with the Royals, Mets and Braves. They were developed by famed statistician/analyst Nate Silver and continue on today under the eye of Baseball Prospectus.
Like most predictions or projections in sports, fans love them if they’re favorable toward their team and scoff at them if they’re not. We don’t expect anything different here, although it’s fun to see how the projections think teams who made major changes are going to do in the year ahead and how a few players in new homes will fare.
These are the first projections of 2018, so here are some highlights:
• PECOTA thinks the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros will each win 99 games, the most in MLB. Not a bold choice, since that was last year’s World Series matchup. Fun fact: PECOTA also had the Dodgers and Astros as the tops teams in their respective leagues last year. In 2017, the Dodgers were projected to win 98 games and actually won 104. The Astros were projected to win 94 and actually won 101. The only thing PECOTA missed there was that the Indians won one more game than the Astros.
• The projections also love the Yankees — which isn’t a surprise when you add Giancarlo Stanton to an ALCS team. PECOTA has the Yankees at 96 wins, which is third in the AL behind the Indians (97). As for the homer count, it’s projecting: 41 for Stanton, 37 for Aaron Judge, 34 for Gary Sanchez and 28 for Greg Bird. That would also make Stanton the overall home-run leader in MLB.
• As for Shohei Ohtani, the biggest prize of the offseason, PECOTA projected both of his roles. As a pitcher, it has him with a 3.45 ERA in 24 starts, good for a 9-7 record. It also projects eight homers in about 48 games as a DH.
• PECOTA’s playoff field for 2018 looks pretty similiar to 2017. It has five of six division winners repeating — that’s the Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, Astros and the Indians with the Red Sox being the exception. AL wild-card teams, according to the projections, would be the Red Sox and Mariners. NL wild-card teams would be the D-backs and either the Cardinals or Giants, who are both projected at 84 wins. So that’s five of six playoff teams in each league that are the same.
• The Mariners breaking their playoff drought — the longest in major pro sports — would be big, but it was also projected last season. Other common PECOTA beliefs that we see in 2018: The Rays will be good (84 wins) and the Royals will be bad (96 losses). Both may be true — the second is probably a better bet than the first — but PECOTA also seems to believe them every year.
• The Marlins and the Royals are projected to lose the most games in 2018, both at 66-96. The only other team projected to lose 90 games is the Orioles (93).
• We should note that all of this can change, since plenty of free agents are still out there. Signing J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer or Jake Arrieta would certainly change the way some teams project for 2018.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – –