Yesterday, Baseball Prospectus began their annual rollout of their PECOTA projections for the 2021 season. Among the other fine work that the site does, these projections are always popular because people want to know what is going to happen in pretty much ever walk of life. The weather, election forecasts, these are just a few examples of ways that people get worked up about what might happen in the future. There are several examples of projections for baseball players available to the public, but PECOTA is probably the most favorite of them all.
Now, in order to preserve the integrity of Baseball Prospectus, I will not simply copy and paste every since projection about the Phillies. They are a pay site and their work deserves a subscription by anyone who is an avid baseball fan. What I will do is point out some of the more noteworthy projections that they have put forth. Here are some links to their work that are using PECOTA, work that is well worth the annual subscription. With that, here are some brief observations about what PECOTA sees for the Phillies in 2021:
- The top three starters by WARP are going to be Aaron Nola (4.7), Zack Wheeler (2.3) and Zach Eflin (2.0). Nola (68), Wheeler (87) and Eflin (87) are also projected to lead the team in DRA-. It looks like from these numbers and the ones that follow the other pitchers that the team’s strength is going to be the starting pitching. While the innings pitched totals might be high for a group of pitchers that didn’t even have one pitcher broach the 100 inning mark, PECOTA does think that the innings they are going to throw are going to be high quality ones.
- Spencer Howard looks like a good “buy low” candidate. If we’re going to base anything off of these projections, it’s that Howard is going to be a viable rotation candidate. His DRA- of 93 thinks he’ll be a slightly above average arm, striking out 9.3 men per nine innings, walking a little too many batters (3.02), but also posting a very acceptable 4.29 FIP. Numbers like these are ones that we would have no issue taking considering how “disappointing” his 2020 season was. He’d benefit the most from a normal spring training and pitching routine headed into 2021.
- On the offensive side, Bryce Harper looks primed for a run of great season is his projected 2021 is any indication. His projected slash line (.265/.409/.514) is the 50th percentile outcome, what it is for everyone at the start. That slash line, along with everything else factored in, would give him a 4.1 WARP. The chances of his hitting this 50th percentile seem quite good and could be a springboard to a season where he inserts himself into the MVP discussion.
- The other player you’d probably want to look at is Alec Bohm. His slash line of .281/.346/.446 over an entire season probably might feel disappointing to some, but consider that last year, he only saw NL/AL East teams. The book didn’t get out on him too much, meaning teams didn’t have much time to adjust. Once they adjust to him, PECOTA feels he’ll adjust back. He was actually one of the ones that BP thought PECOTA felt really good about. In one of the pieces Matthew Trueblood wrote for BP about hitters on the rise, he came up with this:
The comparison points between Bohm and Kris Bryant are pretty hard to ignore. Like Bryant, Bohm was taken at the very top of the draft, and didn’t find any level where pitching could seriously challenge him until he reached the majors. Even there, in an admittedly short and strange season, Bohm looked very good, although a .410 BABIP inflated his raw numbers, and DRC+ pegged him as more good-for-a-rookie than truly good. For his second act, though, PECOTA sees big things: a 117 DRC+, and 2.3 WARP.
The truly telling parallel to Bryant, though, might be that Bohm’s profile is much less centered on power than his size suggests. PECOTA only foresees 17 home runs (against 28 doubles), but also only has him striking out 123 times in 580 plate appearances. Like Bryant, he might end up being more well-rounded (if less lethal) than some imagined.
If Bohm could turn in a season similar to what Bryant has produced, the team should feel really good about what they have on their hands.
I would encourage you to subscribe to Baseball Prospectus for more analysis into PECOTA and what they think the coming season will look like. You might like what you see, especially if you look at those 90th percentile outcomes.