There are so many projection systems out there in the world today for baseball, it can make one’s head spin.
All of them are useful in some ways. For me, I grew up on Baseball Prospectus. Their book, “Baseball Between the Numbers” has been one of the major influences in my baseball philosophy, so when I see their PECOTA projections come out, they’re the ones that I usually defer to when it comes to looking at the season ahead. We’ll look at the other systems over the next few days, but today, let’s look at PECOTA.
Now, before we move forward, I’d state: you should subscribe to BP. I’m not going to post all of their work here as that wouldn’t be right. What I will go over are just a few observations from some of the interesting things I’ve noticed while perusing the numbers.
*Any numbers that are used are from the 50th percentile projections
Playoffs? Again? What is this 2008?
PECOTA creates projected standings and updates them almost daily. As of this writing, this is how they see the division playing out.
That’s pretty much what you would figure as far as the Phillies are concerned. Why they’re so bearish on the Braves and bullish on the Mets is interesting (losing Dansby Swanson isn’t that big, is it?), but for the Phillies, giving them 74% odds at making the playoffs seems about right. These initial win/loss totals are created through the use of their depth charts, so this takes into account the fact that Bryce Harper is out for most of the season. Were he to be in the lineup on Opening Day, you’d have to think they would look even better than what we see above. It also doesn’t take into account any top prospects that could make the initial roster and have a real impact for them, but we’ll get to him in a minute. For now, I’ll take it.
How about those hitters, huh?
Being as how the team is built around its offense being able to bludgeon teams to death, you’d come into this exercise thinking that PECOTA is bullish on the hitters and you’d be right. The five hitters that are expected to last the entire season with the team all have a DRC+ north of 100 (DRC+ being BP’s all encompassing offensive number). Trea Turner (122), J.T. Realmuto (112), Kyle Schwarber (131), Rhys Hoskins (118) and Nick Castellanos (109) are expected to form the backbone of one of the top offenses in the game. Alec Bohm (97) and Bryson Stott (93) don’t look to be too far behind the pace, but it’s Brandon Marsh (77) that the machines don’t believe is going to live up to the hype. Since PECOTA weights the past performances of a hitter quite heavily, this projection would make sense. Were you a wide-eyed optimist though, you’d look at Marsh getting a full offseason to work with Kevin Long and you’d see reason that that projection is going to be rather low. Having seven of the nine regular hitters be projected to be at or above league average is a wonderful place to start building a playoff team.
And Harper won’t even be there yet...
Hey, what’s the outlook on that Painter guy?
First off, yes, Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are projected to be two of the top four pitchers by WARP per PECOTA.
Ok, that’s out of the way. WHAT ABOUT ANDREW PAINTER!?!?!?!
The totals for Painter are looking at the low end of time in the majors (45 2⁄3 IP total). That affects things like strikeouts, wins, the things that make a guy look good in arbitration. Since we’re interested in the peripherals, those are actually quite promising.
3.3 BB/9, 8.9 K/9, 3.88 ERA (4.49 DRA), closest comps: Dylan Bundy, Julio Teheran
These aren’t the most terribly impressive numbers, but then one has to remember that he’ll be pitching most of this season as a 20 year old kid. The more glowing reports that come out of Clearwater, the more superlatives that are hurled his way as people watch him, the harder it will be if the team decides not to take him north. It’ll be even harder if there is any failure at all. All the things we hear about the young man’s makeup suggest that failure is not something that will set him back any, but it’s one thing to say that on the outside. It’s quite another to actually experience it at the major league level. That’s why as the drum beats louder for Painter to make the team out of camp, there should be some pushing back to help temper the expectations that will follow him.
There are a lot more interesting things that make up the PECOTA projections. Looking at what they believe Juan Soto will do and it just boggles the mind, frankly. Concerning the Phillies, it’s heartening to see that they look to be a very good team for most of the season. Let’s just hope they play closer to what PECOTA thinks they will than what the closest pessimist believes will happen.