The projection system PECOTA, created by Baseball Prospectus, has released its projections for the 2017 season, and Royals fans are not going to like it. The system, which annually projects a low win-total for the Royals, predicts the Royals will finish dead last in the Central Division with a 69-93 record, worst in the league. Only the Padres are projected to be a worse team in baseball.
PECOTA projects the Royals to hit worse as a team, hitting .255/.309/.397 collectively with 666 runs. Last year they hit .261/.312/.400 and scored 675 runs. The system projects Lorenzo Cain as the best position player, with a line of .274/.326/.400 and 3.1 WARP (a close equivalent to WAR). PECOTA projects Alex Gordon to bounce back at .255/.337/.405 and 2. 1 WARP. The system even likes Hosmer to be better by the defensive metrics, and hit .273/.335/.424 with 18 home runs and 1.6 WARP.
However the system projects Salvador Perez to be just 0.7 WARP, despite about the same offensive numbers, suggesting it expects his defense to fall off. New Royals outfielder Jorge Soler projects to hit .254/.328/.440 with 21 home runs, but be worth just 0.8 WARP due to defense. Brandon Moss looks like a solid pickup with a projected line of .237/.317/.458 and 17 home runs. The system projects Raul Mondesi as the everyday second baseman with a very poor line of .218/.247/.355 and -1.2 WARP.
On the pitching side, Nate Karns is the only expected starting pitcher with a projected ERA under four. Even Danny Duffy is projected to have an ERA of 4.04 with just 1.5 WARP. Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, and Matt Strahm all project to be starting pitchers under 1 WARP. Even Kelvin Herrera is projected to have a mediocre 3.36 ERA and 0.8 WARP. PECOTA has had trouble projecting Royals pitchers in the past, perhaps because it has been difficult for it to account for how much the Royals defense assists the pitching.
PECOTA is a formula, not a person who hates the Royals, but it should be noted that the system has drastically underestimated the Royals the last four seasons by an average of 12 wins per season.
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Update: The PECOTA standings have been revised to project the Royals 71 wins. Must have been that Brayan Pena pickup.