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Royals officially outpace PECOTA win projection for eighth consecutive season

This sounds like a broken record

Annual Animal Stocktake At London Zoo
PECOTA employee calculating Royals wins on his abacus
Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

Projection systems, like the well-known and highly-regarded PECOTA system, attempt to quantify the impossible: predicting baseball wins and losses through simple computer algorithms. No projection system is perfect, but they avoid the kinds of bias that permeate human predictions.

Here in Kansas City, of course, PECOTA projection systems are a little bit of a joke. They have a history of being, ah, off. Most famously, PECOTA pegged the Royals to win only 72 games the year they won 95 games and the World Series. About a year ago, I pointed out that PECOTA had under-predicted the Royals win totals every year for seven consecutive seasons.

Guess what, ya’ll? After yesterday’s win, the Royals have eclipsed the PECOTA projections for an eighth consecutive season.

PECOTA projections, 2010-2017

Year PECOTA win projection Actual win count Difference
Year PECOTA win projection Actual win count Difference
2010 66 67 1
2011 66 71 5
2012 70 72 2
2013 76 86 10
2014 79 89 10
2015 72 95 23
2016 76 81 5
2017 71 80 9

Not only have the Royals won more games than PECOTA predicted them to for eight years, but the vaunted projection system has fallen on its face lately. It’s very likely the Royals will have beat the projections by five or more wins for five straight years.

Hey, at least PECOTA is consistent.

All-in-all, the Royals have averaged eight more wins per season than the numbers said they would over the last seven years, and have a chance to match that this year, too.

It’s fair to ask why this keeps happening. Traditionally, the Royals have had both a good bullpen and good defense, allowing them to close out more close games than other teams, though that hasn’t been the case this year. It could also be due to their high-contact tendency, avoiding strikeouts and eking out more runs than the situation should have yielded.

But this year’s Royals haven’t been as good on defense, and their bullpen resembles swiss cheese moreso than a fortress. So, you know, whatever. Who knows. All I know is that, for an eighth year, the Royals have at least achieved one major victory: beating the odds.