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PECOTA projects the Royals to be the worst team in baseball

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The projection system predicts 66 wins for Kansas City.

Data Centre of Sberbank's Dealing Service Photo by Anton Novoderezhkin\TASS via Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus has released their annual projections for the 2018 season, and they are not predicting big things for the Royals this year. Their projection system, named the “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm” or PECOTA, predicts the Royals to win just 66 games, tied with the Marlins for worst record in baseball. Last year’s World Series participants, the Dodgers and Astros, are each projected to win 99 games, best in baseball.

PECOTA projects five of the six division title winners from last year to repeat, the only exception being the Yankees are projected to surpass the Red Sox in the American League East. These projections are made with current rosters, so a lot could change once the plethora of free agents sign.

The projection system has been mocked by Royals fans for consistently under-projecting the team, particularly when they went on to win the World Series. That year, PECOTA projected the Royals to win 72. They won 95. Even last year, a disappointing season, the Royals managed to outpace their projected win total.

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

You can see here that the Royals are one of the teams PECOTA has been off on the most, joining the Cardinals and Angels. Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus writes that the Royals were unusual in their success despite having a below-average offense and starting rotation. PECOTA does seem to have trouble projecting Royals pitchers accurately, to account for the outstanding defense that has been behind them.

Of course, that may not be as big of an issue this year with Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer not on the current roster. This incarnation of the Royals has a lot of players past their prime, or players unproven at the Major League level. A projection of 66 wins may actually be right for a change.

But let’s see what these players have in store for the season. They have a way of making PECOTA look very silly.