Today is PECOTA projection day, a day that usually draws ire from Royals fans for how few wins the algorithm predicts for our team (BET AGAINST US!) This year, however, expectations are already low, so perhaps Royals fans will be a bit pleased that the projection shows the Royals with 71 wins, good enough for third-best in the Central. In fact, due to so many tanking teams, the Royals project to be better than five other teams in baseball (Tigers, White Sox, Rangers, Orioles, and Marlins).
PECOTA projects the Royals to score 707 runs, which would be a 10% increase from last year’s run total. It also projects the Royals to improve slightly at run production, giving up just 809 runs, compared to 833 last year. The only notable transactions the Royals have made this year are signing outfielder Billy Hamilton, utillity player Chris Owings, and reliever Brad Boxberger, the last of which is not reflected in these projections.
Last year was the first time since at least 2009 that PECOTA actually overestimated the Royals. While it projected 66 wins for the Royals, the team underperformed even that low estimate with a 58-104 season. You can see here how much PECOTA has historically underestimated the Royals over the last decade.
You can see some of the player projections here. The Royals could be even better than their 71-win projection if Ryan O’Hearn outperforms his below replacement-level projection or if Adalberto Mondesi exceeds the 2.4 WARP (a close analog to WAR) projection. PECOTA is pretty bullish on young pitchers Jake Junis and Brad Keller, projecting them both to be over a one-WARP pitcher.
Or course, these standings are only a snapshot of talent levels now, and over 100 free agents are still unsigned, including top players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. PECOTA projects the Astros to be the top team with 99 wins, followed by the Yankees (96 wins) and Dodgers (95).
Thoughts on any of the projections?