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Let’s pick some over/unders on Royals PECOTA projections!

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This inanimate objective algorithm hates our team!

Election teamwork: Supervisor Doug Caldwell; above; inserts a tape into the computer system; while T... Photo by Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images

It is PECOTA Week at Baseball Prospectus, which means the release of their 2021 projections. This year presents an unusual challenge in deciding how to weigh last year’s truncated 60-game season. Ultimately, Baseball Prospectus decided to weigh last year as it would any other 60-game stretch, writing:

As such, there is nothing special about 2020 MLB performances as far as PECOTA is concerned, as compared to other samples of similar size. The weight ultimately placed on individual previous performances is determined by the demonstrated connection between such performances and future performances, not because we have decided to assign it some particular value.

Even with last year’s bizarre season behind us, there is still a great deal of uncertainty over this season, even questions about how many games will be played. But the projections will have to do the best they can. Let’s look at some notable Royals projections - will you take the over or under on the PECOTA projection?

Jorge Soler: 27 home runs

This projection seems really low considering he led the league with 48 home runs in 2019, but consider that (a) if you pro-rate Soler’s numbers last year, he would only hit 30 home runs in 162 games; and (b) Soler was unusually healthy in 2019 and has been hurt pretty much every year, including last year when he suffered an oblique injury. Soler will be 29 this season, so he’s certainly not old, and this is a contract year for him, so hopefully he can get back to his franchise record-setting pace.

Poll

Are you taking the over or under on Jorge Soler hitting 27 home runs?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Over
    (543 votes)
  • 16%
    Under
    (108 votes)
651 votes total Vote Now

Salvador Perez: .748 OPS

Salvy has been pretty inexplicable his entire career, but he took that to new heights last year. Catchers are supposed to decline with the bat in their 30s. Catchers are supposed to struggle after Tommy John surgery. Hitters who have terrible plate discipline are supposed to struggle once pitchers figure out not to throw them strikes. Instead, Salvador Perez had his best offensive season last year. PECOTA projects him to hit .253/.289/.459 with 24 home runs, which would be down from last year’s numbers, but in line with his career totals.

Poll

Are you taking the over or under on Salvador Perez hitting a .748 OPS?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Over
    (274 votes)
  • 54%
    Under
    (326 votes)
600 votes total Vote Now

Carlos Santana: 97 walks

There have only been six seasons where a Royals hitter has drawn as many as 100 walks, the last coming in 1989 by Kevin Seitzer. Carlos Santana gives the Royals their best shot at reaching that mark in some time after he led the league in the category last year with 47 in just 60 games. But he also hit just .199, so pitchers could figure out they have a better chance of retiring him if they give him something to hit.

Poll

Are you taking the over or under on Carlos Santana drawing 97 walks?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Over
    (172 votes)
  • 70%
    Under
    (410 votes)
582 votes total Vote Now

Whit Merrifield: .272 batting average

PECOTA seems pessimistic on Whit at age 32. Merrifield’s numbers did regress last year, but again, it was only 60 games. PECOTA has him hitting just .272/.323/.411, which would be the worst batting average and on-base percentage of his career, and the worst he has slugged since his rookie season. Whit did enjoy unusually high BABIP in 2018 and 2019, so perhaps he is regressing to the mean a bit, or perhaps he’ll use this as another chip on his shoulder to put together another All-Star season.

Poll

Are you taking the over or under on Whit Merrifield hitting .272

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Over
    (592 votes)
  • 5%
    Under
    (35 votes)
627 votes total Vote Now

Adalberto Mondesi: 3.4 WAR/VORP

Baseball Prospectus developed Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) as a predecessor to the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) developed at Baseball Reference and Fangraphs. The idea is the same, although they are calculated differently. Baseball Prospectus projects Adalberto Mondesi to hit just .229/.272/.384, but with his speed (38 projected steals) and defense, they project him to be a 3.4 VORP player. After last year’s roller coaster season, I’m not sure anyone knows what to expect with Mondesi.

Poll

Are you taking the over or under on 3.4 WAR/VORP for Adalberto Mondesi?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Over
    (353 votes)
  • 40%
    Under
    (244 votes)
597 votes total Vote Now

Mike Minor: 3.71 ERA

Free agent Mike Minor projects to be the best Royals starting pitcher with a 3.71 ERA and 4.06 FIP. Last year’s rookie arms Brady Singer and Kris Bubic project to be pretty similar with a 4.28 ERA and 4.37 ERA, respectively. Curiously, it is Brad Keller with a rather pessimistic projection of a 4.40 ERA, although his top comparable is Lucas Giolito. I suppose that is the Lucas Giolito that had below-average strikeout numbers early in his career, although maybe PECOTA knows something we don’t about a future Brad Keller explosion. Anyway, back to Minor, he was very good in 2019 (3.59 ERA) and lousy in 2020 (5.56 ERA), are you taking the over (bad ERA) or under (good ERA) with Mike Minor?

Poll

Are you taking the over or under on a 3.71 ERA for Mike Minor?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Over
    (434 votes)
  • 27%
    Under
    (164 votes)
598 votes total Vote Now