Braves’ PECOTA projections show substantial regression

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Another year, another season of Baseball Prospectus disrespecting the Atlanta Braves. After being catastrophically inaccurate in their projections over the past couple of seasons for Atlanta, they have lowballed them once again, projecting 83 wins and a third-place finish in the National League East.

This is a far cry from the 97 games the Braves won last season, a 14 game difference. The team is actually projected to have one less win than what Baseball Prospectus had them projected for in 2019. Sure, the Braves lost Josh Donaldson, but they also signed Marcell Ozuna,¬†and their bullpen is in a different stratosphere than it was this time last year. Even though the Braves caught everyone by surprise in 2018, they shattered their 76 PECOTA projected wins by 14 that season as well, making this “model” very questionable.

This system clearly¬†does not favor the roster buildup of Atlanta, which is okay because they’ve been consistently wrong (by a lot) before. Baseball Prospectus is giving the Braves just a 38.1% chance to make the playoffs, and a 12.3% chance to win the division. That’s laughable.

You can check out the projections here. Outside of the Dodgers, who are projected to win 103 games, PECOTA sees the rest of the National League as fairly even, with nine teams finishing between 78-88 wins. I respect the Dodgers as much as any team in baseball; they’ve been the class of the National League for years. But having them as a 15-game favorite over everyone else isn’t something all projection systems agree with. Just yesterday (after the Mookie Betts deal was official), Clint Manry compared the Dodgers and Braves rosters using Fangraphs ZiPS projections and found the two were much closer than many may have thought. With all things considered, Los Angeles held a 1.6-WAR advantage over Atlanta, which seems a little more realistic than the 20-game difference PECOTA predicts.

PECOTA has the Mets winning the NL East over last year’s division champ and the World Series champion Washington Nationals. And while many are on the Cincinnati Reds hype train, having them favored to win the NL Central seems a bit far-fetched. No projection system is perfect, and I’m sure PECOTA has had their fair share of success stories, but given how they have significantly short-changed the Braves the past two years, I would not put too much weight into these projections. In their defense, it must be difficult for any analytics system to predict the amount of unavoidable lousy luck that goes into a New York Mets’ season.

 

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