The PECOTA MLB win/loss projections are out, so lets compare
Baseball Prospectus' annual PECOTA projections are out, as are our SportsLine projections. Let's compare, shall we?
We're in the middle of February, so it's projection season in Internet baseball. Perhaps the most famous computer-based projection system is Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) and Tuesday the 2016 version of PECOTA was released.
Predictably, it was low on the Kansas City Royals and I covered that already.
As for the rest, there were definitely some surprises. The PECOTA AL East champs? The Tampa Bay Rays , at 91-71. The Cleveland Indians are winning the AL Central by a whopping 10 games. The Seattle Mariners are four games ahead of the Texas Rangers for second in the AL West. The Pittsburgh Pirates (83-79) and St. Louis Cardinals (82-80) both miss the playoffs while the San Diego Padres are only one game back of the re-tooled Arizona Diamondbacks .
The PECOTA playoff teams:
Rays (AL East), Indians (AL Central), Houston Astros (AL West), Boston Red Sox (first wild card), Toronto Blue Jays (second wild card), New York Mets (NL East), Chicago Cubs (NL Central), Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West), Washington Nationals (wild card, tied) and San Francisco Giants (wild card, tied).
For the first time ever, we offer up CBS-backed projections via the SportsLine Projection Model.
SportsLine playoff teams:
Blue Jays (AL East), Indians (AL Central), Astros (AL West), Minnesota Twins (first wild card), Royals (second wild card), Mets (NL East), Cubs (NL Central), Dodgers (NL West), Cardinals (first wild card), Pirates (second wild card).
So there's some agreement there, even if it's mildly surprising in the case of the Indians. Let's check in on which system Jose Bautista thinks is going to be more accurate ...
Whats funnier? :joy::joy::joy::joy:— Jose Bautista (@JoeyBats19) February 16, 2016
Seriously, though, here are some of the differences in our system from the veteran PECOTA.
1. The AL East mish-mash
PECOTA has the Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays and New York Yankees all winning at least 85 games with the Baltimore Orioles down at 72. Our SportsLine model actually has the Jays taking the division with ease at 97 wins. The Yankees are at 81 and the other three teams have a losing record with the Red Sox in last. So there are huge differences here.
2. NL Central strength remains
I noted the PECOTA system being down on the Cardinals and Pirates above after each won at least 98 games last year. SportsLine has all three NL Central powers in the playoffs again, with the Cubs at 95 wins, the Cardinals at 94 and Pirates 92.
3. AL West, other than at the top
The Mariners are in second in the division over on PECOTA, but SportsLine has them in last place. Maybe the Rangers got more love? Nope, they are in fourth on SportsLine, with the Los Angeles Angels in second and A's surprisingly in third.
4. Padres down
As noted above, PECOTA has the Padres winning 77, but SportsLine has them all the way down at 64 wins, easily finishing in last place behind the Colorado Rockies .
5. Yes, the Royals
It's worth mentioning again that PECOTA has the defending champs finishing in last place and SportsLine has them as a playoff team, even if not the division champs (though SportsLine does have the Royals with a 22 percent chance to win the division).
Now let's make sure everyone knows the disclaimers. Things like injuries and in-season trades can't be measured and there will always be other variables that cannot be accounted for in the middle of February.
Still, complain with impunity!