When Baseball Prospectus released their individual player PECOTA projections last week, it was pretty clear that the system had a less rosy take on the roster the Brewers assembled than, say, their counterparts at Fangraphs.
BP didn’t release their team depth charts or projected win totals right away, but some back-of-the-napkin math pointed toward a win total much lower than the 85-or-so wins ZiPS and some Vegas sports books were predicting.
Now those team totals and playoff odds are out, and those fears seem to be validated. First, a disclaimer from the folks at Baseball Prospectus:
Please remember that PECOTA and our simulations do not “pick” a team to “win” any particular number of games. Rather, they identify an estimated range of games a team might win and tells you the average of that fairly wide range. That is the point of the visualizations. Any one of those outcomes is possible. However, some of them, as you can see, are more likely than others.
Also remember that it’s early: Pitchers and catchers are just trading tee times for bullpen sessions. These standings will continue to be tuned over the next several weeks until we reach Opening Day. Do not be surprised if your team moves up or down a few games as rosters finalize and additional tweaks are made.
Brewers fans are going to need to hope that the number ends up getting revised up a few times this spring, because the initial PECOTA run is not pretty, projecting the Brewers for 4th place at 79-83.
Cincinnati’s active offseason, acquiring multiple above-average players, is enough to push them to the top of the projected NL Central standings at 86-76. That would put them a game ahead of Chicago (85-78), with the defending division champion Cardinals (80-82) in a distant third.
It’s important to remember, though, that these projections are based on thousands of simulations with a wide range of outcomes. This year, BP is providing nifty charts showing the range of outcomes:
If there’s any room for optimism, it’s that PECOTA still puts the Brewers’ playoff odds at 20.3%, higher than fellow 79-83 projectees San Diego (18.5%) and Arizona (15.8%). The (additional) bad news is that would still put them on the outer fringes of what’s expected to be an extremely competitive National League playoff chase.
Elsewhere in the league, the NL East has three teams with better playoff odds than the Brewers, led by the Mets (a projected 88-74, 75.3% playoff ods) and World Series champion Nationals (87-75, 69%). The Braves (83-79, 38.4%) are also expected to be ahead of the Brewers and Cardinals in the race for the second wildcard spot.
Last year, Baseball Prospectus projected the Brewers to win 89 games, which put them at the top of the NL Central.
Data courtesy of Baseball Prospectus