This is a change.
Usually, the annual PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus cast a dire scenario for the Royals. And while the outlook isn’t great for the Royals this year, it would be a vast improvement from the 2018 season.
PECOTA, which is an acronym for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, each year projects a team’s win-loss record for the upcoming season. While its forecast for the 2019 Royals only sees a 71-91 record, that would be good for third place in the American League Central, ahead of the Tigers and White Sox.
It also would be a 13-win improvement over the 2018 season, when the Royals had the worst record in the Central.
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Last year, PECOTA was wrong about the Royals’ win total, but in a good way. It had seen a 65-win season, but the Royals went 58-103.
In the five seasons before that, however, PECOTA undersold the Royals to the tune of an average 11 wins per season, including a projection of 72 victories in 2015 when the Royals finished 95-77 and won the World Series.
According to Baseball Prospectus, “PECOTA is a system that takes a player’s past performance and tries to project the most likely outcome for the following season. It looks at all of the numbers, and all the numbers that make up the numbers, to see which players are more likely to repeat their success and which ones benefited from good fortune.”
PECOTA shows six Royals players hitting 15 or more home runs in the 2019 season, but has no starter with a batting average above .277. That’s the outlook for baseball’s reigning hit leader, Whit Merrifield.