Is this the year that PECOTA gets it right with the Royals?
If so, the Royals could be looking at the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projection forecasts a 66-96 finish for the Royals this year, and that would tie them with the Miami Marlins for the worst record in baseball. While Baseball Prospectus is famous* for being wildly off the mark with Royals’ projections, this year it might get a mulligan.
*Around Kansas City, at least
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With so many free agents remaining unsigned, it’s going to be a tough job making an accurate forecast for any person or any organization.
Still, the track record for Royals’ predictions from Baseball Prospectus has, um, not been good. Over the previous five seasons, the predictions have been off by an average of 11 wins a season. That’s 11 wins fewer than the Royals ended up with.
Last year, the Royals were picked to win 71 games and finish last in the AL Central. Instead, they won 80 games and were third in the division. That was remarkably similar to the 2016 preseason forecast, which saw the Royals winning 76 games and finishing last in the division. They won 81 games, good for third place.
The granddaddy of all misses came in 2015, when PECOTA’s projection for the then-defending American League champion Royals was a 72-win season. Instead, the Royals won the Central with a 95-67 record, beat the Mets in the World Series and had a heck of a fun parade.
PECOTA saw the Royals finishing 79-83 in 2014. Instead, they won 89 games and took the World Series to a seventh game.
In 2013, the projections saw a 76-win season for the Royals, but they went 86-76.
On Wednesday, Baseball Prospectus’ Rob Mains wrote about preseason projections with the headline, “Flu-Like Symptoms: Why PECOTA Hates Your Favorite Team.” Looking back at the preseason predictions, which began in 2003, Baseball Prospectus has missed on the low side of wins the most with the Cardinals, Angels, Braves, Rangers and Royals.
How was it so badly off the mark the previous five seasons on the Royals?
Mains wrote: “... the Royals, who had a below-average offense in four of the five seasons (all but 2015) that PECOTA aimed low. And, like the Orioles, they’ve had a rotation that doesn’t inspire confidence. And, like the O’s, they’ve had shutdown bullpens.”