For Pete's Sake

Three projections, three apologies for picking Royals to miss the playoffs

No one picked the Royals to win the World Series last year but that didn’t seem to bother the players on Nov. 1 at Citi Field in New York.
No one picked the Royals to win the World Series last year but that didn’t seem to bother the players on Nov. 1 at Citi Field in New York. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Royals fans can laugh this off, right?

You plan to watch the Royals get their World Series championship rings at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, so who cares what others say about their chances in 2016?

A year ago, no one thought the Royals would make a return trip to the World Series and they won the whole dang thing.

Maybe that’s why you hear apologies from those making preseason picks.

On Tuesday, Baseball Prospectus released its annual PECOTA projections and the Royals were forecast to win 76 games. A year ago, those projections had the Royals winning 73 games when the season started, and that’s why Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus had a mea culpa of sorts ready to publish Tuesday morning.

Miller starts by writing: “This is the projected win total that nobody wanted.” Here’s more:

Our staff didn’t want it. It’s not just that when we polled our writers for their own Royals predictions — before PECOTA had been run — not one of them went as low as 76. It’s not even that not one of them went lower than 80, or that only one of 27 responses was lower than 85, or that the plurality response was 90, or that the average was 88. It’s this: When I asked a follow-up question a few days later — “If I told you PECOTA projects them to win 76 games this year, does your answer change?” — the response was overwhelmingly “nah.” In fact… counting them out… 73 percent of staff said it didn’t change their answer at all. As one put it: “No, because the projections just seem to not like the Royals.” This seems awfully close to a crisis of confidence. We’ll get into that.

It’s a good read from Mr. Miller about why the Royals have caused Baseball Prospectus’ trouble with the Royals.

Of course, it would be unfair to make it seem like Baseball Prospectus is the only one down on the Royals this year.

On Monday, USA Today released its picks for the season and had the Royals winning 84 games, finishing second to the Chicago White Sox and missing the playoffs. Gabe Lacques, the author of the article, asked the Royals fans to hold off feeling slighted:

Our fetish for Pale Hose should not be seen as a diss toward the Royals (84 wins). It’s just really hard to repeat, particularly as a mid-market team lacking depth. We’d be thrilled if they proved us wrong.

Let’s travel back a month to when FanGraphs projected just 79 wins for the Royals this year.

That led to Harry Pavlidis, the Director of Technology for Baseball Prospectus, admitting that mistakes had been made in the past.

The moral of this story, er, blog post? If you read these awful predictions for the Royals in 2016 and want to scream, make it Roger Daltrey’s scream from The Who’s “We Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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