Baseball Prospectus on Wednesday released its annual PECOTA projections, which always makes for an interesting read.
The sabermetric system developed by Nate Silver not at all surprisingly this year projects the Phillies to, at 69-93, finish with baseball's worst record. It has the Twins winning 70 games and the Rockies and Royals - yes, the reigning American League champs - winning 72.
PECOTA projects the Dodgers, not Max Scherzer and the Nationals, to claim baseball's best record, at 97-65. It pegs the Nats to win 91 games, the Mets to finish in second in the NL East with their first winning record since 2008 at 82-80 and the Marlins to go 81-81. It has the Braves finishing five wins better than the Phillies.
PECOTA doesn't exactly go out on a limb here to project that the Phillies will struggle to score runs in 2015. It has them scoring 577, which would be their worst output (not counting strike-shortened seasons) since … wait for it … 1971 (558).
Their runs-against projection of 676 would actually be an improvement on last season (687) but that's difficult to even try to project because not even Ruben Amaro Jr. knows what the Phillies rotation will look like after the July 31 trade deadline.
As far as the individual player projections, the fact that PECOTA predicts the Phillies' home run leader (Ryan Howard) to finish with 19 and their RBI leader (Chase Utley) to drive in 65 tells you about all you need to know. It pegs Utley as the Phils' most valuable player, and projects Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee to record ERAs of 3.19 and 3.00, respectively. It accounts for the Phillies filling out their rotation behind Hamels, Lee and Aaron Harang with David Buchanan and Jerome Williams.
Interestingly, it projects Darin Ruf to get 366 at-bats and hit 15 home runs.
Some other notable non-Phillies PECOTA projections:
-PECOTA predicts the Rays, not the Red Sox or Yankees, will win the American League East.
-It projects the Angels as the only American League team to win more than 87 games.
-The Rockies are predicted to give up a whopping 849 runs.