PECOTA has the Braves winning 68 games; I’m going with 71

Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez (33) argues from the dugout during a baseball game Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“The Royals are picked to finish last?” (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

If you’re into sabermetrics, you know PECOTA. It’s Baseball Prospectus’ proprietary projection system, developed by the now-famous Nate Silver. It stands for, “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.” Other than the catchy name, it has nothing to do with Bill Pecota, briefly an Atlanta Brave of no consequence.

Every winter, Baseball Prospectus unveils its PECOTA numbers  for the season ahead. For the saber set, this is the equivalent of Shark Week. Subscribers — I’m one and have been for years — can download the Excel spreadsheet and spend hours poring over it. (Fun takeaway from the newest edition: The Braves’ Julio Teheran is projected as the 67th-best starting pitcher in the majors for 2016; projected as the 68th-best is Shelby Miller, recently and briefly a Brave of some consequence.)

What everybody checks first are PECOTA’s team projections. It will come as no shock that the Braves aren’t tabbed to win the National League East. PECOTA has them going 68-94, which would be a one-game improvement over last season but would represent the second-worst record in baseball. (Not for the first time, we say: Thank goodness for the Phillies!)

The big reveal for PECOTA 2016 was, however, the same as in 2015. A year ago, PECOTA projected the Kansas City Royals — who reached the seventh game of the 2014 World Series — to go 72-90. They went 95-67 and, ahem, won the World Series. This time around, PECOTA has the Royals going 76-86 and finishing last in the American League Central.

This prompted BP editor-in-chief Sam Miller to author a post entitled, “PECOTA Hates the Royals, Part II,” in which he attempts to explain, bandying numbers and methodology and suchlike, what’s kind of inexplicable. BP author and Atlantan Russell Carleton wrote a little something entitled, “Do Bad PECOTA Projections Make Teams Mad?

To me, this is the fun part of sabermetrics. Numbers often make sense, and sometimes they make no sense . But you can’t really cry bias. (Algorithms tend not to respond to plaints.) And if you check FanGraphs, the other leading baseball site, you’ll note that the Royals are projected to go 79-83, which is better only by a bit.

Regarding the Braves, BP and FanGraphs agree — 68-94. I’m slightly more optimistic. On BP’s Effectively Wild podcast, hosted by Ben Lindbergh of FiveThirtyEight and the aforementioned Mr. Miller, I picked the Braves to go 71-91. (I wouldn’t advise anyone to listen to me ramble for a half-hour; the forecast can be heard around the 29:50 mark.) My thinking, such as it is: The Braves will be terrible early but better once the first wave of prospects hits.

(Boilerplate disclosure: I contributed to the Braves’ chapter of the Baseball Prospectus 2016 almanac, which BP is billing as “the #1 selling sports book on Amazon.”)

Oh, and one thing more: Jayson Stark of ESPN has presented his “Best and Worst of the Offseason,” in which front-office types are polled. The Braves’ Miller-for-Swanson/Inciarte/Blair lollapalooza won “Best Trade” handily.

Further Braves reading:

A rocket reset for the Braves’ farm system.

ESPN’s Law: Braves have No. 1 farm system.

Hank Aaron’s statue should remain in Atlanta.

Better Braves days ahead? Yes, and maybe sooner than you’d think.

Coppolella: Braves’ progress has accelerated.

Baseball Prospectus: Braves have six of the top 82 prospects.

The Tigers overpay for Justin Upton. You knew somebody would.

Yoenis Cespedes to the Braves? Not a bad idea, but not likely.

This Hall of Fame ballot went to WAR.

A windfall for Jason Heyward, a victory for WAR-lovers.

The Braves dump Bethancourt, on whom they’d soured completely.

Why do the D-backs trade with the Braves anymore?

Time for kudos: The Atlanta Braves just made a tremendous trade.

The Minor fall: From Braves pillar to non-tendered.

The Braves have made it hard to be a Braves’ fan.

Shocker! The Braves just traded Maybin for … pitching!

Would the Braves trade Shelby Miller? Yes, if … 

Memo to Coppolella: Don’t vent.

Would the Braves trade Freeman? No.

Say what you want about the Braves, but they are not afraid.

Would the Braves trade Simmons? Sure.

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
FineSwine
FineSwine

Actually, Mark, it has a lot to do with Bill Pecota because it uses a number of statistical "baselines" (averages) and develops deviations from those to do the analysis.  Silver developed an acronym that represented the true "average baseball player".  If nothing else, BIll Pecota was exactly that. Rather clever, I think...

Brave44
Brave44

I'll give them 75 wins. First, barring injuries, the Braves lost a couple of key last season. I believe Grilli would have put a few of those last inning losses away. Second, I see the possibility of some of the youngster melding with the vets. If they are showing signs of playing well, I see a mid-season trade for a quality ballplayer to add to the bats. Braves do not have slouches in the front office.

Tish Hobbs
Tish Hobbs

Hopefully they win the last game that I get to see them @ the TED as the Atlanta Braves. My grandmother would be so sad to see this team leave. Good luck w your property taxes cobb. Nobody gonna want to live where they can't drive & I can't imagine an IT guy coming from Winward making a 7:10 game nor a family from Peachtree City... Sigh. Chip coming back around is their only saving grace to rally fans and therefore players. Who plays for us again? Wanna still love but can't imagine how cause I m not gonna go there. Hearbreaking. Born & raised and this sux. At least the servers at tilted kilt will be happy. Doe's it even matter?

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

If the Braves have any player playing good they will be promptly traded at the deadline since this is a rebuild. So 70 wins is still a bit generous. IMO with the scaled back team and Fredi running things I predict we lose 105 games. Plus where is the offense going to come from.

Donald_01
Donald_01

You forgot to mention that Jason had the Braves having one of the most UNIMPROVED teams of 2016.  Another espn article points out that the Braves starting lineup of 2016 will be one of the OLDEST in MLB and one of the worst.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan


68 wins is a fair prediction -- but if Wisler and one of the kids step up who knows????  Mid 70's maybe

The pen cannot be as bad as it was last yr -- last yrs pen during that bad 63 game stretch had to be one of the worst ever

TOJacket
TOJacket

Bradley couldn't pick the winner of a one man circle jerk?

Joe Oliver
Joe Oliver

Depends on how long the braves keep Fredi G.

Allen Neeley
Allen Neeley

let's be brave ... 81 ... got to be more than last year one way or the other!

TOJacket
TOJacket

A positive fan............Touche!

TOJacket
TOJacket

How many years did you play?..........not Dizzy Dean.

Ben Martin
Ben Martin

I miss the old Braves when they won 100 games every year this year they will win 60

TheBystander
TheBystander

This team lost 95 games last year. I see little change to avoid a 100 + loss season.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

If anyone has looked closely at the first 40 games on the Braves schedule it may be difficult to get to the 70 win total for 2016. The Braves may get buried early this season ,their opponents in the first 40 games include:

Nationals 6 games,Cardinals 3 games ,Dodgers 3 games, Mets 6 games, Red Sox 4 games, Cubs 3 games, Diamondbacks 3 games,Royals 3 games ,Pirates 4 games. of course they also have 3 games with the Marlins and 3 with the Phillies.

It is likely that the Braves could start off with 30 losses in their first 40 games , it could be hard to avoid a 100 loss season if they start off 20 games under before the middle of May.

Tim Alsobrooks
Tim Alsobrooks

Battle for 2nd wildcard with 80 wins. Yes my heart is talking not my head.

STHornet1990
STHornet1990

LOL! 68 is very optimistic and will have LM cleaning house.............to reduce the win count in 2017 that is...

Jay Stone
Jay Stone

I'm a little more optimistic than Bradley and most of the commenters here. Granted, the pitching staff remains in a state of flux. I doubt they'll be demonstrably different from last year on the mound, and I think they'll be better offensively. Assuming the front office doesn't quit on this year like they did last year (whatever their reasons or grand design, they still quit), I'd say 75 wins or so. I'll admit it sounds crazy, but that's my gut feeling as spring training starts. My biggest curiosity is how the front office does business this summer.

STHornet1990
STHornet1990

You've not been watching. The front office has made any moves "this summer" moot. They have buried the team now for more than a couple of years to come.

Chris Shivers
Chris Shivers

55-57 is pretty close to the best that roster can meet

Justin Abbott
Justin Abbott

I'm going to say all of them when they have a higher score

Barry Pendry
Barry Pendry

And Chipper Jones will be the field manager by mid season.

Chip Wagner
Chip Wagner

160 wins, it's going to be amazing. And yes I'm super drunk

Derrick West
Derrick West

55 wins. Going to be near the bottom of the mlb!

Stinger2
Stinger2

Braves will fool the experts. 86-76.

JayStone16
JayStone16

@MarkBradleyAJC More interesting prediction is their record after 81. In spring training last year they weren't a 65-win team. Pre-firesale.

nybraves923
nybraves923

@MarkBradleyAJC If this is the case, Braves should attempt a big FA signing in 2017. Pick would be protected as a top 5 pick