Early PECOTA Projections Not Kind to the Cubs

Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in five days …

Baseball Prospectus released the first round of PECOTA projections on Monday. According to the projections, the Cubs will finish in fifth place in the National League Central with a 70-92 record.

Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections are based on playing-time weighted projections for each player, which builds up a team projection. BP will adjust their team and player projections throughout the off-season leading up to Opening Day.

The same system projected the Cubs to win the central in 2009 with 92 wins and finish third in the division with a 77-85 record last season.

Here’s how PECOTA sees the 2011 MLB Season playing out:

National League

Philadelphia Phillies – 94-68
Atlanta Braves – 91-71
Florida Marlins – 81-81
New York Mets – 79-83
Washington Nationals – 69-93

Cincinnati Reds – 93-69
St. Louis Cardinals – 85-77
Houston Astros – 76-86
Milwaukee Brewers – 75-87
Chicago Cubs – 70-92
Pittsburgh Pirates – 55-107

San Francisco Giants – 91-71
San Diego Padres – 90-72
Colorado Rockies – 89-73
Los Angeles Dodgers – 79-83
Arizona Diamondbacks – 67-95

American League

New York Yankees – 100-62
Tampa Bay Rays – 98-64
Boston Red Sox – 89-73
Toronto Blue Jays – 83-79
Baltimore Orioles – 62-100

Minnesota Twins – 95-67
Chicago White Sox – 89-73
Detroit Tigers – 82-80
Cleveland Indians – 67-95
Kansas City Royals – 66-96

Texas Rangers – 91-71
Oakland A’s – 82-80
Los Angeles Angels – 78-84
Seattle Mariners – 62-100

PECOTA projects the Cubs to score 711 runs in the upcoming season with a .245 team batting average … the 711 runs would be middle of the pack in the NL. The PECOTA projection for the Cubs pitching staff is not as kind. BP sees the Cubs allowing 791 runs in the upcoming season, which would be the third highest in the league behind the Pirates (841) and Brewers (823).

Here are a few early PECOTA projections for the players. This information requires a subscription to Baseball Prospectus, which is well worth the investment. BP gives detailed projections from BABIP to FIP to WARP for every Major League player and several of the minor league prospects. These are just a handful of the stats provided by Baseball Prospectus.

Marlon Byrd – .283/.341/.428 with 31 doubles and 12 home runs
Starlin Castro – .285/.321/.386 with 24 doubles and 3 home runs
Tyler Colvin – .253/.299/.430 with 22 doubles and 17 home runs
Kosuke Fukudome – .256/.363/.394 with 25 doubles and 11 home runs
Carlos Pena – .230/.355/.469 with 21 doubles and 31 home runs
Aramis Ramirez – .280/.350/.485 with 27 doubles and 23 home runs
Alfonso Soriano – .264/.325/.479 with 32 doubles and 26 home runs
Geovany Soto – .274/.368/.474 with 23 doubles and 18 home runs

Andrew Cashner – 5-5 in 36 games, 11 starts, with a 4.75 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP
Ryan Dempster – 9-8 in 24 starts with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP
Matt Garza – 12-10 in 31 starts with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP
Carlos Marmol – 5-2 with 17 saves in 96 games with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP
Carlos Silva – 9-12 in 28 starts with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP
Randy Wells – 9-10 in 26 starts with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP
Kerry Wood – 2-1 with 11 saves in 47 games with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP
Carlos Zambrano – 12-11 in 31 starts with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP

The CCO will pass along the PECOTA projections as BP posts the updates.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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  • cubs1967

    Complete garbage….. 17 saves for Marmol?????….Next!

    • Vivid_Reality

      20 more appearances 20 less saves, that makes sense right?

      Also I find it hard to believe that not one of the Cubs starting 5 can break a sub 4 ERA.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    You know it is complete garbage when they have the Astros over the Brewers with the Brewers revamped pitching staff.

    Carlos Zambrano for all his Faults has never had an ERA over 3.95 and his career ERA is 3.50!
    That is why you never put any stock in PECOTA projections.

  • xaxinho

    It seems that these projections were made by a brazilian soccer fan! 😉

  • Agustin_Rexach

    I’m not saying the cubs are Good or that they deserve a higher ranking, but I assure you PECOTA has been sloppy this year. Not only in the NL central but look at the AL East! Cubs should easily rank ahead of the Astros and Pirates. Soriano with 26 jacks? Now that would be something Lol! May be with hgh.

    And I think they should look into switching the Yankees with Red Sox.

  • Tony

    Just remember, this is statisical based numbers and projections. It is not real. Soriano’s line is laughable.

    The fact that they have the Astros ahead of the Cubs, is hard to understand, but shows that this team, as it is set-up now, needs alot of IFs to happen for it to even be competitive. I made a list of IFs, awhile back, it is long, and most can happen, but we will need many of them to happen, to make that projection in the standings not happen.

    • paulcatanese

      Tony,strongly agree.Also I know people do not take Bleacher Report seriously, but this AM they rated Soto tops in the Central with his WAR(see I said it,don’t know what it means) and Hill at the bottom,also remarked that Hill was signed to an extension that seemed crazy.Maybe they are right on this one.But still not enough to turn it around this year.

      • John_CC

        That is “Wins Above Replacement”. It’s a very techi stat, Paul that is nearly impossible for a layman to figure out, you just have to go on faith that the stat is valuable. I don’t spend much time on it.

        • paulcatanese

          Thanks John for the explanation.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
        • paulcatanese

          Thank you Neil,the post was interesting,not that confusing,but a lot to remember off the top of the head.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Soriano had 24 HR and 40 doubles last year and hit .258. They have his doubles dropping 8 to 32 and they added 2 hr and .006 to his batting average.
      I don’t think that will be far off, I don’t see how it is laughable, it looks pretty realistic for Soriano to me.
      With the rotating outfield last year Soriano only had 548 AB if he gets 40 more AB’s I think he could easily hit 2 more HR.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        Sorry 548 PA 496 AB

      • Tony

        Patrick – He is another year older, and Colvin and Fukudome are LH and Soriano/Byrd being RH, it is reasonable to expect that he could get more days off to add a LH bat to the lineup. I expect Soriano to spend time on the DL, so when you add it all up, I don’t expect any where near 500 PA’s this year. I don’t expect 20 HR’s, 30 2B”s and if he hits above 260, I would be shocked.

        How any pitcher gives him a pitch to hit is hard to understand!

        • JoePepitone

          Soriano changed his approach at the plate in 2010. Last year Soriano actually improved in laying off the low and away sliders that he used to flail at. In 2010, he had more trouble with inside fastballs at the waist or higher.

          • Tony

            Yes he did. He stopped swinging at the pitches 5 feet off the plate. This new found “patience” at the plate helped his numbers out.

            In 2010 123 K’s in 548 PA’s 1 every 4.45 PA
            In 2009 118 k’s in 522 PA’s 1 every 4.42 PA
            In 2008 103 k’s in 503 PA’s 1 every 4.88 PA
            In 2007 130 k’s in 617 PA’s 1 every 4.75 PA

            So as you can see he did improve over his worst year ever, but he still had his 2nd worst year with the Cubs, and both 2009 and 2010 were virtually the same.

            I don’t expect over 500 PA’s this year, he has only averaged 535 the last 2 years, and from the start of the year, Colvin will be playing, unlike last year, where he sat the bench so much. Soriano is a notorious slow starter, and Fukudome flames out by mid May, so a smart manager, will be playing Fukdudome more than Soriano early in the season. In April, I could easily see an OF of LF Colvin, CF Byrd, RF Fukudome, against more than half of the RH starters.

  • mrcoach00

    If the Cubs are destined for a 90+ loss season, why in the world they invest as many as 26 starts in Carlos Silva? 26 starts implies that he is pitching into August and that there were no takers at the deadline for his expiring contract.

    I would just assume give the starts to Jay Jackson, Coleman, or gasp… dare I say it… the Shark!

    Silly Pecota…

    • paulcatanese

      I agree,they shouldn’t give that many starts to Silva,if any. One thought ,this is his third turn around the Lg. 1st half last year,great,2nd half,forget it, and now his third time around. If the team is struggling and they well be,I cannot give Silva the chance to put losses on the board.

    • John_CC

      As Tony stated above, PECOTA makes projections based on past statistical facts. It explains the number of starts PROJECTED for Silva being so high, and the reason Cashner is projected to pitch 36 games and only 11 starts. PECOTA makes assumptions based on past stats, it does not make assumptions based on fans, managers and sports writers hope to see happen with prospects, “bounce backs”, etc.

      So as skewed as you may thing the individual player stats look, I will bet that they are pretty close on the overall records. They pretty much nailed ’09 and ‘0 ten. And why do some of you think it is ridiculous to say the Cubs finish behind the Asstros? It isn’t impossible.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Let’s not get too hasty with these early predictions. I would think–like most of you folks–that the standings are out of whack. I would surely expect the Brewers to compete for the divisional title, and frankly I hope they surpass the Reds. (I have had enough of Joey Votto’s mouth).

    But if we look at the Cubs’ hitters’ projections, most of them are in line with what I would expect, and perhaps a few of them are a little too rosey for my tastes.

    Bryd–in my mind, probably spot on.
    Castro–again, this is what I’m looking for.
    Colvin–I expect a lower BA, but the rest is what I think will be
    Funko–he is what he is: an N.I.V. .250 hitter with 11 HR.
    Pena–here’s where the cocaine starts to take effect: .230 with 31 taters.
    Yeah, he could possibly do it, but I expect less.
    Aram–about what I’m looking for from him.
    Sorry-oh-no–about what I think he’ll do
    Soto–again, about what he’ll do in my opinion.

    Cashner–I don’t know if he is a .500 pitcher–I doubt that very much.
    3-8 or 5-9, yes, but 5-5 would be pretty good.
    Dempster: they are predicting injury for him with just 24 starts. I hope not.
    Garza–that’s what I’m looking for in 12 wins.
    Marmol–more cocaine here. I’d think this prediction just has to be really messed up if he gets in 92 games with only 17 saves.
    Silva–the White Sox need a fifth starter. These stats are for the White Sox and their potent lineup. A 5.31 ERA looks pretty good outta him, and 9-12 with a team scoring a gazillion runs for him is probably the best he can do.
    Wells–I am looking for better than 9-10 and a 4.71.
    Wood–11 saves? I don’t expect he’ll get that many chances.
    Zambrano–the 30 yr old starter suddenly turns 35 in 2011 with these predictions. I hope not.

    Anything can happen. Injuries happen. Bad years happen. Career years happen. But I’d say these early stats are not entirely off the wall. A couple of them seem very unrealistic (Marmol, and they left out Marshall!), a couple a little bit rosey (Pena, Cashner), and predicting injury to Dempster is hopefully wrong but possible due to age. But all in all, not a bad projection, in my opinion.

    • paulcatanese

      Rip,all in all a pretty level post,can’t find anything there that I would dispute.You and Tony have it on the mark,without the rose’s,but true.

  • jw

    I know they are not a great team but cmon… I’ll take the over

    Agree the batting projections look about right but the pitching and Marmol where did they come up with those numbers?

    • Ripsnorter1

      Did you notice that in 2009 they picked the Cubs to win 92 games and win the Central. They were too optimistic that year, and their projections adjusted too slowly to reality.

      That could happen this year. I think what they did with Marmol was prorate him over his last 4 years, and that cut the saves down to 17. The system apparently is weak in the area of forecasting players whose role has changed. Marmol, once a setup man, is now a closer. The change in roles was not identified by the system and adjusted accordingly.

      • cubtex

        These predictions are just that…..predictions! NOBODY can say for sure how one player will perform from one year to the next. Cashner has never started in the majors and they are predicting him to be 5-5 with a 4.75? Based on what??? And Carlos Silva’s fat ass will win 9?? I’ve seen enough of this garbage! Teams on paper usually never are the ones that win! Injuries,down years,career years are factors on teams success from year to year! Looking at sh#@# like this is a waste of time!

    • paulcatanese

      probably the offense of the Cubs,really spotty at this point. And don’t forget the defense.Can’t win if you don’t score runs or keep sure outs off the board. They have work (Cubs) to do. And if Silva starts five games,thats five too many. Their pitching is not that suspect with the exception of Silva.I also think the ERA is too high that hey are predicting,but the spotty defense cannot keep the runs from scoring.

  • Rb5dan

    it’s only a quess, thats why they play the game. go cubs!

  • Gary J

    They project a .245 team BA…. and with the exception of Pena the starters project to .250 to .285. Now I know that the SPs eat ABs and that brings down the team total – but Zambrano as a hitter makes up for that a touch. Do they predict the bench to hit .120 or something? :-)

    The Cubbies weren’t a powerhouse hitting club last season by any stretch, but they did manage middle of the pack with .257. Adding Pena’s not going to drag down the team avg (especially hitting .230) by more than a couple of points. Heck only two teams hit that poorly last season. So basically… not gonna happen.

    Petcoa has always been a neat statistical tool, but not all that reliable in my eyes. It’s just a cute little blip in the off season to give us all something to talk about but it’s nothing worth giving any weight.

    Next article please LOL

    • Ripsnorter1

      I agree that the team should hit better than .245. I also agree that the Petcoa is way off on some predictions. But like you say, its fun to talk about it while we wait for ST to start.

      Zambrano hit .231 last year, .217 the year before, and is a career .236 hitter. So he brings the team average down a little, but the one who brings it down the most is . . . Mario Mendoza Hill.

  • Mel_pounds

    I think the PECKEROA sucks !!!

  • Keller

    So with the lone exception of Tampa and NYY being flip-flopped, these are the exact standings at the end of the 2010 season. They’re not exactly going out on a limb here. Clearly, the previous year’s performances get weighted very heavily, and that obviously ignores injury issues that may have affected a players previous year’s performance and more team-oriented intangibles, say, for example, managerial changes or clubhouse leadership. When have final regular season standings ever been identical in consecutive seasons?

  • Optimist

    Does anyone have access to last years projections? the year before? Compare those to actual results and let’s see if someone has way too much time on their hands to play with numbers…

  • Baron_S

    2010 Pecota: 77-85 Actual Finish: 75-87 (Pecota +2)
    2019 Pecota: 92-70 Actual Finish: 83-70 (Pecota + 9)
    2008 Pecota: 89-73 Actual Finish: 97-75 (Pecota -8)
    2007 Pecota: 85-77 Actual Finish: 85-77 (Even)
    2006 Pecota: 85-77 Actual Finish: 66-96 (Pecota +19)

    If we take an average based on Absolute Value of Deviation
    it is 38/5 = 7.60

    For the last 5 projections Pecota has been off by ~7.6 games from the reality

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Baron, thanks for posting. Just saw the question.

  • Baron_S

    The 2006 season is a bit of a statistical outlier though, and is skewing the average if we go back to 2003, and exclude 2006, Pecota is on average within 5 games of the actual finish per season

    2005: Pecota 89 wins (won 79 games), -10

    2004: Pecota 92 wins (won 89 games), -3

    2003: Pecota 83 wins (won 88 games), +5

  • John_CC

    Sounds like the Kool Aid is flowing as we creep toward March…

    Why all the angst over PECOTA? It is a statistical projection, that’s all. It takes into account games played but cannot and does not claim to project injuries that are inevitable that will change the number of games players start, etc.

    For example, Marmol has one full season of closing, thus with his career added up and weighted (how ever they do it) they came up with 17 SVs. They are basically projecting weighted averages, so while individual’s stats might looks low, i.e. Marmol’s saves other look absurdly good, i.e. Soriano.

    Averages tend to average out. I bet the Cubs team record is close to the projection, maybe a little better than 90 losses but not much.

    Neil, when do WE get to do the predictions/projections? And see last year’s kool aid intoxicated delirium?

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Soriano’s numbers are very close to what he did last year. They added 2 HR and took away 8 doubles and added .006 to his batting average. He also only had 548 PA 496 AB because of the rotating outfield.
      So they are not absurdly good, they are probably very close actually.

      • John_CC

        “Absurdly good” was not the right phrase, because frankly .265 with 26 HR is barely acceptable for a left fielder. But I believe that for Soriano, those projections are generous. What is there that says he can hit any better than he did last year, even if it’s just 2 HR and .006 in BA? Is there anything that points to Soriano getting better as opposed to further deteriorating as he ages? His bat is not getting any faster. Like Tony pointed out above, he will in all likelihood play even less this year. Also, I cannot believe there are many pitchers that fear him anymore. There is no reason at all to throw the guy a fastball and every reason to feed him breaking pitches and junk out of the zone.

        As for the pitching stats that you mention below, I hope it is off the mark, but again, based on last year’s performances and the fact that Demp and Z are another year older, why should anyone that is not a Cubs fan believe that Z won’t do exactly what he has done the past 2 seasons – be wildly inconsistent with brief spurts of genius on the mound but end up with a 10-10 record, and ERA in high 3s? There is absolutely nothing that says he will not continue to be the streaky, declining head case that he’s been for the past 3 years.

        • Gary J

          I just keep getting this feeling that Soriano’s huge contract – which I am in full and complete agreement that he hasn’t lived up to because for that money you’d better be getting MVP votes each year – is skewing the perception of people into thinking he’s a complete bum.

          His 24 HR last year are well below what $18 ought to buy you if you’re not also stealing 20 bases… but “barely acceptable for a LF”? That total tied him for 15th amongst all MLB OF. 15th isn’t an all star, but it’s pretty darn solid.

          Look – when he hurt his legs a couple of times right after coming over and it sapped his base stealing speed, that pretty much took away any chance of living up to that contract. And his batting average the last two years has been meh.

          But I don’t think he’s gone off to pasture just yet either. Those numbers aren’t completely off base and if he managed to achieve them I don’t think anyone would blink and say “wow he really went gonzo this year – didn’t think he had it in him” LOL

          Colvin may steal a few ABs – but I think that that he’ll have a much bigger impact on Fuku and Byrd’s playing time. But we’ll see. If he rests one more day a week than last year, that’s roughly 100 PAs… but he did rest here and there last year so even with that projected rest schedule figure 60-75 less PAs… and I don’t think he’ll rest that much unless he’s stinking up the joint – which could happen too but I don’t see it somehow.

          I’m SOOOOooooo eager for the season to start so we can stop talking about projections and start talking and games :-)

          • Tony

            My fantasy projections (I know more projections) list Sorinao as the 67th OF for this year. He is projected at 480 AB’s, 22 HR’s, 262 AVG, 73 RBI’s, in my opinion still a little rosey, and not expecting any DL time. Here is why people get annoyed, our best OF is Byrd at 64th and take a look at guys we didn’t want.

            Angel Pagan – 30th
            Juan Pierre – 49th
            Pat Burrell – 50th
            Felix Pie – 71st

            These are just offensive projections, so we all know that in real baseball, Soriano would be lower. That makes him a #3 OF, and he is in a power position, not CF. That is why his production is below average.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    The Pitching is SO FAR off the mark it isn’t anywhere near realistic. With Castros speed I see him with only 24 doubles, he hit 31 last year and didn’t even play the whole season he also had 5 triples. I think he slugs atleast .400 probably more.
    Colvin is going to play more this year I see him hitting between 25-30 HR
    He only had 394 PA and hit 20 last year. I think he hits like .245 with 30 doubles and 28 HR. With lots of strikeouts.
    I have lots of thoughts on the rest but don’t have time right now.

  • Thebearsays

    My projections:
    Marlon Byrd – .290 with 15 home runs
    Starlin Castro – ..300 with 7 home runs
    Tyler Colvin – .253 with 25 home runs
    Kosuke Fukudome – .240 with 10 home runs
    Carlos Pena – .230 with 35 home runs
    Aramis Ramirez – .280 with 28 home runs
    Alfonso Soriano – .264 with 25 home runs
    Geovany Soto – .275 with 22 home runs

    Andrew Cashner – 8-5 in 36 games, 4.25 ERA (20+ starts)
    Ryan Dempster – 15-8 with a 4.10 ERA
    Matt Garza – 17-10 in 31 starts with a 3.75 ERA
    Carlos Marmol – 5-7 with 27 saves and a 3.20 ERA
    Carlos Silva – Hopefully Gone
    Randy Wells – 12-10 with a 4.71 ERA
    Kerry Wood – 4-2 with 7saves in 47 games with a 3.72 ERA
    Carlos Zambrano – 15-11 in 31 starts with a 4.32 ERA

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R65T7II7FYX7HGQW2XLHDDWJRQ Agustin

      you expect them to win 90 games?

      • Thebearsays

        No, more like 80-85…My projections for the pitchers listed total only 76.

        • Tony

          Your rotation has 67 wins and that is with Cashner at 20+ starts, so someone else must be starting games.

          A rotation that wins, 17, 15, 15, 12, and 8 wins goes to the playoffs and most likely the World Series, since they will win 90+ games.

          I think you have been drinking the blue kool-aid

          • Tony

            The Rays had 96 wins last year and their rotation won 71 games.

            Price 19
            Garza 15
            Shields 13
            Niemann 12
            Davis 12

          • Thebearsays

            Been drinking the blue Kool-Aid since I was 10 in ’71…Still think Froemming jobbed Pappas on that perfect game, too…I do think the Cubbies finish .500 or slightly better this season, but even with the starters at 67 wins, and Kerry and Marmol adding 9 more, no one else in the ‘pen other than Marshall fills me with confidence…And if Silva is in the mix, it all goes to hell, anyway.

          • JoePepitone

            Milt Pappas was a stud in ’72. 17-7 with a 2.77 ERA, plus the should-have-been perfect game. I was invited to go to his no-hitter but I had to attend a wedding instead. I was only 12 years old and didn’t have much say about it at the time. The wedding sucked, by the way.

          • paulcatanese

            I would be estatic if they finish at .500 Been a Cub fan a long time and remember when they were at .500 or close that was a successful year along with 800,000 in the stands for the year. I just don’t see it this year. I would like to be proven wrong.

          • Tony

            The starters won’t get that many wins, if you feel the bullpen will blow the games. Starters don’t get the wins, as much as they did before. I’m not sure if I ever seen a pct of wins starters vs relievers, but it is much lower today, than 10 years ago, and 10 years before that due to teams watching pitch counts, and 7 man bullpens.

            3 starters with over 15 wins and the team ends up around 500, near impossible.

  • Tony

    Jayson Stark ESPN – Offseason Grades for the NL Central


    • paulcatanese

      Tony,read the report,seems like an awful lot of if’s for the Cubs.However,if the Cardinals have internal problems with Pujols and Rasmusun, and left field with Halliday and Berkman who knows? All of the many ifs the Cubs have IF it goes well they could maybe,maybe,maybe finish ahead of the Cards,Pirates and Astros,though that would be a stretch,might be too many ifs out there.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Baseball Prospectus:

    Note – the projected standings that were at @baseballpro were from last season. Projected standings for 2011 coming

    I apologize to the readers for passing on old information.

  • Richard Hood

    I kind of figured something was up when it put 62 wins For Baltimore. They haven’t improved much but they are not going to loose 100 games.

  • Peterjones

    That’s so ridiculous. Dempster winning 9 games? 17 saves for Marmol? 5th place? This is trash.