PECOTA Projects Improvement for the Cubs

Baseball Prospectus released their first PECOTA projections for the upcoming season on Monday. And while the projections point to the Cubs finishing last in the NL Central, PECOTA projects the Cubs to make a 16 game improvement over last season’s miserable 61-101 record.

PECOTA thinks the Cubs will post a 77-85 record, two games back of the Brewers and Pirates for third place in the central and seven behind the second place Cardinals. PECOTA has the Reds running away with the division and posting the second best record in the Senior Circuit.

Baseball Prospectus uses Depth Charts to build a team projection. The Depth Charts are playing time-weighted projections for each player which then build up to a team projection.

PECOTA is projecting the Cubs to score 664 runs while allowing 706 runs and hit .244/.302/.396 as a team.

According to PECOTA, the Nationals, Reds and Dodgers will be the division winners in the National League with the Giants finishing with the fourth best record in the NL. PECOTA has the Cardinals and Diamondbacks finishing with an 84-78 record, tied for the fifth and final playoff spot.

Here’s how PECOTA projects the standings to look like at the end of the 2013 season:

National League


  1. Washington Nationals – 88-74
  2. Atlanta Braves – 82-80
  3. New York Mets – 80-82
  4. Philadelphia Phillies – 80-82
  5. Miami Marlins – 66-96


  1. Cincinnati Reds – 92-70
  2. St. Louis Cardinals – 84-78
  3. Milwaukee Brewers – 79-83
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates – 79-83
  5. Chicago Cubs – 77-85


  1. Los Angeles Dodgers – 93-69
  2. San Francisco Giants – 85-77
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks – 84-78
  4. San Diego Padres – 76-86
  5. Colorado Rockies – 72-90

American League


  1. New York Yankees – 92-70
  2. Boston Red Sox – 86-76
  3. Tampa Bay Rays – 86-76
  4. Toronto Blue Jays – 85-77
  5. Baltimore Orioles – 74-88


  1. Detroit Tigers – 92-70
  2. Cleveland Indians – 80-82
  3. Chicago White Sox – 77-85
  4. Kansas City Royals – 76-86
  5. Minnesota Twins – 66-96


  1. Los Angeles Angels – 90-72
  2. Texas Rangers – 87-75
  3. Oakland Athletics – 83-79
  4. Seattle Mariners – 79-83
  5. Houston Astros – 63-99

Click Here for Baseball Prospectus’ Depth Charts

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Quote of the Day

"Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want, be sure that is what you want." – T.S. Eliot

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  • P-Town Tom

    Everyone I talk to keeps mentioning what a surprise the O’s and A’s were last season and how it could be the Cubs time to surprise.

    PECOTA wasn’t fooled, predicting both to miss the playoffs this season.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love the Cubs to surprise, but I’m waiting for a club with the potential to sustain that success year in and year out.

    • Theboardrider

      100% agreed. That’s what the front office is building toward and why we didn’t overpay for a guy like Bourn. We may have overpaid for pitching but that is the nature of the beast. And those pitchers have a higher likelihood of bringing back good prospects at the deadline. It’s all about 2014 and beyond with this team and rightfully so. Big market or not, we are building a perennial winner and I really have no complaints at how it’s being done. The speed at which the farm system is being overhauled is astounding and could never have been predicted even by the mist ardent Theo supporters. However my friends who ate Red Sox fans did predict this somewhat. They worship Theo and told me he’d bring a championship to the north side.

      • Ray Ray

        Another poor Theo-washed soul. Michael Bourn had the same WAR as Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder the last 4 years and you don’t want him at 4 years at 48 but you are OK with Edwin Jackson at more money with his career 1.4 WHIP? Theo-washed!

        • calicub

          I’m theo- washed into believing you shouldn’t be paying for PAST performance. Hamilton and fielder have the power to be effective hitters at the highest level in the world for the length of their contracts. Bourn does not have the legs to remain at the TOP of the speed game (which is his only offensive game) for another four years. Even if fielder or Hamilton can’t field or run or get their legs injured they can still dh. If Bourn can’t field or can’t run or injures his legs he’s useless.

          The price of pitching is out of control, I think we can all agree on that. We can also agree 1.4 whip isn’t sexy or great. The difference here is a) lack of depth in pitching vs. the glut of OF depth and b) Jackson is a guy with potential who has been a consistent innings eater beyond the constancy Bourn has shown over his career.

          I don’t understand why you are desperately clinging to the notion that Bourn should have been signed by the cubs.

          • Ray Ray

            How many top players who reach free agency are NOT paid on past performance? Think like a big market team. Look at the money Theo threw around in Boston. You can add better players and still rebuild.

          • Theboardrider

            Yep, you don’t pay for past performance. I’m with others who believe Bourn’s best years are behind him. He doesn’t fit with the plan that is being executed. Jackson projects better over the next 4 years. Call me “Theo-washed,” if you want to. I’m all about the guy and the plan in place.

          • Ray Ray

            And if you never pay for past performance you will never get a difference maker free agent. Do you think Robinson Cano will not be paid on past performance? Matt Garza? How does E Jackson project better over the next 4 years? Because Theo said so? The plan in place is simple for any small market team. How about putting better players on the field and try to win at the same time?

          • Theboardrider

            Theo added those better players at big dollars to supplement what was already a competitive team. We aren’t there. Apples and oranges…

          • calicub

            How many top players are perform up to the amounts of their contracts? Few! Your grasping at an antiquated mode of thought my friend. Past performance is no longer the only indicator of how a player will perform. The proliferation of stats and medical knowledge surrounding baseball give teams insight into what to expect. Stop thinking like money grows on trees and can and should be thrown around just because it can be. This has nothing to do with big or small market teams. This has to do with being smart not only with your money and how you invest it, but being smart with the allocation of 40 man spots and the overall impact a player will have in the development/growth/future of a ball club for the duration of their contract.

            There is something to be said about the large contracts theo gave out in Boston. But is it dispositive of what the will be done in Chicago? ABSOLUTELY NOT! By his own admission he stated his regret around some of his decisions but there were also external forces at work such as ownership and fan bases. Additionally if you look at the entirety of his tenure the really bad contracts were given long after theo had built or at least completed building that organization for sustained success and were a result of trying to compete every year once that core had been established. This ain’t theo’s first rodeo and I think he is doing as good or better a job than any of the other possibilities for the job could have done. Plus, to think a human being cant and won’t learn from past mistakes is naive and ignorant.

          • brent carmona

            Amen brother!

          • Ray Ray

            The Cubs charge high ticket prices for a reason. They can put a better product on field and still rebuild. The starting 8 this team is putting out this year is an embarrassment. Ian Stewart, Schierholz, Hairston, deJesus as your lead off hitter. It doesn’t have to be that way!

          • calicub

            Ray! Just because you have high revenue, doesn’t mean you can parlay that into development. Yes they could buy high end guys. But you can’t buy high draft picks. You can’t buy quality prospects to use in trades, you have to develop them. The Yankee mentality (i suppose Dodger now) is no longer an efficient or effective means of building a championship caliber team, especially with the new CBA. You can’t buy success, just ask the 2012 Angels and Marlins, and I think the 2013 Dodgers will be singing that same tune come October.

            The agony of suffering through a 100 loss season gives the benefit of a high pick in june’s draft yes? Yes. Now what would the logic be of signing guys like bourn, or hamilton, (i use those two because you named them specifically) just to lose the benefit of those picks. Where would the cubs be if they simply abandoned the rebuild one year in and tried to make the magic happen?

            Tell me Ray, who would you have signed this off-season?

            Grienke? that would have been nice but his psychological issues have barred him from coming to Chicago, he wanted to stay on the Best Coast, excuse me, the West Coast and most likely wanted to play for a contender. Additionally, i think the dodgers would have pursued him no matter the cost.

            Hamilton? Draft pick, instability, aging.

            Swisher? Draft pick, aging

            R. Soriano? Draft pick, aging. Boras

            B.J. Upton? draft pick aging no obp

            Lohse? Draft pick aging fluke Boras

            A. Sanchez? We all know how that turned out. Cubs were just pawns…

            A.J. Pierzinsky? No thanks!!

            Would you have prefered Youkilis or Keppinger to play 3B?

            I’d say Keppinger, but neither seems like an the correct means to a World Series end…

            Did the Cubs lose out on some good guys? definately. I would have loved to see brandon mccarthy brought in to name one, but a vast majority of the true difference makers at any given position were attached to draft pick comp., and none of the above big name difference makers, aside from Grienke, and Sanchez would have performed up to the contract given and even that is debatable. DeJesus won’t be around next year. Stewart may not even make the team out of ST. Hairston was a great sign for a power potential righty off the bench. Shierholz was and is a gamble. But the benefit is, and its a pretty big one for a rebuilding team, is that once internal options are ready, neither Shierholz nor Hairston will block them, either by position, nor as had been the issue in the last years of the Hendry Regime, blocked because the sheer amount of money spent on one player that it wasn’t justifiable to bench an overpaid vet for an unproven rookie. See Soriano, Fukudome, Big Z, Marmol etc.

            It doesn’t HAVE to be this way, but then again Jim Hendry could still be in charge….

            Not that my opinion will change how the FO goes about its business, but I think I’m good with where things are now. Time to kick back and enjoy the ride!

        • Neil

          Please do not put down posters on this site. Thank you.

  • Dorasaga

    Pecota is not weighing all the over-age veterans of Cubs’ division rivals and all the seasoned prospects that shall be ready this coming season. I’m confident that T-Hoyer & Co. wouldn’t sign veteran pitching to the extent of overpricing (Anibal was close to sign), unless they saw good fortune pans out.

    I’ll be realistic and expect 89W. I was expecting less earlier, but the Winter League results changed my opinion. Thanks, Tom!

    • Ripsnorter1

      What flavor is that blue Kool-Aid?

      : )

      • Theboardrider

        I love the half-full glass attitude Dorasaga! But I juat can’t agree. If we win 89 games we have a real shot at the postseason.

        • Dorasaga

          And that was the point Theo tried to sell: The Cubs will start banging on that door.

      • Dorasaga

        Strawberry and mango. I like some red plus yellow if juiced 😛

  • paulcatanese

    How exciting,according to Pecota,no one needs to bother to watch the Cubs this year, it’s all planned out and done.
    Last place again.
    It’s amazing how the Central Division has suddenly become so strong.
    Hogwash, play the games and then predict.

    • Ripsnorter1

      PETCOTA predicts that the Cubs will finish ahead of the Padres. Hey, that’s Hoyer’s work of art! And they have a head start on us in the category of “rebuilding!” How can that possibly be????

      NO WAY, JOSE!! Hoyer’s delivered them from eternal mediocrity.

      Say it ain’t so, Joe! Say it ain’t so!

      • bpot92

        The Cubs also have the advantage of being able to sign Edwin Jackson, have Matt Garza come back, and sign decent role players like feldman baker, hariston, etc while the Padres could probably only afford one or two of those role players.

        • Tony_Hall

          That is the biggest advantage the Cubs have, is the ability to add or keep the players they want, without money being the reason for not doing it.

      • Theboardrider

        Padres are a few years away. Hoyer built then a great farm system.

        • daverj

          Yup. That system is loaded.

    • John_CC

      Come on, Paul. Baseball is all about numbers; predictions and hopes during the winter, guessing who will be better than who, is this guy worth that guy during the spring, faith that your guys staying healthy through the summer and confidence in the bench that was the winter’s hedge.

      This is no different. No one ever said to not play the games. Winter makes me a pretty cranky guy by this time of the season as well, but don’t take it out on baseball!

      • paulcatanese

        Not taking it out on baseball. Was taking a toungue in cheek jab at Pecoto. Numbers on a sheet of paper are suspect, thats all.
        Sides, I take it one game at a time (I heard that somewhere before).And right now the Cubs are undefeated and on the way to post season.

  • cubs1967

    got to question PECOTA when both the astros and marlins are not 100 game losers. is the software program designed to “block” 100 lost teams? both of those are sure fire 105 game losers if not 110.
    for the cubs i could see 77 wins if the entire roster sticks around all year and no major injuries; but in reality this is a 90 plus lost team.
    the nationals at 88 wins?? so they are 10 games worse than last year with 200 IP of Strasburg , 1 yr older harper and Haren?
    pure junk sounds like to me.

    • mutantbeast

      Houston definitely looks like a big loser, especially having to face the AL west clubs with that terrible pitching staff. Miami might be spared by the fact they don’t have tremendous depth, but they have Stanton to put up huge numbers.

    • daverj

      “both those teams are sure fire 105 game losers” …

      Cubs1967, with all this “sure fire” information on how the 2013 season will wind up, you should go to Vegas and make yourself a very wealthy man!

      • cubs1967

        hmmmmmm………last year i said cubs will lose 100 games……..and they did.
        glad your a big believer in the astros and marlins; checked out their rosters lately or the divisions they are in. astros lost 107 games last year; and moved to the much tougher AL West……and traded away carlos lee, lowrie, and added Carlos Pena; yes, that Carlos is their 1b.
        so somehow saying they are surefire to lose 105 games playing the angels-ranger-a’s 18 times and NOT the cubs isn’t really much of a stretch.

        • daverj

          Saying anything in baseball is “sure fire” is a big stretch. While you were right about the Cubs losing 100 last seasons, do all your baseball predictions wind up that way?

        • triple

          It certainly doesn’t take Nostradomus or a rocket scientist to have predicted that the Cubs would lose 100 games last year. Congrats!

  • mutantbeast

    I think the Pecota projections on the cubs are about right, I see the Cubs about a 75 win club this year. I really think Pecota is overvaluing the Cardinals, tho. Short on proven starting pitching and with a veteran lineup with players who don’t have a stellar injury history(Furcal, Freese, Beltran) and catching 140 games per year is going to catc h up to Yadier Molina eventually.

    • Theboardrider

      Cards have young studs all over ready to come help the parent club in the event they’re needed. They are loaded at AA. They’ll be competing just like they always do and like we will be soon.

    • daverj

      Agreed on the Cubs. However, I think the Cards will actually out perform Pecota. Miller and Rosenthal are ready to contribute now and Taveras, Wong and Martinez may be ready to make big contributions by July. Cards have the best farm system in baseball right now.

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  • Steven Petty

    well, if all your comments go as planned, the cubs will have another top 10 draft pick again next year. that will be 3 for team theo!

  • Tom U

    Just a reminder,,, Tuesday’s with Tom U begins at 7:00 PM CDT

  • paulcatanese

    Garza starts off with a perfect throw to first in infield practice? Will wonders never cease? The Cubs are on there way!!!!!

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  • No Baseball In Indiana

    The Cubs HORRIBLE pitching staff gave up 759 runs in 2012. The 2013 defense will be at least as good add last year’s but the rotation and pen have been vastly improved yet PECOTA only sees a 53 run improvement?

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