Baseball Prospectus released its highly respected PECOTA predictions for 2020. You can see them here.
PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, which means it’s a lot of statistics crunched into a very big computer brain. It is generally regarded as the most accurate indication of the season ahead.
It’s not so much the number of wins but the place in the standings that you should pay attention to.
PECOTA predicts the Rangers to finish fourth in the division, with a 0.7% change of making the postseason. And their predictive model has them winning fewer games than in 2019.
But it’s not really about games won because how can anyone know? It’s about the bigger picture. It’s certainly not a surprise. It’s not like the Rangers have been amassing some mighty team secretly in the offseason that they were going to spring on the baseball world.
Only Seattle, Detroit, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Toronto have worse odds in the American League to make the playoffs. In the National League, only San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Miami do.
PECOTA has a history of identifying trends. Last year, for instance, it spotted the downfall of the Cubs, surprising everyone by predicting the Cubs would finish near the bottom of the NL Central after having won it the previous two years.
They were right.
Of course, it’s not infallible. And there is no such thing as a crystal ball. But there has to be some reason this is the one predictive model people respect the most.
Of note here is they have the Angels finishing ahead of Oakland. And Atlanta, which won its division in 2019, finishing third. And the Reds, who added so much talent this offseason, winning the NL Central. In the AL Central, all the talent the White Sox added moves them only to third. I am not an algorithm, but I predict the White Sox finish ahead of the Indians this year.
So, take these PECOTA predictions for what they are. Sit back, let the season play out, and enjoy baseball. And let’s shoot for .500.