PECOTA couldn’t stay mad at the Royals forever.
Yes, it’s PECOTA day. That annual exercise at Baseball Prospectus where a computer spits out a win-loss record and ends up disrespecting an entire franchise and fanbase. Except this year, the computer seems to have made up with the Royals. The projections can’t be dismissed as being too harsh or negative. It’s a new era of good feeling. Optimism reigns. Rejoice.
First, a minor caveat. PECOTA team projections are built by estimating playing time and collating the individual projections from each player. That basically means, with over 100 free agents still on the market and moves still to be made in spring training, these projections are far from final.
It also means that if nothing changes for the Royals, even though Dayton Moore is loathe to utter the word “rebuild,” that doesn’t matter so much. This team is in almost total reset mode.
Have you seen the Royals depth chart lately? Center field could be an abyss. The corners are unmentionable. The pitching is thin. It’s as if they lost a ton of production from a .500 team. Weird.
As we wait for your blood pressure to drop, let’s check in with some individual offensive player projections.
This is a tricky projection for PECOTA, given Merrifield’s limited track record. Basically, it’s looking for some across the board regression for the Royals second baseman.
That’s something surprising, even with just under 1,000 career plate appearances. Merrifield was consistent as far as batting average and on base percentage from his half season in 2016 to his full year in 2017. The difference between the two was his added power last season. After hitting 19 bombs last year, PECOTA is skeptical, projecting just 10 for the upcoming season.
PECOTA gives Merrifield a 26 percent chance at “Improvement.”
Soler is tied with Merrifield for the Royals most productive offensive player. As angry as you may be at Merrifield’s projection, you have to be tickled at how PECOTA views Soler. It buys the thunder potential with 24 doubles and 24 home runs. He’s projected to be the Royals top run producer.
Let’s hope this projection is onto something. Because if Soler doesn’t play a full season in Kansas City and doesn’t realize some (most?) of his potential, this could be a grueling year.
It’s a modest projection, but after the last two years, this is a helluva bounce for the Royals left fielder. The power is mostly gone (15 HR projected), but at least there’s something respectable in the on base category.
At this point, we’ll take anything positive. How about a 30 percent “improvement” projection? Sold!
I dislike projections for young players with a limited track record. It seems like all the systems are just guessing at some point. (Technically, they’re doing that about every player, but that’s beside the point here.) Mondesi has had a rough time in his limited (and rushed) exposure to the major leagues. If the Royals give Mondesi a regular job and try to remove the pressure and the expectations, I’d wager he outpaces this projection.
On the other hand… Nevermind.