With Spring Training right around the corner, annual season predictions and projections have started to become available for the 2021 season. Baseball Prospectus released its annual PECOTA projections for the 2021 season Tuesday morning and they are low on the Braves again projecting them for 82 wins and a fourth place finish in the NL east behind the Mets, Nationals and Phillies.
BP’s Editor in Chief Craig Goldstein took a closer look at the projections and noted that this could be the fourth consecutive season that PECOTA has been low on the Braves who outperformed their projections in 2018, 2019 and were on pace to do so again in 2020.
The biggest reason PECOTA is skeptical of the Braves is that it is low on their pitching and particularly the starting rotation. Goldstein takes a closer look at Max Fried, who had a breakout in the shortened 2020 season, but PECOTA is skeptical that he will be able to duplicate that success. Case in point, Fried saw his ERA, FIP, DRA and DRA- all drop in 2020. At the same time, his K% dropped slightly while his BB% increased. He allowed more fly balls overall but less homers. His BABIP dropped 68 points.
PECOTA has similar concerns for Ian Anderson and Mike Soroka and when you add it all up, you get a lackluster projection. Personally I think PECOTA is too low on Atlanta’s pitchers, but there are some valid points here to pay attention to.
At the end of the day, projections are just projections. If you are looking for something to make you feel better then know that PECOTA has been low on the Braves for the last three seasons. In 2018, Atlanta cleared their BP’s projection by 14 wins. In 2019 they were +12. The Braves were five wins better in the shortened 2020 season.
Are you buying this year’s PECOTA projections?