Just for fun, a look at PECOTA projections

If there is one computer projection that seems consistently confounded by the Orioles, it is PECOTA. From Baseball Prospectus, that stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. PECOTA is the Baseball Prospectus proprietary system that projects player (and also team) performance based on comparison with historical player seasons.

The algorithm has seldom shown the ability to project the Orioles win total well. There have been rare years where it was close but many more with big, big misses.

Last year would be one, unless you don't consider predicting the eventual AL East champs for 74 wins and last place is a big miss. They were off by 27 victories.

Here were the projected 2023 AL East standings:

99 - New York (won 82)
90 - Toronto (won 89)
86 - Tampa Bay (won 99)
81 - Boston (won 78)
74 - Orioles (won 101)

And the projected 2024 AL East by PECOTA:

94 - New York
88 - Toronto
87 - Tampa Bay
86 - Orioles
79 - Boston

An optimist might say, "hey they predict a winning season" and also note they are just two projected wins from second place. The system lists the Orioles as having a 10.5 percent chance to repeat as division champs with New York at 56.6 percent. And the Orioles are at 50.6 percent to make the playoffs.

In the last three seasons PECOTA has missed the Orioles final win tally by a combined 63 games.

They actually missed high on the 2021 Orioles that won just 52 after a projection for 66. Then they had the 2022 O's for 61 and they won 83. And there was the 27-win miss last year. 

As for this year's projections, the O's could be in for a falloff on offense. The projection is for them to score 738 runs after producing 807 in 2023. But the '23 solid pitching would be repeated. Last year the Orioles allowed 678 runs and that is the projection for this season. Only Minnesota, at 674, is projected to yield fewer runs among AL clubs. That run allowed total last summer led to a team ERA of 3.89 that was seventh best in MLB. 

From 2012 to 2016, the O's made the playoffs three times, won an AL East championship and led the AL in wins for that five-year period. But PECOTA never saw the O’s as winners.

2012 – 72 wins (actual was 93)
2013 – 74 wins (actual was 85)
2014 – 78 wins (actual was 96)
2015 – 79 wins (actual was 81)
2016 – 75 wins (actual was 89)

The average win projection over that run was 75.6 while the club posted an actual average win total of 88.8 in that span. In that regard, at least now they see the Orioles winning more than they lose. There is at least that.

DraftKings online sportsbook has the Orioles at 90.5 wins in the season over-under total for legal wagering for this coming season. New York is at 93.5 with Toronto at 86.5, Tampa Bay 84.5 and with Boston at 79.5.

There the Orioles are second choice to win the AL East at +205 with New York at +165. The Orioles are at +550 to win the American League and at +1200 to win the World Series. 

There the O's are fifth-betting choice to win it all behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (+350), Atlanta (+450), Houston (+800) and New York (+1000). And via DK, the Orioles actually have better odds to win the World Series than the team that eliminated them last October on their way to the WS win. Texas is at +1400.

All of this means nothing to O's skipper Brandon Hyde.

“Can only control what we can control,” Hyde said in camp this week. “The last two years the projections were a little bit off. I’m not even worried about projections or what people think. We have enough to take care of in this clubhouse and try to get ready for a season.

“Honestly, people can say what they want or predict certain things. It means absolutely nothing to us. So, you can put the computer away. We’ve still got to go play.”

If you were told there would be no math today, you heard wrong. While these numbers for some can be interesting to look at, they really produce not much to get worked up about. Just one man's take. I was +100 to give one here today.  


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