A look at the PECOTA projection and O’s infield depth

Death, taxes and PECOTA projecting the Orioles for a losing season.

The Orioles may have two promising young pitchers to join Chris Tillman heading up their rotation and a bullpen that led the American League in ERA last year. Despite that, PECOTA predicts that they will give up the most runs in baseball this season and finish with the third-worst record in the majors as they finish last in the AL East.

The annual PECOTA projection from Baseball Prospectus is out and a tradition continued with the projection that the 2017 Orioles will win just 73 games. Only San Diego (70) and Kansas City (71) were projected to win fewer. The O’s were projected to allow 813 runs, more than any other team.

Camden Yards daytime.jpgPECOTA projects the AL East:
90-72 - Boston
84-78 - Tampa Bay
81-81 - Toronto and New York
73-89 - Baltimore

PECOTA, which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, is Baseball Prospectus’ proprietary system that projects player performance based on comparison with historical player seasons.

It has become almost comical how much the system has missed on the Orioles in recent years. Since 2012, the Orioles have won 444 games to lead the American League for those five seasons. During that span, PECOTA projected a total of 371 victories. The system has predicted five straight losing seasons for the Orioles in that time, missing each time. Now a prediction for another losing year.

How PECOTA has projected the Orioles:
2012: 71 (won 93)
2013: 75 (won 85)
2014: 75 (won 96)
2015: 78 (won 81)
2016: 72 (won 89)

With a miss that was too low by an average of 14.6 victories over those five seasons, does that mean the 2017 Orioles will win 87 or 88 games?

Minor league infield depth an issue?: With Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado in the Orioles infield, the team has a strong four at the big league level. But the recent signings of Robert Andino and Johnny Giavotella to minor league contracts shed light on the organization’s lack of quality infield prospects at the higher levels on the farm.

Last year at Triple-A Norfolk, the infield included players like Michael Almanzar, Corban Joseph, Paul Janish, Sharlon Schoop and Ozzie Martinez. Trey Mancini played first base but the other spots in the Norfolk infield were manned by players not considered up-and-coming prospects and none originally signed or drafted by the Orioles.

Andino and Giavotella could make up part of the Tides infield in 2017 and be joined by long-time O’s farmhand Garabez Rosa. Two O’s prospect that could move up that played at Double-A Bowie last year were third baseman Drew Dosch and shortstop Adrian Marin. Dosch hit .261/.306/.412 for Bowie and had a very strong second half, where he hit .306 with an OPS of .878. Marin hit .232/.284/.308 for the Baysox.

The O’s most promising infield prospects at the moment are at the lower levels with players like shortstop Ryan Mountcastle and third baseman Jomar Reyes. A youngster from the Dominican named Irving Ortega has shown promise and could move up to Single-A Delmarva this year at 20.

The Orioles can take pride in developing Jonathan Schoop and Machado. But right now, the farm system has few infield prospects at the higher levels and the Triple-A affiliate will likely once again feature several veterans that were not originally Orioles playing on the infield.

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