Chicago Cubs: PECOTA win projections are out for 2020

Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs exceeded the yearly PECOTA projections each year in the Joe Maddon era and are hoping for similar results with David Ross.

I vividly recall last year when the PECOTA projections came out for the Chicago Cubs how outraged folks were that the highly-sophisticated algorithm predicted that the north siders would win just 79 games. The Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) has been around since the early 2000s, and Baseball Prospectus has utilized the sabermetric system heavily for their player projections since 2009.

On Tuesday, the results were released for the 2020 Chicago Cubs, and they are slated for 84.5 wins, which would be good enough for the second Wild Card spot. Within the division, the projected win total would be a second-place finish behind the Cincinnati Reds – aided by their active offseason – at 86.1 wins.

A second Wild Card spot provides the Cubs with the fifth-best record in the National League trailing, in order, the Dodgers (102.5), Mets (87.8), Nationals (87.1), and Reds.

The Cubs brass spoke with the media at the team’s Spring Training facility yesterday, and President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, spoke on the projections:

"“It’s not that unusual that they predict us to win more than 84, but hopefully we’ll prove them wrong and win a lot more than 85.”"

Most of the team has already reported to Spring Training – ahead of Wednesday’s deadline for Pitchers and Catchers to report – and it’s been a positive vibe for David Ross thus far. A strong argument can be made that the team became complacent after the 2016 World Series and Joe Maddon‘s “hands-off” managerial style.

He attempted to revise his approach last year, but the writing was already on the wall for him. And while Maddon didn’t say it at the time, he has recently opened up that both he and Epstein had a difference of opinion that ultimately led to the two parties going their respective ways.

"“Philosophically, Theo needed to do what he needed to do separately. At some point, I began to interfere with his train of thought a little bit. And it’s not that I’m hardheaded. I’m inclusive. But when I started there — ’15, ’16, ’17 — it was pretty much my methods. And then all of a sudden, after ’18 going into ’19, they wanted to change everything.”"

Next. Cubs: How starting rotation stacks up against NL Central. dark

I, for one, will be excited just for exhibition games to start. The offseason has been challenging, accompanied by trade rumors, the lack of spending, and the overall sour disposition of the fans. We will get our first look at David Ross’ version of the Chicago Cubs on February 22.