Chicago White Sox: PECOTA projections seem low

Baseball Prospectus released its 2020 PECOTA projections and it’s not great news for the Chicago White Sox.

Recently, Baseball Prospectus released its PECOTA projected standings and they do not appear to be impressed with the Chicago White Sox offseason moves.

PECOTA, which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, is a proprietary system projecting individual player and team performances. Each year it projects every team’s win total and projected finish in their division.

In 2019, the White Sox were projected to win a total of 70 games and finish third in the AL Central. They finished the year third, but with a total of 72 wins — besting the projections by two wins.

This past offseason saw the South Siders make considerable moves in free agency. It started with the signing of catcher Yasmani Grandal, formerly of the Milwaukee Brewers, and continued with deals for Edwin Encarnacion (New York Yankees), and Dallas Keuchel (Atlanta Braves) and a trade for Nomar Mazara (Texas Rangers).

While it’s safe to say that most Sox fans were happy with the additions, and saw it as a substantial upgrade over 2019, unfortunately, Baseball Prospectus did not see it the same way, as reflected in their 2020 projections.

This season, once again, Chicago is projected to finish third in the Central but with a win total of 82.5 games, and an 18.1 percent chance to make the playoffs. While a projected 10.5 game improvement from 2019 might seem significant, based on the size and number of deals the front office made this offseason, you would think they’re expectations are for a wider margin of improvement.

Again, these are just projections and an attempt to predict future performance, at least in part, based on past results. There are certainly times when a team deviates significantly from their projections, but more often than not, they are pretty close — as seen in the case of the White Sox last year.

Next: A look at Cubs PECOTA projections

Yet from the White Sox perspective, they upgraded the DH (Encarnacion) and catcher (Grandal) positions, added a young, talented outfielder (Mazara) still ascending, and fortified their starting rotation (Keuchel). At some point, they will also get back Michael Kopech. With such an injection of talent, the team should be ready to roll in 2020 and will look to prove PECOTA wrong.

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