Today Baseball Prospectus dropped the 2017 PECOTA projections, how did the Milwaukee Brewers fare?
PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. It is what Baseball prospectus uses to try to predict future performance. Many think the Milwaukee Brewers will be hard pressed to field a competitive team this year. Lets take a look at what the computer says, and what information we can draw from it.
There are a few things one can glean from these projections.
Win Loss record.
PECOTA projects a mild improvement in the win loss-record (76-86), improving from last years record of 73-89. Given the team is slowly coming out of rebuilding, the Brewers should theoretically see win totals go up as the coveted “young controllable talent” starts to advance and contribute at the major league level.
As a side note, PECOTA projects the St. Louis Cardinals to have a record of 77-85. Only one win better than the Brew Crew. Projection systems have a notoriously hard time quantifying the dark arts/Cardinals devil magic, so they will probably win 90 games. However, if the Brewers were able to finish with a better record than the Red Birds, that would be a win in my book.
Runs Scored vs. Runs Against.
Last year the Brewers scored 671 runs while giving up 733 runs. PECOTA projects the Brewers will score 717 runs while giving up 772. The Brewers ability to score this year should be improved, but this shows the real problem for the team, the pitching. 772 runs against is the third worst projection for the National League. Only the Colorado Rockies (793) and Cincinnati Reds (807) are projected to give up more runs.
Fielding Runs Above Average is what Baseball Prospectus uses to measure defense. The Brewers project out at 8.9, or well above average for the National League. In fact only four teams are projected to be better, the Dodgers (27.7), Giants (20.3), Padres (16.6), and Braves (9.1). This seems to pass the eye test as well. Travis Shaw and Eric Thames should be upgrades at the infield corners. A full season of Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton should provide solid defense up the middle at short stop and center field. Moving Jonathan Villar to second base is an upgrade in itself over Scooter Gennett, but also moves him off of short stop where he was below average.
Overall this year projects to be similar to 2016 for the Brewers. But 2017 should serve as a year for young prospects to gain valuable Major League experience and get the Brewers that much closer to contention.