Is it time to fire up the #RaceTo100 hashtag?
Last Tuesday, in an attempt to explain to media the details of the Nolan Arenado trade, Dick Monfort said he remains positive about the 2021 Rockies: “I truly in my heart believe that this is a very talented team that underperformed the last couple of years. I’m not even going to count last year because it was a difficult year, but I think we underperformed.”
That comment was met with derision by baseball writers and Rockies fans alike. One week later, PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), the projection system of Baseball Prospectus, weighed in on the Rockies’ 2021 changes as of February 7. To be blunt, PECOTA is considerably less hopeful than Dick Monfort, currently projecting the Rockies will go 60.3-101.7.
The Rockies are also projected to finish 15 games behind the fourth-place Giants.
That the Dodgers and Padres are substantially ahead of the Rockies is underscored by this visual representation.
In 2020, PECOTA projected the Rockies would go 27-33, so it appears to have a good read on this organization. (Click here to read the Rockies’ depth chart.)
Ryan Freemyer recaps PECOTA’s projections since 2015:
PECOTA projected win totals for the #Rockies since 2015:
2020: 27.3 (+1 win, +3.5 in a 162-game season)
2019: 85 (+14)
2018: 78 (-13)
2017: 76 (-11)
2016: 74 (-1)
2015: 72 (+4)
This averages out to them shorting them by about half a win per season. 61-101 here we come!
— Ryan Freemyer (@RFreemyer) February 9, 2021
As the writers as Baseball Prospectus explain, “PECOTA is a system that takes a player’s past performance and tries to project the most likely outcome for the following season. It looks at all of the numbers, and all the numbers that make up the numbers, to see which players are more likely to repeat their success and which ones benefited from good fortune.” It considers each player who is expected to play on an MLB roster. As Rob Mains puts it, “Sum them all up, and you get totals for teams.”
The news is no better at FanGraphs, and you may read their ZiPS projections here. As Dan Szymborski writes of the Rockies, “This is one of the worst teams in the majors — certainly the worst that seems blissfully unaware of that fact.” (This was written before the Arenado deal.)
Yes, it’s early, but it’s never too early to begin projecting. How many games do you predict the Rockies will win in 2021?