Jays Will Finish 4th in Division According to PECOTA


Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball Prospectus has released their 2014 PECOTA projections for the 2014 season. The Jays are predicted to have 80 wins, finishing two games back of the Yankees, good enough for 4th place in the AL East.

Check out their projections for the entire MLB here.

While any kind of projection is ultimately flawed, in that certain variables like trades, injuries, or suspensions cannot be predicted, a lot of work and number crunching goes into putting these projections together.

PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. In more simple terms, a sabermetric system is used to give an overall picture of how things may look for the season. The approach used combines comprehensive statistical data with giving every player a logical career path.

We can’t go into too much detail at how these number were arrived at since Prospectus has this as a key component for their subscription service. We can, however, look at the results and see how they compare to what else is out there.

So how accurate are these calculations? Here’s a look at the PECOTA win projections for the Jays versus their real world results over the past few years.

2013 projection of 85 wins. Season results: 74

2012 projection of 79 wins. Season results: 73

2011 projection of 76 wins. Season results: 81

2010 projection of 71 wins. Season results: 85

2009 projection of 81 wins. Season results: 75

2008 projection of 79 wins. Season results: 86

2007 projection of 80 wins. Season results: 83

2006 projection of 79 wins. Season results: 87

Last year the Jays were pegged with 85 wins, which at the time seemed quite low given their off-season trades. The number ended up being generous by 11 wins. But aside from last year and 2010, the projections have been fairly close, within about a half-dozen wins either way.

Looking at the overall projection for this year, there does seem to be a lot of parity. Only one team has greater than 90 wins projected — the Dodgers with 98.

One of the most interesting projections for the Jays is the Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) number. The Jays number is -24.8, the worst in the entire league. FRAA is used by Baseball Prospectus, and looks at the number of plays made by a player at a given position, compared to the average number of plays at that position.

Are their concerns over Dioner Navarro’s defense, or the declining ability of certain aging players?

Looking at it in a purely non-statistical manner, with the good old eyeball test, I don’t think there would be an overall decline defensively next season.  I hope not.

Brett Lawrie seems to be improving every season at third. Colby Rasmus is reliable in center. The concern mostly comes from left field with Melky Cabrera, but Anthony Gose should be satisfactory as a defensive replacement.

Goins looked spectacular at times at second, finishing the season with a solid 6.2 UZR. Although, this is a very small sample size given his limited games. UZR is also very much different from FRAA, as the latter is not zone based.

While the Jays certainly had their defensive troubles last year, they were not worse than the Astros (-22.4) or White Sox (-22.8).

The projections figure the Jays will score 756 runs, and 765 runs will be against. Last year the Jays scored 712 runs, and allowed 756.

The slight increase in runs scored seems like a reasonable projection given last seasons injuries, and the limited roster moves during the off season.

I would hope that the runs allowed declines, and by adding another starter these figures could drop a bit. It will be interesting to see how Prospectus will adjust should Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez get added to the roster.

The good news about these projections are that the Jays are only nine games back from the division lead with Tampa Bay and Boston. Add a pitcher who can provide a few more wins, hope for a little margin for error in the projection, and the Jays could be in the hunt once fall begins.