Major League Baseball is set to return next week with the start of Spring Training, and we’re less than two months away from the start of the 2021 regular season. Now that the Super Bowl is behind us, previews are coming out fast and furious for the coming baseball season. On Tuesday, Baseball Prospectus released its PECOTA standings.
The standings include four new division winners. PECOTA projects the Yankees to win the AL East, the Astros to win the AL West, the Mets to win the NL East, and the Brewers to win the NL Central. PECOTA projects the Twins and Dodgers to repeat as division champs.
MLB is reverting to its ten-team playoff system this year after experimenting with 16 total teams last year. The owners proposed a 14-team expanded playoff this year, but it went nowhere and so the league reverts back to ten teams. The owners and players will negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement for the 2022 season and we could see an expanded playoff in that new deal.
PECOTA’s projections would have the Angels and Rays claiming the American League wild card berths, just ahead of the Indians, Blue Jays, and White Sox. It would have the Padres claiming the top National League wild card berth, and then the Cubs edging out the Nationals.
A year ago, PECOTA projected the Yankees, Astros, and Twins to claim the AL divisions, with the Rays and Angels earning the wild card berths. It projected the Dodgers, Mets, and Reds to claim the NL divisions, with the Nationals and Cubs securing the wild card berths. The pandemic changed everything, but for comparison’s sake, the Angels and Mets were the two teams to get into the playoffs that failed to earn one of the 16 playoff berths.
PECOTA is BP’s proprietary system for projecting player and team performance. It stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, and is named after Bill Pecota. The system takes past performances and tries to project the most likely outcome for the coming season.