Much like last year, the projection systems are once again particularly fond of the Astros in 2017. Will the projections actually come to fruition?
One system in particular, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA, is actually quite high of the Astros this year. In fact, there isn’t a team in the American League projected to finish with a better record than Houston in 2017!
PECOTA currently projects that the Astros will finish with a 94-68 record for the 2017 season. That is not only the best projected record in the American League West, but also the entire American League.
However, let’s not forget that the Astros were projected to win the AL West last year. And we all remember how that worked out, right? Projections can always change for the better…or worse.
The interesting part about the PECOTA projections this time around isn’t the actual record. We all know that the Astros are primed to take over the AL West and compete for the AL pennant. But it is has to do with the pitching staff. For example, the Astros are projected to allow only 646 runs this upcoming season. That is the best in the AL by 17 runs over the Boston Red Sox.
Only the Los Angeles Dodgers with 595 runs allowed are projected to be better than Houston. When you consider the questions in the Astros rotation then you can’t help but be somewhat surprised. Of course, the bullpen is shaping up to one of the best and deepest in baseball. In this age teams are not afraid to turn to the ‘pen earlier than before. This may account for the favorable PECOTA projections of the Astros pitching staff.
In terms of the offense, there isn’t a lot to be surprised about for 2017. The team is projected to finish within the top two in TAv (True Average) and Runs Scored. The only team with a higher projection than the Astros in Runs Scored (769) are the Cleveland Indians (797). Like I said, there isn’t a lot to catch you off guard here.
Fielding is also projected by PECOTA within the statistic called Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA). This year the Astros are currently projected to have one of the better defensive rosters in terms of FRAA (31.8). And like the offense, this projections isn’t overly surprising when you look at the makeup of the roster. Sure, this team may have limitations in terms of defense. Overall though it is a solid club with the glove.
All of that said, projections are not infallible.
There are plenty of variables that go into the projection’s algorithm that can change in relatively short order. And for those who may not know, the PECOTA system itself actually stands for “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm“. That is courtesy of the glossary page at Baseball Prospectus; I recommend you go check it out. The site as a whole has a vault full of wonderful information and data to explore.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus**