PECOTA Projects White Sox for 82 Wins

PECOTA was released this morning and you can look at the Depth Charts over here. Compared to the exuberant projection of 92 wins for Cleveland (tied with the Cubs for second in all of baseball!) and the dour expectation for the defending champion Royals (76 wins- the same as the 2015 White Sox!), 82 wins for Chicago looks sober, rational, and normal.

I will not bypass the paywall, because the people at BP work really hard and charge money for what they do, so I will only comment on what they have made freely available.  First, I'm not surprised that PECOTA thinks so highly of Cleveland and thinks so little of Kansas City. Cleveland's rotation, according to peripherals, looks like a fire-breathing dragon whereas the Royals' rotation is almost Dayton Moore's way of being the dad from Calvin and Hobbes and reassuring his defense that playing behind guys like this "builds character."  By contrast, the Indians were sabotaged by an appalling defense in 2015 (although Lindor helped a bunch in the second half), and the Royals' defense is quite good, as you may have heard.  PECOTA is a computer and computers still aren't very good at capturing defense. I suspect this doesn't tell the whole story with those numbers, but I imagine it's a lot of it. 

82 wins for the White Sox seems largely in keeping with ZiPs (81 wins) and some initial over unders (80.5).  Part of this is predicting a slightly above average offense (.263 tAV, second in the division behind Detroit's .264) and a massively below average defense (-26.9 FRAA as a team, 3rd worst in the AL and 4th worst in all of MLB).  Like I said before, computers aren't great at measuring defense, but it does correlate with many of my concerns about the 2016 White Sox.

The 2015 White Sox were really, really bad on defense, and there haven't been a ton of changes on that front for the 2016 edition.  Frazier is a massive leap forward at third, and Lawrie will fall somewhere on the gigantic spectrum between Micah Johnson's glove and Carlos Sanchez' at second.  Avila and Navarro are probably a step backwards defensively from 2015 Flowers, and depending on how you feel about Saladino v. Alexei, that is 100% of the personnel change from last year.  The outfield remains the same, with arguably below average to awful gloves at all three spots. 

Again, this means if the White Sox add an outfielder with a plus glove they can go a long way toward improving the team's biggest weakness.

If nothing else, even though projections are hardly everything, it is reassuring to see yet another objective source say the White Sox should probably be pretty okay next year, even before they (hopefully) make whatever moves they do to finish this team. It is also another vote that says the AL will be a jumbled mess next year, meaning the Wild Card could be within reach.

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