St. Louis Cardinals: PECOTA offers a pessimistic view of 2020

While USA Today was optimistic about the St. Louis Cardinals in 2020, another projection, PECOTA, is much more pessimistic.

Earlier this week, I took a look at USA Today’s projection for the NL Central and reported back some surprise that the reputable new source had the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that most hometown fans think will finish fourth in the NL Central, winning the Central with 88 wins.

USA Today not only had the Cardinals winning but doing so by three games over the second-place Reds and four games over the third-place Brewers. As I mentioned in that article, it was surprising to see the Cubs and Brewers falling off so far, but it isn’t impossible.

While the projected standings from USA Today are optimistic, the classic Cardinals pessimist, the PECOTA projection, was released by Baseball Prospectus on Tuesday.

The sarcasm in Brenden Schaeffer’s tweet is there because in most years, the PECOTA projection for the Cardinals is just like this one: pessimistic. Just one year after they won 91 games, PECOTA has the Cardinals sliding backward 11 wins to their first sub-.500 year since 2007. Forgive me if I don’t buy it.

In 2019, PECOTA projected the Cardinals for 89 wins and they finished with 91, in 2018, the Cardinals were projected for 85 wins, they finished with 88. I could keep going, but you get the message.

Projections are always just that, but I think it’d be tough to have the NL Central be so bad in 2020. The full list of standings is here, but based off the global look of the National League, it doesn’t seem to have that many good teams.

PECOTA has the Dodgers as the best team in the NL (big surprise), but the leaders in each of the other two are the 86-win Reds and the 88-win Mets.

I’m not going to rip PECOTA because I know that the projections are based off their own mathematical models and all that stuff that I’m sure has been someone’s life-long work. I just disagree that the NL Central will be able to be won with just 86 wins.

Some fans may be seeing those projections and think to themselves, “finally someone predicted the Cardinals correctly.” If that’s you then that is just as valid as my own opinion. My guess is as good as yours. Some of you don’t agree that the Cardinals are an improved team and I’ve fought that battle so many times this offseason, I’m ready to just get the season going so we can figure out who’s right.

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My estimate is that the Cardinals will be somewhere near where they were last season. If I had to put money on a line of 89.5 wins, I’d take the over. We won’t even begin to know for about seven weeks, so for now, let’s just argue about whether or not we agree with these projection systems.