PECOTA predicts the St. Louis Cardinals to finish second behind the Milwaukee Brewers in 2023.
Baseball Prospectus has used its number-crunching technology to spit out its annual forecast for every Major League Baseball team, and through the Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, it has pegged the St. Louis Cardinals at a record of 87.5 wins and 74.5 losses, which would put them second in the NL Central, one-tenth of a game behind the Milwaukee Brewers.
PECOTA's projections for the Cardinals might seem conservative, and indeed, the tool has predicted the Cardinals to win fewer games than they actually won every year since 2013. The Cardinals' offense is seen as one of the best in baseball, at least from outside perspectives. The pitching is more suspect, and that's likely what's keeping PECOTA from giving a loftier projection.
PECOTA's continual underestimation of the Cardinals could be a result of the team's reliance on pitching to contact and utilizing its defense, which has worked well in the past several years but isn't the preferred way to record outs in today's sabermetric-driven era.
Some individual projections, which require a subscription to see fully, stand out: On offense, PECOTA projects Dylan Carlson to have a DRC+ of 107, meaning he will be 7% better than a league-average hitter. That would be a strong rebound for Carlson after a disappointing 2022. On the other end, Tommy Edman's projection is at 99, which would likely signify a decline from last year.
For pitchers, the number is flipped, so the lower the number, the better the pitcher is expected to do. The biggest surprise looks to be Zack Thompson, with a DRA- of 117. Thompson was very good in 2022, but PECOTA seems to think he's headed for a sharp decline, and it puts his ERA at 5.09.
PECOTA projects Jordan Montgomery to be the Cardinals' top starting pitcher, with a DRA- of 89, followed by Miles Mikolas at 95, Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz tied at 98, and Adam Wainwright the worst full-time starter at 103.
PECOTA is bearish on the Cardinals, and it suggests that repeat seasons aren't in the cards for Edman and Thompson. But fans shouldn't worry too much, because until PECOTA proves that it can adapt to how the Cardinals play, the Cardinals should continually outperform the algorithm's expectations.