Each year, the fine folks at Baseball Prospectus release PECOTA projections (an acronym for: Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm). These projections are used primarily for individual players, but they also release standings projections. I took a look at the National League East’s projected output for the upcoming 2021 season and the results were interesting.
As with anything, these projections could be wrong — they’re only projections — but they do give us an interesting look at what could happen around baseball. PECOTA gives the East title nod to the New York Mets; in fact, these projections suggest the Mets could outpace the rest of the division by 10 games. We’ve seen the Mets projected to finish first in the past, and those expectations haven’t always come to yield fruit. What’s the phrase? Mets gonna Mets, or something like that.
At 85-77, PECOTA puts the Washington Nationals second, finishing two games ahead of the Phillies and three games ahead of the Braves.
The Marlins fall well behind everyone else with their expected win total hovering around 68.
Of these projections, I was most surprised to see the Braves so far down the list.
I have been reluctant to pick another club to finish ahead of Atlanta in 2021, and I’ll hold pat with that projection, but PECOTA thinks otherwise.
These projections also mean that the Nationals would have the fifth best record in the National League, ultimately securing a playoff spot for themselves. Finally, by this model, Washington has a 9.8 percent chance to win the division, the worst odds for any of the second place teams in baseball. The Mets are given a 77.4 percent chance to win the division, while the Phillies (7.4), Braves (5.4), and Marlins (0.0) round out the division.