The 2015 PECOTA player projections have been released at Baseball Prospectus, which means the first PECOTA projected standings are out too. I'll write about some of the player projections very soon, but first I want to tackle the standings, to examine the forest before getting caught up in the trees.
The Indians are projected for an 81-81 record, which I suspect would be a pretty disappointing result to most Tribe fans, seeing as how the team is coming off back-to-back winning seasons and hasn't really lost any significant talent since the end of the 2014 campaign.
PECOTA projects the Indians to score 697 runs, which would be an improvement over the 669 they scored last year. Their projected total ranks 8th among the 15 American League teams. They finished 7th in 2014.
PECOTA projects the Indians to allow 700 runs, which would be a pretty big step in the wrong direction from the 653 runs they allowed last year. Their projected total ties them for 7th among the AL teams. They finished 7th in 2014.
There are a total of eight American League teams projected to finish with a winning record, and it's hard to be happy thinking of the Indians as not among the eight best teams in the league. (It's much more pleasant to look at the projected standings FanGraphs has had up for a while, which have the Indians at 84-78, tied for the 4th best record in the AL.)
Even with the PECOTA standings though, things are not quite as grim as 81-81 or 9th place in the American League feels. For one thing, only four AL teams are projected for more than 84 wins, so even with a .500 projection, the Indians are only three games out of out of the top five. More significantly, of the eight AL teams projected to finish with a better record than the Tribe, only one of them is in the AL Central, and that one team (Detroit), is only projected to finish one game ahead of the Indians, at 82-80.
Here are the projected AL Central standings:
- Detroit 82-80
- Cleveland 81-81
- Chicago 78-84
- Kansas City 72-90
- Minnesota 70-92
So, while the Indians being projected for 81-81 doesn't seem very good, being projected to finish only a game behind Detroit is nice, as is being projected to finish nine games ahead of Kansas City. Those FanGraphs standings I linked to above also have the Indians only a game behind the Tigers, and since the primary goal of the 162-game regular season is to win the division, both sets of projected standings provide reason to think that's an entirely realistic goal for the Tribe.
Wading through the player projections, it's easy to find some major reasons the PECOTA standings don't have the Indians winning as many games as we'd like, and I'll look at those player projections next.