PECOTA’s 2014 forecast for the Pirates? Mostly cloudy with a strong chance of regression


CLARK BUILDING – Don’t shoot the messenger here, but Baseball Prospctus’s PECOTA forecasting system – the creation of former BP star Nate Silver – is pretty down on the 2o14 Pirates.

I think many believe the Pirates will likely face some regression challenges in 2014 — from sustaining the bullpen performance, to the possible loss of 191 mostly quality innings from AJ Burnett, to questions about whether Francisco Liriano can repeat his 2013.


But I think most of the public views the Pirates as fringe contenders as presently constructed, an 80-something win club that has a chance to contend for a wild card. The conservative Davenport projection had the Pirates finishing 83-79 and in 2nd place in the NL Central, two games back of the final wild card.


But Baseball Prospectus predicts a 21st losing season in 22 years.


PECOTA projects a 78-84, fourth-place finish … two games behind the Brewers, and 10 game back of the first-place Cardinals.


The biggest issues are PECOTA forecasts the Pirates remaining stagnant offensively, scoring the fifth-fewest runs in the National League (653), while regressing from 577 runs allowed in the NL in 2013 to projecting 681 runs allowed in 2014. PECOTA thinks the Pirates’ bullpen will be worse, it notices Burnett is gone, and Liriano hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency.


Now, this is a computer projection that might not think the Pirate staff’s groundball rate is sustainable – I think it is – and it might not understand the value of the Pirate’ 494 defensive shifts last season, which helped make its sum better than its collective parts. And PECOTA, like any forecast system, has been wrong plenty of times. (It would be interesting to know the Pirates own internal projections and how that has influenced offseason planning/execution).


We’ve seen PECOTA’s take and Clay Davenport’s projection, what is your 2014 projection as of Feb. 6?

– TS