Phillies projected by PECOTA to go 78-84, finish third in NL East

Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projection system expects the Phillies to go 78-84, finishing third in the NL East this year.

With baseball season getting closer every day, Phillies fans want to know exactly how the team will perform in 2018. It’s always tough to predict, but certain outlets do their best to project how teams and players will perform in the upcoming season. Baseball Prospectus uses their PECOTA system to project player and team performance for the future, and they released their projections Wednesday.

Phils fans will be happy to know their team is not projected to finish worst in the National League East for the second year in a row. Instead, Philadelphia is projected to finish third in the division with a near-.500 record of 78-84. They are projecting a 12-win improvement from the club after going 66-96 in 2017. This a four-win improvement from PECOTA’s projection last year, which had them going 74-88.

Unsurpsingly, the Nationals are projected to finish first in the division with an 89-73 record, followed by the Mets at 82-80. Atlanta is projected at fourth with a 76-86 record. The Marlins are projected to be the worst team in the National League and tied for worst in Major League Baseball with the Royals at 66-96.

Turning towards the players, Rhys Hoskins is projected to lead the team’s hitters in WARP (Baseball Prospectus’s version of wins above replacement) at 3.1. He is projected to also lead the team with 36 home runs, 101 runs batted in, and a .525 slugging percentage.

The club’s other WARP leaders are projected to be Odubel Herrera (2.2), Cesar Hernandez (2.1), J.P. Crawford (1.9), and Carlos Santana (1.7).

Besides Crawford, they are all projected to have lower WARPs compared to 2017. However, it should be noted that projections like this almost always shoot lower than how the players will actually produce.

Meanwhile, Maikel Franco is again projected to be below-replacement level despite hitting 22 home runs and driving in 76 runs with a .252/.301/.438 line. They are not bullish about Jorge Alfaro either as he is projected to hit .232 with a .663 OPS along with a -0.1 WARP. Alfaro’s projection is likely based far more on his numbers in Triple-A than his high output during his stint in the majors last year.

Looking at the pitchers, Aaron Nola is expected to lead the group in WARP with a 3.2. He is also projected to have the lowest ERA at 3.45, along with a 1.18 WHIP, 188 strikeouts, 51 walks, 17 quality starts, and an 11-10 record in 168 innings.

The rest of the rotation, as one would expect, is projected to be average at best. PECOTA actually expects an improvement from Vince Velasquez as it projects him to have a 4.04 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 1.5 WARP in 24 starts. Jerad Eickhoff is also projected to improve slightly with a 4.44 ERA. Nick Pivetta and Jake Thompson are the only two other starters projected to have positive WARPs.

PECOTA always lowballs relief pitchers and has done so with Philadelphia’s staff. No one is projected to have an ERA below four despite multiple finishing the season well below that mark last year. Edubray Ramos has the highest projected WARP at 0.6, with Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, and Tommy Hunter all projected at a 0.4 WARP. We should expect most, if not all of those guys, to outperform that projection.

Overall, PECOTA sees a team that is spearheaded in production by Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola. Some other players are projected to improve this season, while others are expected to stay the same or potentially get worse. They do expect a large jump in wins from this team despite staying rather conservative in their player projections.