PECOTA projection: Phillies best Braves, Marlins in 2021

Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies warms up (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies warms up (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projects Phillies to finish third in NL East.

Truck Day has come and gone, meaning spring training is on the horizon for the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Florida.

Days ahead of the team’s first scheduled workout with pitchers and catchers, Baseball Prospectus released its initial Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) projection for the 2021 season. The system identifies an estimated range of games each team might win and lose, before narrowing down an average number to determine how the standings might end up falling into place.

The 2020 Phillies finished a disappointing third place in the National League East race, going 28-32 with a .467 winning percentage. The Atlanta Braves (35-25, .583) came out on top, followed by the Miami Marlins (31-29, .517). PECOTA thinks the exact opposite will occur in 2021 — the Phillies remaining in third, but besting the Braves and Marlins.

2021 PECOTA Standings, as of February 7

  1. New York Mets: 95.5 wins, 66.5 losses, .590 winning percentage, 903 runs scored, 736 runs allowed, 77.4% chance to win division
  2. Washington Nationals: 85.0, 77.0, .525, 817, 753, 9.8
  3. Philadelphia Phillies: 83.0, 79.0, .512, 822, 772, 7.4
  4. Atlanta Braves: 82.4, 79.6, .509, 808, 769, 5.4
  5. Miami Marlins: 68.1, 93.9, .420, 714, 804, 0.0

The Phillies are expected to have a better winning percentage than their first season under Joe Girardi. A .512-percent mark would give them their first winning season since 2011. That same year was the last time the team qualified for the postseason, but an 83-win season would not snap the skid in 2021 — as the San Diego Padres (95.6 wins), and Chicago Cubs (85.1 wins) are the projected Wild Card frontrunners.

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The Mets being favored to win the division makes sense, considering their star-studded offseason additions that include Carlos Carrasco, Trevor May, James McCann, and Francisco Lindor. The Nationals and Phillies finishing ahead of the Braves would be surprising, along with the Marlins projected to return to the division basement after their success in 2020.

Clearly, projections are far from 100 percent accurate. A lot can change from now until Opening Day and the rest of the 162-game season. The Phillies surely hope their projected win total is less than what the actual outcome will be come late September.

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