Notable 2017 Red Sox PECOTA Projections

Aug 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) looks on from the bench before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) looks on from the bench before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Team Projections

Each year Baseball Prospectus releases their PECOTA projections, which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. Although many are skeptical of analytics and advanced mathematics to measure performance, PECOTA has been fairly accurate in predicting team and player success. The algorithm correctly picked all five NL playoff teams.

This is good news for the Red Sox as their projections have them slotted in first place in the AL East compiling a 90-72 record, 3 fewer wins than last year. This would place them in 3rd in the American League, which would match them up against the projected AL Central champs Cleveland Indians once again.

However, the most intriguing are some of the player projections for the Red Sox. As most would expect Mookie Betts is predicted to be the best Red Sox field player, but the second one may surprise some people.

Andrew Benintendi

The rookie outfielder is widely considered the #1 prospect in baseball. PECOTA projects him to slash .273/.338/.464 with 18 home runs and he is ranked 8th among all players for defense. To be honest, I don’t fully understand defensive metrics so I can’t vouch for that, but Benintendi was pretty solid for the most part in Left Field.

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I love Andrew Benintendi and think he will soon take over as the face of the franchise, but this might be a little bit optimistic for his first full season, especially with power. We saw glimpses of it last year and Benintendi gets his hands through inside pitches like a thing of beauty, but I would prefer to see him use the whole field to spray line drives in both gaps.

Without any crazy algorithm that I could never figure out, I think Benintendi will hit around .290 with 10-12 homers, 15-20 steals, and 65-75 RBI’s. I am playing it a little safe here and would not be completely shocked if he hit over .300 with 20 homers. The sky is the limit for Benintendi.

Chris Sale

Chris Sale is on the Red Sox. It hasn’t set in for me, and when he finally takes the mound for Boston, it will still blow my mind. Sale is projected to have a 3.18 ERA, his lowest since his 2014 shortened season.  Also, he is projected to have a SO/9 of 10.6 (10.6 strikeouts per 9 innings). On the projected leaderboard for pitchers Sale ranks 2nd behind Clayton Kershaw and 1st in the American League. Shortly following Sale is Corey Kluber and David Price.

The AL East will be an offensive upgrade opposed to the AL Central facing Sale. However, in his career, he has put up a 14-9 record against AL East opponents (excluding the Red Sox). Additionally, his career ERA against the Yankees is 1.17. So it’s fair to say that Sale has been successful against the AL East thus far. I’m confident Sale will be productive in the Red Sox rotation. Once again for my non-analytical stats, I think Sale will go 16-7 with an ERA from 2.90-3.10. Getting a glimpse of Sale throwing in Florida is getting me amped up for April.

Pablo Sandoval

Without a doubt, Sandoval is the biggest question mark surrounding the Red Sox. After a mediocre 2015, and 2016 where his only highlight was a broken belt, he has been working out like a madman to return to success. Seriously, a mad man. Check out his Instagram.

PECOTA has Sandoval projected to bounce back, posting a slash line of .274/.330/..426 which would be by far his best with the Red Sox. Based on the amount of work Sandoval has put in, I’d like to think he’d put up these kinds of numbers at the plate. Defensively, Kung Fu Panda is projected to play below average defense based on the runs saved statistic.

I would love to see Sandoval put up these kinds of numbers on the offensive side. However, I truly can’t put my finger on what Sandoval’s production will look like. Some are predicting a bounce back season but I just don’t see him hitting over .290.

Next: Red Sox invite the Patriots to Fenway Park

Analytics are useful and apart of the game regardless of how confusing and complicated they may be. However, while we’re all couped up waiting for the dawn of spring it’s the closest we can get to objectively projecting player and team performance.