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PECOTA projects Dodgers to tie Astros for best record in baseball

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Winter Meetings Manager Availabiliy

In case you missed it earlier this week the folks at Baseball Prospectus released their annual PECOTA projections, and the Dodgers are projected to win 99 games, tied for the best record in baseball with the Astros, their reigning World Series foes.

This is the sixth consecutive season PECOTA has projected the Dodgers to have or share the best record in baseball:

  • 2013: 93 projected wins (92 actual wins)
  • 2014: 98 projected (94 actual)
  • 2015: 97 projected (92 actual)
  • 2016: 94 projected (91 actual)
  • 2017: 98 projected (104 actual)
  • 2018: 99 projected

The Dodgers have won five consecutive National League West titles though last year was the first time since 1974 that they finished with the best record in baseball.

In 2018, PECOTA has the Dodgers as the only team in the National League to win 90 or more games, with the Cubs and Nationals both projected for 89 wins. The Diamondbacks are projected to 86 wins for the first wild card spot, while the Cardinals and revamped Giants projected to tie for the second wild card position at 84 wins.

The projection last year was somewhat shocking, if only because the Dodgers were projected to win seven more games than the Cubs, who were coming off a 103-win season and loaded with young talent. The Cubs ended with 92 wins, one more than their projection, while the Dodgers won 104. Score one for PECOTA.

This offseason has been uneventful for the Dodgers unless you are interested in the minutiae of the competitive balance tax. The Charlie Culberson trade with the Braves was less about baseball and more about economics, and other than that the two big additions for the Dodgers are Tom Koehler and Scott Alexander, both slated for a bullpen that will be without setup man Brandon Morrow.

Despite the relative inactivity by the Dodgers, who are hardly alone in this winter hibernation, it’s easy to see the appeal and why a projection system would favor them. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen still exist, and the offense is paced by Justin Turner and young stars Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger.

As it stands, players who took 83.5% of the plate appearances in 2017 are back this year, including 10 of the top 11 Dodgers in PA. The only one missing in that top 11 is Chase Utley, who is still on the free agent market and could still return.

On the pitching side, 75.4% of the 2017 innings are returning, including nine of the top 10 innings throwers. The numbers are similar from the postseason, with 87.2% of the October PA back in 2018 and 73.5% of the innings.

Ten Dodgers on offense are projected to produce at least one win above replacement by PECOTA in 2018, including seven at 2.7 WAR or higher.

“With the depth that we have, I’ll take us against anyone,” manager Dave Roberts said during Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium last month.

PECOTA projects the Dodgers as the best run prevention team in the sport in 2018, allowing 626 runs, 13 more than the 97-win Indians. The Dodgers are projected to score 803 runs, tied with Cleveland and behind only the Astros, Yankees and Cubs. The Dodgers have scored 800 runs twice since moving to Los Angeles — 842 runs in 1962 and 820 runs in 2006.

Last year PECOTA projected the Dodgers to score 761 runs and allow 597, while the actual production was 770 runs for and 580 against. Score another one for PECOTA.

FanGraphs has the Dodgers projected at 94 wins, the best record in the National League and second in MLB to the Astros at 98 wins. San Francisco and Arizona are projected next best in the NL West at 84 wins apiece.

For what it’s worth the Dodgers have won 200 or more games in a two-year stretch three times in their history — 1941-42 (204 wins, 104 losses), 1952-53 (201-106) and 1962-63 (201-126).