Last week, I noted that I would hold off on commenting on PECOTA until they worked out the kinks in their system. As of Monday, they seem to have done so, such that this is likely to be the last update for a while, until clubs themselves begin to figure out how they are going to allocate playing time. CAIRO, created by SG over at RLYW, also released an update, and both systems are now in agreement regarding the projected AL East champion.
PECOTA has the Yankees at 94 wins, Boston at 92, and Tampa at 90, while CAIRO has the Yanks at 99, with both Tampa and Boston rounding up to 95. Looking at the rest of the league, CAIRO seems to be more in line with the expectations of fans, but that obviously does not suggest that one system is better than the other. In fact, I should note that even the people who create these systems would tell you that these standings are not to be taken as gospel, in the sense that the random error is anywhere from 6-10 games. For example, CAIRO predicts a range for the Yankees, where they could win anywhere between 93 and 106 games. Tampa’s range runs from 89-101, such that both teams could fall within their expected range of performance and still finish in a different order than the one represented in the CAIRO standings.
As such, these rankings should be used as a guide, suggesting to us that the Yankees are likely the favorite unless the unexpected happens, not to sleep on the Rays, and that the Diamondbacks are being underrated and the Mariners overrated. To look at the rankings and say “PECOTA has the Yankees winning the division” is not entirely accurate. It actually says that barring any events that do not fit within the expected pattern of performance, the Yankees should finish first. Being that there are always myriad unexpected things that occur in a baseball season, that prediction could easily be thrown off, and should be treated that way. As a Yankee fan, it is nice to see that Brian Cashman has constructed a club that tops all of these rankings. However, once they actually begin playing the games, all bets are off, as the unexpected can change everything.