We’ve had a lot of fun poking at BP’s PECOTA projections, which currently have the Cubs at a END-OF-DAYS-DOOM projected 79 wins in 2019, finishing last in the NL Central. I think projection systems do a good job at spotlighting issues, even if I might think this particular iteration is clickin’ a little too strong on the “starting pitchers are old, framing is bad” buttons.
What do the Cubs, themselves, think about the projections? Well, about what you’d think:
Find out which Cub used the phrase "Sh– in a hat." Exclusively, here: https://t.co/ISl3vUPnmw
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 21, 2019
I’ll let you click through for the enjoyable read to find out which Cub used that particular phrase (you won’t guess it). The Cubs’ reactions on the whole are within the range of what you’d expect, from incredulous to dismissive to bloodthirsty.
What I found particularly compelling, though, was this little nugget from Theo Epstein: “Our internal projection system is a lot more accurate. We’ve been within a game or a game and a half just about every year. Our system [this year] has us exactly in the right place in the division.”
I think it’s safe to presume Epstein means at or more or less tied atop the standings. At a gut level, that seems fair, even without any analytical inputs – Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers all basically there around 88-90 wins, Reds a couple clicks below (and then maybe even lower if they sell off short-term pieces at midseason), and Pirates a couple clicks below that.
I should also add that I’ve heard a little about the internal projections in previous years, before the years played out, and I can vouch that, yeah, they’ve tended to be very accurate. How they are doing things differently than external evaluators, we can only guess, but I don’t doubt they know their players better than anyone else.