Baseball fans may finally have an answer for why so few teams tried this winter. Turns out, the Los Angeles Dodgers are simply too good, and no team has a chance to catch them.
At least, that's what one popular projection system seems to think. Baseball Prospectus unveiled its PECOTA team projections for 2021, and the Dodgers are set up to dominate baseball once again. Coming off a World Series win, the Dodgers are projected to win 102.9 games — the highest projected win total of any team.
That win total undersells how strongly PECOTA feels about the team. The system believes the Dodgers will lead baseball in runs scored, and finish with the second-fewest runs allowed. Basically, the Dodgers will continue to be a baseball juggernaut.
That's not to say the team is guaranteed to win it all. The Dodgers have consistently been one of baseball's best teams for roughly a decade and have only walked away with one World Series title.
Mets, Yankees projected to win their divisions
The teams that could challenge the Dodgers in 2021 are mostly who you would expect. The New York Yankees are projected to win the AL East with 97.4 wins. The Houston Astros will once again be in the race with 93 wins. And the San Diego Padres — after all their offseason moves — are projected at 95.6 wins.
The most surprising contender, however, might be the New York Mets. Trading for Carlos Carrasco and Francisco Lindor and signing James McCann will do that. The Mets are projected to win 95.5 games, according to PECOTA. The next closest team in the division — the Washington Nationals — are only projected for 85 wins. PECOTA thinks the NL East is the Mets' to lose.
Braves, White Sox will take big steps back
Where does that leave the Atlanta Braves? Look away, Braves fans, because PECOTA expects your team to experience massive regression in 2021. The Braves — who won the NL East in 2020 — are projected to win just 82.4 games, good for fourth in the division. It's a surprising projection for a team made up of so many young stars.
The same can be said for the Chicago White Sox, who are projected to win 83.1 games and finish third in the AL Central. It's not a shock to see the Minnesota Twins projected above the White Sox, but PECOTA also thinks the Cleveland Indians — despite trading away Carrasco and Lindor — will be better.
If there are reasons to be optimistic, it's that there's still time for both teams to add to their depth via the free-agent market. There are still some solid players available — including Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton and Justin Turner, among others.
Projections are not gospel
It's important to note, projections are not guaranteed. They are based on multiple simulations of the season, and spit out a team's most frequent outcome. For a full look at Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections, go here.
Could the White Sox's young players take another step forward and lead the team to 94 wins and a division title? Of course. Could the Dodgers experience rotten injury luck and fall behind the Padres in the NL West? Sure.
Should you get mad at a computer because it doesn't think your favorite baseball team is good? No, it's not the computer's fault your team didn't try hard enough during the offseason.