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2019 PECOTA Projections for the Dodgers

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by his teammate Cody Bellinger #35 after his eighteenth inning walk-off home run to defeat the the Boston Red Sox 3-2 in Game Three of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Every year more and more baseball fans look to the PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projections and this year the Dodgers are well regarded.

They also did well in 2018 with a projection of 97 wins (they ended up with 92) and in 2019 they are projected to have 94 wins and win the National League West by 6 games. They are also projected to win at least 5 more games than any team in the NL.

We’ll take a look at some of the key projected statistics for each player and look at some surprises.

Position Players

NOTE: WARP is the Baseball Prospectus version of Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

Austin Barnes

PECOTA projects Austin Barnes to rebound quite a bit with the bat. If he ends up with an OPS of .724 (.637 in 2018), the catching spot will be in good hands. Most of his defensive game is elite (his throwing is just decent) and if he’s not an automatic out then he and Russell Martin will be a good catching combination. Barnes mentioned in an interview with David Vassegh that he’s been working with the new hitting coach, Robert Van Scoyoc, and is making good progress. He felt he got off to a bad start last year (his throwing arm was hurting in spring training) and just never recovered.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-austin-barnes-says-he-has-improved-his-swing-this-offseason/2019/02/10/” color=”blue”] Dodgers: Austin Barnes Says He Has Improved His Swing This Offseason[/button]

Cody Bellinger

PECOTA doesn’t project Cody Bellinger to have any improvement at all from 2018. I believe that Bellinger will bounce back quite a bit and will be closer to what he was in 2017. I believe the Dodgers are of the same mind or they would have traded him for J.T. Realmuto. I believe Cody approaches 40 home runs in 2019 and will be a 5 win player. Heck, he’s still only 23.

Max Muncy

PECOTA projects Max Muncy to experience quite a bit of regression in 2019. They expect his OPS to drop from .973 to .811. With a more consistent group of players around him I believe we’ll see Muncy continue to have good at bats and not regress too much. Even if he does regress as PECOTA thinks he will that’s still a good player on offense. The biggest question is his defense and I hope he stays at first base.

A.J. Pollock

PECOTA has projected A.J. Pollock to basically be the same player he was in 2018. That will be true if Pollock is injured. However, if Pollock plays like he did before he got hurt in 2018, we get a slash line of .293/.349/.620. That is the player the Dodgers are hoping for in 2019. I don’t expect his OBP to be too much more than 50 points higher than his batting average as he is an aggressive hitter. He’s another who has worked with Van Scoyoc before so that is another factor.

Alex Verdugo

PECOTA has always been conservative with rookies and they really come in low on Alex Verdugo. His PECOTA slash of .255/.314/.400 is way off in my opinion. In guessing low I would say it should be .275/.340/.450. Again, that is low. Verdugo is a player with an advanced approach at the plate who will be a more consistent presence in the lineup. The only way I see him struggling is if he is not given consistent playing time.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-the-top-5-relief-pitching-prospects-heading-into-2019/2019/02/09/” color=”blue”]DODGERS: THE TOP 5 RELIEF PITCHING PROSPECTS HEADING INTO 2019[/button]

Pitchers

NOTE: WHIP is Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched

Clayton Kershaw

PECOTA projects Clayton Kershaw to have an ERA of 3.24. That would be his highest since 2008, when he was a rookie. In 2018 Kershaw was not the same pitcher as his fastball hovered between 89-91 MPH. I believe he will regain a little bit of velocity and will continue to get used to not throwing 94-95 any more. If he can reduce his home runs he can become elite again.

Walker Buehler

PECOTA projects Walker Buehler to have an ERA of 3.61 and a WHIP of 1.20. In 2018 his ERA was 2.62 and his WHIP was 0.961. It looks like they are projecting him to have some walk issues. Instead of this projection, I see Buehler competing for the 2019 Cy Young award. I do think his innings need to be managed a bit as he pitched all the way through late October for the first time.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

PECOTA projects Hyun-Jin Ryu to see his ERA explode from 1.97 in 2018 to 3.77 in 2019. I don’t think Ryu repeats his 2018 but I expect his ERA to stay in the 2’s. The knock on Ryu is that he pitches so much better at home than on the road. If the Dodgers can find a way to strategically have him skip a few starts on the road he will have dominant statistics. The Dodgers have the depth to skip him periodically and they should do it.

Dodgers
Oct 17, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez (52) reacts in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in game five of the 2018 NLCS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Pedro Baez

PECOTA projects Pedro Baez to go back to being bad Pedro as evidenced by a projected ERA of 4.36 with a high walk rate. I believe that Baez has turned the corner and will be an important part of the 2019 bullpen. In fact, PECOTA doesn’t seem to like much of the bullpen at all if you look at the projected statistics. This is where I believe PECOTA will be way off as the bullpen looks to be a strength.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoy PECOTA as it causes a deeper look at more of the players. Baseball Prospectus should be applauded for their amazing work as it gives a well thought out methodology to try and project a baseball season. Cleary, it will have plenty of things that become way off but they don’t make any excuses. It also gives us some projections to look at and talk about. I was optimistic about the Dodgers in 2019 but, after further analysis I am quite bullish on them. They aren’t perfect and some tweaks could occur but I do like (and so does PECOTA) what they are going into 2019.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/the-2018-dodgers-life-goes-on/2019/02/09/” type=”big” color=”red”]THE 2018 DODGERS: LIFE GOES ON[/button]

Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

4 Comments

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  1. I always enjoy these. Great post tim. By nature, all the systems are tampered down and conservative. They even project Trout for down year

  2. Always appreciate the great informative articles you write. I learn a lot thank you. PECOTA for Dodgers 2019 is great news as they have us winning the NL West and having Home Field in the NL Playoffs. Despite projections on Kershaw, Buehler and Ryu that are, I believe, very low. Ryu has shown his competitive streak by coming back from a possible career ending rehab.He is pitching for a big free agent contract also so he will have extra motivation.
    I cannot believe a 3.24 ERA & 11 wins for Kershaw as he has had an entire Winter to address his velocity and pitch repertoire for 2019, his competitive streak is legendary. Buehler so far has shown to be highly competitive and a 3.68 and 11-8 record seems very low.
    I believe, if Pollock stays healthy, which has been the question, he will be significantly better than projected. Barnes hit very well in the Minors and in 2017 he has said he has addressed his swing. I see him being much closer to 2017 than 2018.
    The weakness of the NL West and if we start the year looking like the end of 2018 than the start with Jansen back in health and Turner and Seager playing well I believe this team should reach 100 wins.
    I like the BP with a healthy Jansen and adding Kelly. I also like Fioro and believe Baez will prove PECOTA wrong. The Starting Rotation should be one of the best in all of the MLB.
    I hope that Verdugo plays up to his projections and I am a Toles fan. I am curious to see if we have a surprise player coming out of Spring or in the first quarter. Can Beaty crack the 25 man? Peters? Rios? How about Santana or if he gets his head straight and a bit of control Alvarez. A 100 plus fastball is always nice to have in the pen. Gonsolin?
    Fun times in AZ.

  3. I really think you are looking at the 2019 Dodgers with rose colored glasses. My guess is they win the division pretty easily but are going to have a tough time getting back to the WS unless they make a sidnificant addition.

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