Baseball Prospectus PECOTA predictions have the Los Angeles Dodgers winning 102 games with a 99.9% chance to make the playoffs in the 2020 season. The PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) system simulates the MLB season nearly 1,000 times to generate a range for wins and probability to make the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at the NL West through the lens of every seamhead’s favorite algorithm.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
(Simulated Record: 102.5-59.5)
OVER 102.5 wins
Surprise surprise, PECOTA has lofty projections for a team with a deep well of starting pitching, two former MVP winners in their prime, and plenty of positional versatility. Dave Roberts deserves the questions regarding his playoff bullpen maneuvering, but his regular season acumen cannot be knocked. Except when he decides to have Kiki pitch.
The team may have lost, but in a way, we all won. pic.twitter.com/tBvrkKy9YR
— Bryan Kephart (@thundercrat) July 25, 2018
Taking the over on 102 wins seems grandiose, but this team has the potential. Injuries will happen and the Dodgers will leverage their depth when they do. If Clayton Kershaw misses a few starts, they can plug in Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Ross Stripling, and Jimmy Nelson. Turner’s knee bothering him again? No problem, slide Max Muncy to the hot corner. Corey Seager’s hamstring a bit sore? Gavin Lux, Kiké, and Chris Taylor got it covered.
The NL West might be the NL’s weakest division, but the Dodgers should be the strongest team in the league.
2. San Diego Padres
(Simulated Record: 79.3 – 82.7)
UNDER 79 wins
The under for San Diego lies in starting pitching concerns and hitters that struggled with contact. Newly acquired outfielder Tommy Pham is a 20/20 player that adds length to a big name lineup with Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and wunderkind Fernando Tatis Jr. Closer Kirby Yates may be the best there is in baseball.
All that being said, did the Padres do enough to improve a lineup that was 28th in strikeouts, ahead of only Detroit and Seattle? No disrespect to Zach Davies and Garrett Richards, but are those the two guys who are going to elevate a young rotation that finished 18th in ERA last year?
San Diego will make the playoffs this decade, but it won’t be 2020.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
(Simulated Record: 78.9 – 83.1)
OVER 79 wins
Writing about how Mason Saunder’s new team will overachieve brings this writer no joy. Even if Bumgarner’s production merely replaces Grienke’s, Arizona has the division’s second best rotation. Zach Gallen showed flashes of a number three starter last year, Luke Weaver just needs to stay healthy, and Robbie Ray will be better than his 2019 season.
Dodgers exec Andrew Friedman said out loud what a lot of rival FO folks have said privately about the Diamondbacks — Arizona has done tremendous work. https://t.co/8jYX1IBRIh
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 19, 2020
Eduardo Escobar and Ketel Marte exploded in 2019 to the tune of 67 HR and 210 combined RBI. Sprinkle in Christian Walker, Jake Lamb, and Starling Marte, for a team that shouldn’t struggle to score runs.
The Diamondbacks posted 85 wins in 2019 and even sniffed a Wild Card birth. Making the 2020 playoffs might be a stretch, but 80-plus wins shouldn’t be an issue.
4. Colorado Rockies
(Simulated Record: 76.6 – 85.4)
UNDER 76.5 wins
Stop the presses, but Colorado’s offense will be potent! As they do every year, Colorado’s front office assembled a squad of sluggers to capitalize on Denver’s altitude. The likes of Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and All-World Nolan Arenado can pummel any starter.
If you combined the starting staffs of the Rockies and Padres, you still wouldn’t have five starters you were comfortable with. There should be a court order that reliever Wade Davis (8.65 ERA in 2019) only pitches on the road.
— MLB (@MLB) December 30, 2017
The Rockies are relevant for your fantasy baseball team, not to the NL West.
5. San Francisco Giants
(Simulated Record: 68.4 – 93.6)
OVER 68 wins
Are we to believe the Dodgers shine while the archival Giants languish in the basement? As Dodger fans are reminded every October, baseball is a cruel mistress and this seems too good to be true. All signs point to a rough season in the cellar for San Francisco: a thin rotation, aging veterans, and prospects a year away form really contributing. It’s too obvious. Can’t trust it.
Not saying new manager Gabe Kapler will get Pablo Sandoval on the #KapLifeStyle program or Johnny Cueto will lead the league in strikeouts again like it’s 2014, but 70 wins can happen for this club. Why? Because of weird, strange, baseball voodoo that’s why.
Finishing within a few games to a Wild Card spot is tough sell, but the Giants will be better than their 68-win projection.