The 2021 PECOTA projections have been released and the outlook is anything but good for the Colorado Rockies.
Published by Baseball Prospectus, the PECOTA (which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projected standings always represent an interesting but imperfect look into a crystal ball to see what a baseball’s team future could hold for the season ahead. In 2019, the projections had Colorado as an 85-77 team. However, the Rockies finished at 71-91, ending a two-year postseason run.
Last season, before the pandemic shortened the season to 60 games, PECOTA pegged the Rockies at 77-85 (.475 winning percentage). In what turned into a 60-game campaign, Colorado finished at 26-34 (.433 winning percentage).
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Heading into the 2021 campaign, Colorado is projected to post a 60-102 mark (using rounding from the simulated numbers of 60.3 wins and 101.7 losses). That would put the Rockies as a distant fifth in the National League West, 15 games behind fourth-place San Francisco and a staggering 42 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (a team PECOTA is projecting the win the division by seven games over the San Diego Padres).
If the projections were to hold true, it would represent a pair of firsts for the franchise. The 102 losses would mark the first time that the Rockies had ever lost more than 100 games in a season. Additionally, the Rockies would have the top overall draft pick for the first time ever. Colorado has picked as high as second in years past, taking pitcher Greg Reynolds with the second overall pick in the 2006 draft. Reynolds was a much-maligned pick who eventually was named one of the top 10 draft busts in Rockies history.
As a note for the 2021 projections, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the only other MLB team PECOTA has projected to lose more than 100 games (forecasting a 61-101 mark, one game better than the Rockies).
And here is perhaps an even more frightening thought with the projections as an extra hitter is built into the standings rather than a pitcher at the plate.
With the trade of All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals and little offseason activity, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Rockies are projected to finish last in the NL West. However, such a projected chasm between the Rockies and the rest of the division is certainly sobering for any purple-clad fan heading into the 2021 campaign.