PECOTA standings spell doom for the Reds in the NL Central

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 27: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 27: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds, despite the fact they’ve lost Cy Young-winner Trevor Bauer, are expected by a good majority of fans to be contenders in a weak National League Central Division. However, one look at the PECOTA standings shows what some fans throughout Reds Country believe; this year’s team will not be very good.

PECOTA, which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, is a projection system that uses a player’s past performance to determine what might happen during the upcoming season. The results, as far as the Reds are concerned, were not good.

The Reds are expected to finish below .500.

The PECOTA standings see the Cincinnati Reds finishing the 2021 season with 79.1 wins and 82.9 losses. Ouch! That is not what fans were hoping to see just one year after watching their team return to the postseason for the first time in seven years.

In fact, that 79-win season, according to the projections, would be good enough for fourth-place in the NL Central. PECOTA predicts the Milwaukee Brewers of all teams to take home the division crown with an 88-win season. Following Milwaukee are the Chicago Cubs, projected to win 85.1 games and the St. Louis Cardinals who are expected to win 80.6 games next season.

Cincinnati’s projected win total puts them ahead of only four teams; the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Miami Marlins. PECOTA gives the Reds a meager 6.2% chance to win the division.

The Reds will have to prove the doubters wrong.

After a season that saw Cincinnati hit just .212 as a team, it’s no wonder that these projections give the Reds a very small chance to be successful in 2021. The front office has done little to improve the team’s hitting, and losing Bauer, along with Curt Casali, Archie Bradley, and Raisel Iglesias isn’t going to instill a lot of confidence.

However, the Reds still have a dynamic duo atop their rotation with Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray. Eugenio Suárez struggled last season, but is now a full year removed from shoulder surgery and ready to make an impact.

It’s hard to expect much from former MVP Joey Votto at age 37, but he did post an .800 OPS in 2020 which was up from his horrendous 2019 performance. However, a greater emphasis should be placed on production from last winter’s free agent signees Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas. Both woefully underperformed in 2020.

The NL Central is winnable, but a lot of things will have to go right for the Reds. Tyler Stephenson may be the best weapon this team will add heading into the season, and Nick Senzel will have to prove that he can stay healthy for an entire season. Can Amir Garrett take the next step and become the team’s closer? Will Tyler Mahle prove that 2020 was no fluke?

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The Cincinnati Reds may have more questions than answers heading into the season, which may be the biggest reason for the win projection being as low as it is. Furthermore, there’s still the matter of the shortstop position, that the front office has yet to address.