According to the offseason PECOTA projections for 2023 (we love these things!), theSan Diego Padres are still looking up at the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite being Champions of the Offseason (two years running!).
That said, that's enough gloating. After all, the sparkling season that PECOTA foresees for the Dodgers still represents some of the most conservative projections this team has seen in years.
According to Baseball Prospectus' algorithm, the Dodgers are still well-positioned to win both the NL West and the World Series, thanks in large part to their underrated depth, still-top-tier farm system, and ability to manufacture stardom out of thin air, especially on the mound.
That said, you can't discount the star power that's departed in recent years, from Trea Turner to Corey Seager to Justin Turner (whose star had dimmed, but that's also part of it). The computer didn't discount that, either. LA's 12.5% chance at October glory makes them PECOTA's fourth favorite, behind the Yankees, Mets and Astros, rather than their prohibitive champion. That's ... different.
Dodgers PECOTA projections: 97 wins, 12.5% World Series chances, NL West title
Cue Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs' music, because NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!
For the first time in years, Dodgers fans who are inclined to play the "disrespect" card actually have reason to do so. Uncle Steve Cohen's got the media wrapped around his finger and the shine is off LA's apple for a little while. Even the unbiased projection systems believe in the roster he's built. If there was ever an opportunity for Andrew Friedman to prove his "sh*t works in the playoffs," unlike Billy Beane's, it would be 2023.
All things considered, it's surprising the ultra-deep Padres and their six-man rotation didn't end up meriting a higher World Series chance (94-win projection, just 7.9% shot to go all the way). Maybe the algorithm baked the Pads' DNA in there a little bit? "Sorry, just can't let that franchise get too full of themselves."
Regardless, this year's PECOTA projections should serve as a miniature dose of humble pie, a reminder that the NL West might be a dogfight this year after all, and, most of all, another shining example of how things could always be so much worse for Dodgers fans. A 97-win projection is "bad news." Soak it in. Still the gold standard, until proven otherwise.