Our friends at Baseball Prospectus on Tuesday released their first batch of PECOTA projections (subscribers only) for the 2014 season. PECOTA is considered to be one of the most accurate baseball projection systems. The predicted playing time isn't always correct (but with a team with the Rockies, how can it be?) and usually proves to weigh heavily on how the projections turn out, but the system normally yields good stuff nonetheless.
So, how did the Rockies fare? Well ... not great, but you were probably expecting that. Here is how the team's projected starting lineup (in order of position number) is expected to perform:
There are a few interesting things here. First, Tulowitzki is projected to have more plate appearances than he's had since 2011. In fact, he has eclipsed 593 PAs only three times in his career. If Tulo does in fact approach the 600 PA threshold again this year, I'd actually expect better numbers than what PECOTA predicts (in addition to there being a great chance that he'll be better than neutral at saving runs on defense). And that's a very good thing, considering his projected 5-WARP season is already third in the National League and fifth in all of baseball.
Another thing of note is that the PECOTA system has Rutledge as the Rockies' starting second baseman over LeMahieu, who projects to have only 277 plate appearances. However, this isn't really foretelling anything; once the Rockies' plans begin to go public during spring training, B-Pro will update playing time projections accordingly.
Lastly, how many people would gladly take a .271/.343/.450 line and 17 home runs from Justin Morneau? I might be in the minority here considering his defensive shortcomings, but count me in.
On to the starting pitchers:
|Jorge De La Rosa||30||171||4.40||7.7||3.4||47.0||1.1|
Brett Anderson certainly hasn't given projection systems any reason to predict a massive number of starts, so it comes as little surprise that the Rockies' prized offseason pitching acquisition is actually behind three other pitchers aside from his rotation mates in terms of projected starts. One of those is Tyler Matzek, who PECOTA thinks will have just as many problems locating his pitches as he did in the minors. Not to worry, though; it appears the Rockies are shifting gears with Matzek and will convert him to a reliever.
Since they're arguably the highlight of the entire organization right now, it's worth noting that super prospects Eddie Butler and Jonathan Gray appear at the bottom of the starting pitching projections, each with fewer than 40 innings. How do they look?
I think this is probably a good indication of the workload these guys could see this year, although I'd probably switch the innings pitched, as the team would probably be more likely to promote Butler first. Those numbers, while obviously less than stellar over the course of a full season, also likely paint a pretty accurate picture of what we could see from Gray and Butler this season, although I think Butler can miss a few more bats than that at the big-league level, even in his first exposure.
Finally, the bullpen:
Perhaps the most interesting thing here is that Hawkins is projected to lead the team in saves with 20 -- and that Christian Friedrich is projected to make 58 appearances, eight of which would be starts. Friedrich is lined up for a 4.44 ERA in 95⅔ innings. I don't even know if he'll actually play a role on the Rockies this year, but if he does, I'd take that from my long man.
Anyway ... that's some wildly thought-provoking stuff. Are you enamored? Not enamored? Don't care? Let's hear it.
ESPN's David Schoenfield believes the Rockies will finish 74-88 as a result of too many issues that did not get addressed -- as well as the presence of Hawkins as the team's closer (which I don't fully buy right now).