We took each team's best-projected hitter at each position, even if a team plans to start someone else, in order to take the human element out of the process. No effort was made to account for the production of replacement or bench hitters, because it all just got too complicated, and the whole point here was to use something other than our subjective opinion to predict the league.
For pitchers, we did our best to projected the starting 9 plus the best bench pitcher, to better reflect how teams actually use their staffs in this league. We should also say that these standings are incredibly close in places; one change in a closer job can (and has) moved the predictions around pretty good.
Now, here are the three major problems with all this.
Problem: The system chokes on injury and risk.
Take A-Rod. PECOTA sensibly takes a bite out of his projected production to account for his existing injury. But he still has the best projected full-season line of any 3B on his owner's roster. So A-Rod's line goes into the projection. However, by doing so the projection entirely omits the production the team will get from whatever random guy they plug in until A-Rod is healthy. This means that team's counting stats will be understated, and its rate stats might be overstated. This hurts more for stud offensive players, because each has 4 counting stats and 1 rate stat, than it does for pitchers, who have 2 real counting stats and 2 rate stats.
Similarly, PECOTA takes a bite out of the projection of players who are big injury risks going forward. This especially hurts pitchers, as they tend to have larger risk profiles. So if a guy has a 60% chance of blowing out his arm, PECOTA docks about 60% of his counting stats. Again, while that approach makes some sense, it doesn't factor in replacement performance.
Along those same lines, the system probably underrates stars-and-scrubs teams by assuming that they'll roll with the same scrubs all year rather than sort through the waiver wire for a guy having a fluke year.
The point is that the system underrates the chances of high-risk, high-reward teams. So bear that in mind when you see the projected standings.
Problem: The system does not factor in owner performance.
Good owners can add value in two ways. They can manage well, taking the guys on their roster and mixing and matching them to best effect. Or they can GM well, adding to their roster through pickups and trades. Since we have no idea what will happen on either of those fronts, the predictions just take the rosters as given. The projections show what the likely outcome would be if we all set our lineups on Opening Day and then came back in October to see who won. If you don't like your prediction, well, go manage your way up.
Problem: PECOTA likes what PECOTA likes.
PECOTA has a good reputation. However, it isn't perfect. It has its darlings (like Matt Wieters and A.J. Burnett) and bete noires (like Ichiro, who PECOTA seems to think will be crushed by a falling piano at some point this year, and David Ortiz, who it thinks is cooked). Projections are only as good as the inputs used to generate them; if you think PECOTA is dumb, you'll think the projections are dumb.
With all that in mind, we present the PECOTA-projected Wankdorf standings for the upcoming season:
|It's Enrico Palazzo||47||41.5||88.5|
|Wu Tang Financial||46||42||88|
|Evil League of Evil||35||38||73|
|The Loose Bowels||34||33||67|
|The Spam Avengers||29.5||24||53.5|
|Elbow Your Funicular?||25||25.5||50.5|
|Le Dupont Torkies||32.5||16||48.5|
If you don't like them, go to Russia. Or just call Baseball Prospectus and yell at them. IEP, pressure's on you.
Edit--by popular request, here are the raw totals PECOTA came up with.