No, two cities in the Middle East are not weighing in with their opinion of the Rays as clearly, the only real city in that title has much bigger issues to worry about.
It must be February because Ken Rosenthal is once again writing the Rays off before the season begins. Last year, he did the same thing and the Rays went out and won the whole damn division. To his credit, Rosenthal manned up to that article and laughed at himself on Twitter last year and he has agreed to come to FanFest this weekend and take live questions from fans at the event which should be an interesting appearance given the reactions to those two pieces in different arenas.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on the matter, but PECOTA and CAIRO stick by the numbers to project who they believe will win the division. PECOTA is the projection system run by one of my other writing homes, Baseball Prospectus. PECOTA stands for, “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. PECOTA is BP’s proprietary system that projects player performance based on comparison with thousands of historical player-seasons. PECOTA analyzes similarities with past player-seasons based not only on rate statistics, but also height, weight, age, and many other factors.” CAIRO is a system that was produced by the Replacement Level Yankees Blog that runs a lot of numbers through the Diamond Mind simulation system 10,000+ times to get their results.
Neither system is perfect as no system is without flaws but they are still projections and we live for this kind of statistical crack this time of year. Both systems recently published their projections for the AL East this week and the systems different just a bit. The table below shows the predicted standings for each team by each projection system:
That is a four win difference between the two systems . Keep in mind, PECOTA called for the Rays to finish first place with 96 wins in the AL East and that’s exactly what happened. These projected standings show the uphill climb the Rays have as pitchers and catchers report to Port Charlotte today but they should by no means be taken as a fait accompli. PECOTA did predict the Rays would be dramatically better in 2008 saying they’d rise from their 66-96 record in 2007 to an 88-74 record in 2008 – and still seriously undersold the Rays by 11 games. That 11 game whiff was repeated in 2009 when PECOTA projected the Rays to go 95-67 and they finished with the 84-78 record they are projected to finish with in 2011.
UPDATE: CAIRO projected the Rays at 87-75 in 2008, 90-72 in 2009, and 89-73 in 2010.