The latest PECOTA projections dropped today, and they do not do the Washington Nationals any favors.
For those that don't know, every year Baseball Prospectus releases their PECOTA projections, which provides an estimated range of outcomes for every MLB team's season. PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm and uses past performance to try to predict future performance by analyzing likely repeatable performance and performance that was a result of good or bad fortune.
For the Nats, there was certainly bad fortune last season as they finished with the worst record in baseball. Assuming that is what PECOTA is using in their analysis, it is no surprise that their projections do not favor the Nationals. The projections not only have the team finishing 61-101, but they also have the Nationals going back-to-back as the worst team in baseball, just one game behind the projected 62-100 Oakland Athletics.
Now it is obvious for any fan to see that the Nationals have not significantly improved upon their 55 win team last season, but it is always interesting to see an outside perspective like the PECOTA projections. You may choose to put little stock or even completely ignore projections like PECOTA, which is fine too. The Nationals' success now is no longer determined by wins & losses, but rather by Player Development. If the Nationals can continue to grow their young core into foundational pieces, then that will be worth way more than a 61 in the win column.
For those that do put stock into the PECOTA projections, it is worth noting that the A's, Royals and Tigers are all within 2.5 games of the Nationals' projected worst record, so it is not inconceivable that one of those teams could wind up with a worse record than the Nationals when the 2023 season is all said and done. These are just estimates, and there's nothing to say that the Nationals couldn't surprise us this year.