The Rays are headed to the playoffs as hoped, based on the annual PECOTA computer projections released Thursday by Baseball Prospectus, though with a dropoff from last year’s 90 wins.
Per PECOTA’s initial projections, the Rays will finish 86-76. That’s behind the AL East winning Yankees (96-66) and defending World Series champ Red Sox (90-72), but better than all other AL teams besides the Central-winning Indians (96-66) and West-leading Astros (99-63).
PECOTA, which is an acronym for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm and used to project player and team performance, has been optimistic about the Rays in recent years. For example, its initial 2018 projection for the Rays, at a time when many expected worse, was 84-78 with a wild-card berth, and it turned out they did even better by winning 90.
As for individuals, PECOTA initially sees the Rays top three starters like this:
Blake Snell: 12-9, 3.24 in 165 innings.
Charlie Morton: 10-8, 3.50, 148
Tyler Glasnow: 9-7, 3.55, 130
And their key position players;
Willy Adames: .245, 13 HR, 55 RBI, .694 OPS
Yandy Diaz: .265, 9 HR, 51 RBI, .732 OPS
Matt Duffy: .271, 7 HR, 45 RBI, .720 OPS
Kevin Kiermaier: .252, 14 HR, 49 RBI, .736 OPS
Tommy Pham: .249, 21 HR, 64 RBI, .769 OPS
Joey Wendle: .259, 11 HR, 55 RBI,. .716 OPS
Mike Zunino: .226, 18 HR, 53 RBI, .723 OPS
Obviously, and especially with all the big-name free-agents still unsigned, things can change for many teams in the projections, which will be updated for moves and injuries, as spring progresses.