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Milwaukee Brewers: PECOTA picks the Cubs to finish last?!

Matthew Dewoskin
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 01: Members of the Milwaukee brewers celebrate after beating the Chicago Cubs in the National League Tiebreaker Game at Wrigley Field on October 1, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Brewers defeated the Cubs 3-1 to win the Central Division. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 01: Members of the Milwaukee brewers celebrate after beating the Chicago Cubs in the National League Tiebreaker Game at Wrigley Field on October 1, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Brewers defeated the Cubs 3-1 to win the Central Division. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The PECOTA projections are out, and they have the Milwaukee Brewers winning a tight NL Central division. They also have the Chicago Cubs coming in last in the division. Is that for real?

PECOTA was a utility infielder who spent most of his career with the Kansas City Royals, and enjoys custom choppers. He also makes yearly division projections.

Wait. No. Bill Pecota was a utility infielder who spent most of his career with the Royals. PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm and is a yearly projection system from Baseball Prospectus. It’s based on advanced algorithms, and it’s been refined over the years.

PECOTA (and probably Pecota) likes the Milwaukee Brewers to come in first in a very competitive NL Central. It also has the Chicago Cubs struggling to last place.

Have the Cubs really fallen that far that fast?

What are the final PECOTA standings?

PECOTA has the Milwaukee Brewers coming in first place with an 88-74 record. That’s good enough to win the division by one game over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cubs finish eight games in back of the Brewers at 80-82. They’re one game behind the.500  Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds for last place.

Who steps up for the Brewers in the projections?

How does a 4.3 WARP (projected WAR) from Yasmani Grandal sound? PECOTA has Grandal posting a .241/.329/.442 slash line with 20 homers, and 64 RBIs. That’s a huge upgrade over the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2018 catching corps.

Hernan Perez is also projected for a solid season with a .261/.305/.414 slash line with 13 homers and 18 steals.

On the mound, Brandon Woodruff is projected for a 1.8 WARP with a 3.51 ERA in 144 innings. He’s also projected to strike out 148 and walk 50. He’s projected as the Milwaukee Brewers’ best pitcher.

Jhoulys Chacin is the only Brewers starter projected to make 30 starts, and he’ll lead the team with 15 quality starts.

Surprise, surprise, but Corey Knebel, Josh Hader, and Jeremy Jeffress are expected to dominate at the back of the Brewers bullpen again. Hader is projected to be the best of the group, and post a 1.6 WARP in relief.

What goes wrong for the Cubs?

Actually, a lot is projected to go wrong.

They’re projected to have a terrible outfield. Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Albert Almora are projected to make over 1200 plate appearances, and post a combined 4.0 WARP. Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich are each projected at a WARP over 4.0.

Ian Happ is their top bench bat, and he’s projected to post a .234/.330/.422 slash line with an 0.8 WAR.

Their bullpen is also rough. Only Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek are projected to have an ERA under 4.00, and they’re both at 3.95.

The starting pitching isn’t much better. Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks are projected to post 1.8 WAR seasons, but they’re also expected to combine for just over 300 innings. Over 500 innings of Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Cole Hamels are slated for a combined 4.3 WARP.

Next. What are the must-watch story lines this Spring?. dark

The Chicago Cubs have gotten old quickly. They traded their next wave of talent to try to stay on top of the division, and are suffering the consequences. With a thin farm system, they’re only going to get older and creakier. The Milwaukee Brewers still have talent on the way, and have already proven that they’re the class of the division. The Cubs broke the curse in 2016, but they don’t look like they’re headed back to the World Series any time soon.

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