Last week the PECOTA Projections were released at Baseball Prospectus for the 2022 season for individual players. As was noted when we looked at some of the hitters, what separates the PECOTA Projections from the other projection systems in terms of what sees the public is that they include a large variety of the projections from least likely on both the low and high end, as well as the 50th percentile projections that everyone publishes that are the”most likely” ones to take place.
Today we’re going to look at some of the more fun parts of the projections. Nothing will match the 99th percentile projection from 2020 that had some crazy glitch that said Shogo Akiyama could hit .480, but hey – there’s still some fun stuff to look at.
In what probably isn’t surprising to anyone who follows the Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo projects to be the most valuable pitcher on the team, leading the way with a 3.24 ERA while throwing the most innings on the team. What probably is surprising, though, is that the best ERA projection on the team comes from reliever Art Warren, who projects for a 3.12 ERA.
Another interesting note that jumps out is the projection for prospect Nick Lodolo. He’s only projected for 50.0 innings on the season, but those innings look very good here. He’s projected for the third best ERA on the team. But it’s his 99th percentile projection that’s real fun to dream on. The innings remain unchanged from any of the percentile projections, but his ERA drops to 2.31 – second lowest on the team among the 99th percentile projections (Art Warren remains at the top here, too).
Lodolo is already in early minor league camp. Since he’s not on the 40-man roster, he’s not currently locked out and is allowed to show up in Goodyear and participate with the team’s other 58 players that are currently at the team facility to get ready for the season. The lefty does have an invite to big league spring training if and when that takes place (though how it would play out if there’s a long delay between the start of the minor league season and spring training is unknown to me at this time). He should be in competition for a spot in the rotation along with guys like Tony Santillan, Hunter Greene, Reiver Sanmartin, Graham Ashcraft, and Riley O’Brien.
From that group, and at least from an ERA projection, PECOTA favors Nick Lodolo by quite a bit. The system only has 50.0 innings from him, but that’s likely based on the fact that he’s never pitched in the big leagues and thus there is going to be some struggle to put him out there for an entire season when he’s never done that before (from the standpoint of a statistical model). Of course, projection systems across the board typically struggle to be nearly as accurate with players with little to no playing time in the big leagues. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if it were Lodolo who wound up being the best of the bunch. But it also wouldn’t be surprising if the best of the group wound up being Greene, Santillan, or Ashcraft.