Chicago Cubs

PECOTA reveals playoff odds prediction for Cubs this year

The Cubs were more competitive than folks expected last year, and added manager Craig Counsell to the mix this year

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Baseball Prospectus dropped its annual PECOTA Standings on Tuesday, and unsurprisingly the algorithm is not high on either Chicago team this season. PECOTA projects the White Sox to win just 65.5 games this year and says they have a 0% chance of making the playoffs. The algorithm has the Cubs winning a much more respectable 80.2 games, but still only gives the North Siders a 31.2% of earning a postseason berth.

PECOTA stands for player empirical comparison and optimization test algorithm. The algorithm looks at each player’s past performances, tries to determine which outcomes are most likely to repeat and which are due to luck, then projects how each player will perform in the upcoming season.

It’s unsurprising that the system is low on the South Siders. They were one of the most disappointing teams in MLB last season and seem headed towards another rebuild. The only other teams with a 0% chance of making the playoffs per PECOTA are the lowly Nationals and Rockies.

Meanwhile, the Cubs were surprisingly competitive in 2023 thanks to big seasons from new acquisitions like Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger. PECOTA has the Cubs finishing second in the division for the second year in a row, but says they have a better chance of winning the N.L. Central than securing a wildcard bid, thanks to stiff competition in the N.L. West and N.L. East. PECOTA gives the Cubs a 20.2% chance to win the division title and an 11% chance to earn a wildcard spot.

Last season, PECOTA predicted the Cubs to win 77 games in 2023 and gave them a 9.5% chance to make the postseason. The Cubs outperformed the expectations with 83 wins, but they did not qualify for the playoffs.

PECOTA correctly predicted the White Sox would underperform compared to other expectations that they could compete for the playoffs in 2023. But they didn’t lower their expectations for the team enough. PECOTA had the White Sox winning 77.7 games in 2022, but they only ended up with 61 wins.

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