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PECOTA is high on the Angels again, but are they that good?

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A projection for 87 wins and a playoff berth, from Baseball Prospectus

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Angels Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus unveiled its projected 2021 standings using their PECOTA system, which usually brings with it a rendering of garments and teeth gnashing over how much BP hates your team. But with the Angels, it seems Baseball Prospectus has high hopes in 2021.

PECOTA projects the Angels to win 87 games (86.8, to be exact) this season, which is the best record of non-division winners in the American League. No matter the playoff format, the Angels per these projections would be a wild card team, fighting it out with the Rays (86.4 wins), Indians (85.7), Blue Jays (84.9) and White Sox (83.1) for wild card spots.

The Angels have a 23.6-percent chance to win the American League West per PECOTA, behind only the Astros, who are projected for 93 wins in 2021.

PECOTA isn’t exactly on an island here. Projections at FanGraphs have the Angels at 84 wins, which is more middle of the pack (the seventh-best projected record in the AL). But that would be an marked improvement for a team that finished 26-34 (.433) in 2020 and hasn’t had a winning record in any of the last five years.

Looking closer at the projections, the Angels offense is the recognized strength of the team, which isn’t surprising given the lineup is anchored by Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. PECOTA has the Angels scoring 5.18 runs per game, fourth-highest in the AL, while FanGraphs thinks the Angels will have the sixth-best offense at 5.14 runs per game. That’s in line with last year, when the Halos were fourth in the AL at 4.90 runs per game.

The difference is in the pitching, which has been underwhelming the last few years, lacking any sort of depth. This offseason the Angels have added starters Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb to fill the back end of their rotation, hoping they bring some semblance of consistency. Last year, the Angels rotation outside of Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney, and Griffin Canning had a 9.22 ERA in 26 starts.

The only Angels pitcher projected to have a Deserved Run Average (DRA; Baseball Prospectus’ pitcher valuation stat scaled to ERA) under 4.00 is closer Raisel Igelsias, who was acquired in December. But using DRA-, which adjusts for park and league, shows Bundy, Heaney, Canning, and Quintana all above-average pitchers, which would count as the Angels’ deepest rotation in years.

For what it’s worth, PECOTA was also high on the Angels last year, also projecting 87 wins for the full season and a little over 31 wins for the 60-game season, but none of that panned out.

What do you project for the Angels this year? Let us know in the comments below.

Poll

How many games will the Angels win in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    87 or more
    (260 votes)
  • 27%
    84-86
    (157 votes)
  • 11%
    81-83
    (67 votes)
  • 6%
    78-80
    (40 votes)
  • 8%
    77 or less
    (51 votes)
575 votes total Vote Now