On Wednesday, along with the dismal USA Today predictions, the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA predictions for 2018 were released. While the Tigers fared slightly better here than with USA Today, the consensus seems to be that the team will be bad.
The Tigers are expected to have a 68-94 record. In the American League, only the Kansas City Royals are projected to do worse, with 66-96, and in the National League the Marlins are projected to also come in with a mere 66 wins.
Overall, they project Detroit to hit a combined .259/.316/.411.
There are some noteworthy predictions on a player level. PECOTA shows Miguel Cabrera improving, batting .299/.380/.503 with 25 home runs. If it comes true, this would be wonderful to see. They opted to predict that JaCoby Jones would take the most reps at center field, which seems like an odd choice given the offseason acquisition of Leonys Martin. They project Jones to hit .224/.289/.380 with 60 percent of plate appearances for center field, and Martin to hit .254/.289/.381 in 35 percent of appearances. Given Jones’ struggles at the major league level last season, it’s hard to imagine him getting the majority of the playing time in center field.
It’s worth noting that they give average projections to most of the Tigers staff, with the exception of catcher James McCann and outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. McCann is projected at -1.2 WARP, and Castellanos is at -1.3 WARP, putting both firmly in the “horrendous” category by BPro’s metrics. (WARP, or Wins Above Replacement Player, is Baseball Prospectus’ version of WAR.)
Things don’t get much better in the pitcher category, where they project Michael Fulmer to have a .500 season with 11 wins, a 4.44 ERA, and a 1.33 WHIP. The rest of their top five don’t improve from there, where Jordan Zimmermann gets the only negative WARP at -0.4 with a 5.43 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Daniel Norris is projected to have a slightly improved year, with a 4.63 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and a 6-9 record. Not nice.
All in all, there are not many highlights. We’ll take a deeper dive into the Baseball Prospectus Annual later this month, and what it could mean for the coming season.