We’ve arrived at the most exciting time of the year for those whose bread and butter in baseball is analytics: projection season!
For those unfamiliar, you can look forward to several posts like this over the coming weeks, as the great baseball minds at various sites take a stab at predicting how well each major league club will fare in the new season. Naturally, we recommend taking all these rankings with a grain of salt, because there’s an element of sheer chance to baseball as well, but often they’re pretty good at determining who will dominate in a division.
This first big-name projection list this year is Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA Standings. You can read a little more about PECOTA and how it’s developed here, but chances are good if you’re reading this article you just want to know how the Tigers’ future is looking for 2021, and the answer, my friends is... not great.
PECOTA figures the Tigers to be dead last in the AL Central, a pretty impressive feat given how thoroughly the Indians have cleaned house and how little the Royals have done overall. Current PECOTA projections have Detroit going 66.6-95.4 which works out to about a 67-win season.
The good news in this is that their overall win percentage would be .411, which is an improvement over the .397 of their abbreviated 2020 season, and miles ahead of their deeply regrettable .292 in 2019.
Another net positive in the projections (unless you’re on “Team Tank for Prospects”) is that the Tigers don’t look to be the worst team in baseball next year. The Baltimore Orioles (.409), Pittsburgh Pirates (.377), and the Colorado Rockies (.372) are all predicted to do worse this season than Detroit.
There are still plenty of questions lingering about the season ahead, and these projections can’t answer whether or not 162 games will be played, but they do show that the Tigers may be slowly trending upwards in terms of win potential.