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PECOTA projects Diamondbacks to finish at .500 in 2019

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Archie Bradley, center, outfielder David Peralta, right, and catcher Jeff Mathis, left, celebrate after a 2-1 win over the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Diamondbacks saw a lot of key departures this offseason after they decided to reshuffle their roster, but one projection system doesn’t think they will lose too much ground from where they finished last season.

PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus’ system used to project future player and team performance, has tabbed the D-backs to win 81 games in 2019, just one game below their 82-win total in 2018. This is despite the fact that they lost Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock, all of whom were important contributors to last year’s team.

Why is this the case? For starters, PECOTA expects the team to have a very good starting rotation led by Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray.

PECOTA projects Greinke to have a 3.60 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 194 innings pitched, and Ray to have an impressive 3.28 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 138 innings pitched. This would prove to be a bounce back season for Ray, who took a step back last year after his stellar 2017 campaign.

The projection system also thinks highly of Luke Weaver, whom the D-backs acquired as one of the main pieces in the Goldschmidt trade, and Zack Godley, with both projected to finish with ERAs in the 3.70 range.

As for the offense, PECOTA predicts that the guys still remaining on the team will pick up most of the slack left behind by the absences of Goldschmidt and Pollock.

David Peralta and Ketel Marte are expected to be the main contributors to this unit, although the system believes that Peralta will take a pretty big step back after his breakout season in 2018. Marte is projected to finish with a .265 batting average and a .328 on base percentage to go along with 12 home runs, and Peralta is projected to hit 19 home runs to go along with a .265 batting average.

A healthy Jake Lamb is expected to provide a boost to the middle of the lineup, as PECOTA thinks he will hit a team-high 23 home runs. The system also likes Steven Souza Jr.’s chances to bounce back after a less than impressive debut season in Arizona, as it thinks he will hit 17 home runs after finishing with only five last season in 272 plate appearances.

Most interestingly, PECOTA really likes the acquisitions of infielder Wilmer Flores and catcher Carson Kelly. Flores is projected to finish with career highs in batting average and on base percentage while hitting 16 home runs, and Kelly, the other main piece acquired in the Goldschmidt trade, is expected to provide a huge improvement upon the D-backs’ very poor performance at catcher last season.

Finally, the D-backs bullpen is projected to be relatively strong in 2019.

PECOTA doesn’t think too highly of new acquisition Greg Holland, but it does believe that Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano, Andrew Chafin and Matt Andriese, among others, can form a respectable group at the back end of games in 2019.

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