As soon as it came out last week, I had to do a double take.
“The 2019 Cubs are projected to finish last in the NL Central with an 80-82 record.”
That bonehead prediction came from the nerds at PECOTA who cooked up some algorithm that they feel best predicts team wins amongst other things. I laughed at this prediction for a variety of reasons:
- As much as I love the sabermetrics thing, numbers don’t actually play the game.
- Under Joe Maddon, the Cubs lowest win total has been 92 (2017).
- Last year’s team won 95 games with a banged up roster.
So somehow the team who appears to be healthy and returns their entire core from the past four seasons will magically suck this year because math says so.
I wasn’t the only one laughing at the PECOTA predictions either. Kyle Schwarber stated, “Baseball is baseball, so it might happen, but I’m betting that it won’t happen.” Pedro Strop said, “I don’t care about that…you’re still going to have to play the games.”
And just this morning, Anthony Rizzo put the PECOTA projection in a body bag.
A. Rizzo, on PECOTA predicting an 80-82 season for them: "Yeah, and Bryce Harper is coming to the Cubs."
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 18, 2019
Even though the majority of people who love the Cubs know the PECOTA thing is an absolute joke, it never hurts to have a little extra motivation going into the season. It’s been well documented that many players were pissed off at how the season ended last year so to now go into 2019 as an underdog with a chip on your shoulder could be a blessing in disguise for this team.
And Cubs skipper Joe Maddon is doing his part to help that chip grow.
Before practice today, there was a simple message on the bottom left corner of the workout sheet that is posted in the team’s Spring Training facility.
On lower left corner of Cubs workout schedule: pic.twitter.com/oOJfhKyo0q
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 18, 2019
That should get the boys fired up having to look at that nonsense each day.