PECOTA forecasts future baseball player and team performance by utilizing comparable player data, peripheral statistics, probability distribution, and additional proprietary formulas.
Other widely used projection systems include CHONE (my favorite), ZIPS, OLIVER, and MARCEL. This past March, I found a wonderfully geeked out article that measures the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Some notable PECOTA predictions...
The 2nd place Angels will overtake the Rangers, for the AL West title.
Boston and the Yankees will win the AL East and wild card, with probabilities of 85% and 78%, respectively.
Toronto and Tampa Bay are currently tied for 3rd/4th place at 34-31. If the Red Sox or New York should falter, Tampa Bay has a much better chance at the post-season, with 27%, than Toronto has at 4%.
PECOTA believes the Mets can still win the wild card, while the Phillies will win the NL East.
The Brewers will win the NL Central, with the Cubs and Cardinals finishing 2nd and 3rd.
PECOTA has a terrific forecasting track record. Of course, things can change quite a bit with injuries and trades. If the Mets acquire Adam Dunn or Matt Holliday, the Rangers get Brad Penny and Ben Sheets, or the Cardinals get Mark DeRosa and Pedro Martinez, perhaps the computer will spit out different results.
We'll see what happens over the next three and a half months. Even if the final standings wind up in a relatively predictable conclusion, we know there will be remarkable and unexpected story lines. For example, we've recently seen the Colorado Rockies become baseball's hottest team after firing Clint Hurdle, Ervin Santana is having more elbow troubles for the Angels, the Cubs cannot put forth an inspired effort, the Astros have been winning ever since Richard Justice called for Cecil Cooper to be fired, and Heath Bell is talking crazy about the Padres being in the race at the end of the year.