Image credit: © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Projection systems are hard to get right. Most rely on core tenets to create their forecasts and regress outliers towards the league mean. That makes handling those outlier cases a particularly troubling feat; there will always be players that over or underperform what they “should” have done each year, and deciding whether that’s an inherent skill of theirs or just good (or bad) fortune is never an easy call. In most cases, it’s better to bet on the wisdom of large numbers—if most of the league behaves a certain way, you’re more likely to be right siding with them. But there’s always the potential to miss on certain types of players with bizarrely shaped production.
To borrow from our editor Craig, figuring out who PECOTA “dislikes” is a tricky task entirely dependent on subjective expectations. PECOTA might project Myles Straw for a .628 OPS in 2024, but almost no one is going to say the system dislikes him for it; after all, he put up a .597 OPS in 2023. You might even say PECOTA likes him more than most!
So, to narrow down the scope of our search for hitters expected to underperform and find those outliers, we have to establish some criteria to filter by. First, hitters who received significant playing time (300 plate appearances) last year and who are projected to next year. Second, only hitters who had well above average OPS totals (.800+) in 2023 and who are projected to come in under that mark in 2024. And lastly, to filter out those who narrowly missed the cutoff, we’ll only look at those predicted to lose 100+ points from their 2023 OPS.
That gives us a list of 20 hitters who meet our arbitrary definition of PECOTA “dislikes”. Without further ado, here they are: