For years, the Los Angeles Dodgers leading the PECOTA projections and emerging as the obvious analytical favorite with the highest-percentage chance to win the World Series felt as inevitable as a Brian Cashman trade deadline pitching acquisition imploding.
Ditto the Astros in the American League, and for good reason. They always figure things out and mix and match pieces, right? Makes perfect sense the algorithm would lean in their direction as well.
Well, get ready, because 2023's PECOTA projections are a whole new ballgame. After FanGraphs projections remained bullish on the Yankees in the east, but foresaw just 89 wins, one game ahead of the Blue Jays in their 50th-percentile projection crystal ball, BP went all in on the Bombers this week.
Yankees 2023 World Series Projections: PECOTA loves them
While Houston should obviously be the World Series favorite until proven otherwise, it's downright impressive how much the on-paper projections prefer the Yankees, and should serve as a reminder to panicking fans that the sky isn't falling onto the left field grass into a hole in the depth chart.
It won't, though. They'll still panic.
Yes, all caveats remain necessary. They play the game on the field, not on a spreadsheet. PECOTA doubtlessly favors the Yankees' exceptional five-man rotation, and isn't counting on Frankie Montas potentially missing the season, Nestor Cortes' hamstring soreness lingering, or any other long-term malady. They trust Aaron Judge as the best offensive player in baseball, and believe in the team's star-laden infield. They haven't gotten themselves bogged down in the emotional "Josh Donaldson" of it all. They're a mathematical formula.
But ... still ... if this emotionless set of numbers can learn to love the 2023 Yankees so easily, maybe you can, too. Maybe you can remember they took one of baseball's best rotations and added Carlos Rodón. Maybe you can recall that full years of Harrison Bader, Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera don't equate to "running it back" -- and that even if they did run it back, they'd be running back a team that chased MLB's wins record in the first half.
Hopefully, the 2023 Yankees reach 99 wins just like the projections say, and just like the 2022 Yankees did. Hopefully, this year's team takes a more linear route, rather than sprinting out to an incredible pace and falling off during midsummer.
And, hopefully, PECOTA is right, and No. 28 is right around the corner. It would be nice for the computer we love so much to be right about that.