PECOTA projects Yankees to win American League in 2021

Art or Photo Credit: USA Today

Major League Baseball’s 2021 season is rapidly approaching and the New York Yankees are gearing up for the start of Spring Training down in Tampa.

With a new-look pitching staff and the return of DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees' roster looks to be one of the best in the game this season and the latest PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus agree.

PECOTA, which stands for “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm,” is an advanced projection system that “takes a player’s past performance and tries to project the most likely outcome for the following season. It looks at all of the numbers, and all the numbers that make up the numbers, to see which players are more likely to repeat their success and which ones benefited from good fortune,” according to Baseball Prospectus' official definition.

The most recent 2021 standings projections suggest the Yankees will be the best team in the American League with more than 97 wins and an MLB-high 81.1% chance of winning their division.

As is always the case with preseason predictions, these are merely what the system expects to happen based on how rosters are shaping up on paper, but health setbacks or unforeseen circumstances can always alter these projected figures.

Even with the departures of former Yankees such as Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Holder (as well as unsigned free agents James Paxton and Brett Gardner), the club looks to have the makings of another highly formidable squad heading into the new season.

The Bombers’ starting lineup should look largely identical to 2020’s squad with Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez manning the infield, while Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge patrol the outfield barring any unexpected changes.

The Yankees have finished in the top four in runs scored in each of their last four seasons, and there’s no reason to expect anything different in 2021.

PECOTA projects 894 runs for the 2021 Bombers and 734 runs allowed, the latter of which would be the second-fewest in the AL if the projections held true.

There are still plenty of moving parts yet to be solidified before the 2021 Yankees finalize their roster, but based on the early expectations from PECOTA’s calculations, another memorable season could be on the horizon in the Bronx.