With many moves left that they could make, and many free agents left unsigned, the initial PECOTA projections (released by Baseball Prospectus this morning) have the Rays at 84 wins, the fifth highest win total in the American League and third in the AL East.
The projection has the Rays succeeding on the strength of their pitching and defense, with the fifth fewest runs allowed and the fourth best FRAA in the American League.
According to the projections, the Rays competition for the Wild Card will be the Red Sox, Twins, and Mariners as the other .500+ ball clubs not projected to win their division.
As always, PECOTA also shows the Rays will have to succeed despite marginal run differentials, and particularly with Logan Morrison a free agent in 2018. The Rays’ 724 Runs Scored is the third fewest runs in the American League.
Within the player projections, Kevin Kiermaier is projected to 4.0 WARp (using B-Pro’s conservative version of WAR) and Chris Archer to 3.5 WARp, but with no other players reaching even two wins above replacement.
As for playing time, PECOTA projects the Rays rotation as Archer / Odorizzi / Snell / Faria / Honeywell, with appearances from Nate Eovaldi, Jose De Leon, Austin Pruitt, and Ryan Yarbrough.
PECOTA projects the key Rays bullpen pieces as the following:
- Closer: Alex Colome
- Setup: Dan Jennings
- Setup: Ryne Stanek
- Mid: Chaz Roe
- Mid: Andrew Kittredge
- Mid: Jose Alvarado
- Mid: Chih-Wei Hu
- Long: Matt Andriese
Other key contributors in the bullpen projection are Kevin Gadea, Diego Castillo, and Jaime Schultz.
On the position player side, PECOTA sees Christian Arroyo getting the lion’s share at third base, with Matt Duffy leading the cast of characters at second base and Brad Miller as the near full time first baseman. PECOTA also projects Willy Adames, Jake Bauers, and Justin Williams to be promoted in 2018.