With less than two weeks until the start of spring training, Baseball Prospectus has released its newest projections for the 2021 season, and Cubs and White Sox fans might be surprised by the results.
According to the projections, known as PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projections, the Cubs are actually forecasted to have two more wins than the White Sox in the coming season, with a projected 85.1 victories and a 29.4% chance of capturing the National League Central Division title for the second straight season.
By contrast, the White Sox are projected to reach 83.1 wins, with a 13.4% chance of dethroning the Minnesota Twins as American League Central champions.
The numbers are formulated using a team’s projected runs scored and runs allowed, with each individual player’s production being added together to nail down the numbers.
The Cubs are projected to have a strong offense, with 851 runs scored, but their pitching staff is projected to give up 808, hardly a surprise after losing Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood and José Quintana over the offseason.
The Cubs are projected to finish in second place in the Central behind the Milwaukee Brewers. The St. Louis Cardinals, who made a big splash in acquiring third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies, are projected to finish at .500 for the season, with a 9.3% chance of winning the Central Division title.
In the American League, the White Sox are projected to score 771 runs and give up 781. That news may be surprising to Sox fans after the team had a busy offseason, acquiring pitcher Lance Lynn in a trade and closer Liam Hendriks in free agency. The team also signed outfielder Adam Eaton in free agency.
The Twins are projected to win 90.6 games, while the Cleveland Indians are projected to finish second in the division even after trading away Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets.