(CBS) With the start of spring training about a week away, baseball prediction season has begun.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system released its 2017 projections Tuesday and pegs the defending champion Cubs to win 91 games and cruise to the NL Central crown, while it calls for the rebuilding White Sox to go 76-86 and take fourth in the AL Central.
PECOTA is historically more conservative in its projections than some other outlets and projection systems. It’s highest on the Dodgers this season, projecting Los Angeles to go 98-64, five games ahead of anyone else in MLB. It believes the Cubs will take a step back from a 103-win campaign in 2016 but still easily win the division, as it projects the Pirates to take second at 81-81 and the Cardinals to take third at 76-86. It projects the Mets to take the NL East with 88 wins.
In the AL Central, the White Sox are pegged to finish behind the Indians (92-70), Twins (80-82) and Tigers (78-84). It pegs the Astros as the AL West winners with 93 wins and the Red Sox to take the AL East with 90 wins.