Gleeman: Randy, Rickey, and teams on the rise

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on September 20, 2017:

PECOTA projected the Twins for 78 wins this season, which seemed so optimistic and caused so many “huh?!” responses coming off a disastrous 59-103 season that I felt the need to write an entire article explaining the number. (The projection was even higher initially, but dropped from 80 to 78 following Trevor May’s second-ending elbow injury.) I expressed skepticism, going step-by-step through the individual projections and pegging the Twins more in the range of 75 wins, but then concluded my “PECOTA and the Twins, Sitting in a Tree” article from mid-February by writing:

Certainly if several players from the young Buxton/Sano/Kepler/Berrios/Polanco/Rosario group take massive steps forward they could blow the 50th percentile PECOTA projections out of the water. Because the Twins are relying on so much untested youth their error bars are much larger, good and bad. PECOTA projecting a 21-win improvement for the Twins is surprising and a deeper examination leaves plenty of room to quibble with individual numbers, but the big-picture point that the Twins are close to being a respectable team built around young, homegrown talent feels pretty sturdy.

Sunday the Twins won their 78th game and there are still 11 more games remaining on the schedule as they make an unlikely postseason push via the second Wild Card spot. Minnesota has already improved by 19 games, with a very real chance to end up with at least 25 more wins than last season. Going from the worst record in baseball to ~85 wins is a helluva story, but I’ve already written plenty about the Twins’ shocking turnaround (and will surely be writing plenty more if they actually do make the playoffs). Instead, today let’s focus on previous teams to have huge improvements from one season to the next.

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Originally published: September 20, 2017. Last Updated: September 20, 2017.