What are these guys smoking? Eighty-two wins for our Scats? Clearly, Clay Davenport's abacus is broken. It's almost 1 am, and I'm fading, but I gotta look closer at this in the am and figure out what they could possibly be expecting.
Update: Looking closer at the PECOTA projections, there are a few things that are so far off the mark that I really am expecting them to post a set of corrections, which they do every year when they first put out PECOTA anyway.
First, my wins above replacement projection have the Nationals at a 74-win team. But you have to think of that like a bell-curve of likely outcomes with 74-wins at the top. There's probably a 2-3% chance that randomness and luck would allow a team with 74-win ability to win 82. But then again there's an equal chance that such a team would win 66.
Nevermind that part. The key question here is what's the most likely outcome, assuming no changes to the current roster. There's just no way one can defend the idea that this team has 82-win ability.
Why? Same as last year: pitching and defense. They're projecting 23 starts and a 4.03 ERA for J.D. Martin. Eighteen starts each for Garrett Mock and Scott Olsen with a 4.28 and 4.37 ERA, respectively. They have what can only be considered best case scenarios for Lannan, Marquis, Capps, and Bruney. Not all those things will work out, and all the plan Bs are 100-loss caliber players.
The hitting might be good enough to win 82 games, although it wasn't last year, when they scored an average of 4.38 runs per game, compared to an NL average of 4.43. Will it be better? Maybe, but I think most people are expecting too much of Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham, Jesus Flores, and Ian Desmond.
I think Ryan Zimmerman is smart to express confidence that the team won't lose 100. They could even win 70 or 75. That's not crazy to root for. But there's no chance 82 wins is the mid-point projection for this team. None.