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Jesus Montero doesn't care for your Big Lebowski references.

baseball

What Do the Machines Think of the Mets and Yankees?

This morning saw the well-timed release of Baseball Prospectus's 2011 PECOTA projections. (There are a lot of competing baseball-projecting systems floating around these days, but we like to keep things simple by relying on the Nate Silver–developed PECOTA system. When it comes to newfangled baseball statistics, we're old-fashioned in our brand loyalty.) Baseball bloggers being who they are, several interesting factoids have already started getting sent around the web. The projected MLB leader in home runs is Ryan Howard with 41, while Albert Pujols looks to be the most valuable player overall by a wide margin. (One Twitterer points out that Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton combined aren't expected to help their teams as much as Pujols helps the Cardinals by himself.)

Of more direct interest to Yankee fans, perhaps, is the buzz around PECOTA's relatively pessimistic take on Carl Crawford, who's pegged for a pedestrian .770 OPS and thirteen home runs. That's actually less production than the system sees for Yankee prospect Jesus Montero, who's forecast at eighteen homers and a .470 slugging percentage, which would be pretty stunning numbers for a 21-year-old catcher. Meanwhile, the system expects no decline from Alex Rodriguez, who's slated for 34 HR, and anticipates that Mark Teixeira will get his power numbers back up to their traditional levels. In more ominous areas of the roster, PECOTA thinks Sergio Mitre and Hector Noesi are the best choices to fill out the rotation, while anticipating a Randy Levine–exonerating 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings from Rafael Soriano.

Over on the Queens side of things, the outlook is basically, "eh [shrugs shoulders]," with PECOTA seeing another good year from Johan Santana (fourteen wins, 3.09 ERA), so-so seasons from John Maine and Mike Pelfrey, and fine-but-not-spectacular .800-or-so-OPS efforts from lineup stalwarts David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Bay. Of course, PECOTA's unfeeling robot heart can't measure the value of not having Omar Minaya's cronies running around ripping their shirts off and yelling at everyone, so it may be underselling the Mets in general.

Over the next few days the Prospectus folks will be calculating team-win projections based on educated guesses about each team's depth chart. We'll keep you posted!

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Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images