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2014 ZiPS Projections – Chicago Cubs

After having typically appeared in the entirely venerable pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections were released at FanGraphs last year. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Chicago Cubs. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Kansas City / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Toronto.

Batters
It’s very possible that the depth-chart graphic below doesn’t accurately represent how certain players will be deployed by manager Rick Renteria in 2014. Because even maybe Rick Renteria doesn’t know how he’ll deploy those players, is mostly why.

Of particular interest are the third-base and also center-/right-field positions. In the case of the former, Luis Valbuena appears to have received the most enthusiastic projection from ZiPS: 1.9 WAR in just 481 plate appearances. Pairing him with the right-handed-batting Donnie Murphy might bear some metaphorical fruit, according to the forecasts here. That said, the presence of both Mike Olt and Christian Villanueva — two promising young players, either of whom could benefit from major-league plate appearances — also complicates matters.

In the outfield, a combination of Justin Ruggiano, Nate Schierholtz, and Ryan Sweeney are all available for some combination of center and right field. Ruggiano’s projection (1.7 WAR in 433 PA) is the most encouraging; however, any of three, regardless of handedness or platoon ability, might be superior to expected left-field starter Junior Lake.

Pitchers
In his Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke writes something to the effect of “Rome is beautiful, because every place is beautiful.” A wonderful sentiment, that, but also patently false — as is demonstrated by the existence of Gresham, Oregon, for example.

Were he alive and also interested in baseball, for some reason, Rilke might suggest that every starting rotation is beautiful. Again, he’d be incorrect — and one would be free to point to the Cubs’ rotation as evidence. It’s not the worst one in the majors; however, speaking as one who has now appended text to 20-plus teams’ worth of projections, the author feels comfortable saying that it also isn’t the most promising.

Bench/Prospects
Much of the Cubs’ future success is tied, probably, to the pretty impressive collection of young, field-playing talent currently extant within the organization. Both Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez, for example, are projected to produce wins at a slightly above-average major-league rate already — and yet neither is likely to begin the season with the parent club. Matt Szczur and Logan Watkins, while less celebrated as prospects, also currently profile as useful major-leaguers, if and when given the opportunity.

Depth Chart
Below is a rough depth chart for the present incarnation of the Cubs, with rounded projected WAR totals for each player. For caveats regarding WAR values see disclaimer at bottom of post. Click to embiggen image.

Cubs Depth

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here at site and author’s own haphazard reasoning.

Batters, Counting Stats

Player B Age PO PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS
Starlin Castro R 24 SS 683 73 180 32 7 13 61 16 8
Anthony Rizzo L 24 1B 655 79 148 36 2 27 96 6 5
Arismendy Alcantara B 22 SS 529 61 123 26 5 12 59 25 6
Welington Castillo R 27 C 404 40 89 19 0 11 40 1 0
Javier Baez R 21 SS 515 72 117 22 4 28 78 18 5
Luis Valbuena L 28 3B 481 49 102 22 1 11 50 3 3
Justin Ruggiano R 32 CF 433 51 96 22 1 16 52 13 7
Darwin Barney R 28 2B 596 70 139 27 4 6 49 7 2
Matt Szczur R 24 CF 575 67 136 25 5 4 45 22 10
Christian Villanueva R 23 3B 557 60 125 32 3 16 64 8 10
Mike Olt R 25 3B 461 46 90 18 2 15 46 3 1
Nate Schierholtz L 30 RF 395 46 94 22 3 14 47 5 3
Ryan Sweeney L 29 CF 303 34 73 16 3 6 30 1 0
George Kottaras L 31 C 186 18 34 7 1 6 21 1 0
Casper Wells R 29 LF 265 32 54 12 3 8 20 2 2
Donnie Murphy R 31 SS 350 43 73 17 2 13 48 3 2
Brett Jackson L 25 CF 512 58 97 18 7 13 47 16 7
Ryan Roberts R 33 3B 421 46 89 16 1 9 40 9 6
Logan Watkins L 24 2B 559 63 115 18 6 8 43 14 7
Rafael Lopez L 26 C 379 38 81 18 0 6 38 1 1
Jae-Hoon Ha R 23 CF 457 49 103 20 2 6 39 11 4
Josh Vitters R 24 3B 393 41 92 19 1 11 44 4 4
Ryan Kalish L 26 CF 227 28 50 10 0 5 23 11 3
John Andreoli R 24 LF 533 59 122 18 6 2 37 33 11
Junior Lake R 24 LF 494 56 116 23 3 10 41 20 9
Jorge Soler R 22 RF 455 57 106 20 2 12 50 12 4
Cody Ransom R 38 3B 223 22 38 11 1 8 25 0 0
Mitch Maier L 32 CF 183 20 38 6 2 3 15 2 1
Aaron Cunningham R 28 LF 421 44 87 24 2 7 41 5 3
Ty Wright R 29 LF 386 39 90 18 1 7 38 3 2
Eli Whiteside R 34 C 219 22 41 7 1 3 17 1 1
Edwin Maysonet R 32 SS 326 28 67 15 2 3 26 2 2
John Baker L 33 C 166 13 30 4 0 1 9 1 1
Brad Nelson L 31 1B 516 51 107 20 1 16 53 2 1
Darnell McDonald R 35 LF 283 29 58 13 1 5 25 4 3
Chris Coghlan L 29 LF 369 38 80 17 3 5 28 6 4
Chris Valaika R 28 2B 375 34 81 16 1 6 34 2 2
Rubi Silva L 25 RF 550 57 135 23 9 8 53 8 10
Jeudy Valdez R 25 SS 554 59 112 27 4 10 58 15 11

***

Batters, Rates and Averages

Player PA BB% K% ISO BABIP BA OBP SLG wOBA
Starlin Castro 683 4.8% 16.0% .133 .319 .280 .319 .413 .319
Anthony Rizzo 655 9.9% 21.2% .209 .290 .255 .336 .464 .343
Arismendy Alcantara 529 6.8% 26.3% .150 .331 .255 .307 .405 .314
Welington Castillo 404 8.2% 24.5% .145 .310 .248 .323 .393 .314
Javier Baez 515 5.0% 32.6% .240 .313 .246 .295 .486 .340
Luis Valbuena 481 10.6% 20.0% .135 .285 .241 .325 .376 .307
Justin Ruggiano 433 8.1% 25.6% .183 .300 .244 .310 .427 .322
Darwin Barney 596 5.4% 11.6% .096 .278 .253 .299 .349 .283
Matt Szczur 575 6.4% 17.4% .088 .308 .257 .309 .345 .292
Christian Villanueva 557 4.8% 25.7% .168 .304 .244 .294 .412 .302
Mike Olt 461 10.0% 30.8% .163 .293 .220 .299 .383 .300
Nate Schierholtz 395 6.3% 18.0% .193 .286 .260 .312 .453 .327
Ryan Sweeney 303 7.9% 15.8% .144 .299 .264 .321 .408 .318
George Kottaras 186 14.5% 25.8% .173 .272 .218 .335 .391 .321
Casper Wells 265 7.9% 25.7% .176 .282 .226 .299 .402 .307
Donnie Murphy 350 6.0% 26.3% .188 .278 .229 .291 .417 .308
Brett Jackson 512 9.6% 36.5% .156 .327 .213 .294 .369 .294
Ryan Roberts 421 9.3% 19.5% .119 .278 .237 .308 .356 .293
Logan Watkins 559 8.6% 23.4% .109 .296 .230 .302 .339 .285
Rafael Lopez 379 7.7% 20.8% .104 .285 .234 .294 .338 .281
Jae-Hoon Ha 457 6.6% 22.3% .100 .311 .246 .302 .346 .289
Josh Vitters 393 5.6% 19.6% .148 .290 .253 .300 .401 .305
Ryan Kalish 227 7.9% 21.6% .122 .294 .244 .305 .366 .302
John Andreoli 533 8.8% 24.8% .075 .345 .255 .323 .330 .298
Junior Lake 494 4.9% 28.1% .128 .338 .252 .295 .380 .297
Jorge Soler 455 6.4% 20.2% .143 .295 .253 .303 .396 .308
Cody Ransom 223 10.3% 36.3% .189 .280 .194 .285 .383 .295
Mitch Maier 183 10.9% 23.0% .118 .299 .236 .319 .354 .300
Aaron Cunningham 421 7.4% 20.4% .129 .276 .228 .294 .357 .288
Ty Wright 386 5.4% 16.3% .115 .285 .251 .296 .366 .292
Eli Whiteside 219 5.5% 26.5% .089 .266 .203 .252 .292 .239
Edwin Maysonet 326 4.3% 20.6% .094 .276 .224 .266 .318 .253
John Baker 166 9.6% 24.7% .047 .271 .203 .283 .250 .243
Brad Nelson 516 8.1% 23.3% .150 .271 .229 .293 .379 .296
Darnell McDonald 283 7.4% 20.5% .117 .272 .227 .288 .344 .279
Chris Coghlan 369 8.4% 16.8% .114 .281 .242 .310 .356 .292
Chris Valaika 375 4.3% 20.0% .103 .276 .232 .271 .335 .266
Rubi Silva 550 2.2% 24.9% .122 .327 .255 .271 .377 .276
Jeudy Valdez 554 4.3% 28.0% .125 .287 .217 .258 .342 .260

***

Batters, Assorted Other

Player PA RC/27 OPS+ Def zWAR No.1 Comp
Starlin Castro 683 4.9 99 -4 3.0 Rennie Stennett
Anthony Rizzo 655 5.6 116 7 2.9 Carlos Pena
Arismendy Alcantara 529 4.8 93 0 2.4 Tony Batista
Welington Castillo 404 4.6 95 1 2.2 Ronny Paulino
Javier Baez 515 5.3 110 -9 2.2 Cal Ripken
Luis Valbuena 481 4.3 92 5 1.9 Ed Giovanola
Justin Ruggiano 433 4.7 100 -1 1.7 Preston Wilson
Darwin Barney 596 3.8 77 10 1.6 Kevin Howard
Matt Szczur 575 3.9 79 6 1.4 Bruce Fields
Christian Villanueva 557 4.1 91 1 1.3 Stan Royer
Mike Olt 461 4.0 85 2 1.2 Mike Costanzo
Nate Schierholtz 395 5.1 107 0 1.1 Randy Bush
Ryan Sweeney 303 4.8 98 -1 1.0 Dave Martinez
George Kottaras 186 4.6 98 -3 0.8 Earl Grace
Casper Wells 265 4.1 90 5 0.8 Scott Wade
Donnie Murphy 350 4.2 91 -5 0.8 Nick Green
Brett Jackson 512 3.8 81 -1 0.8 Chris Dickerson
Ryan Roberts 421 3.8 82 0 0.7 Rico Rossy
Logan Watkins 559 3.6 75 1 0.7 Angel Escobar
Rafael Lopez 379 3.5 73 -3 0.6 Alberto Castillo
Jae-Hoon Ha 457 3.8 77 -1 0.5 Jim Olander
Josh Vitters 393 4.2 90 -4 0.5 Ryan Gripp
Ryan Kalish 227 4.3 83 0 0.5 Scott Lusader
John Andreoli 533 4.1 80 2 0.4 Kevin Rhomberg
Junior Lake 494 4.1 83 2 0.3 Rod Allen
Jorge Soler 455 4.5 90 -2 0.3 Candy Maldonado
Cody Ransom 223 3.7 81 -3 0.1 Jeff Branson
Mitch Maier 183 4.0 84 -4 0.0 Pat Sheridan
Aaron Cunningham 421 3.6 77 1 -0.2 Chad Alexander
Ty Wright 386 3.9 80 0 -0.2 Chan Perry
Eli Whiteside 219 2.5 49 0 -0.2 Frank Charles
Edwin Maysonet 326 2.9 59 -1 -0.3 Kevin Baez
John Baker 166 2.3 48 -2 -0.3 Kirt Manwaring
Brad Nelson 516 3.9 82 1 -0.4 Kevin Barker
Darnell McDonald 283 3.4 72 0 -0.4 Felipe Zayas
Chris Coghlan 369 3.9 82 -4 -0.5 Bubba Carpenter
Chris Valaika 375 3.1 65 -3 -0.6 Josh Arteaga
Rubi Silva 550 3.5 75 0 -1.0 Bruce Fields
Jeudy Valdez 554 2.9 63 -10 -1.2 Mike Benjamin

***

Pitchers, Counting Stats

Player T Age G GS IP SO BB HR H R ER
Jeff Samardzija R 29 29 29 184.3 179 56 19 168 78 73
Travis Wood L 27 31 31 183.3 136 61 21 172 85 79
Edwin Jackson R 30 29 29 173.7 139 54 17 177 82 77
Carlos Villanueva R 30 39 14 114.0 96 37 13 105 51 48
Justin Grimm R 25 30 24 135.0 95 47 12 141 68 64
Kyle Hendricks R 24 25 24 139.3 81 23 19 155 74 69
Pedro Strop R 29 66 0 63.0 64 29 5 53 25 23
Jose Veras R 33 67 0 61.7 68 28 5 50 25 23
Jake Arrieta R 28 28 26 139.7 115 69 17 135 77 72
Corey Black R 22 21 21 88.7 72 51 8 85 47 44
Chris Rusin L 27 29 28 155.7 83 50 19 170 87 81
Wesley Wright L 29 69 1 57.7 57 20 5 51 24 22
Tsuyoshi Wada L 33 17 17 94.7 71 41 13 98 54 50
Barret Loux R 25 22 21 98.3 66 49 10 102 56 52
Kyuji Fujikawa R 33 32 0 28.7 32 10 3 24 12 11
Blake Parker R 29 51 0 54.0 55 24 6 48 25 23
Zac Rosscup L 26 39 0 40.3 45 25 4 34 18 17
James Russell L 28 72 0 59.7 44 17 7 59 28 26
Michael Bowden R 27 53 0 64.0 54 27 7 59 30 28
Scott Baker R 32 11 10 49.3 37 16 9 50 28 26
Kevin Gregg R 36 48 0 50.0 44 24 5 47 24 22
Chang-Yong Lim R 38 36 0 32.3 31 17 2 30 15 14
Matt Guerrier R 35 42 0 36.7 27 14 3 35 17 16
Alex Burnett R 26 47 0 46.7 28 18 4 47 22 21
Neil Ramirez R 25 25 25 103.7 90 60 13 102 61 57
Hector Rondon R 26 25 0 30.7 25 12 3 29 15 14
Brian Schlitter R 28 53 0 65.0 42 19 6 67 32 30
Eric Jokisch L 24 26 25 139.0 89 61 19 150 82 77
Brooks Raley L 26 29 24 139.0 78 53 19 153 82 77
Jeffry Antigua L 24 35 3 79.3 57 31 11 83 44 41
Arodys Vizcaino R 23 23 10 58.0 40 27 8 64 35 33
Dallas Beeler R 25 18 18 88.7 43 30 12 102 55 51
Rafael Dolis R 26 40 0 45.7 30 23 4 46 25 23
Alberto Cabrera R 25 42 14 113.0 87 49 16 118 66 62
Hisanori Takahashi L 39 39 0 45.3 40 20 6 44 25 23
Casey Coleman R 26 35 12 97.0 67 44 13 103 58 54
Tommy Hottovy L 32 42 0 47.3 36 21 6 48 27 25
Marcus Hatley R 26 48 0 57.7 50 38 6 55 32 30
Daniel Bard R 29 39 3 50.7 42 44 5 46 31 29
Carlos Pimentel R 24 30 15 96.0 75 62 14 100 63 59
Jonathan Sanchez L 31 18 18 84.3 75 59 14 86 58 54
Brett Marshall R 24 27 25 137.3 89 82 26 154 101 94

***

Pitchers, Rates and Averages

Player IP TBF K% BB% BABIP ERA FIP ERA- FIP-
Jeff Samardzija 184.3 777 23.0% 7.2% .288 3.56 3.43 90 87
Travis Wood 183.3 783 17.4% 7.8% .271 3.88 4.16 98 105
Edwin Jackson 173.7 752 18.5% 7.2% .297 3.99 3.64 101 92
Carlos Villanueva 114.0 484 19.8% 7.6% .275 3.79 3.82 96 96
Justin Grimm 135.0 593 16.0% 7.9% .298 4.27 4.00 108 101
Kyle Hendricks 139.3 596 13.6% 3.9% .293 4.46 4.35 113 110
Pedro Strop 63.0 271 23.6% 10.7% .286 3.29 3.60 83 91
Jose Veras 61.7 263 25.8% 10.6% .283 3.36 3.38 85 85
Jake Arrieta 139.7 623 18.5% 11.1% .285 4.64 4.62 117 117
Corey Black 88.7 402 17.9% 12.7% .290 4.47 4.52 113 114
Chris Rusin 155.7 687 12.1% 7.3% .287 4.68 4.69 118 118
Wesley Wright 57.7 244 23.4% 8.2% .291 3.43 3.42 87 86
Tsuyoshi Wada 94.7 423 16.8% 9.7% .290 4.75 4.78 120 121
Barret Loux 98.3 446 14.8% 11.0% .293 4.76 4.76 120 120
Kyuji Fujikawa 28.7 120 26.6% 8.3% .287 3.45 3.46 87 87
Blake Parker 54.0 234 23.5% 10.3% .288 3.83 3.92 97 99
Zac Rosscup 40.3 180 25.0% 13.9% .292 3.79 4.21 96 106
James Russell 59.7 255 17.2% 6.7% .279 3.92 3.73 99 94
Michael Bowden 64.0 278 19.4% 9.7% .278 3.94 4.12 99 104
Scott Baker 49.3 214 17.3% 7.5% .274 4.74 4.98 120 126
Kevin Gregg 50.0 221 19.9% 10.9% .288 3.96 4.05 100 102
Chang-Yong Lim 32.3 144 21.5% 11.8% .305 3.90 3.63 98 92
Matt Guerrier 36.7 159 17.0% 8.8% .280 3.93 3.73 99 94
Alex Burnett 46.7 205 13.7% 8.8% .285 4.05 4.27 102 108
Neil Ramirez 103.7 473 19.0% 12.7% .294 4.95 4.90 125 124
Hector Rondon 30.7 133 18.8% 9.0% .285 4.11 3.79 104 96
Brian Schlitter 65.0 281 14.9% 6.8% .292 4.15 4.00 105 101
Eric Jokisch 139.0 628 14.2% 9.7% .292 4.99 5.08 126 128
Brooks Raley 139.0 623 12.5% 8.5% .289 4.99 5.07 126 128
Jeffry Antigua 79.3 352 16.2% 8.8% .290 4.65 4.76 117 120
Arodys Vizcaino 58.0 265 15.1% 10.2% .299 5.12 4.99 129 126
Dallas Beeler 88.7 398 10.8% 7.5% .294 5.18 5.11 131 129
Rafael Dolis 45.7 206 14.6% 11.2% .287 4.53 4.54 114 115
Alberto Cabrera 113.0 506 17.2% 9.7% .294 4.94 4.81 125 121
Hisanori Takahashi 45.3 200 20.0% 10.0% .288 4.57 4.42 115 112
Casey Coleman 97.0 438 15.3% 10.0% .291 5.01 4.89 126 123
Tommy Hottovy 47.3 211 17.1% 10.0% .290 4.75 4.66 120 118
Marcus Hatley 57.7 266 18.8% 14.3% .291 4.68 4.77 118 120
Daniel Bard 50.7 242 17.3% 18.2% .279 5.15 5.48 130 138
Carlos Pimentel 96.0 450 16.7% 13.8% .296 5.53 5.59 140 141
Jonathan Sanchez 84.3 398 18.8% 14.8% .295 5.76 5.73 145 145
Brett Marshall 137.3 648 13.7% 12.7% .290 6.16 6.20 155 157

***

Pitchers, Assorted Other

Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA+ zWAR No. 1 Comp
Jeff Samardzija 184.3 8.74 2.73 0.93 109 3.2 Erik Hanson
Travis Wood 183.3 6.68 3.00 1.03 101 2.4 Allen Watson
Edwin Jackson 173.7 7.20 2.80 0.88 98 2.1 Jaime Navarro
Carlos Villanueva 114.0 7.58 2.92 1.03 103 1.4 Barry Manuel
Justin Grimm 135.0 6.33 3.13 0.80 91 1.1 Mike LaCoss
Kyle Hendricks 139.3 5.23 1.49 1.23 88 0.9 Josh Towers
Pedro Strop 63.0 9.14 4.14 0.71 119 0.7 Jorge Vasquez
Jose Veras 61.7 9.92 4.08 0.73 116 0.6 Rich DeLucia
Jake Arrieta 139.7 7.41 4.45 1.10 84 0.6 Jason Beverlin
Corey Black 88.7 7.31 5.17 0.81 87 0.6 Donnie Elliott
Chris Rusin 155.7 4.80 2.89 1.10 83 0.6 Heath Phillips
Wesley Wright 57.7 8.89 3.12 0.78 114 0.5 John Grabow
Tsuyoshi Wada 94.7 6.75 3.90 1.24 82 0.3 Darren Oliver
Barret Loux 98.3 6.04 4.49 0.92 82 0.3 Bill Mooneyham
Kyuji Fujikawa 28.7 10.03 3.14 0.94 113 0.2 Jeff Parrett
Blake Parker 54.0 9.17 4.00 1.00 102 0.2 Karl Best
Zac Rosscup 40.3 10.05 5.58 0.89 103 0.2 Armando Almanza
James Russell 59.7 6.63 2.56 1.06 100 0.2 Erasmo Ramirez
Michael Bowden 64.0 7.59 3.80 0.98 99 0.2 Jeff Faino
Scott Baker 49.3 6.75 2.92 1.64 82 0.1 Bill Gullickson
Kevin Gregg 50.0 7.92 4.32 0.90 99 0.1 Don Aase
Chang-Yong Lim 32.3 8.64 4.74 0.56 100 0.1 Mike Fetters
Matt Guerrier 36.7 6.62 3.43 0.74 99 0.1 Darrin Babineaux
Alex Burnett 46.7 5.40 3.47 0.77 96 0.1 Jim Hannan
Neil Ramirez 103.7 7.81 5.21 1.13 79 0.0 Charlie Puleo
Hector Rondon 30.7 7.33 3.52 0.88 95 0.0 Steve Ellsworth
Brian Schlitter 65.0 5.82 2.63 0.83 94 0.0 Tim McNab
Eric Jokisch 139.0 5.76 3.95 1.23 78 0.0 Brian Barkley
Brooks Raley 139.0 5.05 3.43 1.23 78 -0.1 Sam McConnell
Jeffry Antigua 79.3 6.47 3.52 1.25 84 -0.2 Jason Miller
Arodys Vizcaino 58.0 6.21 4.19 1.24 76 -0.2 Mariano Gomez
Dallas Beeler 88.7 4.36 3.04 1.22 75 -0.2 Chris McBride
Rafael Dolis 45.7 5.91 4.53 0.79 86 -0.2 Ken Wright
Alberto Cabrera 113.0 6.93 3.90 1.27 79 -0.2 Pete Walker
Hisanori Takahashi 45.3 7.95 3.97 1.19 85 -0.2 Mike Stanton
Casey Coleman 97.0 6.22 4.08 1.21 78 -0.3 Jim Gutierrez
Tommy Hottovy 47.3 6.85 4.00 1.14 82 -0.3 Joey Eischen
Marcus Hatley 57.7 7.80 5.93 0.94 83 -0.4 Jason Gilfillan
Daniel Bard 50.7 7.46 7.81 0.89 76 -0.4 Jake Robbins
Carlos Pimentel 96.0 7.03 5.81 1.31 71 -0.8 Alonso Beltran
Jonathan Sanchez 84.3 8.01 6.30 1.49 68 -0.8 Dan Smith
Brett Marshall 137.3 5.83 5.38 1.70 63 -2.0 Bill Malloy

***

Disclaimer: ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors — many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2014. ZiPS is projecting equivalent production — a .240 ZiPS projection may end up being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example. Whether or not a player will play is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting the future.

Players are listed with their most recent teams unless Dan has made a mistake. This is very possible as a lot of minor-league signings are generally unreported in the offseason.

ZiPS is projecting based on the AL having a 4.04 ERA and the NL having a 3.81 ERA.

Players that are expected to be out due to injury are still projected. More information is always better than less information and a computer isn’t what should be projecting the injury status of, for example, a pitcher with Tommy John surgery.

Regarding ERA+ vs. ERA- (and FIP+ vs. FIP-) and the differences therein: as Patriot notes here, they are not simply mirror images of each other. Writes Patriot: “ERA+ does not tell you that a pitcher’s ERA was X% less or more than the league’s ERA. It tells you that the league’s ERA was X% less or more than the pitcher’s ERA.”

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR — which is to say, WAR values as calculated by Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in full release of ZiPS. Finally, Szymborski will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on depth chart to produce projected team WAR.