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2014 ZiPS Projections – Pittsburgh Pirates

Posted By Carson Cistulli On January 17, 2014 @ 10:21 am In 2014 ZiPS Projections,Featured,Pirates | 65 Comments

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 Pittsburgh Pirates. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
While not having realized the Sisyphean task of winning a World Series, GM Neal Huntington et al. have constructed a Pirates club that both (a) qualified for the playoffs in 2013 and also (b) would appear to have a reasonable chance of repeating that outcome in 2014.

If the Pirates don’t make their way to the postseason this year, it likely won’t be the fault of their field players. Per ZiPS, Andrew McCutchen is a candidate to win the 2014 MVP award after winning it in real life this last season. Beyond him is a collection of average-or-better players and also Gaby Sanchez. Combining the latter with Andrew Lambo (or maybe Jaff Decker or maybe Travis Snider) in a platoon might even render the club’s first-base position as average.

Pitchers
The reader should note that the starting pitchers on the depth-chart image below are arranged not in likely order of rotation spot, but in order of projected WAR. Were the author to have considered, also, pitchers expected to begin the season somewhere else besides the major leagues, right-hander Jameson Taillon would actually have appeared third among Pirates starters. Entering just his age-22 season, Taillon is projected to prevent runs at a league-average rate already.

Left-hander Jeff Locke outperformed his peripherals by a considerable margin last year — until August, that is, at which point things unraveled a bit. Some combination of he, Charlie Morton, and offseason acquisition Edinson Volquez will likely serve as the fourth and fifth starters — in terms of production, if not name.

Bench/Prospects
In a recent article concerning what a trade for David Price might cost a team, Dave Cameron asserted that outfielder Gregory Polanco was too great a cost for the Pirates to acquire the aforementioned left-handed pitcher. The ZiPS projection published below suggests that Polanco has the opportunity to approach (within a win, at least) Price’s actual value this very season, given a full complement of major-league plate appearances. One will note that ZiPS isn’t systematically optimistic about prospects. Phrased differently: there are real reasons to be excited about Polanco, if and when he graduates to the parent club.

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

Pirates Depth Chart

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
Andrew McCutchen R 27 CF 670 100 167 32 5 24 86 23 10
Russell Martin R 31 C 458 49 94 18 0 14 50 7 3
Starling Marte R 25 LF 583 82 142 27 11 13 54 29 13
Gregory Polanco L 22 CF 553 65 133 26 4 11 59 30 13
Pedro Alvarez L 27 3B 597 70 126 24 2 32 95 2 0
Neil Walker B 28 2B 603 74 140 30 3 16 74 5 4
Jordy Mercer R 27 SS 494 55 114 27 3 9 48 5 4
Jose Tabata R 25 RF 503 64 120 26 4 6 38 12 7
Clint Barmes R 35 SS 397 32 85 17 0 6 34 1 1
Josh Harrison R 26 2B 432 56 105 24 6 6 44 13 6
Alen Hanson B 21 SS 583 65 131 25 10 10 60 22 16
Tony Sanchez R 26 C 405 43 83 22 1 8 42 2 2
Gaby Sanchez R 30 1B 458 47 101 24 0 12 53 2 1
Nevin Ashley R 29 C 315 29 64 13 2 5 27 2 1
Chase d’Arnaud R 27 SS 428 52 89 18 7 5 39 21 5
Adalberto Santos R 26 3B 431 46 94 18 3 4 37 15 6
Michael McKenry R 29 C 234 20 49 12 0 6 26 0 0
Jaff Decker L 24 CF 459 57 85 19 3 9 45 5 5
Chris Stewart R 32 C 275 26 58 10 0 2 23 3 0
Brandon Inge R 37 3B 238 21 46 11 0 6 26 1 0
Felix Pie L 29 LF 357 38 78 18 5 5 31 16 4
Andrew Lambo L 25 RF 430 50 90 19 3 15 53 4 2
Robert Andino R 30 2B 449 45 98 19 1 5 34 7 3
Chris McGuiness L 26 1B 458 40 92 23 0 9 43 1 1
Travis Snider L 26 RF 423 47 93 21 2 9 44 7 4
Chris Dickerson L 32 LF 283 32 59 13 2 4 22 10 2
Darren Ford R 28 LF 332 35 67 10 3 3 24 21 10
Travis Ishikawa L 30 1B 274 25 58 16 1 4 29 1 0
Michael Martinez B 31 SS 301 31 67 9 3 3 27 5 3
Brett Carroll R 31 LF 393 41 75 16 1 9 34 5 3
Jeff Larish L 31 RF 191 17 33 9 0 5 17 0 1
Matt Hague R 28 1B 585 63 132 29 2 7 59 3 2

***

Batters, Rates and Averages

Player PA BB% K% ISO BABIP BA OBP SLG wOBA
Andrew McCutchen 670 11.3% 17.5% .196 .322 .288 .375 .484 .367
Russell Martin 458 10.5% 19.4% .150 .268 .234 .326 .384 .315
Starling Marte 583 4.3% 23.8% .165 .335 .265 .318 .430 .324
Gregory Polanco 553 6.3% 16.3% .131 .295 .261 .309 .392 .309
Pedro Alvarez 597 8.9% 32.0% .231 .295 .234 .303 .465 .328
Neil Walker 603 8.3% 17.7% .157 .296 .261 .330 .418 .324
Jordy Mercer 494 5.7% 17.6% .133 .292 .252 .302 .385 .295
Jose Tabata 503 7.4% 14.9% .116 .306 .265 .329 .381 .312
Clint Barmes 397 5.0% 19.1% .096 .278 .234 .281 .330 .263
Josh Harrison 432 3.7% 12.7% .135 .291 .264 .302 .399 .302
Alen Hanson 583 6.0% 22.8% .140 .304 .244 .292 .384 .291
Tony Sanchez 405 7.4% 22.5% .132 .281 .229 .300 .361 .291
Gaby Sanchez 458 10.0% 15.7% .149 .276 .252 .333 .401 .322
Nevin Ashley 315 6.3% 23.5% .112 .284 .225 .288 .337 .276
Chase d’Arnaud 428 5.6% 21.0% .118 .278 .225 .275 .343 .278
Adalberto Santos 431 7.7% 18.1% .092 .291 .242 .306 .334 .286
Michael McKenry 234 7.3% 23.5% .142 .281 .231 .292 .373 .290
Jaff Decker 459 11.1% 26.4% .131 .280 .214 .305 .345 .285
Chris Stewart 275 5.1% 12.7% .064 .260 .233 .281 .297 .255
Brandon Inge 238 5.9% 27.3% .132 .267 .209 .262 .341 .267
Felix Pie 357 5.3% 20.2% .128 .283 .234 .278 .362 .286
Andrew Lambo 430 6.7% 28.1% .178 .288 .229 .285 .407 .300
Robert Andino 449 5.8% 19.2% .087 .287 .238 .284 .325 .269
Chris McGuiness 458 9.4% 22.9% .122 .279 .224 .301 .346 .289
Travis Snider 423 7.6% 23.9% .135 .300 .240 .298 .375 .294
Chris Dickerson 283 7.8% 26.1% .114 .306 .230 .294 .344 .288
Darren Ford 332 6.3% 23.8% .083 .286 .220 .274 .303 .257
Travis Ishikawa 274 7.7% 23.4% .121 .300 .235 .301 .356 .287
Michael Martinez 301 4.3% 15.9% .086 .276 .238 .275 .324 .260
Brett Carroll 393 6.9% 25.4% .126 .264 .210 .274 .336 .269
Jeff Larish 191 9.4% 31.9% .139 .264 .192 .272 .331 .266
Matt Hague 585 6.8% 16.1% .101 .287 .247 .307 .348 .291

***

Batters, Assorted Other

Player PA RC/27 OPS+ Def zWAR No.1 Comp
Andrew McCutchen 670 7.0 141 3 6.4 Amos Otis
Russell Martin 458 4.4 100 6 3.4 Frankie Hayes
Starling Marte 583 5.1 109 12 3.3 Matt Kemp
Gregory Polanco 553 4.5 96 10 3.2 Johnny Damon
Pedro Alvarez 597 5.0 113 -2 3.1 Mike Pagliarulo
Neil Walker 603 5.0 110 -2 2.9 Todd Zeile
Jordy Mercer 494 4.1 92 0 1.8 Brendan Harris
Jose Tabata 503 4.6 100 5 1.7 Matt Stairs
Clint Barmes 397 3.2 72 9 1.4 Jason Wood
Josh Harrison 432 4.5 96 -1 1.4 Joseph Thurston
Alen Hanson 583 3.8 89 -5 1.3 Cristian Guzman
Tony Sanchez 405 3.7 85 -4 1.3 Eric Helfand
Gaby Sanchez 458 4.8 106 1 1.1 Mike Andrews
Nevin Ashley 315 3.4 76 2 1.1 Danny Ardoin
Chase d’Arnaud 428 3.6 73 0 0.9 Michael Martinez
Adalberto Santos 431 3.7 81 0 0.8 Peter Peltz
Michael McKenry 234 3.8 86 -2 0.8 John Buck
Jaff Decker 459 3.5 83 -3 0.6 Billy McMillon
Chris Stewart 275 3.1 64 0 0.5 Charlie Greene
Brandon Inge 238 3.1 69 2 0.3 Jim Morrison
Felix Pie 357 3.8 79 2 0.3 Adrian Myers
Andrew Lambo 430 4.1 93 -3 0.2 Tim Costo
Robert Andino 449 3.3 72 -1 0.2 Edwin Maysonet
Chris McGuiness 458 3.6 82 4 0.2 Felix Colon
Travis Snider 423 3.9 88 -1 0.2 Doug Deeds
Chris Dickerson 283 3.8 80 0 0.1 Terrell Lowery
Darren Ford 332 2.9 63 7 0.1 Mike Murphy
Travis Ishikawa 274 3.8 85 1 0.0 Orsino Hill
Michael Martinez 301 3.1 68 -2 0.0 Pablo Martinez
Brett Carroll 393 3.1 71 1 -0.4 Nick Gorneault
Jeff Larish 191 2.9 69 -2 -0.5 Dustan Mohr
Matt Hague 585 3.8 84 -4 -0.6 Tim Hummel

***

Pitchers, Counting Stats

Player T Age G GS IP SO BB HR H R ER
Francisco Liriano L 30 28 28 161.0 151 59 10 137 60 56
Gerrit Cole R 23 30 30 163.0 134 52 13 153 67 63
A.J. Burnett R 37 28 28 173.7 157 60 15 161 74 69
Jameson Taillon R 22 24 23 146.7 110 48 12 143 65 61
Wandy Rodriguez L 35 20 20 119.0 83 32 12 113 51 48
Jeff Locke L 26 30 29 158.3 118 71 15 154 77 72
Mark Melancon R 29 67 0 68.7 64 14 4 60 22 21
Charlie Morton R 30 22 22 121.3 78 43 9 125 58 54
Jeanmar Gomez R 26 32 20 128.3 75 43 11 127 61 57
Nick Kingham R 22 27 26 133.0 98 45 14 133 65 61
Stolmy Pimentel R 24 27 24 142.3 87 49 14 144 71 66
Jason Grilli R 37 51 0 50.3 64 16 4 39 16 15
Jeff Karstens R 31 18 15 91.0 55 19 10 96 44 41
Brandon Cumpton R 25 26 25 139.0 76 49 12 146 72 67
Tony Watson L 29 66 0 63.3 54 19 5 55 25 23
Kyle McPherson R 26 20 17 95.7 64 22 11 101 48 45
Justin Wilson L 26 64 0 72.0 62 34 6 61 29 27
David Bromberg R 26 26 15 104.7 74 44 10 103 52 49
James McDonald R 29 23 22 115.7 93 52 14 112 60 56
Vin Mazzaro R 27 62 0 77.3 53 24 5 74 32 30
Casey Sadler R 23 28 22 130.7 64 41 13 139 68 64
Edinson Volquez R 30 30 29 164.7 130 73 16 166 88 82
Josh Kinney R 35 43 0 48.3 36 17 3 46 20 19
Zachary Thornton R 26 45 0 71.3 59 20 6 68 31 29
Chris Leroux R 30 26 5 56.0 39 22 5 56 28 26
Phil Irwin R 27 15 15 79.3 46 20 9 88 43 40
Joely Rodriguez L 22 21 21 104.7 52 36 10 114 57 53
Kyle Farnsworth R 38 43 0 35.0 26 12 3 35 16 15
Jared Hughes R 28 56 0 62.7 43 23 5 61 29 27
Kyle Waldrop R 28 32 1 47.7 22 16 4 51 24 22
Daniel Schlereth L 28 24 0 24.7 21 16 2 23 13 12
Miles Mikolas R 25 59 0 66.0 40 22 6 68 32 30
Cody Eppley R 28 57 0 51.3 36 27 3 50 26 24
Collin Balester R 28 28 2 51.0 37 21 7 52 28 26
Bryan Morris R 27 57 0 74.7 48 26 8 75 37 35
Duke Welker R 28 47 0 56.3 40 34 4 55 30 28
Graham Godfrey R 29 27 18 113.3 55 38 15 128 67 63
Andy Oliver L 26 27 22 116.0 88 112 11 114 76 71

***

Pitchers, Rates and Averages

Player IP TBF K% BB% BABIP ERA FIP ERA- FIP-
Francisco Liriano 161.0 679 22.2% 8.7% .278 3.13 3.11 85 84
Gerrit Cole 163.0 694 19.3% 7.5% .287 3.48 3.52 94 95
A.J. Burnett 173.7 742 21.2% 8.1% .291 3.58 3.50 97 95
Jameson Taillon 146.7 631 17.4% 7.6% .289 3.74 3.71 101 100
Wandy Rodriguez 119.0 502 16.5% 6.4% .272 3.63 3.79 98 103
Jeff Locke 158.3 700 16.9% 10.1% .285 4.09 4.25 111 115
Mark Melancon 68.7 280 22.8% 5.0% .286 2.75 2.55 74 69
Charlie Morton 121.3 532 14.7% 8.1% .297 4.01 4.01 109 108
Jeanmar Gomez 128.3 555 13.5% 7.7% .276 4.00 4.07 108 110
Nick Kingham 133.0 577 17.0% 7.8% .289 4.13 4.14 112 112
Stolmy Pimentel 142.3 620 14.0% 7.9% .281 4.17 4.28 113 116
Jason Grilli 50.3 206 31.1% 7.8% .292 2.68 2.49 73 67
Jeff Karstens 91.0 388 14.2% 4.9% .285 4.05 3.89 110 105
Brandon Cumpton 139.0 612 12.4% 8.0% .287 4.34 4.30 117 116
Tony Watson 63.3 264 20.5% 7.2% .275 3.27 3.36 88 91
Kyle McPherson 95.7 410 15.6% 5.4% .293 4.23 4.08 114 110
Justin Wilson 72.0 311 19.9% 10.9% .268 3.37 3.95 91 107
David Bromberg 104.7 461 16.0% 9.5% .284 4.21 4.28 114 116
James McDonald 115.7 511 18.2% 10.2% .282 4.36 4.41 118 119
Vin Mazzaro 77.3 330 16.1% 7.3% .282 3.49 3.48 94 94
Casey Sadler 130.7 572 11.2% 7.2% .282 4.41 4.44 119 120
Edinson Volquez 164.7 733 17.7% 10.0% .295 4.48 4.10 121 111
Josh Kinney 48.3 208 17.3% 8.2% .289 3.54 3.48 96 94
Zachary Thornton 71.3 302 19.5% 6.6% .293 3.66 3.49 99 95
Chris Leroux 56.0 246 15.9% 8.9% .288 4.18 4.10 113 111
Phil Irwin 79.3 346 13.3% 5.8% .297 4.54 4.31 123 117
Joely Rodriguez 104.7 464 11.2% 7.8% .290 4.56 4.53 123 122
Kyle Farnsworth 35.0 152 17.1% 7.9% .291 3.86 3.70 104 100
Jared Hughes 62.7 272 15.8% 8.5% .284 3.88 3.91 105 106
Kyle Waldrop 47.7 210 10.5% 7.6% .285 4.15 4.28 112 116
Daniel Schlereth 24.7 113 18.6% 14.1% .291 4.38 4.34 119 117
Miles Mikolas 66.0 288 13.9% 7.6% .288 4.09 4.20 111 114
Cody Eppley 51.3 231 15.6% 11.7% .289 4.21 3.92 114 106
Collin Balester 51.0 226 16.4% 9.3% .287 4.59 4.73 124 128
Bryan Morris 74.7 325 14.8% 8.0% .280 4.22 4.24 114 115
Duke Welker 56.3 258 15.5% 13.2% .290 4.47 4.57 121 124
Graham Godfrey 113.3 506 10.9% 7.5% .289 5.00 4.99 135 135
Andy Oliver 116.0 574 15.3% 19.5% .290 5.51 5.84 149 158

***

Pitchers, Assorted Other

Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA+ zWAR No. 1 Comp
Francisco Liriano 161.0 8.44 3.30 0.56 115 2.9 Al Leiter
Gerrit Cole 163.0 7.40 2.87 0.72 104 2.2 Kevin Brown
A.J. Burnett 173.7 8.13 3.11 0.78 101 2.2 David Cone
Jameson Taillon 146.7 6.75 2.94 0.74 96 1.5 Aaron Harang
Wandy Rodriguez 119.0 6.28 2.42 0.91 99 1.4 Mike Flanagan
Jeff Locke 158.3 6.71 4.04 0.85 88 1.0 Bill Krueger
Mark Melancon 68.7 8.38 1.83 0.52 131 0.9 Chad Bradford
Charlie Morton 121.3 5.79 3.19 0.67 90 0.9 Omar Olivares
Jeanmar Gomez 128.3 5.26 3.02 0.77 90 0.8 Steve Cummings
Nick Kingham 133.0 6.63 3.05 0.95 87 0.8 Urbano Lugo
Stolmy Pimentel 142.3 5.50 3.10 0.89 86 0.7 Chance Douglass
Jason Grilli 50.3 11.45 2.86 0.72 134 0.7 Tom Gordon
Jeff Karstens 91.0 5.44 1.88 0.99 89 0.6 Brian Tollberg
Brandon Cumpton 139.0 4.92 3.17 0.78 83 0.4 Jake Dittler
Tony Watson 63.3 7.68 2.70 0.71 110 0.4 Jeff Fassero
Kyle McPherson 95.7 6.02 2.07 1.03 85 0.4 Mike Harkey
Justin Wilson 72.0 7.75 4.25 0.75 107 0.4 Mike Mohler
David Bromberg 104.7 6.36 3.78 0.86 85 0.4 Greg Aquino
James McDonald 115.7 7.23 4.04 1.09 83 0.3 Chris Fussell
Vin Mazzaro 77.3 6.17 2.79 0.58 103 0.3 Todd Williams
Casey Sadler 130.7 4.41 2.82 0.90 82 0.3 Jason Karnuth
Edinson Volquez 164.7 7.10 3.99 0.87 80 0.2 Jamey Wright
Josh Kinney 48.3 6.71 3.17 0.56 102 0.2 Darrin Babineaux
Zachary Thornton 71.3 7.45 2.52 0.76 98 0.1 Jose Acevedo
Chris Leroux 56.0 6.27 3.54 0.80 86 0.1 Jarod Juelsgaard
Phil Irwin 79.3 5.22 2.27 1.02 79 0.1 Jamie Brown
Joely Rodriguez 104.7 4.47 3.09 0.86 79 0.1 Rich Rundles
Kyle Farnsworth 35.0 6.69 3.09 0.77 93 0.0 Terry Clark
Jared Hughes 62.7 6.17 3.30 0.72 93 0.0 Sean Green
Kyle Waldrop 47.7 4.15 3.02 0.75 87 -0.1 Mike Bacsik
Daniel Schlereth 24.7 7.65 5.83 0.73 82 -0.2 Mike Kinnunen
Miles Mikolas 66.0 5.45 3.00 0.82 88 -0.2 Robert Paulk
Cody Eppley 51.3 6.32 4.74 0.53 86 -0.2 Ryan Baker
Collin Balester 51.0 6.53 3.71 1.24 79 -0.3 Doug Gogolewski
Bryan Morris 74.7 5.78 3.13 0.96 85 -0.4 Travis Thompson
Duke Welker 56.3 6.39 5.44 0.64 81 -0.4 Jake Robbins
Graham Godfrey 113.3 4.37 3.02 1.19 72 -0.6 Mike Walker
Andy Oliver 116.0 6.83 8.69 0.85 65 -1.3 Chris Mobley

***

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.


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