2017 ZiPS Projections – Houston Astros

After having typically appeared in the very famous pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past few years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Houston Astros. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Chicago NL / San Diego / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
Broadly speaking, the deployment of an average — which is to say, a two-win — player at every spot in a club’s starting lineup will lead to an average group of position players. With that logic in mind, these ZiPS projections offer an encouraging portrait of the 2017 Houston Astros, insofar as two wins represents more or less the floor for the club’s field-playing starters.

The foundation of the offense is marked both by youth and talent: Jose Altuve (696 PA, 5.8 zWAR), Alex Bregman (557, 3.5), Carlos Correa (682, 6.5), and George Springer (590, 3.5) are all 27 or younger. They also constitute the four Houston batters projected to record three or more wins in 2017. Among the starters, ZiPS offers the least optimistic forecasts for Carlos Beltran (521, 1.6) and Yulieski Gurriel (525, 1.6), although even that pair is expected to produce something within a rounding error of two wins.

Pitchers
The initial prognosis for the pitching staff is less impressive, although still entirely acceptable. Starting rotations produced a median figure of approximately 12 WAR collectively in 2016. And while Dan Szymborski is legally permitted to punish anyone guilty of such behavior, if one adds up the rounded win figures for the starting pitchers in the depth-chart image below, he or she arrives at a sum of 13 wins. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (184.2 IP, 3.5 zWAR) receives the most encouraging projection, although neither Lance McCullers‘ (121.1, 2.8) nor Collin McHugh‘s (177.2, 2.9) forecasts represent a marked step down — and McCullers is the best of that triumvirate on a per-inning basis.

As for the bullpen, the most active members of the 2016 edition return in 2017, which ought to benefit the club. While last year’s rated as merely an average group by win probability added, that was largely a result of poor timing. Houston relievers recorded the second-best park-adjusted FIP and third-best WAR in the league last year. They seem prepared to approximate that level of production in 2017. Ken Giles (70.0 IP, 75 ERA-, 1.1 zWAR) receives the top projection, both by FIP and by WAR, among the club’s relievers.

Bench/Prospects
It’s not immediately clear how manager A.J. Hinch will deal with the club’s outfield corners, although it stands to reason that he’ll employ at least one platoon, probably with Nori Aoki (496 PA, 0.7 zWAR) and Jake Marisnick (430, 1.2). Among prospects, outfielder Derek Fisher (572, 1.3) and catcher Garrett Stubbs (313, 1.4) appear most capabale of offering immediate help at the major-league level.

While he doesn’t seem likely to begin the season as part of the rotation, right-hander Joe Musgrove (128.0 IP, 1.3 zWAR) is a candidate to pitch competent innings if called upon. Mike Hauschild (127.2, 1.1) also seemed like a candidate to do that, although he’s a member of the Rangers now, having been selected by the latter club in the Rule 5 draft just this morning.

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

astros-depth-final

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
Carlos Correa R 22 SS 682 85 168 37 4 27 115 20 4
Jose Altuve R 27 2B 696 94 203 39 4 17 81 37 10
Alex Bregman R 23 3B 557 77 135 28 5 18 76 8 4
George Springer R 27 RF 590 89 128 23 3 26 76 12 6
Brian McCann L 33 C 468 54 100 14 1 19 69 0 0
Josh Reddick L 30 RF 477 60 116 20 3 17 59 7 2
Luis Valbuena L 31 3B 408 49 85 18 1 17 50 1 1
Colby Rasmus L 30 LF 418 49 85 16 1 20 62 3 1
Yulieski Gurriel R 33 1B 525 70 119 32 0 21 75 3 1
Carlos Beltran B 40 DH 521 59 131 30 0 21 77 0 0
A.J. Reed L 24 1B 540 70 115 22 2 23 73 0 0
Garrett Stubbs L 24 C 313 35 67 14 1 4 27 9 2
Derek Fisher L 23 CF 572 68 114 19 5 19 68 19 6
Evan Gattis R 30 LF 508 60 118 20 3 28 82 1 1
Jake Marisnick R 26 CF 430 51 91 19 3 10 39 19 7
Tyler Heineman B 26 C 306 33 64 13 1 4 26 1 2
Ramon Laureano R 22 CF 463 53 88 18 4 10 46 22 10
Max Stassi R 26 C 336 35 66 12 1 11 38 1 0
Marwin Gonzalez B 28 1B 434 49 106 22 2 11 42 7 5
Tyler White R 26 1B 458 55 101 20 1 16 59 1 1
Nori Aoki L 35 LF 496 58 123 19 4 5 34 11 8
J.D. Davis R 24 3B 502 56 102 23 1 17 60 3 2
Andrew Aplin L 26 CF 472 49 92 13 3 5 35 18 7
Jon Singleton L 25 1B 502 65 90 19 1 23 70 2 1
Colin Moran L 24 3B 512 49 109 20 2 10 53 2 2
Drew Ferguson R 24 RF 394 45 84 19 2 9 42 14 7
Tony Kemp L 25 LF 503 55 110 16 5 4 35 18 9
Jack Mayfield R 26 2B 372 39 78 15 1 9 38 3 3
Danny Worth R 31 2B 371 37 71 16 1 6 32 5 1
Jason Martin L 21 CF 489 56 99 17 4 16 58 13 16
Jon Kemmer L 26 RF 411 48 87 19 2 15 51 5 5
Preston Tucker L 26 LF 488 57 105 23 1 18 57 2 2
Teoscar Hernandez R 24 RF 567 65 116 24 3 14 55 21 11
Chan Moon B 26 2B 315 30 62 7 2 4 21 12 7
Bobby Boyd L 24 LF 459 44 94 13 4 4 32 22 10

***

Batters, Rates and Averages
Player PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Carlos Correa 682 10.6% 19.4% .209 .315 .280 .358 .489 .365
Jose Altuve 696 6.3% 9.3% .154 .332 .319 .367 .473 .367
Alex Bregman 557 7.7% 14.4% .182 .285 .266 .327 .448 .336
George Springer 590 11.5% 27.5% .211 .316 .251 .350 .462 .356
Brian McCann 468 9.0% 18.8% .176 .260 .240 .318 .416 .316
Josh Reddick 477 8.4% 15.3% .177 .285 .267 .327 .444 .333
Luis Valbuena 408 11.8% 23.3% .201 .279 .240 .334 .441 .333
Colby Rasmus 418 9.6% 31.1% .209 .288 .227 .302 .436 .317
Yulieski Gurriel 525 8.2% 21.5% .203 .292 .254 .325 .457 .322
Carlos Beltran 521 6.1% 17.7% .193 .294 .271 .317 .464 .329
A.J. Reed 540 10.0% 28.7% .198 .302 .241 .319 .439 .323
Garrett Stubbs 313 8.3% 15.0% .101 .273 .240 .311 .341 .296
Derek Fisher 572 10.1% 32.2% .169 .308 .224 .306 .393 .311
Evan Gattis 508 6.3% 22.6% .235 .274 .253 .305 .488 .330
Jake Marisnick 430 4.7% 27.7% .139 .300 .230 .275 .369 .289
Tyler Heineman 306 6.2% 15.7% .097 .264 .230 .293 .327 .277
Ramon Laureano 463 8.2% 31.3% .135 .298 .213 .289 .348 .298
Max Stassi 336 5.4% 31.8% .151 .282 .212 .260 .363 .269
Marwin Gonzalez 434 4.4% 21.0% .146 .314 .262 .301 .408 .310
Tyler White 458 9.2% 20.5% .171 .282 .248 .323 .419 .322
Nori Aoki 496 7.1% 9.1% .094 .296 .276 .338 .370 .320
J.D. Davis 502 6.8% 34.5% .165 .311 .222 .281 .387 .292
Andrew Aplin 472 10.0% 21.6% .082 .279 .221 .300 .303 .280
Jon Singleton 502 13.1% 32.9% .210 .272 .209 .315 .419 .316
Colin Moran 512 6.8% 27.3% .114 .305 .231 .285 .345 .277
Drew Ferguson 394 7.4% 27.4% .140 .311 .237 .303 .377 .310
Tony Kemp 503 8.3% 16.3% .086 .293 .247 .317 .333 .299
Jack Mayfield 372 5.4% 23.9% .129 .277 .227 .273 .356 .276
Danny Worth 371 8.6% 31.0% .108 .302 .213 .284 .321 .271
Jason Martin 489 7.8% 28.0% .165 .283 .224 .285 .389 .306
Jon Kemmer 411 6.3% 30.9% .180 .303 .230 .287 .410 .307
Preston Tucker 488 6.6% 25.2% .176 .280 .234 .289 .410 .300
Teoscar Hernandez 567 6.5% 29.3% .139 .298 .224 .279 .363 .291
Chan Moon 315 7.0% 26.0% .080 .287 .217 .273 .297 .267
Bobby Boyd 459 5.7% 25.3% .078 .295 .222 .269 .300 .267

***

Batters, Assorted Other
Player PA RC/27 OPS+ Def zWAR No.1 Comp
Carlos Correa 682 6.8 133 -1 6.5 Troy Tulowitzki
Jose Altuve 696 7.2 131 -2 5.8 Billy Herman
Alex Bregman 557 5.4 113 3 3.5 Adrian Beltre
George Springer 590 5.8 123 2 3.5 Ron Swoboda
Brian McCann 468 4.7 102 -3 2.7 Dave Valle
Josh Reddick 477 5.4 112 4 2.3 Jorge Orta
Luis Valbuena 408 5.2 113 -3 2.0 Wayne Gross
Colby Rasmus 418 4.6 102 6 1.8 Brian Lesher
Yulieski Gurriel 525 5.4 114 1 1.6 Jeff Conine
Carlos Beltran 521 5.4 113 0 1.6 Bill Skowron
A.J. Reed 540 5.0 108 2 1.5 David Ortiz
Garrett Stubbs 313 4.0 81 1 1.4 Pete Gonzalez
Derek Fisher 572 4.3 93 -6 1.3 Ray McDavid
Evan Gattis 508 5.4 116 -8 1.2 Shane Spencer
Jake Marisnick 430 3.7 77 6 1.2 Shane Mack
Tyler Heineman 306 3.3 72 2 0.9 Brian Moon
Ramon Laureano 463 3.5 76 2 0.8 David Espinosa
Max Stassi 336 3.3 71 1 0.8 Jim Horner
Marwin Gonzalez 434 4.4 95 4 0.8 Todd Benzinger
Tyler White 458 4.8 104 -2 0.7 Mike Carp
Nori Aoki 496 4.5 97 -2 0.7 Dave Martinez
J.D. Davis 502 3.8 83 -3 0.7 Jared Sandberg
Andrew Aplin 472 3.3 69 4 0.7 Brian Finley
Jon Singleton 502 4.5 102 -2 0.7 Pat Dodson
Colin Moran 512 3.4 74 2 0.5 Greg David
Drew Ferguson 394 4.0 88 1 0.5 Brandon Berger
Tony Kemp 503 3.8 81 3 0.4 Tommy Gregg
Jack Mayfield 372 3.3 73 1 0.2 Pedro Lopez
Danny Worth 371 3.2 68 1 0.2 Trace Coquillette
Jason Martin 489 3.4 85 -5 0.2 Craig Brooks
Jon Kemmer 411 4.0 91 -3 0.1 Brian Brady
Preston Tucker 488 4.1 91 -5 0.0 Nate Gold
Teoscar Hernandez 567 3.5 77 3 0.0 Prentice Redman
Chan Moon 315 2.7 59 -1 -0.5 Jonathan Malo
Bobby Boyd 459 2.9 58 1 -1.2 Kennard Jones

***

Pitchers, Counting Stats
Player T Age G GS IP K BB HR H R ER
Dallas Keuchel L 29 28 28 184.7 164 47 19 173 80 75
Collin McHugh R 30 30 30 177.7 166 48 21 177 81 76
Lance McCullers R 23 22 21 121.3 147 51 12 107 48 45
Mike Fiers R 32 28 26 153.0 130 41 21 153 77 72
Joe Musgrove R 24 25 21 128.0 112 21 20 132 65 61
Mike Hauschild R 27 24 22 127.7 99 40 15 135 67 63
Ken Giles R 26 70 0 70.0 96 24 7 57 26 24
David Paulino R 23 21 16 88.3 80 28 11 87 44 41
Doug Fister R 33 25 22 131.0 86 36 20 145 71 66
Chris Devenski R 26 55 0 76.7 77 19 9 70 30 28
Will Harris R 32 64 0 62.3 66 19 7 55 24 22
James Hoyt R 30 57 0 61.7 81 22 7 50 24 22
Francis Martes R 21 23 21 115.3 96 51 13 119 63 59
Luke Gregerson R 33 59 0 55.3 59 14 7 48 22 21
Charlie Morton R 33 15 15 84.3 70 30 11 87 46 43
Tony Sipp L 33 58 0 48.3 54 16 7 43 20 19
Michael Feliz R 24 41 8 88.3 99 34 12 83 46 43
Brad Peacock R 29 22 19 102.0 94 45 16 101 58 54
Brady Rodgers R 26 25 21 124.0 92 29 18 138 72 67
Jordan Jankowski R 28 53 0 65.7 81 35 8 56 32 30
Brendan McCurry R 25 47 0 63.3 63 20 9 61 31 29
Jandel Gustave R 24 59 0 69.3 60 29 8 69 35 33
Jose Hernandez R 22 20 16 92.3 73 26 15 102 57 53
Cy Sneed R 24 26 22 120.0 90 40 19 132 74 69
Aaron West R 27 34 4 69.3 47 17 10 77 41 38
Ashur Tolliver L 29 36 1 46.7 46 22 7 46 27 25
Kevin Chapman L 29 58 0 67.0 71 33 8 65 36 34
Eric Peterson R 24 38 0 69.0 60 22 9 71 37 35
Eury de la Rosa L 27 31 0 41.7 34 21 6 44 25 23
Reymin Guduan L 25 42 0 53.0 53 37 8 52 33 31
Brian Holmes L 26 19 14 74.7 63 30 15 84 52 49
Edison Frias R 26 20 15 89.0 62 39 16 102 63 59

***

Pitchers, Rates and Averages
Player IP TBF K% BB% BABIP ERA FIP ERA- FIP-
Dallas Keuchel 184.7 774 21.2% 6.1% .285 3.66 3.46 89 83
Collin McHugh 177.7 758 21.9% 6.3% .302 3.85 3.69 93 88
Lance McCullers 121.3 522 28.2% 9.8% .309 3.34 3.30 81 79
Mike Fiers 153.0 653 19.9% 6.3% .290 4.24 4.07 103 98
Joe Musgrove 128.0 537 20.9% 3.9% .296 4.29 4.02 104 97
Mike Hauschild 127.7 558 17.7% 7.2% .302 4.44 4.16 108 100
Ken Giles 70.0 291 33.0% 8.2% .309 3.09 2.73 75 66
David Paulino 88.3 380 21.1% 7.4% .298 4.18 4.07 101 98
Doug Fister 131.0 574 15.0% 6.3% .293 4.53 4.72 110 113
Chris Devenski 76.7 319 24.1% 6.0% .288 3.29 3.45 80 83
Will Harris 62.3 261 25.3% 7.3% .288 3.18 3.41 77 82
James Hoyt 61.7 257 31.5% 8.6% .298 3.21 3.07 78 74
Francis Martes 115.3 516 18.6% 9.9% .303 4.60 4.39 112 105
Luke Gregerson 55.3 228 25.9% 6.1% .281 3.42 3.38 83 81
Charlie Morton 84.3 370 18.9% 8.1% .303 4.59 4.42 111 106
Tony Sipp 48.3 204 26.5% 7.8% .286 3.54 3.75 86 90
Michael Feliz 88.3 382 25.9% 8.9% .304 4.38 3.89 106 93
Brad Peacock 102.0 452 20.8% 10.0% .290 4.76 4.71 115 113
Brady Rodgers 124.0 539 17.1% 5.4% .305 4.86 4.33 118 104
Jordan Jankowski 65.7 288 28.1% 12.1% .298 4.11 3.87 100 93
Brendan McCurry 63.3 271 23.3% 7.4% .296 4.12 3.96 100 95
Jandel Gustave 69.3 306 19.6% 9.5% .296 4.28 4.22 104 101
Jose Hernandez 92.3 405 18.0% 6.4% .304 5.17 4.64 125 111
Cy Sneed 120.0 532 16.9% 7.5% .300 5.17 4.81 125 116
Aaron West 69.3 302 15.6% 5.6% .299 4.93 4.49 120 108
Ashur Tolliver 46.7 208 22.1% 10.6% .297 4.82 4.63 117 111
Kevin Chapman 67.0 299 23.7% 11.0% .310 4.57 4.11 111 99
Eric Peterson 69.0 300 20.0% 7.3% .302 4.57 4.15 111 100
Eury de la Rosa 41.7 190 17.9% 11.0% .299 4.97 4.86 121 117
Reymin Guduan 53.0 248 21.4% 14.9% .299 5.26 5.22 128 125
Brian Holmes 74.7 338 18.6% 8.9% .305 5.91 5.40 143 130
Edison Frias 89.0 408 15.2% 9.6% .302 5.97 5.57 145 134

***

Pitchers, Assorted Other
Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA+ zWAR No. 1 Comp
Dallas Keuchel 184.7 7.99 2.29 0.93 110 3.5 Mark Mulder
Collin McHugh 177.7 8.41 2.43 1.06 104 2.9 Dick Ruthven
Lance McCullers 121.3 10.91 3.78 0.89 120 2.8 Josh Johnson
Mike Fiers 153.0 7.65 2.41 1.24 95 1.7 Dave Mlicki
Joe Musgrove 128.0 7.88 1.48 1.41 94 1.3 Josh Banks
Mike Hauschild 127.7 6.98 2.82 1.06 90 1.1 Mike LaCoss
Ken Giles 70.0 12.34 3.09 0.90 130 1.1 Bryan Harvey
David Paulino 88.3 8.15 2.85 1.12 96 1.0 Roger McDowell
Doug Fister 131.0 5.91 2.47 1.37 89 1.0 Jack Kramer
Chris Devenski 76.7 9.04 2.23 1.06 122 1.0 Billy Koch
Will Harris 62.3 9.53 2.74 1.01 126 0.9 Doug Brocail
James Hoyt 61.7 11.82 3.21 1.02 125 0.8 Mike Williams
Francis Martes 115.3 7.49 3.98 1.01 87 0.7 Rick Berg
Luke Gregerson 55.3 9.60 2.28 1.14 118 0.6 Jerry Spradlin
Charlie Morton 84.3 7.47 3.20 1.17 88 0.6 Scott Kamieniecki
Tony Sipp 48.3 10.06 2.98 1.30 114 0.4 Trever Miller
Michael Feliz 88.3 10.09 3.47 1.22 92 0.4 Doug Bochtler
Brad Peacock 102.0 8.29 3.97 1.41 84 0.4 Jason Bere
Brady Rodgers 124.0 6.68 2.10 1.31 83 0.4 Mike Lincoln
Jordan Jankowski 65.7 11.10 4.79 1.10 98 0.1 Jim Stoops
Brendan McCurry 63.3 8.96 2.84 1.28 97 0.1 Mark Brandenburg
Jandel Gustave 69.3 7.79 3.77 1.04 94 0.0 Andy Shipman
Jose Hernandez 92.3 7.12 2.54 1.46 78 -0.1 Shane Reynolds
Cy Sneed 120.0 6.75 3.00 1.43 78 -0.1 Andy Taulbee
Aaron West 69.3 6.10 2.21 1.30 81 -0.3 Tim McNab
Ashur Tolliver 46.7 8.87 4.24 1.35 83 -0.3 Ken Vining
Kevin Chapman 67.0 9.54 4.43 1.07 88 -0.3 Matt Whisenant
Eric Peterson 69.0 7.83 2.87 1.17 88 -0.3 Jerry Spradlin
Eury de la Rosa 41.7 7.34 4.53 1.29 81 -0.4 Dean Brueggemann
Reymin Guduan 53.0 9.00 6.28 1.36 76 -0.7 Jonathan Price
Brian Holmes 74.7 7.59 3.61 1.81 68 -0.8 Jason Flach
Edison Frias 89.0 6.27 3.94 1.62 67 -1.0 Kevin Hodges

***

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 2017. 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 4.05 ERA and the NL having a 3.97 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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