Archive for 2014 ZiPS Projections

2014 ZiPS Projections – San Francisco Giants

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 San Francisco Giants. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
A haphazard inspection of the 29 ZiPS posts to have preceded this one reveals that only one field player (Mike Trout, at 9.5) is projected to produce as many wins in 2014 as Buster Posey. Andrew McCutchen also crosses the six-win threshold. Everyone else: less than that. Offensively, Posey has demonstrated excellent control of the strike zone and also power on contact. Defensively, he plays a difficult position and plays it well. That’s an ideal player, more or less.

Not entirely like Buster Posey is free-agent acquisition and probable left fielder Michael Morse. Other people smarter than the present author have questioned the wisdom of the Morse signing for the Giants. Germane to this post is that ZiPS renders objectively the reasons for those questions. Morse has one skill, his raw power, nor is ZiPS even particularly confident about that: the .162 mark projected here would only be fourth on the club, not much greater than the figures assigned to Roger Kieschnick and Brett Pill.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Oakland Athletics

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 Oakland Athletics. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / 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 / Texas / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
What the depth-chart graphic below doesn’t represent very well, but what is still true of the Oakland A’s, is that they’ll probably be getting value from players who aren’t proper starters. Of particular note in this regard is outfielder Craig Gentry, for whom Oakland traded Michael Choice and a friend to Texas this offseason. Gentry’s defensive figures over the last three season have been, speaking in very technical sabermetric terms, entirely bananas. Accordingly, it’s not so unexpected to see him receive a very optimistic projection here (2.4 zWAR) in just 300 or so plate appearances.

Also of note: John Jaso is projected as a catcher here, but is likely to get a significant numbers of plate appearances — perhaps the bulk of them — at DH. Even a poor defensive catcher still receives a pretty substantial increase in value by way of positional adjustment — relative to a designated hitter, certainly. Expecting him to produce two wins in a DH capacity might be unrealistic. Billy Butler posted a 116 wRC+ last season, for example, while DH-ing almost exclusively and still produced just a 1.4 WAR.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Washington Nationals

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 Washington Nationals. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / 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 / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
Despite recording about -5 runs on just errors alone, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman managed to produce three wins in 2013, a figure which ZiPS expects him to approximate in 2014. Here’s what ZiPS likely knows about Zimmerman: that his defensive figures have been decidedly less impressive in recent years than previously. Here’s what it can’t know: that one reason for Zimmerman’s decline is a combination of shoulder weakness and perhaps even some manner of anxiety which have conspired to affect his throwing accuracy.

Reports this offseason suggest that Zimmerman will receive a modest number of starts at first base, in place of Adam LaRoche. This idea has merit to it. Not only might it allow Zimmerman to avoid having to contend daily with the throwing obligations of third base, but one also notes that Zimmerman is expected to outhit LaRoche by ca. 30 points of wOBA.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Texas Rangers

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 Texas Rangers. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / 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
Adjudged purely by likely wins gained relative to actual dollars spent, the Rangers’ trade of Ian Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder doesn’t probably qualify as an excellent move. Team context can’t be ignored, however, as the ZiPS projection for infielder Jurickson Profar illustrates. Profar is likely to approximate Ian Kinsler’s production in 2014, is what Dan Szymborski’s computer math suggests. Fielder, moreover, represents an upgrade over whomever would have played first base or DH’ed instead of him. Ergo, the Rangers are improved overall.

Indeed, even with the acquisition of Fielder, Texas remains a club that could benefit from offensive help. Mitch Moreland‘s bat profiles as just a league-average one — which, unless complemented by quite a bit in the way of run-saving defensively, conspires to make him something less than average overall. Combining him with a right-handed bat in a platoon would help that. With whom?, is the question. Michael Choice is one possibility, but he would appear to have something to offer in terms of defense.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Houston Astros

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 Houson Astros. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / 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
Unlike the blouse of an Olympic-level figure skater, the Houston Astros’ roster is not studded with bright and/or shining stars. That said, relative to the amount, in dollars, which that same roster is likely to be compensated in 2014 — the field-playing part, at least — they’ll actually provide some value, as none are projected to be worse than replacement-level, either.

As was the mostly the case for the 2013 edition of the Astros, this next season will be dedicated, it appears, to evaluating which of the players on the current roster are worthy of retaining as the club looks ahead to contending in the future. Here’s a summary of ZiPS’ opinion on the matter: Jose Altuve and Dexter Fowler — and probably also Matt Dominguez and Max Stassi — are about average. Jason Castro and George Springer are probably better than that, despite the fact that the latter has recorded zero major-league plate appearances. Everyone else? Not so much.

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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.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Los Angeles Angels

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 Los Angeles Angels. 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 NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Toronto.

Batters
The reader likely already knows, but the author will state for the benefit of anyone who might not, that it is generally the case with these projections that they’re more conservative than one’s own intuition might otherwise suggest. Not infrequently, partisan commenters will respond to these posts with regard to this or that player, saying “I’ll take the over on that projection.” Perhaps, in some cases, that’s a fair statement to make: the relative success of the FAN projections also hosted at this site suggests that the crowd might have some insight into these matters. Still, Szymborski’s forecasts are derived empirically — and, to that end, can’t be merely ignored.

It’s in light of that belabored caveat that the reader is thus invited to lose all of his shits so far as Mike Trout‘s ZiPS projection is concerned. Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto, Justin Verlander: none of them come within three wins of Trout, so far as ZiPS is concerned. He’s a superhero, basically, were it possible for superheroes to hail from New Jersey.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Toronto Blue Jays

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 Toronto Blue Jays. 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 NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis / Tampa Bay.

Batters
From their top-five position players (Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, and Jose Reyes) the Blue Jays are projected to extract 16.4 wins, according to ZiPS. A convenient number, that, for the sake of constructing an Intriguing Narrative, on account of it’s precisely the number of wins produced by all Toronto field players in 2013. If the club can manage to surround their five best hitters with not-worse-than-replacement-level players, the reasoning goes, then they’ll be at least as valuable as last year.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos et al. do appear to have taken steps towards this end. J.P. Arencibia and Emilio Bonifacio, for example, were among the club’s most grievous offenders last year, combining for a negative win. And while, owing to regression, neither would likely be expected to perform so badly in 2014, neither will have the chance, it appears, as they’re now employed by Texas and Kansas City, respectively. Second base remains an issue, however: ZiPS projects Ryan Goins* and Maicer Izturis for a collective 0.5 WAR in over 900 plate appearances.

*Note: the author accidentally credited Goins with a 2 WAR in the depth chart he tweeted yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. Apologies.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Kansas City Royals

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 Kansas City Royals. 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 / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis / Tampa Bay.

Batters
To the extent that any team lacking the nine best field players in the major leagues can be upgraded, so can the Royals be upgraded. What the projections below suggest, however, is that the club likely won’t be entering the season with any positional black holes. The numbers indicate that perhaps neither Norichika Aoki nor Alcides Escobar are ideal starting options for a club with playoff ambitions. That they’re probably something better than replacement level is also apparent.

Of some interest is how manager Ned Yost might contend with the third-base position in 2014. The offseason trade to acquire Danny Valencia suggests that Yost and/or the club are concerned about Mike Moustakas‘s capacity to hit left-handers. It’s true: Valencia probably hits them better. Whether that slight upgrade was worth all of David Lough is less probable.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Milwaukee Brewers

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 Milwaukee Brewers. 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 / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis / Tampa Bay.

Batters
The computer math which informs these ZiPS projections doesn’t know that Ryan Braun was charged, during the 2011-12 offseason, of using PEDs; that he successfully appealed what would have been a 50-game suspension; that he was then named in documents belonging to Biogenesis of America; that he (i.e. still Braun) attributed the appearance of his name in those documents to how his legal counsel had retained Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s operator, as a consultant; or that he then agreed to serve a 65-game suspension last season. The figures here are based on the combination of variables Szymborski generally uses to produce projections: past performance, aging, etc. They reveal no insight beyond that.

What the ZiPS projections below do reveal, however, is how, very quickly and sadly, Rickie Weeks appears to have become a mediocre player, already. In just 2011, Weeks produced a three-win season; the year before that, nearly a six-win one. Now he’s in very real danger of losing his job entirely to Scooter Gennett — a modestly skilled player, Gennett, but without the impressive physical tools that defined Weeks at his best.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Pittsburgh Pirates

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.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Chicago White Sox

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 White Sox. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
Despite having performed no rigorous analysis on the matter, the author nevertheless feels comfortable asserting that it’s difficult for a club that features just one above-average hitter — it’s difficult for that sort of club to win very much. Unfortunately, barring any sort of further offseason acquisitions, this appears to be the sort of club with which the Chicago White Sox enter the 2014 season. According to ZiPS, the next-best projected batting line after Cuban emigre Jose Abreu‘s 129 OPS+ is the 97 OPS+ shared both by Adam Dunn and Avisail Garcia.

That Cuban emigre Jose Abreu’s No. 1 comp is Paul Konerko might amuse the reader — on account of Konerko is more or less the player whom Abreu is replacing, that is. This particular comparison also serves as a pretense upon which to remind the reader that all comparable players pertain only to the age-season into which the projected player is entering. So, for example, the season of interest regarding Konerko as it pertains to Abreu is the former’s age-27 one — which, besides a deflated BABIP, wasn’t a bad one.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Colorado Rockies

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 Colorado Rockies. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
Crafting a definitive depth chart for the current edition of the Rockies presents some difficulties. DJ LeMahieu might be the club’s starting second baseman, but also so might Josh Rutledge. Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs will probably split starts in left field, but Charlie Blackmon has a chance of making the opening-day roster, as well. Were manager Walt Weiss to rely on ZiPS exclusively, he’d probably choose just Stubbs in the former situation and Rutledge in the latter. The odds of him doing that are low and lowest, however.

Of note regarding Jordan Pacheco: as the attentive reader will note, Pacheco is projected on the tables below as a first baseman (in which capacity he recorded the majority of his starts in 2013) but as a catcher on the depth chart (in which capacity he’s likely to record the majority of his starts in 2014). As a first baseman, his projection is pretty miserable (-1.2 zWAR in 483 PAs), very probably owing to the large negative runs adjustment for that position. Which is to say, projected as a catcher (for which position he’d receive a large positive adjustment, provided his defense there isn’t atrocious), his forecasted value is likely quite a bit higher. Positive, even, maybe.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – New York Mets

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 New York Mets. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
A commitment of four years and $60 million was required to sign outfielder Curtis Granderson this offseason, while just one year and $7.25 million were sufficient for other outfielder Chris Young. Equally valuable, is more or less how ZiPS regards the pair, who are entering their age-33 and -30 seasons, respectively. Projected to save five runs as a center fielder, Young might reasonably be considered a candidate to save something like 10-15 runs given a full season in right field for New York.

It’s not unthinkable that certain readers will take exception to David Wright‘s projection of 4.4 zWAR, after the last two seasons recorded by that handsome Face of the Franchise. “Ridiculous,” one might say. “Pffft,” another is likely to add, probably covering his monitor in saliva at the same time. While unqualified to comment at length about Dan Szymborski’s precise methodology, the present author understands enough about these projections, generally, to know that some combination of BABIP regression, aging curve, and Wright’s decidedly less impressive 2011 campaign are likely the main influences here.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Cincinnati Reds

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 Cincinnati Reds. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
It’s probably not incorrect to say that two main ways in which baseball players can provide value, broadly speaking, is by means of wins and also by means of the spectacle they’re capable of creating. Very fast Billy Hamilton has seemed — to the present author, at least — has seemed a candidate to succeed more by the latter standard than the former. ZiPS appears to suggest, however — in 2014, at least — that Hamilton is capable of producing on both accounts.

Of note, in particular, with regard to Hamilton’s projection is the BABIP (.332) part of it. On Cincinnati, for example, only Joey Votto has a higher projected one of them (.334) — and Joey Votto has produced five consecutive seasons now of BABIPs of .349 or greater. Everything else being equal, every 10 points of BABIP is worth about 0.3 wins. Using that rough estimate, here’s a table of what Hamilton’s WAR might be given an array of possible different BABIP outcomes:

BABIP zWAR
.350 3.1
.340 2.8
.330 2.5
.320 2.2
.310 1.9
.300 1.6

The relatively optimistic WAR projection, one observes, is tied pretty closely to the relatively optimistic BABIP projection.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Arizona Diamondbacks

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 Arizona Diamondbacks. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
In the depth-chart graphic below, the author has assigned the entirety of both Gerardo Parra and A.J. Pollock‘s projected WAR to center field. In reality, Parra will likely record starts all over the outfield — an ideal scenario, on account of how Parra is (a) the only one of the the D-backs’ four main outfielders who bats left-handed and also how he’s (b) actually projected to record the highest WAR, both by rate and also in total, of all those same outfielders, including new and powerful acquisition Mark Trumbo.

Generally speaking, there’s not a lot in the way of obvious weakness wherein Arizona’s field players are concerned, just as there’s also not a lot in the way of highest-end talent, either. It’s not surprising to find, following his 2013 season, that Paul Goldschmidt is projected to lead the team offensively. For a number of reasons, probably — including his pretty high BABIP last season and also just how regression works — ZiPS doesn’t foresee the first baseman reaching quite the frenzied heights of his 2013 campaign.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Detroit Tigers

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 Detroit Tigers. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cleveland / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Minnesota / New York AL / Philadelphia / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis.

Batters
Each of the four positions within Detroit’s opening-day infield this coming season will very likely be occupied by a different player than on opening day in 2013. Part of the reason for that is because of how Miguel Cabrera returns to first base, a role to which his defensive abilities are more well suited. Another part of the reason is owing to the departures both of Prince Fielder (via trade) and Omar Infante (via free agency) this offseason. Despite the changes, the probable infield contingent for 2014 (as depicted in the depth-chart image below) ought to rival, in terms of wins, any of those belonging to the last three iterations of the Detoit Tigers, each of which has qualified for the playoffs.

In a recent piece here, Jeff Sullivan explored possible destinations for free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz. Detroit he classified as a “stretch” — making it actually one of the more likely clubs, relatively speaking, to sign Cruz. So far as ZiPS is concerned, corner outfield and designated hitter are the only positions at which Detroit is likely to receive below-average production.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Tampa Bay Rays

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 Tampa Bay Rays. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cleveland / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Minnesota / New York AL / Philadelphia / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis.

Batters
Certain clubs over the past 20 or so years have featured celebrated pairs of teammates: Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire*, for example, who played together on the late-80s Oakland clubs or David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez on the mid-aught Boston ones or, more recently, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with Detroit. It’s entirely possible, however, that the combination of Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist is more formidable than any of those in terms of all-around production. Defensively, based on their ZiPS projections, each is at least as valuable afield as a league-average shortstop (and a bit more than that, in Longoria’s case).

With regard to the precise location of certain players on the depth-chart graphic below, one is compelled to acknowledge that, as in recent seasons, manager Joe Maddon is likely both to utilize platoons more than is suggested by that same graphic and also probably to use the DH slot for the sake of flexibility rather than as a lineup spot merely for, say, Matt Joyce alone. It would be interesting to see outfielder and right-handed-batting Brandon Guyer receive a substantive number of at-bats after several decent offensive seasons at Triple-A.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Seattle Mariners

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 Seattle Mariners. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cleveland / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Minnesota / New York AL / Philadelphia / San Diego / St. Louis.

Batters
ZiPS projects Robinson Cano, Brad Miller, and Kyle Seager to produce the most wins among all of Seattle’s field players this next season. The latter two differ from the first insofar as they’ll make entire truck loads less of American currency in 2014. The triumvirate all share a common trait, however, insofar as none of the three ever appeared on a Baseball America top-100 prospect list — a statement intended not as a comment on the great work done by BA, but merely on the unique paths shared by each.

By all appearances, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison will actually share left-field and DH duties in 2014, an arrangement which the author hasn’t depicted on the very attractive depth-chart graphic below not because he was unaware of it (i.e. the arrangement), but because it would have been tedious and largely unnecessary extra work.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Los Angeles Dodgers

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 Los Angeles Dodgers. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cleveland / Miami / Minnesota / New York AL / Philadelphia / San Diego / St. Louis.

Batters
It seems possible, given the ZiPS projections below, that Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp won’t quite be worth, on a dollar-per-WAR level, the nearly $65 million they’re owed collectively in 2014. That’s not ideal for the Dodgers, probably. The eight wins they’re forecast to produce, however, still count as eight real wins — and appear likely to be supplemented by contributions from players (Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig, most notably) who are creating lots in the way of marginal value.

Of some interest to readers will be the projection for Cuban emigre Alexander Guerrero. ZiPS is optimistic (2.5 WAR in 665 PA); Steamer, less so (0.2 WAR in 630 PA). A street fight between rival systems, is what appears to be unfolding.

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