Archive for 2014 ZiPS Projections

2014 ZiPS Projections – Miami Marlins

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 Miami Marlins. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
Last year’s ZiPS WAR projection for very strong outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was quite high (6.4, precisely) for someone so young. This year’s ZiPS WAR projection is also quite high (4.2, in this case) for someone so young, but also likely to be regarded as a disappointment relative to last year’s figure. The primary reason for the decline — namely, Stanton’s 500 most recent plate appearances — isn’t a mystery. Still, given the choice, one prefers a more, and not less, productive Giancarlo Stanton, probably.

Elsewhere around the diamond, one finds that the Marlins aren’t without talent. In fact, a glut of promising outfielders means that one from the triumvirate of Jake Marisnick, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich will likely be without a starting job at the beginning of the season. None of that group project to be stars in 2014, but all three are both (a) projected to be worth at least a win and also (b) either 23 years old or younger.

Finally, I’ll note — primarily because he’s a learned gentleman — that Ed Lucas is likely also to play some part in the Marlins infield, even if ZiPS isn’t entirely enthusiastic about what he’ll do there.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – New York Yankees

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cleveland / Minnesota / Philadelphia / San Diego / St. Louis.

Batters
It’s the ambition of the author, in the composition of these ZiPS posts, first to do no harm. For that reason, I’ll abstain from a prolonged discussion of Alex Rodriguez and/or The Alex Rodriguez Saga. The present state of affairs — at least with regard to how it affects the New York Yankees — appears to be thus:

1. Alex Rodriguez is appealing a very long suspension currently; and

2. The Yankees have signed Kelly Johnson; and

3. The Yankees, more recently, have signed Brian Roberts.

That’s three infielders, two of them injury-prone, for two positions. Johnson and Rodriguez are about equally valuable on a rate basis according to ZiPS, it looks like, while Roberts is closer to replacement level. That is all we will speak of that, for the moment.

Elsewhere, one finds both that (a) the WAR totals for the Yankees field players are sometimes low-ish and that (b) those same WAR totals are frequently low-ish (when they’re low-ish) because the playing-time projections are also low-ish. Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira: none of them are projected to reach even 500 plate appearances, for example. Also for example, each of them is considered the starter at his respective position.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – San Diego Padres

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 Diego Padres. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cleveland / Minnesota / Philadelphia / St. Louis.

Batters
San Diego’s leader by WAR in 2013 was Chris Denorfia, with a 3.9 mark — for which reason it feels odd to view him as part-time/platoon-type player entering 2014. Yet, that’s how the author has classified him in the depth-chart graphic below and how ZiPS seemingly regards him, as well — insofar, that is, as it doesn’t foresee the outfielder duplicating his career-best season, at all.

Of some difficulty with regard to understanding the 2014 iteration of the Padres is estimating precisely how playing time will work out between the team’s two catchers. ZiPS’ computer math suggests that Yasmani Grandal is probably the second- or third-best player on the whole club. That said, he underwent surgery on his ACL in August that could require up to a year of recovery. Fortunately for San Diego, Nick Hundley himself isn’t a particularly significant downgrade. Still, that’s a lot of talent to possess at one position while others could certainly afford to be upgraded.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Minnesota Twins

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 Minnesota Twins. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cleveland / Philadelphia / St. Louis.

Batters
“How will Joe Mauer‘s move from catcher to first base affect the Twins?” is likely a question that a number of people have asked this offseason, either aloud or just to themselves. The answer, at least so far as ZiPS is concerned, is probably “Not much.” In either case, that is, Minnesota doesn’t resemble anything much like a club that’ll find itself in playoff contention during the waning months of baseball’s regular season. That’s not to say it won’t affect Mauer’s production, personally. After receiving a projection of four-plus wins from ZiPS last winter and then actually outproducing that figure during 2013, the erstwhile backstop receives here a projection of fewer than three wins as a first baseman.

Part of that appears to be adjustment for BABIP: no player is reasonably forecast to record one above .350, even though Mauer has exceeded that figure each of the last two seasons. Part of that is likely a product of whatever aging curve Dan Szymborski’s math computer utilizes. But a third part of it is due, also, to the positional adjustment for a first basemen relative to a catcher. Whether projected to record a 125 OPS+ (as he was last year) or 121 OPS+ (as with this one), that’s a less formidable number when it’s being produced by a first baseman.

An encouraging development, on the other hand, is the projection for Mauer’s replacement at catcher, Josmil Pinto, about whom Steamer is also rather optimistic.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Baltimore Orioles

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 Baltimore Orioles. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Boston / Cleveland / Philadelphia / St. Louis.

Batters
Whether by design or not, Baltimore appears to be doing a bit of work with the stars-and-scrubs model of roster construction at the moment. Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Matt Wieters: these are the names of five Oriole position players who are projected to record something better than three wins in 2014. Meanwhile, no other batter both (a) presently employed by Baltimore and also (b) expected to begin the season as a starter — no other such player is projected by ZiPS to produce anything better than even one win.

Provided the club is still looking to add talent, this actually isn’t an entirely unenviable state of affairs. Where it might be difficult to upgrade a roster full entirely of average players, there are very clear means by which to improve this roster. Like at DH, for example. Or second base, for other example. Or left field. Or even right field, where starter Nick Markakis has managed just three wins over the last three seasons.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Atlanta Braves

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 Atlanta Braves. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Boston / Cleveland / Philadelphia / St. Louis.

Batters
Of some interest this offseason will be how various projection systems attend to the quite possibly anomalous Chris Johnson. With nearly 2,000 major-league plate appearances now recorded, Atlanta’s third baseman has a career BABIP of .361 — i.e. about the highest figure one will find from any batter with a sample of that magnitude. ZiPS projects Johnson to record a .338 BABIP in 2014; Oliver and Steamer, .345 and .342, respectively.

Johnson will rely on his batted-ball profile to remain even an average player in 2014, however, it appears. ZiPS projects him to post something between one and two wins — a roughly equivalent total to fellow infielder Dan Uggla, whose 2013 campaign was much less successful. Both players are projected to post nearly league-average offensive lines. Rather, it’s their defensive shortcomings for which they suffer most significantly.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Cleveland Indians

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 Cleveland Indians. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Boston / Philadelphia / St. Louis.

Batters
Just as was the case in 2013, Cleveland is likely to enter 2014 with a number of useful players rotating between multiple positions. Carlos Santana, for example, will very probably make starts at catcher, first base, and DH — even moreso at the latter two positions if Yan Gomes is able to approximate his 2013 campaign. Nick Swisher, as he did this past season, will likely record starts at first and right and DH. Mike Aviles — again, despite not having a starting position, per se — is a candidate to make a number of appearances defensively at third and short.

As for right-handed-batting Ryan Raburn and Drew Stubbs, their roles are perhaps less clear than in the recently completed season — at least so long as both of them are employed by the Indians. While the former makes little enough ($2.25 million) for the club to retain him in merely an outfield platoon (in which role he posted a 2.5 WAR in 2013), Stubbs is projected to make about $1.5 million more than that via arbitration and is probably regarded by some teams as a possible starting option. Cleveland tendered him a contract recently, but it wouldn’t be surprising to find him involved in a deal (for pitching help, perhaps) at some point in the near future.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – St. Louis Cardinals

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 St. Louis Cardinals. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Boston / Philadelphia.

Batters
There are obvious caveats one should append to the sentence which follows, and yet it’s also true. The St. Louis Cardinals, who’ve just been to the World Series, are likely to enter the 2014 season with a better complement of position players than with which they entered 2013.

Part of that, of course, is having a shortstop at all. Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, combined, were never an ideal substitute for Rafael Furcal. That next year’s shortstop is Jhonny Peralta — about whom ZiPS is fairly optimistic — represents a decided advantage. That Matt Carpenter emerged as very possibly an above-average major leaguer has also benefited the club.

In terms of who precisely will play where precisely in 2014, there are some uncertainties regarding that. For the purposes of the depth chart below, I’ve put Allen Craig in right field and Matt Adams at first base. In reality, Jon Jay and (possibly) Oscar Taveras will also play roles with the club, however.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Philadelphia Phillies

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 Philadelphia Phillies. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Boston.

Batters
Citizens of Philadelphia will be glad to see that their club’s first baseman, Ryan Howard — to whom is still owed no less than $85 million — isn’t projected by ZiPS to produce only a single win like last year. What’ll be less encouraging is how it’s because he’s projected to produce more like zero wins in ca. 400 plate appearances.

Fortunately, the club profiles as generally average almost everywhere else — with a number of starters apparent candidates to improve upon their 2013 campaigns. Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz: all four receive here projected WARs better than their actual WARs from this past season. Difficult to ignore, as well, is the very encouraging projection for Maikel Franco, who recorded a 30:70 walk-to-strikeout and 31 home runs in 581 plate appearances last season between High- and Double-A. Some question remains as to whether Franco will ultimately play third or first base in the majors. Conveniently, however, those appear to be the parent club’s greatest weaknesses at present.

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2014 ZiPS Projections – Boston Red 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 Boston Red Sox. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Batters
In Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston has lost to free agency a foursome that accounted for over 2100 plate appearances and 16 wins in the club’s championship 2013 campaign. A difficult thing, is what that would appear to be. One notes, however, that a team never loses a departed player’s performance from the previous season, but from the one ahead. Napoli and Saltalamacchia, for example, are unlikely to match their plus-.350 BABIP figures from 2013. ZiPS discounts their likely 2014 value accordingly.

One notes also that Boston isn’t entirely ill-equipped to deal with those departures. Two of the organization’s more promising young players, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, appear to be reasonable — and very cost-effective — alternatives to Drew and Ellsbury. A.J. Pierzynski, meanwhile — whose signing was announced as this actual paragraph was being written — will likely provide as much in the way of wins as Saltalamacchia would have, with less of an investment. Some combination of Mike Carp and Daniel Nava ought to approximate Napoli’s two-win projection at first base. All told, the Red Sox are probably at a deficit of something like two wins.

This, of course, ignores how Boston might choose to utilize the payroll freed up by the aforementioned departures. That same foursome was paid about $30 million collectively in 2013. With a well-established starting rotation, Boston is in a position to focus its resources on upgrades among its field players. Pierzynski is one step in that direction. One supposes that an upgrade at first base/left field could be another.

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