Projection Leaderboard Fun Courtesy of ZiPS and Fans

Now that spring training is getting to the point where stats and injuries are beginning to add up, it’s a good time to peek in on some in-season expectations from ZiPS and the Fans. The “Projections” tab on our header is a great place to burn away time at the office. There are currently five projection systems located there and each has a couple surprises.

ZiPS went fully live about a week ago and we’re combining it with Steamer for the WAR projection on our Depth Charts page. The Fans projection is from our crowdsourcing project. The numbers tend to come out a tad optimistic, so keep that in mind. There’s no special reason to be looking at these two systems side by side, but both recently went live for the season and both interest me.

Let’s kick off with offensive players. Below are tables for players with the best projected wOBA, best defensive projection, and highest base running. ZiPS is on the left and Fans is on the right.

Top 15 wOBA

Name G PA wOBA | Name G PA wOBA
Miguel Cabrera 149 648 0.416 | Miguel Cabrera 151 665 0.431
Mike Trout 156 714 0.402 | Joey Votto 155 681 0.417
Joey Votto 142 627 0.396 | Mike Trout 145 655 0.402
David Ortiz 110 472 0.392 | Giancarlo Stanton 139 607 0.395
Jose Bautista 113 498 0.389 | Paul Goldschmidt 156 685 0.394
Ryan Braun 155 664 0.388 | Carlos Gonzalez 138 603 0.392
Troy Tulowitzki 128 529 0.383 | David Ortiz 133 577 0.390
Bryce Harper 142 599 0.382 | Edwin Encarnacion 143 620 0.390
Giancarlo Stanton 133 553 0.382 | Andrew McCutchen 156 686 0.390
Edwin Encarnacion 134 564 0.379 | Troy Tulowitzki 135 589 0.390
Carlos Gonzalez 133 553 0.377 | Bryce Harper 144 632 0.389
Chris Davis 149 612 0.377 | Joe Mauer 147 649 0.386
Jose Abreu 130 538 0.375 | Ryan Braun 152 665 0.386
Prince Fielder 155 669 0.372 | Prince Fielder 156 677 0.385
Paul Goldschmidt 156 668 0.372 | David Wright 145 637 0.384

Of the two top 15 lists, 12 players overlap. ZiPS includes Abreu, Davis, and Bautista while the Fans have tabbed McCutchen, Mauer, and Wright. Of the 12 players that overlapped, Fans averaged a 10 point higher wOBA projection.

With the notable exception of Mauer, the 20 players on this list are among the most likely in baseball to hit over 30 home runs. Other players who are projected to hit 30 home runs by one of the two systems are Mark Trumbo, Jay Bruce, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter, Adam Jones, and Alfonso Soriano.

Top 15 Defense

Name G Fld | Name G Fld
Andrelton Simmons 143 16 | Andrelton Simmons 154 18
Manny Machado 156 14 | Manny Machado 138 15
Gerardo Parra 151 14 | Josh Reddick 140 15
Craig Gentry 113 13 | Juan Lagares 134 15
Starling Marte 138 12 | Jason Heyward 147 14
Jason Heyward 134 12 | Nolan Arenado 148 14
Shane Victorino 132 11 | Lorenzo Cain 123 13
Carlos Gomez 138 11 | Gerardo Parra 140 13
Juan Uribe 103 11 | Starling Marte 144 12
Nolan Arenado 154 11 | Carlos Gomez 145 12
Gregory Polanco 132 11 | Evan Longoria 148 11
Juan Lagares 142 10 | Jose Iglesias 143 11
Darwin Barney 152 10 | Darwin Barney 131 11
Dustin Pedroia 145 10 | Dustin Pedroia 153 10
Josh Reddick 140 10 | Alex Gordon 155 10
Alex Gordon 155 10   Shane Victorino 133 10

12 of the top 15 defensive projections are shared by the two systems. There’s generally less discrepancy between the fielding projections compared with wOBA. Both ZiPS and the Fans like Simmons and Machado a ton. ZiPS includes Uribe, Gentry, and Polanco while the Fans favor Cain, Longoria, and Iglesias. Polanco and Iglesias are a little bit odd as “choices.” Polanco has a big playing time projection from ZiPS but probably won’t hit the field for 132 games. Maybe he will. Iglesias comes with excellent scouting reports on his defense, but his work to date is inconclusive. He was very good in a tiny 2012 sample and then roughly league average in his 2013 half season sample.

Top 10 Baserunning

Name Games BsR | Name G BsR
Billy Hamilton 140 7.3 | Everth Cabrera 140 6.9
Mike Trout 156 5.2 | Billy Hamilton 133 6.8
Jarrod Dyson 111 4.6 | Carlos Gomez 145 5.2
Billy Burns 112 4.4 | Jacoby Ellsbury 136 4.9
Quintin Berry 117 4.1 | Mike Trout 145 4.2
Tony Campana 136 3.8 | Ben Revere 144 4.1
Carlos Gomez 138 3.7 | Rajai Davis 101 3.9
Everth Cabrera 109 3.7 | Jean Segura 152 3.9
Eric Young 129 3.7 | Jonathan Villar 120 3.9
Rajai Davis 118 3.6 | Eric Young 102 3.9

I restricted this list to the top 10, since base runner value drops towards average very quickly. Last season, only 18 players provided over five runs of value on the bases. Obviously, our projections expect a lot of regression to league average.

ZiPS includes bullish playing time projections for a lot of backup players. Dyson, Burns, Berry, and Campana are very unlikely to play enough to make good on these numbers. They serve as a reminder that speed alone is not enough to start in the majors.

Top 20 Starter ERA

Name ERA IP K/9 BB/9 FIP | Name ERA IP K/9 BB/9 FIP
Clayton Kershaw 2.26 227.3 9.23 2.14 2.55 | Clayton Kershaw 2.40 233 9.31 2.12 2.60
Jose Fernandez 2.57 154 9.53 3.16 2.86 | Jose Fernandez 2.82 202 9.62 2.9 2.99
Stephen Strasburg 2.83 149.7 9.86 2.46 2.95 | Stephen Strasburg 2.84 202 9.76 2.58 2.99
Madison Bumgarner 2.86 204.7 8.62 2.37 3.09 | Cliff Lee 2.86 227 8.6 1.27 2.92
Zack Greinke 2.95 192 8.25 2.06 3.00 | Madison Bumgarner 2.89 216 8.71 2.29 2.92
Matt Harvey 3.01 164.3 9.15 2.68 2.99 | Yu Darvish 2.93 218 11.11 3.34 3.12
Yu Darvish 3.03 201.7 11.74 3.53 3.17 | Felix Hernandez 2.96 228 9.08 2.21 2.76
Cliff Lee 3.04 198.3 8.85 1.41 2.91 | Matt Harvey 3.02 75 9.48 2.28 2.65
Felix Hernandez 3.07 211.3 9.37 2.13 2.74 | Adam Wainwright 3.03 222 8.35 1.74 2.76
Justin Verlander 3.07 216.7 9.34 2.49 3.00 | Justin Verlander 3.06 226 8.8 2.55 3.23
David Price 3.09 198 8.59 2.09 3.09 | Zack Greinke 3.07 205 8.25 2.24 3.11
Gio Gonzalez 3.15 188.3 8.75 3.3 3.30 | Matt Cain 3.10 216 7.58 2.5 3.48
Cory Luebke 3.16 71.3 8.96 2.78 3.08 | David Price 3.10 224 8.32 2.01 3.16
Johnny Cueto 3.17 136.3 6.74 2.31 3.52 | Johnny Cueto 3.13 169 7.4 2.5 3.56
Chris Sale 3.17 204.3 9.87 2.16 3.14 | Chris Sale 3.14 213 9.3 2.15 3.05
Doug Fister 3.19 192 6.75 1.69 3.18 | Gerrit Cole 3.15 198 8.77 2.5 2.94
Andrew Cashner 3.19 141 7.02 2.49 3.32 | Mat Latos 3.16 217 8.38 2.45 3.22
Matt Cain 3.19 191.7 7.7 2.39 3.47 | Sonny Gray 3.17 179 8.8 2.77 3.20
Adam Wainwright 3.20 208.3 7.91 1.69 2.88 | Hisashi Iwakuma 3.17 204 7.37 2.03 3.69
Hisashi Iwakuma 3.23 195 8.03 1.85 3.44 | Cole Hamels 3.19 224 8.56 2.13 3.20

We observe some agreement with our starting pitcher top 20 list – 16 out of 20. The divergences are Gonzalez, Luebke, Fister, and Cashner on the ZiPS side. Fans includes Cole, Latos, Gray, and Hamels.

ZiPS doesn’t know about the injuries to Harvey or Luebke. The Fans do, yet they still projected 75 innings for Harvey. Unless the Mets are in the playoff race, Harvey will almost certainly be eased back into action. A 75 inning projection basically says he’ll be back around the All Star break, which would be quite ambitious. Cueto could make for an interesting story this year. Both systems think he’ll perform very well when healthy, they’re just not willing to count on that health.

The Fans seem more willing to believe in sophomores like Cole and Gray. ZiPS only includes Fernandez and Iwakuma. That might highlight a shortcoming of either system. Perhaps ZiPS is too conservative with young pitchers or maybe the fans fall too far in love with the next big thing.

Top 20 Reliever ERA

Name ERA IP K/9 BB/9 FIP | Name ERA IP K/9 BB/9 FIP
Craig Kimbrel 1.43 69 14.48 2.74 1.58 | Kenley Jansen 2.25 71 13.18 2.28 2.06
Kenley Jansen 1.91 70.7 13.75 2.67 2.11 | Craig Kimbrel 2.26 70 13.5 2.44 1.69
Koji Uehara 2.07 52.3 12.22 1.2 2.03 | Koji Uehara 2.31 69 11.66 1.39 2.25
Aroldis Chapman 2.21 65.3 14.75 4 2.44 | Greg Holland 2.38 66 12.55 2.59 1.81
Trevor Rosenthal 2.37 79.7 11.63 2.71 2.37 | Aroldis Chapman 2.39 70 13.44 3.36 2.34
Sergio Romo 2.39 52.7 9.91 1.88 2.52 | Sean Marshall 2.42 63 9.45 2.1 2.35
Joaquin Benoit 2.55 60 11.25 2.85 2.63 | Sergio Romo 2.44 64 9.69 1.66 2.49
Sean Marshall 2.68 40.3 9.83 2.46 2.80 | David Robertson 2.44 65 11.22 2.63 2.52
Jason Grilli 2.68 50.3 11.45 2.86 2.61 | Javier Lopez 2.45 71 7.74 2.93 2.68
David Robertson 2.71 63 12.14 3.14 2.68 | Mark Melancon 2.48 68 8.62 1.77 2.50
Mark Melancon 2.75 68.7 8.38 1.83 2.64 | Trevor Rosenthal 2.51 66 11.55 2.55 2.39
Glen Perkins 2.79 61.3 10.86 2.5 2.84 | Joe Nathan 2.54 68 10.19 2.78 2.75
Tyler Clippard 2.80 70.7 10.31 3.06 3.33 | Steve Cishek 2.58 68 9.53 3.18 2.65
Steve Cishek 2.81 64 9.42 3.23 2.99 | Glen Perkins 2.58 61 10.43 2.14 2.78
Sean Doolittle 2.87 69 9.91 2.48 2.70 | Darren O’Day 2.61 67 8.87 2.01 3.20
Joe Nathan 2.90 52.7 10.42 2.73 2.69 | Ryan Cook 2.63 59 9.26 3.26 2.92
Jordan Walden 2.93 52.3 10.67 3.27 2.82 | Bobby Parnell 2.65 60 8.11 2.36 2.98
Grant Balfour 2.98 57.3 10.05 3.46 3.33 | Eric O’Flaherty 2.65 59 7.23 2.57 3.33
Ryan Cook 3.01 68.7 9.56 3.67 3.27 | Aaron Loup 2.70 60 6.93 1.77 3.21
Paco Rodriguez 3.02 41.7 10.14 3.45 3.34 | Kevin Siegrist 2.75 60 9.78 3.72 2.89

Not surprisingly, there’s the least agreement with our reliever list. Only 14 of the 20 names are shared on both lists. ZiPS appears more bullish on strikeout rates than the Fans. It’s interesting to see that the Fans expect a ever-so-slightly better ERA from Jansen than Kimbrel, but a glance at the FIP column shows that it’s just a quirk of the process. Marshall missed most of 2013, but both ZiPS and the Fans foresee a quick return to form.



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Brad is a former collegiate player who writes for FanGraphs, MLB Trade Rumors, The Hardball Times, RotoWorld, and The Fake Baseball. He's also the lead MLB editor for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter @BaseballATeam or email him here.


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CB
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CB
2 years 3 months ago

You were right… that was indeed fun. Mild fun, which is my favorite kind of fun, as well as the fun I most associate with Cistulli.

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