2015 ZiPS Projections – Houston Astros

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple 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: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Detroit / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Oakland / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
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Compared to other major-league teams, the Astros do not appear particularly strong. Only three of their hitters, for example — or seven fewer than on the Dodgers — are projected to reach the two-win threshold this year. Compared to the 2014 edition of the club, however, this would represent a 200% improvement. A strong collection of young talent in the minors serves as further grounds for optimism.

Pitchers
The emergence of both Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh in 2014 allowed the club to distance itself by a small margin from the very bottom of the standings. Largely on the strength of their contributions, Houston’s rotation finished 12th in league by pitcher WAR. ZiPS’ forecast for the pair suggests the improvements are authentic. Consider: last year, Keuchel and McHugh were projected to produce a combined -0.2 WAR; this year, 5.7 WAR.

With regard to the bullpen, it’s likely that offseason signings Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek will add some stability to it and perhaps, as Dave Cameron speculates, ultimately provide value as a mid-season trade chip. What appears less likely, however, is that they’ll contribute much in the way of wins — except for the innings they’ll throw which might have otherwise been allocated to other, weaker pitchers.

Bench/Prospects
Robbie Grossman appears in left field within the depth-chart image below, but Jake Marisnick is another possibility there, as well. Andrew Aplin (projected for 0.3 WAR), Domingo Santana (0.1 WAR), and Preston Tucker (-0.1 WAR) are other candidates who both (a) have recorded plate appearances at Triple-A already and also (b) feature projections within the vicinity of replacement level. Meanwhile, according to ZiPS, the prospects more prepared to contribute wins at the major-league level are Carlos Correa (1.3 WAR) and Tony Kemp (1.4 WAR).

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 embiggen image.

Astros Depth

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
Jose Altuve R 25 2B 688 84 198 39 4 8 57 43 11
George Springer R 25 RF 493 72 101 17 2 26 74 17 4
Jason Castro L 28 C 464 51 100 24 2 14 55 1 0
Dexter Fowler B 29 CF 526 61 116 18 5 11 38 13 5
Chris Carter R 28 DH 553 70 110 23 1 30 85 4 1
Jed Lowrie B 31 SS 525 57 121 26 2 11 51 1 0
Tony Kemp L 23 2B 540 66 124 19 4 6 42 21 12
Carlos Correa R 20 SS 431 51 97 19 3 6 45 12 8
Max Stassi R 24 C 407 43 86 18 1 10 41 2 1
Hank Conger B 27 C 282 28 61 13 0 7 29 0 1
Jake Marisnick R 24 CF 562 59 124 22 4 11 51 21 7
Tyler Heineman B 24 C 343 39 71 15 2 3 30 3 3
Ronnie Torreyes R 22 2B 529 57 128 21 4 3 42 8 5
Matt Dominguez R 25 3B 606 61 134 23 1 17 70 0 1
Gregorio Petit R 30 SS 478 51 107 21 1 8 43 2 2
Marwin Gonzalez B 26 SS 361 38 84 17 1 5 25 4 3
Jonathan Villar B 24 SS 527 59 104 17 5 10 45 33 10
Carlos Corporan B 31 C 231 24 47 8 0 6 24 0 0
Jon Singleton L 23 1B 523 69 98 21 1 22 68 3 3
Colin Moran L 22 3B 552 59 129 23 2 9 51 2 2
Joe Sclafani B 25 2B 417 46 92 13 3 3 32 10 4
Brett Phillips L 21 CF 463 54 100 20 4 12 47 11 12
Andrew Aplin L 24 CF 523 58 109 17 3 5 44 18 9
Dan Johnson L 35 1B 492 58 95 18 0 17 53 0 0
L.J. Hoes R 25 LF 480 52 110 19 2 5 38 10 6
Alex Presley L 29 LF 466 53 108 15 5 10 39 11 6
Nolan Fontana L 24 2B 374 41 60 14 2 3 25 7 6
Rio Ruiz L 21 3B 581 60 120 27 1 10 56 5 5
Domingo Santana R 22 RF 520 62 104 21 2 17 60 7 5
Robbie Grossman B 25 LF 604 69 123 24 2 9 49 13 10
Preston Tucker L 24 LF 525 63 118 24 0 14 58 3 3
Jesus Guzman R 31 1B 295 29 59 13 1 7 32 3 1
Teoscar Hernandez R 22 CF 573 63 112 23 4 12 54 19 10
Jiovanni Mier R 24 SS 400 38 71 12 0 4 26 7 6
Jonathan Meyer R 24 3B 548 54 114 19 1 7 45 3 2
Matt Duffy R 26 1B 567 63 121 20 2 13 56 2 3
Telvin Nash R 24 1B 363 39 53 7 0 14 36 1 1

***

Batters, Rates and Averages

Player PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Jose Altuve 688 5.2% 10.2% .111 .335 .310 .347 .421 .340
George Springer 493 11.4% 32.5% .233 .311 .238 .337 .471 .356
Jason Castro 464 8.6% 27.2% .169 .309 .242 .313 .411 .318
Dexter Fowler 526 13.1% 24.7% .136 .339 .258 .359 .394 .338
Chris Carter 553 11.0% 33.3% .238 .292 .228 .316 .466 .341
Jed Lowrie 525 8.2% 15.6% .134 .286 .256 .319 .390 .311
Tony Kemp 540 7.8% 14.8% .094 .296 .258 .326 .352 .300
Carlos Correa 431 7.4% 21.6% .110 .308 .247 .311 .357 .299
Max Stassi 407 4.4% 28.0% .133 .296 .228 .272 .361 .279
Hank Conger 282 7.4% 22.0% .134 .289 .239 .304 .373 .297
Jake Marisnick 562 4.3% 26.7% .122 .313 .239 .285 .361 .286
Tyler Heineman 343 5.5% 14.3% .090 .262 .230 .293 .320 .275
Ronnie Torreyes 529 4.2% 7.4% .079 .283 .267 .308 .346 .283
Matt Dominguez 606 5.3% 18.2% .135 .266 .239 .283 .374 .288
Gregorio Petit 478 4.4% 19.0% .105 .283 .240 .278 .345 .275
Marwin Gonzalez 361 5.0% 16.1% .102 .290 .251 .293 .353 .283
Jonathan Villar 527 8.0% 29.8% .121 .307 .221 .288 .342 .282
Carlos Corporan 231 6.1% 24.7% .124 .277 .225 .287 .349 .282
Jon Singleton 523 13.2% 32.5% .198 .291 .218 .321 .416 .324
Colin Moran 552 5.4% 21.4% .106 .305 .251 .290 .357 .285
Joe Sclafani 417 7.4% 16.3% .074 .290 .245 .306 .319 .281
Brett Phillips 463 6.3% 22.2% .154 .288 .240 .291 .394 .291
Andrew Aplin 523 9.4% 16.6% .082 .277 .236 .308 .318 .280
Dan Johnson 492 11.8% 19.7% .162 .247 .224 .319 .386 .312
L.J. Hoes 480 8.1% 19.2% .088 .310 .254 .318 .342 .296
Alex Presley 466 6.4% 19.5% .128 .296 .251 .302 .379 .301
Nolan Fontana 374 14.7% 29.7% .088 .289 .194 .318 .282 .275
Rio Ruiz 581 8.3% 23.1% .111 .283 .227 .289 .338 .279
Domingo Santana 520 8.5% 35.2% .162 .321 .222 .294 .384 .301
Robbie Grossman 604 11.3% 26.8% .105 .321 .235 .326 .340 .297
Preston Tucker 525 6.9% 22.3% .136 .292 .244 .297 .380 .298
Jesus Guzman 295 9.2% 25.8% .137 .286 .223 .299 .360 .294
Teoscar Hernandez 573 5.8% 33.0% .128 .306 .214 .264 .342 .266
Jiovanni Mier 400 8.0% 27.8% .068 .276 .200 .270 .268 .241
Jonathan Meyer 548 4.9% 25.4% .082 .289 .223 .265 .305 .254
Matt Duffy 567 4.2% 24.7% .121 .290 .232 .285 .353 .284
Telvin Nash 363 8.3% 52.1% .151 .315 .163 .243 .314 .250

***

Batters, Assorted Other

Player PA RC/27 OPS+ Def zWAR No.1 Comp
Jose Altuve 688 6.1 113 -6 3.6 Harvey Kuenn
George Springer 493 5.9 122 0 2.7 Greg Vaughn
Jason Castro 464 4.6 99 0 2.7 Jake Early
Dexter Fowler 526 5.2 110 -10 1.8 Steve Henderson
Chris Carter 553 5.2 114 0 1.7 Steve Balboni
Jed Lowrie 525 4.5 96 -5 1.6 Brook Jacoby
Tony Kemp 540 4.1 89 0 1.4 Callix Crabbe
Carlos Correa 431 3.9 85 1 1.3 Dickie Thon
Max Stassi 407 3.4 74 2 1.2 Bill Hayes
Hank Conger 282 3.9 87 1 1.2 Steve Torrealba
Jake Marisnick 562 3.8 79 4 1.2 Rusty Tillman
Tyler Heineman 343 3.2 71 2 0.9 Brian Moon
Ronnie Torreyes 529 3.9 82 1 0.9 Placido Polanco
Matt Dominguez 606 3.7 81 0 0.8 Jim Deschaine
Gregorio Petit 478 3.4 72 2 0.7 Keith Johnson
Marwin Gonzalez 361 3.7 79 0 0.7 Bruce Yard
Jonathan Villar 527 3.7 74 -5 0.6 Buddy Biancalana
Carlos Corporan 231 3.5 76 -1 0.5 Nelson Santovenia
Jon Singleton 523 4.5 103 -4 0.5 Calvin Pickering
Colin Moran 552 3.7 79 -1 0.4 Joe Crede
Joe Sclafani 417 3.6 74 0 0.4 Jonathan Herrera
Brett Phillips 463 3.8 89 -4 0.4 Terrence Long
Andrew Aplin 523 3.5 75 -1 0.3 Tommy Gregg
Dan Johnson 492 4.3 95 -1 0.3 Pete O’Brien
L.J. Hoes 480 3.9 84 1 0.2 Trey Beamon
Alex Presley 466 4.1 88 -2 0.1 Bubba Crosby
Nolan Fontana 374 2.8 69 -1 0.1 Micah Schilling
Rio Ruiz 581 3.3 74 -2 0.1 John Hattig
Domingo Santana 520 3.9 87 -2 0.1 Jackson Melian
Robbie Grossman 604 3.8 86 -2 0.0 Dave Brundage
Preston Tucker 525 4.0 87 -2 -0.1 Ivan Cruz
Jesus Guzman 295 3.8 83 0 -0.2 Ryan Radmanovich
Teoscar Hernandez 573 3.1 67 -3 -0.5 Luis Saturria
Jiovanni Mier 400 2.3 50 0 -0.6 Scott Powers
Jonathan Meyer 548 2.8 58 2 -0.6 Tommy Nicholson
Matt Duffy 567 3.5 76 2 -0.8 Graham Conklin
Telvin Nash 363 2.4 54 -1 -1.8 Dan Trumble

***

Pitchers, Counting Stats

Player T Age G GS IP K BB HR H R ER
Dallas Keuchel L 27 28 28 191.7 143 50 16 194 87 81
Collin McHugh R 28 30 28 162.7 155 53 17 149 72 67
Scott Feldman R 32 25 25 152.7 102 47 18 162 81 76
Luke Gregerson R 31 70 0 64.0 61 17 7 60 27 25
Pat Neshek R 34 56 0 51.3 49 12 6 48 21 20
Brett Oberholtzer L 25 29 29 171.7 124 36 24 195 98 92
Will Harris R 30 70 0 67.3 74 26 7 62 30 28
Tony Sipp L 31 63 0 53.7 63 22 6 45 24 22
Josh Fields R 29 51 0 53.0 60 19 5 48 24 22
Samuel Deduno R 31 26 15 99.7 82 54 11 99 57 53
Matt Albers R 32 35 0 36.3 27 13 3 37 17 16
Jose Veras R 34 56 0 53.3 57 26 6 48 26 24
Thomas Shirley L 26 26 10 79.7 60 31 10 86 46 43
Darin Downs L 30 48 0 49.0 44 22 4 47 25 23
Chad Qualls R 36 55 0 48.7 38 11 5 52 25 23
Chia-Jen Lo R 29 23 0 26.3 22 12 3 27 15 14
Jason Stoffel R 26 55 0 63.0 51 29 6 65 33 31
Kyle Farnsworth R 39 36 0 29.3 21 12 3 33 17 16
Vincent Velasquez R 23 23 16 84.7 79 40 13 89 52 49
Kevin Chapman L 27 63 0 63.0 62 42 6 60 34 32
Michael Feliz R 22 22 16 87.3 70 36 13 97 56 52
Asher Wojciechowski R 26 21 20 106.3 70 40 15 122 67 63
Alex White R 26 24 16 88.3 63 44 12 98 57 53
Jason Garcia R 22 13 5 47.0 37 28 7 52 32 30
Jake Buchanan R 25 31 20 129.3 65 36 16 156 81 76
Josh Hader L 21 25 20 105.3 83 64 14 113 68 64
Luis Cruz L 24 27 20 114.7 93 44 19 127 74 69
Rhiner Cruz R 28 51 0 55.3 44 31 8 60 35 33
Mike Foltynewicz R 23 33 19 110.7 93 58 17 119 73 68
Brad Peacock R 27 28 24 132.0 115 66 23 142 88 82
Lance McCullers R 21 25 18 93.3 81 63 16 102 67 63
Kyle Smith R 22 26 19 112.0 89 44 24 131 81 76
Ross Seaton R 25 21 17 92.3 48 34 18 117 72 67

***

Pitchers, Rates and Averages

Player IP TBF K% BB% BABIP ERA FIP ERA- FIP-
Dallas Keuchel 191.7 819 17.5% 6.1% .295 3.80 3.92 97 100
Collin McHugh 162.7 690 22.5% 7.7% .289 3.71 4.02 94 102
Scott Feldman 152.7 667 15.3% 7.0% .293 4.48 4.70 114 120
Luke Gregerson 64.0 269 22.7% 6.3% .291 3.52 3.73 90 95
Pat Neshek 51.3 214 22.9% 5.6% .290 3.51 3.78 89 96
Brett Oberholtzer 171.7 746 16.6% 4.8% .306 4.82 4.54 123 115
Will Harris 67.3 290 25.5% 9.0% .306 3.74 3.82 95 97
Tony Sipp 53.7 228 27.6% 9.6% .289 3.69 3.80 94 97
Josh Fields 53.0 226 26.5% 8.4% .307 3.74 3.45 95 88
Samuel Deduno 99.7 452 18.1% 11.9% .297 4.79 5.12 122 130
Matt Albers 36.3 159 17.0% 8.2% .296 3.96 4.04 101 103
Jose Veras 53.3 234 24.4% 11.1% .296 4.05 4.37 103 111
Thomas Shirley 79.7 356 16.8% 8.7% .303 4.86 4.91 124 125
Darin Downs 49.0 216 20.4% 10.2% .301 4.22 4.14 107 105
Chad Qualls 48.7 209 18.2% 5.3% .305 4.25 3.79 108 97
Chia-Jen Lo 26.3 118 18.7% 10.2% .300 4.78 4.76 122 121
Jason Stoffel 63.0 283 18.0% 10.2% .306 4.43 4.42 113 112
Kyle Farnsworth 29.3 133 15.8% 9.0% .310 4.91 4.49 125 114
Vincent Velasquez 84.7 383 20.6% 10.4% .310 5.21 5.19 133 132
Kevin Chapman 63.0 291 21.3% 14.4% .303 4.57 4.73 116 120
Michael Feliz 87.3 395 17.7% 9.1% .310 5.36 5.21 136 132
Asher Wojciechowski 106.3 481 14.6% 8.3% .307 5.33 5.28 136 134
Alex White 88.3 407 15.5% 10.8% .304 5.40 5.33 137 136
Jason Garcia 47.0 221 16.7% 12.7% .308 5.74 5.81 146 148
Jake Buchanan 129.3 580 11.2% 6.2% .307 5.29 5.02 135 128
Josh Hader 105.3 493 16.8% 13.0% .305 5.47 5.61 139 143
Luis Cruz 114.7 515 18.1% 8.5% .306 5.42 5.25 138 134
Rhiner Cruz 55.3 257 17.1% 12.1% .304 5.37 5.49 137 140
Mike Foltynewicz 110.7 509 18.3% 11.4% .304 5.53 5.49 141 140
Brad Peacock 132.0 604 19.0% 10.9% .302 5.59 5.56 142 141
Lance McCullers 93.3 445 18.2% 14.2% .308 6.07 6.18 154 157
Kyle Smith 112.0 511 17.4% 8.6% .308 6.11 6.03 155 153
Ross Seaton 92.3 428 11.2% 7.9% .309 6.53 6.23 166 158

***

Pitchers, Assorted Other

Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA+ zWAR No. 1 Comp
Dallas Keuchel 191.7 6.71 2.35 0.75 103 3.0 Greg Hibbard
Collin McHugh 162.7 8.57 2.93 0.94 106 2.7 Vicente Padilla
Scott Feldman 152.7 6.01 2.77 1.06 87 1.0 Josh Fogg
Luke Gregerson 64.0 8.58 2.39 0.98 111 0.5 Joel Peralta
Pat Neshek 51.3 8.60 2.11 1.05 112 0.4 Dave Pavlas
Brett Oberholtzer 171.7 6.50 1.89 1.26 81 0.4 Blaine Beatty
Will Harris 67.3 9.90 3.48 0.94 105 0.4 Frank LaCorte
Tony Sipp 53.7 10.56 3.69 1.01 106 0.3 Armando Almanza
Josh Fields 53.0 10.19 3.23 0.85 105 0.3 Jason Bulger
Samuel Deduno 99.7 7.40 4.87 0.99 82 0.2 Bill Zuber
Matt Albers 36.3 6.69 3.22 0.74 99 0.1 Hal White
Jose Veras 53.3 9.62 4.39 1.01 97 0.1 Rich DeLucia
Thomas Shirley 79.7 6.78 3.50 1.13 81 0.0 Doug Johns
Darin Downs 49.0 8.08 4.04 0.73 93 0.0 Mike Kinnunen
Chad Qualls 48.7 7.02 2.03 0.92 92 -0.1 Dave Pavlas
Chia-Jen Lo 26.3 7.53 4.11 1.03 82 -0.2 Gary Neibauer
Jason Stoffel 63.0 7.29 4.14 0.86 88 -0.2 Marc Pisciotta
Kyle Farnsworth 29.3 6.45 3.69 0.92 80 -0.3 Jim Turner
Vincent Velasquez 84.7 8.39 4.25 1.38 75 -0.3 Travis Buckley
Kevin Chapman 63.0 8.86 6.00 0.86 86 -0.3 Matt Whisenant
Michael Feliz 87.3 7.22 3.71 1.34 73 -0.5 David Fitzgerald
Asher Wojciechowski 106.3 5.93 3.39 1.27 73 -0.5 Tony Costa
Alex White 88.3 6.42 4.48 1.22 73 -0.5 Rob Purvis
Jason Garcia 47.0 7.09 5.36 1.34 68 -0.6 Mark Hampton
Jake Buchanan 129.3 4.52 2.51 1.11 74 -0.6 Chuck Porter
Josh Hader 105.3 7.09 5.47 1.20 72 -0.7 Sebern Wright
Luis Cruz 114.7 7.30 3.45 1.49 72 -0.7 Rich Croushore
Rhiner Cruz 55.3 7.16 5.05 1.30 73 -0.9 Mark Ohlms
Mike Foltynewicz 110.7 7.56 4.72 1.38 71 -0.9 Ken Ryan
Brad Peacock 132.0 7.84 4.50 1.57 70 -1.0 Ray Chadwick
Lance McCullers 93.3 7.81 6.08 1.54 65 -1.4 Kevin Uhrhan
Kyle Smith 112.0 7.15 3.54 1.93 64 -1.7 Jeff Darwin
Ross Seaton 92.3 4.68 3.32 1.76 60 -1.9 Brian Ahern

***

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 3.93 ERA and the NL having a 3.75 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.

We hoped you liked reading 2015 ZiPS Projections – Houston Astros by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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