Archive for 2015 ZiPS Projections

2015 ZiPS Projections – Kansas City Royals

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 Kansas City Royals. 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 / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Texas / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
A trait common among basically all the best baseball clubs is that they possess an ability to avoid the awful — which is to say, they exhibit enough either in the way of health or depth or general competence throughout their major-league roster to avoid allocating plate appearances to players who are something worse than average.

Last year’s ZiPS projections for Kansas City suggested that they were particularly well suited to avoiding the awful. While none of their starting batter-types received a forecast in excess of four wins, none of them received a projection below two wins, either. The club was built not to dominate the league, but to remain relevant over the course of a full season.

Per ZiPS, the 2015 iteration of the Royals has more weaknesses than that 2014 edition. No fewer than three of their starting batters — Omar Infante (558 PA, 1.0 WAR), Kendrys Morales (467 PA, 0.5 WAR), and Alex Rios (571 PA, 1.2 WAR) — feature win projections more commonly associated with strong bench players than actual major-league starters.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Toronto Blue Jays

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 Toronto Blue Jays. 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 / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Texas / Washington.

Batters
It’s likely promising for the 2015 edition of the Blue Jays — a club that finished second in the AL East last season by Base Runs — it’s likely promising that five of the ten best WAR projections per ZiPS this year belong to players who’ve been acquired over the offseason. Ezequiel Carrera (548 PA, 1.1 WAR), Josh Donaldson (634 PA, 5.1 WAR), Russell Martin (453 PA, 3.6 WAR), Michael Saunders (442 PA, 2.1 WAR), and Devon Travis (505 PA, 0.9 WAR) all profile at least as competent bench players or, in the case of Donaldson, potential MVP candidates*.

*At least, that is, in a world without Mike Trout.

Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, for their part, remain the club’s best hitters and also curiously similar in terms of approach. Both are projected to produce something better than a .240 ISO. Neither, meanwhile, is forecast to produce a strikeout rate more than three percentage greater than his walk rate. And, finally, neither is expected to record anything greater than a .270 BABIP.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Philadelphia Phillies

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 Philadelphia Phillies. 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 / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Pittsburgh / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Texas / Washington.

Batters
Were one to construct a Venn diagram depicting (in one set) those individuals who derive pleasure from baseball analytics and (in another set) those who employ the phrase “hot mess” with some frequency, one would likely find that the circles occupied by those sets don’t overlap. Largely, that, because the former demographic is composed mostly of 18- to 34-year-old males; the latter, Southern women who’ve been dead for half a century.

Were they to overlap, however, every one of those individuals who occupied both sets would feel compelled to describe the present iteration of the Phillies as a “hot mess” — for reasons that are illustrated by the ZiPS projections below. There are multiple examples of why, although the presence of Ryan Howard remains the most illustrative: with no fewer than two years and $60 million remaining on his contract, the 35-year-old Howard is projected to record a -0.1 WAR in 449 plate appearances.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Cincinnati Reds

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

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

Batters
For a club that was compelled to trade some useful major-league pieces this offseason, the Cincinnati Reds feature a remarkably competent and seemingly competitive group of hitters. Depending on how one chooses to determine such a thing, the star of team (per ZiPS) is either Todd Frazier (605 PA, 3.6 WAR) or Joey Votto (468 PA, 3.4 WAR) — the former for his overall WAR projection; the latter, for his projected WAR per plate appearance. It’s not surprising to find something less than full complement of games forecast for Votto: two of his last three seasons have been interrupted by injury.

So far as weak links, however, there’s little to be found among Cincinnati’s starting eight field players. The batting projections for Zack Cozart (.282 wOBA), Billy Hamilton (.310 wOBA), and Brandon Phillips (.303 wOBA) are all below average, but each of those players is also projected to save five or more runs at a position already on the more challenging side of the defensive spectrum.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Pittsburgh Pirates

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

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

Batters
On multiple occasions over the course of Woody Allen’s 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, jazz guitarist Emmet Ray (played by Sean Penn) announces that he’s the best in the world “except [for] this gypsy in France” (understood to be Django Reinhardt). It’s not particularly daring to suggest that, likewise, Andrew McCutchen is the best non-pitcher in baseball — except for this center fielder in Los Angeles. McCutchen and Mike Trout possess largely similar skill sets; it’s just, in most cases, Trout possesses them a little harder. Even still, McCutchen’s projection (659 PA, 6.3 WAR) is among the best published so far in this series.

Of some interest is ZiPS’ forecast for recent Korean signing Jung-ho Kang (502 PA, 1.5 WAR), which is slightly (although not substantively) less strong than incumbent Jordy Mercer’s projection (504 PA, 1.9 WAR) for 2015. A potential area of concern for Kang appears to be his ability to make contact. To wit: ZiPS projects Pedro Alvarez to post a 30.0% strikeout rate; Kang, a slightly higher 30.5% mark.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Texas Rangers

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

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

Batters
One doesn’t wake up every morning to find articles in the morning dailies arguing on behalf of Adrian Beltre’s Hall of Fame candidacy, and yet all indications are that, even were he to retire this second, he’d be a deserving inductee. Both his career WAR and also JAWS figures currently reside above the threshold for the average Hall of Fame entrant. ZiPS projects him to add four more wins to his resume in 2015.

Mike Petriello has already written this week about the Arizona Diamondbacks and their curiously shallow catcher depth chart. A properly motivated individual would probably have some luck composing a similar piece regarding the Rangers’ left-field spot. Jake Smolinski (468 PA, 0.1 WAR) is the favorite to earn the starting role there, while Michael Choice (559 PA, -0.4 WAR) is another candidate.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – New York Yankees

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

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

Batters
There are a number of players on this Yankees club projected not to produce wins at a rate commensurate with their salaries. The current market offers something like $6-8 million per win. Per ZiPS, Alex Rodriguez will receive about $18 million per one of those; Mark Teixeira, about the same; Carlos Beltran, about $25 million. In each case, durability is an issue beyond just declining skills. Regard: none is projected to record as many as 500 plate appearances.

A relative bargain within the context of the Yankee lineup is Chase Headley, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the team in December but is projected by ZiPS to play like someone roughly twice as good as that. This isn’t particularly surprising. As Dave Cameron noted earlier in the offseason, Headley’s profile — defensively above-average at third base with strong plate discipline but merely average power — hasn’t ever appealed greatly to the market. New York would appear to be the beneficiaries of this.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Baltimore Orioles

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

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

Batters
Manny Machado returned in May after completing rehab on his horribly ruptured left-knee ligament and the surgery to repair it. His slash stats were poor during that first month back (.220/.271/.284 in 119 PA), but by the beginning of August he possessed roughly the same park-adjusted offensive mark he’d recorded the season before (111 wRC+, as opposed to 102 wRC+ in 2013). His 2014 campaign ended in August when we underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his other knee. ZiPS doesn’t specifically “know” about the injuries — just the playing time lost to them. In any case, Machado is expected to replicate his slightly above-average batting line once again — with a little bit more in the way of isolated power than either of the past two seasons.

The breakout age-31 season isn’t a particularly common occurrence in baseball, but that’s what Steve Pearce produced in 2014, recording a 161 wRC+ and 4.9 WAR in 383 plate appearances. Characteristically, ZiPS is conservative. After hitting homers at a rate of 33 per 600 plate appearances, Pearce is projected for 26 every 600 plate appearances in 2015 — plus also a markedly more average defensive figure.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Seattle Mariners

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

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington

Batters
In the first year of his 10-year and $240 million contract with the M’s, Robinson Cano served as a one-man illustration of park effects, recording almost precisely the same batting-average and on-base figures as the previous season with the Yankees, but producing only half the home runs. (We’ll ignore for the moment that he actually hit more homers at Safeco than on the road, as that would disturb the narrative.) The result was a park-adjusted offensive line roughly approximating 2013’s. ZiPS calls for another five-win season in 2015 despite a home-run total somewhere below 20.

On the topic of park effects, offseason acquisition Nelson Cruz moves from a home field that inflates right-handed homers by roughly 8% to one that suppresses them by about 6%. That move plus age plus mere regression conspire to produce a forecast of 29 home runs for Cruz in 2015 after last season’s total of 40.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Boston Red Sox

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

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington

Batters
Despite the considerable investments made by the club both in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval this offseason — amounting to nearly $200 million collectively, those contracts — the top WAR projection among all Red Sox players belongs to their second-round pick from the 2004 draft. Dustin Pedroia produced the lowest slugging and isolated-power figures (.376 and .098, respectively) of his career last year, while also recording a career-worst strikeout rate (12.3%). ZiPS calls for Pedroia to find some positive regression in all three areas while still retaining his elite second-base defense.

Probably also capable of providing if not elite, then at least above-average, second-base defense is Mookie Betts. Owing to the continued employment by the club of Pedroia, however, Betts will be forced to supply above-average defense elsewhere. In this case, the most likely destination is right field. It would fair to say that Betts doesn’t possess the typical right-field profile, featuring less power and size than most who play the position. He has excellent plate-discipline skills, however, plus speed and non-negligible power on contact. Note that Betts’ defensive projection below (of -1 runs) is for center field. The equivalent in right would be about +6 or +7 runs saved.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Chicago Cubs

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

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Chicago AL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington

Batters
“Why do you hate Jorge Soler?” is a reaction zero people expressed via Twitter on Thursday when the author shared the depth-chart image below by way of that same social-media platform. What certain respondents did note, however, is that they’d take the over on Soler’s 1.0 WAR projection. Which, one comment regarding that: due (presumably) to limited playing time in the past, ZiPS only forecasts Soler for 345 plate appearances in 2015. That’s 1.7 WAR per 600 plate appearances — a substantial figure, that, for a player who’s recorded just a half-season’s worth of games above High-A.

Conspicuous by his absence in that same depth-chart image below is third-base prospect Kris Bryant, who receives the club’s highest projected WAR here, according to ZiPS, and the second-highest by Steamer. Whether he’ll be part of the opening-day roster isn’t really a question ZiPS, being a computer model, is prepared to answer. There appears to be some evidence, however, that when he does appear in the majors, he (i.e. Bryant) will be among the club’s very best field players.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Cleveland Indians

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

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
Cleveland finished tied with Houston in 2014 for last place among all clubs in defensive runs. That’s not ever really a “positive” distinction. That said, were one in the business of identifying silver linings, a legitimate one in this case might concern how defensive metrics are prone to greater regression than most offensive stats — and thus projection systems such as ZiPS are unlikely to weight seasons like Cleveland’s 2014 campaign as heavily.

By the projections, the 2015 iteration of Cleveland’s baseball team doesn’t actually profile as a particularly bad defensive club. Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana are all forecast to finish on the negative side of the defensive ledger relative to their position, but Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes and Jose Ramirez are all projected to save more runs than average at their respective positions. The result, it would appear, is a roughly league-average group of hitters.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Arizona Diamondbacks

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
Offensively, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has evolved into a broadly skilled weapon, reproducing not only the above-average home-run and walk rates that he posted in the minors, but also recording above-average BABIP and base-running figures. His projection for 2015 suggests he’ll continue doing all these sorts of things.

Nor is Goldschmidt alone in his hitting abilities. David Peralta, A.J. Pollock, Yasmany Tomas, and Mark Trumbo are all starters forecast to produce above-average offensive lines. For all them, with the exception of Pollock, the question is less of offensive — and more of defensive — ability. There’s a real possibility, supported by ZiPS, that each is occupying a place on the defensive spectrum probably more demanding than the actual skills warrant.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Minnesota Twins

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
It isn’t sound practice merely to find the sum of all the WAR projections in the depth-chart image below, add those to the 48 or so wins which constitute a replacement-level team, and then regard the result as the club’s ZiPS win projection. That said, examining the forecasts for those players expected to begin the season on Minnesota’s opening-day roster, it’s difficult to conclude that this club is destined to win much more than 70 games.

Moderately heartbreaking is Joe Mauer’s very regular two-win projection. If it seems low, that’s not necessarily a novel sentiment. Multiple readers suggested last year, when ZiPS produced a 2.8 WAR figure for Mauer, that they’d take the over. It would have been a losing bet, that: even with a .342 BABIP, he recorded only a 106 wRC+. In the context of the first-base positional adjustment, that’s too little offense.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – San Diego Padres

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / New York NL / Oakland / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
Unsurprisingly, given the zeal with which general manager AJ Preller et al. sought to turn over the roster this offseason, the four most encouraging WAR projections for Padres hitters belong to players who were acquired over the past month-plus. Surprisingly, perhaps — at least given the profile of the deal — none of those four are Matt Kemp. He’s forecast to produce among the top offensive lines on the club, but also -9 runs defensively in a corner-outfield spot. Wil Myers’ defensive projection in center field (-12 runs) also fails to inspire hope.

An earlier version of the depth-chart image for the Padres — published by the author via Twitter on Tuesday night — featured Derek Norris and Tim Federowicz combining for five projected wins. In point of fact, the sum of their WAR forecasts is closer to five than any other whole number; the sum of their plate appearances is above 800, though, also. The number has been prorated to four wins here. Still enough, that, to profile as one of the team’s strongest positions.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – New York Mets

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Oakland / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
Mets batters produced 18.2 WAR collectively in 2014, an almost precisely average figure among the league’s 30 clubs. Given the projections below, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them replicate that effort in 2015. All eight of the team’s likely starters are forecast to produce something between 0.9 and 3.8 WAR — and six of them, between 1.8 to 3.1 WAR.

An area of some interest with regard to the club seems to be how Terry Collins et al. contend with Lucas Duda and Lucas Duda’s difficulties with left-handed pitching. Despite a strong 2014 season, the Mets first baseman produced only a 54 wRC+ against left handers. By way of comparison, the worst overall figure among the game’s 146 qualified batters in 2014 was Zack Cozart’s 56 wRC+. Either John Mayberry (333 PA, -0.1 WAR) or even Eric Campbell (416 PA, 0.5 WAR) are candidates to platoon with Duda.

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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
Speaking on the topic of happiness, Greek philosopher Epicurus endorsed not the unadulterated pursuit of greater and ever more lavish pleasures, as is frequently believed. Almost the opposite, in fact. By only occasionally indulging in a “pot of cheese,” for example, Epicurus effectively lowered his threshold for pleasure, such that easy attainable goods or experiences could provide it in sufficient quantity.

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.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Los Angeles Dodgers

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Detroit / Los Angeles AL / Miami / Milwaukee / Oakland / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
This is a strong and curiously diverse Dodgers team. Among even just the starting eight one finds young stars (Yasiel Puig) and older stars (Adrian Gonzalez); stars who’ve aged surprisingly well (Jimmy Rollins) and stars who’ve aged less well (Carl Crawford); veterans who probably merit greater acclaim (Howie Kendrick) and also whatever Juan Uribe is. While diverse, the starters are uniform by one standard — namely, the likelihood that they’ll produce wins at an average rate or better.

Of some interest is the (likely) platoon in left field of Crawford and Scott Van Slyke. The latter, despite a huge body, has produced slightly above-average fielding numbers in the corner outfield and is projected to do so again in 2015. It’s with some combination of great vengeance and furious anger, as well, that he has punished left-handed pitchers, recording a 151 wRC+ over about 200 career plate appearances against them. No player — in particular, no player who lost his rookie eligibility as a 26-year-old — ought really to be expected to continue hitting at a rate 50% better than league average. His success against lefties, however, at least helps to explain how ZiPS forecasts him to produce the second-highest wOBA on the club.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Detroit Tigers

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Los Angeles AL / Miami / Milwaukee / Oakland / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
While it might seem as though, at points during his MVP rivalry with Mike Trout, that this site’s authors made it their business to convince all of America about how Miguel Cabrera was a worthless trash heap of a ballplayer, that’s very clearly not the case. What he is, in reality, is one of the most talented hitters in baseball history. Indeed, among all qualified hitters ever, Cabrera has produced the 26th-best park-adjusted batting line (tied with Joe DiMaggio, for example). Even a couple years after Cabrera’s 30th birthday, ZiPS still regards him as an elite batsman.

One thing Cabrera wasn’t, really, was a talented defensive third baseman. Two years ago, for example, ZiPS projected Cabrera to save -6 runs (or concede +6 runs, as it were) at third base. Not excellent, that. By way of comparison, however, consider current third baseman Nick Castellanos’s projection at that same position: -12 runs saved (or +12 runs conceded, as it were). Even more not excellent, that. He’s forecast to produce an above-average batting line, but it would seem as though some manner of change — either moving off of, or steadily improving at, the position — is necessary.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – St. Louis Cardinals

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

Other Projections: Atlanta / Chicago AL / Colorado / Los Angeles AL / Miami / Milwaukee / Oakland / San Francisco / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
Cardinal batters produced the best strikeout rate and second-best defensive-runs figure in the National League last year. The club’s ZiPS projections suggest that they might approximate those sorts of results in 2015. Neither Matt Adams nor Mark Reynolds will be much help in that regard, but the rest of the team’s starters are all above-average by one, if not both, of those measures.

Nor will Jason Heyward change the club’s dynamic at all in this regard. He’s projected to save 18 runs in right field (which equates to about 10-11 runs above average overall after the positional adjustment) while recording walk and strikeout rates both better than league average. Less publicized acquisitions by the club — like of Dean Anna (14.9% K and -1 run at shortstop) and Ty Kelly (16.2% K and -1 run at second base) — also offer strong contact rates and average to above-average defensive skills.

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