Archive for 2016 ZiPS Projections

2016 ZiPS Projections – Tampa Bay Rays

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 Tampa Bay Rays. 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 / St. Louis / San Diego / San Francisco / Seattle / Texas / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier hasn’t merely recorded more wins than every other 31st-round selection from the 2010 draft, but he appears also to have recorded more wins than all but six players — including (and, it would seem, limited to) Adam Eaton, Bryce Harper, Matt Harvey, Manny Machado, Chris Sale, and Andrelton Simmons — from that same draft class. What else he’s done is to distinguish himself as the prohibitive star of your 2016 Rays. Taken out of Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, Kiermaier has now produced a 9.5 WAR in fewer than two full seasons’ worth of plate appearances. His projection for the 2016 campaign (521 PA, 4.2 zWAR) calls for roughly a repeat of the same.

After Kiermaier, the 2016 iteration of the club appears to be an exercise in uninspiring competence. Desmond Jennings is roughly average. Logan Forsythe and Brad Miller are roughly average. Whoever’s platooning in right field is likely to provide a roughly average platoon. The club’s weaknesses are at designated hitter and first base. Neither Logan Morrison (445 PA, 0.0 zWAR) nor James Loney (498 PA, 0.0 zWAR) appear well-equipped to benefit the team at either position.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Miami Marlins

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 Miami Marlins. 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 / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / St. Louis / San Diego / San Francisco / Seattle / Texas / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
Only three batters last year recorded both 300-plus plate appearances and also a .300 isolated-power figure: Chris Davis (670 PA, .300 ISO), Bryce Harper (654 PA, .319 ISO), and Giancarlo Stanton (318 PA, .341 ISO). That’s merely one of the many possible ways to state an obvious thing — namely, that the Marlins’ right fielder is among the most impressive power hitters in the league. What else that set of criteria reveals, however, is that Stanton was limited by injury. Because if the plate-appearance threshold were raised to 319, his name would disappear.

In his five years as a regular, Stanton has averaged 512 plate appearances per season. Not the worst case scenario, certainly, but not ideal — and the results have been fantastic, regardless. If his projection (499 PA, 4.9 zWAR) seems a bit light relative to his prodigious talents, however, it’s the result of a somewhat modest plate-appearance forecast.

Examining Miami’s field players as a whole, one finds a group well equipped to produce wins at an average rate in 2016, with Dee Gordon (606 PA, 2.6 zWAR), Martin Prado (578 PA, 2.6 zWAR), and Christian Yelich (596 PA, 3.2 zWAR) all complementing Stanton. First base, meanwhile, appears to be the most immediate area of concern: even in a platoon, Justin Bour (501 PA, 1.1 zWAR) and Chris Johnson (443 PA, 0.2 zWAR) might exhibit some difficulty in separating themselves from replacement level.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Milwaukee Brewers

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 Milwaukee Brewers. 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 / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / St. Louis / San Diego / San Francisco / Seattle / Texas / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
It represents an instance of damning with faint praise to observe that, in 2015, Milwaukee batters outproduced Bryce Harper by roughly a win. On the one hand, that’s better than not outproducing Bryce Harper. On the other, the phrase “Milwaukee batters” denotes a group of professional ballplayers, while “Bryce Harper” is just one person by himself. In light of how baseball works, a group of players should basically always outperform a single guy.

A brief inspection of the projections for Milwaukee suggests that, while the 2016 campaign is unlikely to yield wild success, there’s also less of a chance that the entire club will find itself contending with a 22-year-old outfielder for supremacy of the WAR leaderboards. Apart from whatever value he provides from pitch-framing, catcher Jonathan Lucroy (481 PA, 3.3 zWAR) is forecast to supply enough offensive and (more traditional) defensive value to record an above-average line, while Ryan Braun (582 PA, 2.7 zWAR) and relative newcomer Domingo Santana (570 PA, 2.5 zWAR) receive solid-average projections. Again, it’s not an overwhelming collection of talent. Between the deep depth, however, and the possibility of some useful platoons, the Brewers have a chance of skewing towards the direction of average.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Los Angeles Angels

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 Angels. 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 NL / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / St. Louis / San Diego / San Francisco / Seattle / Texas / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
For how much of an outlier it is, Mike Trout’s projection (688 PA, 9.3 zWAR) represents probably one of the easiest to calculate on the back of an envelope. In each of his first four seasons, he’s produced about five or six wins above average by way of his bat, added another half-win or so by means of base running, and recorded slightly above-average defensive numbers. Add in a little more than two wins’ worth of replacement value and the result is an 8.0-9.0 WAR forecast. Whatever influence there might be from regression is likely offset by a combination of Trout’s youth and the nearly 3,000 plate-appearance sample over which he’s established this level of play. The calculus is a strange combination of simple and impossible, not unlike Trout himself.

A team composed of all exactly replacement-level players and also Mike Trout would record roughly 57 wins over the course of a season — meaning the Angels, as a group, need to augment Trout’s contribution with about 30 wins of their own in order to qualify for the postseason in some fashion. Kole Calhoun (604 PA, 2.7 zWAR) and the newly acquired Andrelton Simmons (590 PA, 3.7 zWAR) would appear to be useful in that endeavor. Depending on the health of his foot, Albert Pujols (602 PA, 2.7 zWAR) might also be, as well. After those four players, however, finding even an average projection among the club’s hitters is difficult.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Colorado Rockies

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

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

Batters
Colorado batters produced the third-lowest cumulative WAR among their major-league peers last year, falling just short of the 10-win threshold. That’s one relevant point when considering the Rockies’ prospects for 2016. Another? That the club also hasn’t altered the roster in any substantive way this offseason. There are, of course, other means by which a team can improve from one year to the next. The promotion of young players from within the system, for example. Or simply by way of positive regression. But even ZiPS — which, like other projections systems, is largely a regression machine — doesn’t call for much improvement in that way.

Third baseman Nolan Arenado (612 PA, 4.1 zWAR) appears to have developed into a real star, combining a high-contact, high-power offensive profile with above-average defense. Charlie Blackmon (638 PA, 1.8 zWAR) and Carlos Gonzalez (473 PA, 1.8 zWAR) are also roughly average. After that, however, the returns among the starting contingent are decidedly less encouraging. Outfielder Gerardo Parra (584 PA, 1.0 zWAR), whose acquisition rendered Corey Dickerson expendable, is best regarded as a solid bench player, at this point.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Oakland Athletics

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 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 / Detroit / Houston / Kansas City / Los Angeles NL / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / St. Louis / San Diego / San Francisco / Seattle / Texas / Toronto / Washington.

Batters
There’s always the sense, given the organization’s record of innovation and willingness to reconstruct its roster, that the A’s are likely to succeed then most when mediocrity appears to be the only possible outcome. If that sense is correct, then Oakland is likely to succeed very hard in 2016 — because the club, as presently constructed, is not well-acquitted by the projections.

Consider the following table, a version of which appears in the glossary entry for WAR and which provides a rough characterization for various WAR ranges:

WAR Figures in Context
Category WAR
Scrub 0-1
Role Player 1-2
Solid Starter 2-3
Good Player 3-4
All-Star 4-5
Superstar 5-6
MVP 6+

By this rough taxonomy, Oakland currently employs only two batters classified as “solid starters” (Josh Reddick, Marcus Semien) and a third (Billy Burns) who profiles as precisely average. That triumvirate represents the exact sort of cost-controlled core a team like Oakland requires to win. Unfortunately, they’re surrounded not by stars, but role players.

It’s difficult, while examining the modest projections here, not also to consider for a moment the distinctly less modest one produced by ZiPS for Josh Donaldson. Last year’s American League MVP is expected to record more than six wins in 2016, at the cost of about $11.5 million. One needn’t be employed — or even have any training — as a rocket scientist to recognize what a benefit Donaldson would be to this club.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Chicago White 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 Chicago White Sox. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

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

Batters
White Sox batters produced the lowest collective WAR among all 30 teams in 2015, combining the worst park-adjusted offense in the majors (-108.1 runs below average overall) with also the worst defense (-60.3 runs below average). The result: a mere three wins above replacement level as a group.

That’s not to say there weren’t encouraging invidual contributions. Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, for example, produced nearly eight wins between them. On the one hand, that’s a positive. On the other hand, what it reveals is that the rest of the roster provided less value than freely available talent might, in theory, supply. Gordon Beckham, Conor Gillaspie, and Mike Olt — who accounted for roughly two-thirds of the club’s third-base starts — recorded a -1.5 WAR between them. Emilio Bonifacio, Micah Johnson, and Carlos Sanchez — who made all but seven starts at second base — posted a collective -1.3 WAR. Those outputs quite possibly don’t represent the true talents of all those players, but they certainly had an adverse effect on Chicago’s win-loss record.

The advantage for a club which possesses glaring holes is that addressing those holes with merely serviceable replacements represents a considerable upgrade. If the newly acquired tandem of Todd Frazier (624 PA, 3.7 zWAR) and Brett Lawrie (509 PA, 1.8 zWAR) approximate their projections in 2016, they’ll conspire to produce a roughly eight-win improvement by themselves.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Washington Nationals

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

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

Batters
This set of ZiPS projections for the Nationals represents the 23rd post in this offseason series. A brief examination of the 22 previous installments reveals that no field player has received as robust a forecast yet as Bryce Harper (579 PA, 6.9 zWAR) does here. The other top contenders? Josh Donaldson (6.6 zWAR), Buster Posey (6.3), and Andrew McCutchen (6.0). Conspicuous by his absence from that brief list, of course, is Mike Trout. As for when Szymborski intends to release the Angels’ projections, one can only speculate as to that heartless monster’s plans.

Apart from their outfield wunderkind, the Nationals’ collection of batters is rather ordinary. Third baseman Anthony Rendon (512 PA, 3.3 zWAR) has the benefit both of youth and also a six-win season in his recent past. Otherwise, no starting field player receives a projection that reaches even the two-win threshold, the recently acquired Daniel Murphy (606 PA, 1.9 zWAR) representing the best of the remaining six.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – San Francisco Giants

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

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

Batters
When preparing the depth-chart graphics such as one finds below, it’s not always possible to fully represent the manner in which every player is likely to be deployed over the course of a season. In case of the Giants, for example, Buster Posey (606 PA, 6.3 zWAR) is a candidate to receive a number of starts at first base. Yet it’s also probably not inaccurate to characterize Brandon Belt (485 PA, 2.5 zWAR) as the team’s starting first baseman. To include Posey’s name at first wouldn’t have been wrong, at all. But it would have also required seconds — or perhaps even an entire minute — of more work. That’s a minute which the author could have utilized to the end of Googling his name on the internet and further crushing himself under the weight of his own vanity.

Posey isn’t merely the best player on the Giants, but also nearly the whole league. Angel Pagan (473 PA, 0.4 zWAR) definitely isn’t the worst player in the league, but he does appear — per Dan Szymborski’s computer, at least — he does appear to represent the club’s worst projected starter. If anyone cares, Jarrett Parker (515 PA, 1.1 zWAR) is also an outfielder and, despite a forecasted strikeout rate of 39.4%, receives a more encouraging prognosis than Pagan.

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2016 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: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Detroit / Houston / Kansas City / Los Angeles NL / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
No club outperformed its Base Runs record by a greater amount in 2015 than St. Louis. The numbers suggest that, at a fundamental level, the Cardinals played like an 89-win team. In reality, they won 100 games. This is neither good or bad in itself. It’s just, if the club below seems more likely to record 89 victories than 100 of them, then that’s not actually a sign of decline, but rather equilibrium.

The depth-chart graphic below lacks some of the nuance that Mike Matheny et al. are likely to employ in terms of fielding a team on a day-to-day basis. For example, Matt Adams (357 PA, 0.9 zWAR) appears quite likely to share starts at first base with Brandon Moss (492 PA, 1.2 zWAR), while the newly acquired Jedd Gyorko (522 PA, 1.6 zWAR) is a candidate to work in a platoon with second baseman Kolten Wong (571 PA, 2.4 zWAR).

The appearance of Matt Carpenter (628 PA, 3.8 zWAR) atop the Cards’ batter projections facilitates the opportunity not only to appreciate his career, but also to remember his No. 1 comparable, Corey Koskie. Despite exceeding his rookie limits as a 26-year-old, Koskie averaged 4.1 WAR per 600 plate appearances over the course of a career that was ultimately ended by concussion-related problems. Provided Jim Souhan isn’t purposely misleading everyone, it appears as though Koskie has found some manner of peace as a Planet Fitness franchisee and advocate for bringing greater joy to youth sports.

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2016 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: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Houston / Kansas City / Los Angeles NL / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
This entry regarding Detroit’s position players and their relative strengths looked different at roughly 4pm ET yesterday, when the idiot author originally composed it. That version of the Tigers featured some combination of Anthony Gose (561 PA, 0.9 zWAR) and Mike Aviles (347 PA, 0.3 zWAR) in left field, accounting for little more than a win between them. What happened in the meantime, however, is Detroit signed Justin Upton to a six year, $132.8 million deal. The move, broadly speaking, appears to have added slightly more than two wins to the club’s projections.

While certainly benefiting the Tigers, the acquisition of Upton does little to counteract the team’s recent history of employing stars (on the one hand) and scrubs (on the other). Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and Upton are all projected to record a mark of 3.5 WAR or higher; every other field player on the roster, 1.6 WAR or lower. Of course, a distinct advantage to this particular method of roster construction is that it becomes much easier to upgrade this or that position — especially if the club’s owner is both (a) fabulously wealthy and (b) motivated by the proximity of his own, real death.

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2016 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: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Houston / Kansas City / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
It’s not particularly common for one of the strongest teams in the majors to acquire a new best position player. Theoretically, such a club already features an assortment of talented players; otherwise, it wouldn’t have been one of the strongest teams in the majors. And yet, this is effectively what the Dodgers — who recorded the third-best Base Runs record in the league last year — it’s effectively what they’ll have done by deploying Corey Seager (643 PA, 3.9 zWAR) as their opening-day shortstop this spring. A projection represents an attempt to estimate a player’s true-talent level. Seager’s true talent appears to be more talented than everyone else’s.

There’s some uncertainty at the moment regarding new manager Dave Roberts’ plans for the outfield. According to Dan Szymborski’s computer, allowing Joc Pederson (571 PA, 3.1 zWAR) to retain his starting center-field role would be part of the club’s optimal arrangement. As for second base, there doesn’t appear to be an optimal arrangement yet: both Enrique Hernandez (437 PA, 1.3 zWAR) and Chase Utley (464 PA, 1.1 zWAR) receive rather modest forecasts.

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2016 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: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Kansas City / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
Whether by accident or design, the current iteration of the Astros does appear nevertheless to reveal a clue as to the method by which the club’s roster has been constructed. Per ZiPS, there are two sorts of player among Houston’s starting nine: those whose projected WAR figures can be rounded comfortably to three wins or higher, and those whose forecasts are rounded merely to a single win. Only two players (Evan Gattis and Jon Singleton) occupy the latter group and — again, whether by coincidence or not — they also happen to occupy those positions which require the least defensive skill (or, in the case of designated hitter, no defensive skill at all). One could reasonably make a case that the club has prioritized acquiring and/or developing players with some manner of defensive value. The case may not be correct, but at least it’s capable of being presented with tolerable credulity.

One player who possesses considerable offensive and defensive talent — and who was also a rookie in 2015 — is shortstop Carlos Correa. On the verge of entering just his age-21 season, Correa is the recipient of the top projection among the club’s entire roster, forecast to produce roughly five wins in 2016 on the strength not merely of average shortstop defense but also the team’s best batting line. Owing to how none of us is immune from the icy grip of the Reaper, Correa won’t be great forever. That said, he appears entirely capable of approximating those early versions of Troy Tulowitzki who avoided injury.

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2016 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: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Kansas City / Minnesota / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
While not particularly relevant to the 2016 edition of the Mets, it’s difficult to examine the ZiPS projections below without also acknowledging the system’s relative optimism concerning free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (629 PA, 4.4 zWAR). The gap between Cespedes’s forecasted win total and Michael Conforto’s second-best mark is equivalent to the gap between Conforto’s mark and the average of the club’s 11th- and 12th-best hitter projections. In other words: for whatever Cespedes’s flaws, his strengths appear capable of compensating for them at the moment.

Which isn’t to ignore another of the system’s perhaps surprsing outputs — namely, the projection for Conforto himself. Entering just his age-23 season, Conforto began the 2015 campaign as the left fielder for the High-A St. Lucie Mets. He’s expected to play that same position for the actual New York version of the team on opening day this year — and, it would seem, is a candidate to produce wins at a higher rate than any of his teammates.

In general, what the Mets feature is essentially the antithesis of a stars-and-scrubs configuration. The success of the club relies not on elite performances by one or two players, but rather the competence of the entire starting eight.

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2016 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: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Kansas City / Minnesota / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
The Padres entered the 2015 season having placed a sizable wager against the importance of outfield defense, choosing to deploy a unit consisting of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton. It didn’t pay off particularly well: San Diego outfielders produced a collective -23.6 UZR, third-worst among all major-league clubs, while recording merely the 12th-best offensive line (107 wRC+) — i.e. not enough to compensate for the unit’s defensive shortcomings. Overall, the aforementioned triumvirate posted a combined 4.6 WAR, or 1.8 WAR per 600 plate appearances. Not terrible, that, but also not commensurate with the club’s financial investment in them.

Defense will be less of an issue for the team this year, according to Dan Szymborski’s computer. Jon Jay and Melvin Upton are both projected to provide slightly above-average defense as center fielders — and, owing to how the game is traditionally played, only one of them is likely to occupy center at any given time, meaning the second will probably be playing a very capable left field alongside the first. Travis Jankowski (439 PA, +8 DEF in CF) and the newly acquired Manuel Margot (518 PA, +7 DEF in CF) are also candidates to prevent runs at an above-average rate.

The flaw for the current iteration of the Padres isn’t so much outfield defense as it is almost all the other aspects of the club. This is perhaps best expressed by observing how Derek Norris (468 PA, 2.9 zWAR) receives the top projection among San Diego’s position players. Norris absolutely has his virtues. To say that he’s not an ideal franchise cornerstone, however, is to say a correct thing.

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2016 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: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Kansas City / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
At some level, the ZiPS projections for Minnesota — and, in particular, for the positional corps of the club — represent a best-case scenario: despite having dealt with injury in recent years, wunderkind prospects Byron Buxton and third baseman/left fielder Miguel Sano already possess two of the top-three WAR forecasts on the team. This is, in a sense, a desirable outcome: the organization’s most promising young players have developed, it would seem, into its most productive contributors.

Unfortunately, Buxton and Sano receive merely three-win projections — as opposed to, like, five-win ones. Which means that, if those two are the club’s “most productive contributors,” then the other contributors profile as roughly average or below that. The Twins actually do seem to possess quite a few players (Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Joe Mauer, Byung-ho Park, Trevor Plouffe) in the dependably average range — and in the era of two wild cards, average isn’t entirely undesirable. Given the current roster, however, it would appear as though “sneaking” into the postseason represents the team’s upside.

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2016 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 / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Kansas City / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
Given the moves made by general manager Dave Stewart et al. this offseason — the signing of Zack Greinke, the exchange with Atlanta of three promising and cost-controlled pieces for Shelby Miller — it’s pretty clear that the club’s ambition is to win now. Of great assistance to that particular cause are Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, both of whom had great seasons in 2015 and are projected by ZiPS to produce just over nine wins in 2016. They form a strong nucleus for the club.

Less strong are the parts surrounding that nucleus — the club’s figurative cytoplasm, to extend the metaphor clumsily. With the exception of indy league success story David Peralta, no other position player receives a forecast from ZiPS of two wins or more. The departure of Ender Inciarte appears to have created no little difficulty. The author of consecutive three-win seasons for Arizona, his absence compels the team to rely heavily on Yasmany Tomas, the author of one negative-wins season, to rebound from his difficult rookie campaign. ZiPS is pessimistic about Tomas offering anything much better than a replacement-level performance.

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2016 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 Indians. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Kansas City / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
One challenge to understanding how ZiPS’ position-player forecasts reveal Cleveland’s actual strength as a club — one challenge to understanding that hinges upon the health of Michael Brantley. The left fielder underwent surgery on his right shoulder following the season. The original prognosis called for Brantley to return in mid-April. More recent reports, however, suggest that the 28-year-old might not be ready until June. ZiPS has no knowledge of Brantley’s injury either way, projecting the him to record more than three wins over the the course of a full season. He might be capable only of producing half that total.

Very probably because his club reached the postseason — and because he recorded a number of home runs in support of that particular cause — Houston shortstop Carlos Correa won the American League’s rookie of the year award in 2015. By WAR, it wasn’t particularly close. Which is to say: by WAR, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor (and not Correa) was pretty clearly the AL’s top rookie. ZiPS is less optimistic about Lindor’s 2016 campaign, calling for regression in the 22-year-old’s plate-discipline and batted-ball numbers. Still, the computer expects Lindor to lead Cleveland’s field players in wins.

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2016 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: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cincinnati / Kansas City / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
About two weeks ago, Jeff Sullivan wrote a piece for this site examining the very real possibility that, as presently constituted, the Chicago Cubs are the best team in the majors. That claim was based, in no small part, on how the club possessed then — and still possesses today — the league’s best collective Steamer WAR projection. Given the numbers one finds below, it wouldn’t be surprising to find — when the present series of forecasts is complete — that the Cubs possess the top projected record by ZiPS, as well.

Among position players, the strengths are unsurprising. Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, and Anthony Rizzo amassed a total of 18 wins between them in 2015. Because negative regression is the rule, and not the exception, with regard to these sorts of star-level performances, ZiPS doesn’t call for an exact repeat of last year’s production. As a trio, however, that group is expected to log around 15 wins. That figure alone would represent a better mark than the overall totals posted by the position players of eight clubs in 2015.

Elsewhere, it isn’t entirely clear where Joe Maddon et al. will deploy Javier Baez. After recording starts at second, third, and short this past season both in Chicago and at Triple-A Iowa, Baez has recently made appearances in center field with Santurce, his Puerto Rican winter league club. He appears, within the depth chart below, as a platoon partner with Kyle Schwarber — although that’s a product more of “idle speculation” than “actual facts.” Whatever the particulars, ZiPS is optimistic regarding Baez’s 2016 campaign, calling for slightly more than two wins.

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2016 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: Atlanta / Baltimore / Cincinnati / Kansas City / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
The object of considerable attention among the authors of this site, it’s probably not inaccurate to suggest that infielder/outfielder Mookie Betts is riddled with virtue. Or perhaps, afflicted by virtue. In either case, what he’s done is to parlay wide-ranging competence into a star-level profile. He’s projected to produce nearly a 20-20 season while also recording a strikeout rate of about 12%. He certainly doesn’t possess the skill set typical of a right fielder, but he’s equipped to produce wins anywhere, given an opportunity.

Elsewhere, one finds that (a) the second-best projection among Boston’s field players belongs to another 23-year-old, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, (b) ZiPS forecasts a slightly above-average season for Jackie Bradley Jr., and (c) Hanley Ramirez receives a defensive projection for first base!

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