If you're not familiar with Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections over at Baseball Think Factory, then go. Rejoice. They're fun. You can learn a few things from what an advanced projection system sees in the numbers. The gap between Andres Torres and Justin Christian at the plate? Probably not that great, but that doesn't mean we won't blow a gasket when Torres is released.
And if you're thinking it would be a good idea to get these numbers on the desk of Brian Sabean, please don't. You want him to see that Brandon Belt is projected for a .268/.362/.452 line, good for a 121 OPS+. But he wouldn't see that. He'd just see that Brett Pill would project to lead the team in RBIs over a full season, despite barely outhitting Jeff Keppinger. Brrrrr. It just got cold in here. And here's your Brett Pill fact of the week: Pill is less than a year younger than Travis Ishikawa. Platoon of the future!
A bunch of things jump off the page. Brandon Crawford getting outhit by Orlando Cabrera, for one, but don't overlook that Szymborski's computer has actually seen what's going on inside Mark DeRosa's wrist. That is some serious SkyNet stuff, there. The biggest shocker is that Gary Brown would be projected for a 99 OPS+, which if his defense is half as good as it's supposed to be, would make him an incredibly valuable player right away. I want to believe. And while I'm crushed that Zack Wheeler is gone, remember that the first report had it as a Brown-for-Beltran swap, which would have been miserable.
But my favorite thing with projection systems -- especially with both ZiPS and PECOTA -- are the names that come up as comparable players for each player projected.
Freddy Sanchez: (Comp 1) Manny Trillo
Dammit. My favorite thing with projection systems is usually the comparable players. The Sanchez/Trillo comp gives me the jibblies, but only because Sanchez is the Giants' huge offseason acquisition. Here, though, is a partial roster made up of former Giants who were listed as comparable players for current Giants:
C - Mike McCormick, Not That One (Tommy Joseph)
1B - Mel Hall (Brandon Belt)
2B - Steve Scarsone (Bill Hall)
SS - Ernest Riles (Conor Gillaspie)
3B - Charlie Hayes (Mark DeRosa)
LF - Marquis Grissom (Gary Brown)
CF - Andres Torres (Darren Ford)
RF - Willie McGee (Francisco Peguero)
Obviously, these aren't supposed to be super-deadly accurate comps -- no one's claming that. But for the computer to spit out Ricky Pickett for Dan Runzler, there has to be something amazing going on. That's the greatest comp I've ever seen.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with most of the projections. The Giants' offense was once-in-a-generation awful last year, but it shouldn't have been. It should have been merely horrendous. And if there's any truth to these projections, it has a chance to be barely repugnant next year. I like those odds.