Every year, FanGraphs ranks teams by positions. Or, wait, they rank positions by teams. I've been stuck on this opening for five minutes, and I can't figure out why it's so tough. They'll take a position like "1B" and rank the production that teams are projected to get from first base. Yeah, that.
The Giants' rankings are done, and there are some pleasant surprises and unpleasant surprises. You'll laugh, you'll cry, it was better than stats. Here are those rankings:
C - 1st in baseball, 1st in NL West
This is like starting with the pie. We can take turns flipping off the brussel sprouts later, but for now we'll indulge.
Note: The bold text in all of the headers are links. If you can think of a better way to designate something as an outbound link -- something even better than the "make it indistinguishable from regular bold text" strategy SB Nation has going on now -- I'd like to hear it.
1B - 8th in baseball, 3rd in NL West
A pleasant surprise, though it should be noted that this includes projected production from Buster Posey at the position, too.
2B - 23rd in baseball, 4th in the NL West
Note that FanGraphs pointed out how close the second baseman were from #11 to #23 on the list, so while #23 seems like a brutal ranking, it's not that far away from the top third.
I'm a gonna go out on a limb, though, and say Scutaro outperforms Gordon Beckham this year. Just a hunch.
SS - 24th in baseball, 4th in the NL West
Yeah, you figured as much. The projections love Crawford's defense, putting him in elite company, but the .238/.302/.353 line, while somewhat competent for a shortstop, isn't good.
3B - 8th in baseball, 1st in NL West
With the appropriate virgins tossed into the volcano to appease the hamate gods, Sandoval should have a big year. That wasn't a pun! Unless it was. But as long as nothing funny happens -- like a stupid bone spur and nerve irritation, for example -- I think Pablo will have a much better year. Maybe there should be some sort of "projection" done by the community. Will note that idea and revisit later.
LF - 27th in baseball, 4th in the NL West
Well, when you put it like that, maybe the Giants should have looked for a left fielder in the offseason. The good news is that Blancorres is over Carl Crawford and the Dodgers, so that's a minor victory.
CF - 19th in baseball, 4th in the NL West
Exactly 1.4 wins separates the Giants from 2nd place, so this isn't a projection to get flustered over. There are a lot of good center fielders in baseball right now, apparently.
Also, the author of the CF rankings, Mike Axisa, is confused by Angel Pagan's defense. So are we, y'all. So are we.
RF - 20th in baseball, 4th in the NL West
Getting a little tired of writing "4th in the NL West," to be honest. While a lot of projection systems see Hunter Pence bouncing back a little, ZiPS doesn't. If you want to be depressed, read the capsule for the Giants in this ranking. The warning signs are loud. The good news: the ZiPS rankings don't include GIF potential.
The pitchers are coming soon, and I've been told the Giants do pretty well in that category. When it comes to the position players, though, there's a little more pessimism than I expected. When you average them out, you get this:
- 1st in baseball, 1st in NL West
Of course, that's weighted for Buster Posey. I might have overweighted ... nah, it's probably right. So there you go, the statz. Five-eighths of the lineup is projected to be below average, and the pitching staff should help make up the difference. Welcome back to the beginning of 2010, everyone. I'll take it.
Edit: an update from FanGraphs ... and it's kind of a big deal
Which led us to notice one small problem — the park factor part of the WAR calculation didn’t get attached, so every position player was being compared to the same baseline, regardless of what home park they played in. For guys in extreme hitters parks (like Colorado and Texas), this made them look a bit better. For guys in extreme pitchers parks (like Seattle and San Francisco), this made them look a bit worse.
If you were wondering why Michael Cuddyer was ranked over Hunter Pence ... there you go.