How the projection systems see the Giants' 2014 lineup

Well, this is a first.

We've been tracking the preseason projection systems almost every offseason. The best one is ZiPS, even though it has to escape the gravity of its creator's obvious bias, but there are others, and whenever I see them, I'll do my best to submit them for your edification.

Usually, the projections for hitters go something like this:

Fred Lewis: .220/.330/.380, 3 HR, 0.8 WAR
Shea Hillenbrand: .210/.310/.310, 1 HR, -0.3 WAR
Arturo McDowell: .003/.212/.003, -3 HR, -2.8 WAR

Preseason projection systems usually make you sit in a corner and think about 2-1 Giants/Padres games. That's no way to spend a winter.

It was always a good news/bad news thing, as the pitching projections always made you feel warm and fuzzy. Well, there's some good news and bad news with that good news/bad news dynamic. The good news is there is still good news. That would be that the hitting projections are fantastic so far.

Over at FanGraphs, they're collecting some of the preseason projection systems and adding them to each player's page.

The first ones to be released every season are Steamer. Here's what they have to say about the Giants' starting lineup:

Steamer projections
Player PA HR R RBI BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA Def WAR
Hunter Pence 628 21 75 84 8.2 % 18.3 % .274 .337 .452 .343 -7.5 3.1
Buster Posey 635 21 81 90 10.6 % 13.2 % .304 .383 .490 .378 14.6 7.1
Brandon Belt 521 15 59 65 11.0 % 21.4 % .278 .362 .464 .359 -7.9 3
Marco Scutaro 593 6 72 50 7.4 % 7.7 % .286 .341 .385 .322 0.6 2.6
Pablo Sandoval 651 22 84 88 8.5 % 13.4 % .289 .352 .478 .358 0.7 4.7
Brandon Crawford 603 9 55 59 8.1 % 17.4 % .247 .311 .366 .298 9.3 2.4
Angel Pagan 570 8 76 47 7.8 % 13.1 % .282 .339 .418 .331 -1.7 2.9
Michael Morse 618 25 74 87 6.8 % 23.6 % .259 .316 .448 .332 -15.4 0.9


I didn't include Gregor Blanco because it would make you sad. Those are the eight starters for the Giants this year, give or take, and Steamer does its best to project playing time.

Four starters with 20 homers or more? Five players close to or over a .450 slugging percentage? Wizardry. The column that should impress you the most, though, is the far-right column. A two-win player is usually thought of as a solid starter. As in, a team with a handful of two-win players sprinkled around the diamond is doing okay.

The Giants have one projected dud (Michael Morse), though this system doesn't project his DINGERS+, which should be unreal. After that, you have Brandon Crawford at two wins. Then Marco Scutaro closer to three wins, along with Angel Pagan. Then Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt right at three wins, and the system has to hate their defense to bring them down to three wins. Then there's a huge bounce back for Pablo Sandoval and something close to an MVP-like season from Buster Posey.

I, uh, would approve of that. All of that. I'd even clam up about the impending Morsenening. Those are the most optimistic projections for a Giants lineup that I've ever seen, I think.

Next up is Oliver, which doesn't try to adjust for playing time. It assumes 600 plate appearances for everyone and projects from there.

Oliver projections
Player PA HR R RBI BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA Def WAR
Hunter Pence 600 22 79 80 8.2 % 16.8 % 0.276 0.337 0.467 0.348 -9.5 3.2
Buster Posey 600 16 73 74 10.2 % 12.0 % 0.288 0.367 0.444 0.354 10.7 5.1
Brandon Belt 600 18 78 78 9.3 % 21.5 % 0.28 0.353 0.474 0.358 -10.9 3.2
Marco Scutaro 600 2 60 49 8.3 % 6.8 % 0.277 0.338 0.34 0.305 5.2 2.2
Pablo Sandoval 600 15 68 71 8.3 % 13.5 % 0.273 0.339 0.42 0.332 -0.4 2.8
Brandon Crawford 600 10 64 60 7.7 % 17.5 % 0.252 0.314 0.374 0.302 17.9 3.6
Angel Pagan 600 9 74 58 7.7 % 13.0 % 0.27 0.326 0.401 0.319 7.2 3.7
Michael Morse 600 21 65 77 6.3 % 23.5 % 0.25 0.302 0.416 0.312 -10.4 0.7


Again, it's almost entirely good news, though not quite as solid offensively. I don't know why both systems hate Pence's and Belt's defense so much, but that's about #483 on the list of 2014 concerns. Posey moves back into the realm of mortals, but that's balanced by Crawford ascending into the ranks of defensive deities. Pagan's defense gets solid marks, too, so don't take these as gospel. Also, these projections don't take Pagan's hamstrings of polenta or Sandoval's bones of marzipan into account.

The main difference between the two systems can be found in the wOBA column, which is a park-adjusted metric that's set to the scale of a park-neutral on-base percentage. As in, you're supposed to look at Crawford's projected .302 wOBA and think of that offensive performance compared to the rest of the league like you would think of a .302 OBP compared to the rest of the league's OBP. The Giants aren't so hot in Oliver's wOBA column. The 2-1 Giants/Padres game rears its boring head again.

Still, for all the grumbling -- reflexive and legitimate -- regarding the Giants' underwhelming offseason, it's worth noting they have seven solid-to-great players in their eight spots. At least, if the projection systems are to be believed. And we were pretty good about plugging our ears, singing LALALALALA, and ignoring them in previous years. But that's because they were filled with icky news! These projections are filled with kinda cool news. So my rad cognitive bias chooses to believe them.

And that's the full story.

There isn't another part of this coming soon that looks at the other half of the Giants' projections.

Nope.

Look at those WARs! What are they good for? Absolutely something! Ha ha ha ha.

There isn't another part of this projection story. Nope.

Just think of the hitters if you want to be happy.

I don't even know this team any more.

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