Baseball Prospectus doesn't hate the Giants

They've changed, man. They've changed.

There's no sense burying the lede: The abacus twiddlers at Baseball Prospectus think the Giants are one of the better teams in baseball.

Here's a link to the 2014 projected standings, which are based on PECOTA. The Giants grade out to a projected 87-75 record, tied for eighth-best in MLB. If the projected standings are right, the Giants would host a Wild Card game. I think that, 162 games before that particular bucket of heartburn, we would all take a Wild Card game.

The Giants project better than the Rangers, Braves, and Yankees. They're a projected win behind the Cardinals and Tigers, two wins behind the Rays and Red Sox.

In short, the Giants are one of those teams.

The Dodgers project for 98 wins, which I'm pretty sure is a PECOTA record. Projection systems are notoriously conservative. Do you know the kind of nonsense that goes into a 98-win projection? I'm not even opening that part of the spreadsheet. Puig is probably projected to hit 74 homers and cut off Tim Hudson's head with a scythe.

Focus on the Giants! That is a mighty good projection for them. The .316 OBP is tied for third in the NL, and they're projected to score 677 runs and allow 623. For comparison, they scored 629 runs and allowed 691 runs last year, which made for exceptionally lousy baseball.

Of course, last March the Nationals won the World Series, too, beating the Blue Jays when Foam Teddy Roosevelt tackled Melky Cabrera at the one-yard-line with no time remaining. So let's be careful about preseason projections. Still, good projections are empirically more satisfying.

Here's the breakdown of player projections, moving from "Aw, nuts, that's surprisingly awful" to "Wow! That's much better than I expected!" I'll give you the slash lines; you pay for the rest:

Aw, nuts, that's surprisingly awful
The entire bullpen, other than Romo

Say, that's about right
Brandon Belt (.264/.345/.431)
Buster Posey (.295/.370/.469)
Pablo Sandoval (.288/.345/.469)
Angel Pagan (.271/.321/.399)
Marco Scutaro (.266/.325/.347)
Brandon Crawford (.240/.301/.354)
Hunter Pence (.270/.328/.440)
Michael Morse (.262/.318/.446)
Matt Cain (3.11)
Madison Bumgarner (3.18)
Tim Hudson (3.43)
Ryan Vogelsong (4.38)

Wow! That's much better than I expected!
Tim Lincecum (3.41)

That's the breakdown, pretty much. It's, other than Lincecum's 3.41 ERA and two WARP, almost exactly what you'd figure. Scutaro is okay, not great. Morse's defense kills his overall value. Pence doesn't discover the OBP rune of legend, and Belt doesn't turn into Will Clark. Matt Cain is good again. There aren't a lot of surprises. Separately, it's not the most impressive team the Giants have ever started the season with. Collectively, they're not bad. Not bad at all.

That's assuming everyone stays healthy.

So everyone assume that. Because there's no reason to think it wouldn't happen, everyone staying healthy. Yep. The relative health of a baseball team has never disappointed their fans before.

But the larger point stands: While we've been freaking out about holes on the Giants' roster, both real and invented, it's worth noticing that almost every team has holes. Every team has a gaggle of sketchy players, and some of them are fielding a lineup out of them. When the Giants' holes are stacked up against those holes, the Giants look just fine.

I do not recommend hole-stacking. Dangerous. Also, when I wrote "almost every team has holes", that apparently didn't include the Dodgers, who are going to be loathsome.

I will take the 87-win projection, though. I will take it and run. Please stay healthy, surprisingly complete starting lineup and rotation.

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