We checked out the PECOTA projections for the Giants a while back, which is always fun. For dorks like me. The lineup should be okay, the pitching should be okay, and everything should be okay, unless anything strange happens, like Hunter Pence getting hit on the forearm by some doofus extra from central casting. Everything should be okay!
But what if everything is completely incredible, instead? What if the Giants band together and just blow their projections out of the water. It's been awhile since they caught a break like that, so let's explore PECOTA's 90th-percentile projections. In the words of BP's editor, Sam Miller, these are ...
The realistic best-case scenario, which we all know isn’t the actual best case because things like Jose Bautista exist, but is the best case anybody reasonable would offer. If the season were played a million times, they’re the seasons we’d expect to be better than 900,000.
You can find PECOTA projections in the new BP 2015 annual, which is for sale here. The Giants team essay is one of the best things I've read in years, so you should check it out.
What do the best-case scenarios look like for the starting lineup?
.295 batting average, .352 on-base percentage, .473 slugging percentage, 22 home runs, 4.6 WARP
And 664 plate appearances. NICE JINXING, PECOTA. The mean for Pence's projection have him with a .269/.323/.431 line and 19 homers -- completely reasonable. If he wants to add two more wins to that total, it'll take an extra 25 hits and an extra 40 PAs, which is sad to type, but considering he'll get close to that if the Giants are going to score the 800 runs they would if all of these came true, we can dream.
This would be Pence's best season, by the way, which seems like a lofty goal until you remember that it's just a lliiiiiiitle bit better than his 2014 season.
.307/.357/.433, 9 HR, 29 SB, 4.9 WARP
I'll take the under on 691 plate appearances. Wait, let me ... yes, the under. But we've seen this Pagan before, the high-average, not-missing-knee-ligaments wonder who zips around the bases. I like that Pagan.
.303/.366/.389, 2 HR, 23 SB, 2.7 WARP
See what I mean about Aoki's ceiling being low? That's the reasonable best-case scenario, and it's not exactly All-Star-worthy. Still, I would put money on that one before I would on the first two. All it takes are bloops that irritate the hell out of the other team, preferably the Padres.
.269/.338/.399, 10 HR, 4.0 WARP
The best part about this 90th-percentile projection is that it wouldn't force the Giants into a situation where they would feel pressure to give him a ludicrous contract after his best season. This isn't an MVP season -- it's the best realistic Brandon Crawford season. Which is the point of this whole exercise, I guess ...
.279/.341/.397, 10 HR, 1.0 WARP
PECOTA kind of hates McGehee. I'd like to think he's just a confusing player, what with his premature MLB washout, Japan success, and then power-starved (yet successful) return last season. The system also projects him for a .207/.262/.261 line for him in 2024, when he's 42, so hold off on that 10-year extension talk.
.297/.350/.387, 4 HR, 2.9 WARP
That's a very Giants second baseman kind of line. High average, pretty okay OBP, solid contact and defense ... it's the template. Maybe Panik and Marco Scutaro were both Freddy Sanchez with a Mission: Impossible mask the whole time. If you don't think Sanchez could hit left-handed as well as Panik, well, you're doubting Freddy Sanchez at your own peril. Do you really think a player can get injured on a dive as routine as that and never come back? Come on. Occam's Razor is pretty convinced it's latex masks and switch-hitting.
.304/.388/.505, 22 HR, 5.7 WARP
This is the first projection in which the Giants player might be an MVP candidate. It's also the one I would pay for, considering its implications for the short- and long-term future of the organization. Brandon Belt turning from slumpy-shouldered talk-radio lightning rod into high-average, dinger-swatting, fully functional battle station would be one of the highlights of the 2015 season. Considering there's no way the Giants are actually going to ... you know ... again. Right?
.331/.401/.522, 23 HR, 6.8 WARP
This one makes me want to take off my pants and twirl them around my head until I'm a human helicopter flying to the moon. And you know what? Posey was better than this in 2012. We've seen that happen.
We can still see all of the above happen. These best-case scenarios aren't likely, but we're not talking about everyone trying to hit .400 in the same season. They're all reasonable, to a point.
They're probably all gonna happen. This season is going to be the best, everyone.