Oh, it's a fantabulous day, when FanGraphs releases their 2016 Giants projections. They won't be accurate, but they'll be more accurate than whatever in the heck you could slap together, so let us study them together. First, we'll check in with last year's projections and see how they did:
|Player||2015 ZiPS projected WAR||2015 actual WAR|
They nailed Tim Lincecum, alright, and they were pretty close with a lot of them. You can see how they can't be expected to predict something like The Rise of Matt Duffy (Not That One), and something like that will happen this year, good or bad. Some things like that will happen. And to be fair, they predicted almost two wins for Duffy, which was more optimistic than I was.
Now we'll get to this year's projections. You can find the full post, with gobs of stats and comparable players, over here. The quickie version is right here:
The Matt Cain projection makes me sad
Ugh. I mean ... well, ugh.
ZiPS has a lot of variables in its secret sauce, but when a pitcher is a) bad, then b) misses substantial time to injuries, and then c) comes back much, much worse, there's no way he's going to have a great projection. Or palatable projection, even.
I'm still optimistic about Cain because my brain is filled with happy memories of general and specific success. I know what it looks like when he's successful, and last year's version had some of those key components, even amid the carnage. I still believe.
(But if you don't, note that Clayton Blackburn projects as a solid option. This year's Heston, but much younger.)
Angel Pagan does not bounce back in these projections
Gregor Blanco (not pictured) helps clean that up some, and if Pagan is really that bad, I'll assume that he'll be McGehee'd in short order. Jarrett Parker projects better, for one example. Mac Williamson doesn't, but those are based on his Triple-A numbers after a year off, and I've chosen to give him a pass. Because when you're making stuff up, you can do that.
Still, it sure seems like Yoenis Cespedes would help the Giants. It surrrrrre seems like it.
The entire outfield is roughly as valuable as any individual infielder.
IT SURE SEEMS LIKE CESPEDES WOULD HELP.
mets remain interested at 1- 2- or 3 yrs. still hard to see free agent rebuffing 5 yrs for 1-3. dont rule out #mystery team— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 22, 2016
MAYBE THE GIANTS ARE THE MYSTER
Sorry, sorry. My spoiled Giants fan gland is really pumping. It's just hard to look at a projected roster hole, look at a capable, All-Star-level option still on the market in January, and reconcile the two with an abstract notion of "budget" and "fiscal prudence."
Just as uncomfortable is the idea that Hunter Pence will be pretty okay instead of a more dynamic lineup cog. But that's to be expected as an outfielder gets deeper into his 30s. Which is why the Giants don't want to pay Cespedes in the first place.
The bullpen isn't looking so hot
The entire bullpen is projected to be worth about as much as Sergio Romo was worth last year. That could be a problem.
FanGraphs' WAR is based on strikeouts, walks, innings, and home runs, though, and Romo did rather well according to that. His timing was occasionally off, sure, but the basic numbers are why his value was inflated last year. And the rest of the Giants, save Hunter Strickland, don't do so well with those basic numbers.
Santiago Casilla has never been a high-strikeout/low-walk guy, so the FIP that informs WAR usually dislikes his chances to prevent runs. Here, look:
Santiago Casilla, Giants career
Baseball-Reference WAR: 8
FanGraphs WAR: 1
That's ... not a small difference. Ostensibly, the difference can be attributed to luck or superlative fielding. But it's probably more sensible to take WAR with a tub of salt when it comes to relievers. When I see a bullpen of Casilla/Romo/Strickland/Osich/Kontos/Lopez/Heston, I'm not overly concerned. Just mildly concerned. And if the farm system can spit out the relievers we've been expecting for a couple years, they'll be fine.
The comparable players are freaking me out
In which we learn that ZiPS is a total jerk. Look at these jerkish comps.
Tim Lincecum's comp is Russ Ortiz, which means that Lincecum will come back and pitch much worse than before.
Matt Cain's comp is Jeff Juden, which means that he'll have to grow several inches and become a jerk. I'll miss nice, dry-witted Matt Cain.
Joe Panik's comp is Edgardo Alfonzo, which means he'll hit really, really well for six years before getting a downer of a contract from the Giants. That wouldn't be so bad, really.
There are two Jhonnys in the comparable players, but neither of them are Jhonny Peralta. That seems hard to do.
Hunter Pence's comp is Ellis Burks, which isn't jerkish until you start thinking about injuries. I wish there were more Giants/Burks highlights on the Internet, though. That guy was fun.
The Juden reference bothers me more than anything. Literally the worst possible comparison. He was like A.J. Pierzynski stretched on on the rack, which made him more irritable.
There are the ZiPS projections for various Giants. You can agree or disagree, but they're always fun to rifle through.
Except when you get to Jeff Juden. Man, my day is just shot now.