Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday, and let me just sum up the big stories:
- Everyone who was bad last year will be good
- Everyone who was good last year will be better
- Everyone is working hard
- commitment to fitness best shape of his life put on lots of pounds of muscle ate nothing but quinoa and beets since november
Okay? Okay. But the purpose of Spring Training is to prepare for the season, and there's one other way to prepare for the season: looking at projection systems!
Don't worry, I know how good my segues are. You don't have to tell me.
The number of notable projection systems seems to have winnowed a little in recent years, with CHONE and Oliver disappearing, but some of the old stalwarts still remain. I compiled WAR projections for the Giants starting lineup (plus Gregor Blanco) and their five starting pitchers from the fan vote at Fangraphs, the two projection systems at Fangraphs (ZiPS and Steamer), and Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA, just to see what they're predicting from the Giants. I then put those predictions next to the 2015 win totals for each player, in both fWAR and WARP. Let's take a look:
|Player||2015 fWAR||2016 Fans||2016 ZiPS||2016 Steamer||2016 PECOTA||2015 WARP|
(I would have liked to include the Bill James projections too, but I didn't have access to them)
There are a few takeaways here. First, the baseball fans who voted at Fangraphs (read: Giants fans) are wildly optimistic about the team next year. Buster Posey? Gonna get better. Brandon Belt? Joe Panik? BETTER. Will Angel Pagan, Denard Span, and Hunter Pence get better? You know it! Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford? Worse, but still 4-win players. They're a little down on Johnny Cueto, but otherwise these fan guesses are the height of rosiness.
The computers and their stupid computer calculations for jerks aren't so optimistic. They're all seeing drastic decline from the entire infield, with PECOTA especially pushing an anti-Joe Panik agenda that is only furthering the partisan divide in this country. The pitchers are apparently going to be about the same as they were last year, and poor Gregor Blanco just can't get any respect.
Will the projection systems be anywhere close to right? Who knows! But we can figure out the range of possibilities they present us with; all we have to do is take the best possible scenario and the worst possible scenario for each player and compare them. I did that here:
|Player||Best case||Worst case|
|Wins per player||2.96||1.97|
The contrast is stark: one is basically a team of solid MLB regulars, as good as Pablo Sandoval was in his last year in San Francisco, and the other is a team of average players playing averagely, like 2014 Tim Hudson once you take all his ups and downs into account.
Barring injury, the Giants won't be a disaster, but the range of possibilities for them goes from Probably Boring to Definite Contender. Maybe you already thought that. Well, now computers agree with you. Tell your friends.