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How the Giants will pitch and hit in 2017, according to ZiPS

The projections for the 2017 Giants are in, and they’re relatively encouraging.

RETROKOMP/ LOAD ERROR 2015 show in Gdansk, Poland Photo by NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Every year, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS machine spits out numbers. Every year, we scrutinize them. While it’s fun to point out that projections are occasionally wrong, note that last year’s ZiPS review contained the following header:

The bullpen isn't looking so hot

And, well, uh, shoot.

We can also take a look at how the projections did last year.

Projected vs. actual 2016 WAR

Player 2016 ZiPS projected WAR 2016 actual WAR
Player 2016 ZiPS projected WAR 2016 actual WAR
Buster Posey 6.3 4
Hunter Pence 1.9 2.1
Brandon Crawford 3.5 5.8
Brandon Belt 2.5 4.4
Matt Duffy 3.7 1.2
Joe Panik 2.7 2.1
Denard Span 2.4 1.4
Angel Pagan 0.4 2.1
Madison Bumgarner 4.8 4.9
Johnny Cueto 4.1 5.5
Jeff Samardzija 3 2.6
Jake Peavy 1.4 0.9
Matt Cain 0.3 0

Low on the Brandons, high on some of the injured players, with Madison Bumgarner as steady as they make ‘em.

While I could put all of the new projections in a fancy table, this will do just fine for a lazy feller like myself. (The full table of projections can be found at FanGraphs.)

And keeping with the yearly tradition, I have baseball thoughts.

The bullpen looks better


The rotation looks solid

Especially when you consider that Moore’s relatively poor showing has to do with him projected to throw just 125 innings. I’ll take the over on that. Of course, this would also remind us all that it still wasn’t the best idea for him to come out in the ninth inning of Game 4 to throw 140 pitches, even if that might have cost the Giants the season. It might have saved next season.

They were just going to lose to the Dodgers in the NLCS anyway. Look in your heart. Your blackened, shriveled heart.

The rotation looks even better if you swap Ty Blach in for Matt Cain, which might happen in the spring, anyway. Blach projects for 151 innings of slightly below-average pitching, which would be good for a win above replacement. That would be an improvement over what they got out of the fifth slot last year, at least until Albert Suarez got there.

The lineup doesn’t have a hole, but it’s not overflowing with strengths, either

There are eight positions. The lowest total for any of them is 2 WAR. That’s pretty, pretty good. Two wins is sort of the baseline for an average starter, so this means that the computers are saying that the Giants’ worst position players should be roughly average.

The problem is that there aren’t a lot of All-Star/MVP type candidates in the projections, either. Instead of a six-win outfielder and two scrubs, the Giants have three two-win outfielders. Which is fine. But it’s erring a little too much on the side of “safe and boring” for my tastes.

Of course, if Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker combine to be average, the Giants will already have won a battle, so maybe we should just take the average to well-above average and be happy.

Jarrett Parker projects to lead the Giants with 16 home runs

Dammit. The entire lineup projects for 110 homers, but only if you include Parker and Williamson together.

A lot of this value is showing up on defense, though

Joe Panik is projected to be a solid player, but he’s also projected to hit .269/.332/.388, which is unremarkable. Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker have similar numbers, albeit with a touch more power.

According to the computers, though, they’ll all catch the ball well. Considering what the Giants were rolling with in left field last year, that’s probably an improvement.

Gorkys Hernandez and Tim Federowicz project to be worth a win

It takes a heckuva lot of plate appearances to get them there, but it’s worth noting when it’s time for the Giants to build their bench. For as much as I like Trevor Brown and his freaky pseudo-Lincecum looks, the Giants should settle because he was decent enough last year.

The ZiPS comparable players are terrifying, hilarious

Eduardo Nuñez projects to be Mark DeRosa with a functioning wrist. I could totally see that. Buster Posey’s comp is ... Thurman Munson, which, jeez, can’t they edit those out for public consumption? Now I’m in a dark place.

Miguel Olivo’s top comp is Hannibal Lecter. I had to search Baseball-Reference to make sure that wasn’t a real player, and I’m saddened to report that it is not.

Chris Shaw’s top comparable player is J.R. Phillips, which makes me want to day-drink, and Travis Ishikawa’s top comparable player is Alan Cockrell, which is just perfect. What the 1987 team needed was for Cockrell to be on the team and work a well-timed walk, and what the 1989 or 1993 team needed was for him to come back and play left after backpacking around the world. It’s so simple in retrospect.

Sam Coonrod’s comp is Jeff Bumgarner, which gives off a total Frank Stallone vibe, and Rodolfo Martinez’s comp is Scott Munter, which makes me excited for some hot, sinking action. There’s a Merkin Valdez comp for Dan Slania, too, which is especially hilarious when you think of their respective builds.

The Giants’ rotation projects to be some variation of ...

  1. Frank Viola
  2. Tim Hudson
  3. Matt Morris
  4. John Tudor
  5. Nerio Rodriguez

If you pick the right years, that’s a fantastic rotation. Please pick the right years, Giants. Please.

The Giants should still trade for J.D. Martinez

That has nothing to do with ZiPS, but I thought I would slip it in as long as we’re doing headers.

There you have it, the 2017 Giants according to the computers. These projections will miss some players, for better and for worse, but they’re good for keeping us warm on a rainy day.