Projection season is dead. Long live projection season.
Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS, which is the projection system used by FanGraphs, has been out for the Giants for a while, but the granular splits that he provides for Diamond Mind Baseball are available in a full, in-depth spreadsheet, and we get to learn a few things that we didn’t already know. Did you know that Madison Bumgarner is good, for example? Or that Brandon Belt projects to be the best hitter on the team?
Okay, fine, act like a know-it-all. But there are some things you didn’t know, I’m sure. For example ...
Kyle Blanks might be the Giants’ best left fielder
This one comes with an obvious, Kyle Blanks-sized caveat, but of all the options the Giants have for left field — from Jarrett Parker to Mac Williamson to Chris Marrero to Austin Slater — it’s Blanks who has the highest projected OPS (.744).
This would be more impressive if Blanks could stay healthy, which he most certainly cannot. After chronicling last March just how much of a jerk Blanks’ body was, he missed the entire season with an Achilles injury. His body won’t allow him to play sports, apparently.
Still, it’s a nice reminder that we shouldn’t forget about him, just in case he is healthy. He has about 1,000 at-bats as a major leaguer that suggest he can be an average hitter, if not better. The good news is that Chris Marrero doesn’t project to be much worse, at least at the plate, so at least the Giants have some room for optimism with the players they are using.
Don’t look at Jarrett Parker’s projections, please.
The odds of the Giants getting a 30-homer season for the first time since Barry Bonds left are almost non-existent
The Royals are the only team in baseball that’s gone longer without a 30-homer season, and I’m getting impatient. Unfortunately, the Giants don’t have much of a shot, according to the computer simulations. Here’s the percentage of simulations in which a Giants had a hitter with 30 or more home runs:
- Chris Shaw, 2.2 percent
- Brandon Belt, .5 percent
- Hunter Pence, .5 percent
- Brandon Crawford, .4 percent
- Jarrett Parker, .4 percent
- Buster Posey, .2 percent
- Ryder Jones, .1 percent
“Wow!” you might think. “Hunter Pence has a 50-percent shot of hitting 30 home runs!”
No. That’s .5 percent. Half of one percent. These are not good odds.
Look at Chris Shaw go, though! The homers would come with something like a .228/.279/.396 line, but there’s something about his power showing in San Jose that impresses the computers.
Buster Posey has a 1.3-percent chance of hitting better than .350
Batting average isn’t a great predictive stat, and it’s not the best way to evaluate a player. But it’s helpful if you think of it as a “hooray player did good and I’m happy!” number. When players on your favorite team get hits, you’re happy.
If Buster Posey were to get a hit 35 percent of the time, for example, you would be extraordinarily happy. In 1.3 percent of the simulations, Posey makes you extraordinarily happy.
Jarrett Parker has a 12.8-percent chance of hitting better than .250
This is less encouraging. That leaves an 87.2-percent chance of hitting worse than .250, which I think we expected, but it’s still jarring to see in such stark terms. This has a lot to do with the park and Parker’s true-three-outcomes style of play, so it doesn’t necessarily have to mean he’s a guaranteed dud.
But, well, looking at a bunch of stats that point how Parker is extremely unlikely to hit even .250 it still a little discouraging. I hope the Giants know what they’re doing.
Jae-gyun Hwang’s numbers don’t translate over that well
After not including Hwang with the initial round of projections, ZiPS has him at .252/.299/.392, with 13 home runs, though his defense and versatility would still allow him to be worth 1.6 WAR.
Those numbers include his pre-adjustment numbers from Korea, though, so if he really is a different hitter, it might be wise to bump those numbers up. It’s still a good reminder that just because someone is the McCovey Chronicles Fascination of the Year winner, it doesn’t mean he’s a surefire bet to contribute.
Of the five pitchers in baseball projected for more than 200 innings, the Giants have two of them
Projection systems have to be somewhat conservative, which is why you’ll never see them project a Cy Young or MVP-caliber season for anyone. These are about middle-of-the-road projections, and while several pitchers might top 200 innings, there aren’t that many pitchers who get to 200 innings by their median projections.
The Giants had two of the five 200-inning pitchers, with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. David Price was another one of the 200-inning guys, and I’m pretty sure that’s not supposed to make us feel confident. Still, I’m confident in the strength of the Giants’ upper rotation, and it’s worth noting that Jeff Samardzija just missed.
Of course, of the six pitchers in the National League to top 200 innings last season, the Giants had three of them. This is not a five-and-dive kind of rotation. Maybe the problem was that the bullpen just didn’t get enough work last year, ha ha ha. Ha.
Here, you play around and find nuggets to share. I think this is the second year in a row that I refuse to acknowledge Buster Posey’s top comp, but there’s still a lot of other information to unpack.