Happy PECOTA day! It’s the day where we huddle around our computers, open projections for players of our favorite team, and wonder if the offseason strategy should have been something more than picking up a bunch of outfielders on waivers.
This may come as a shock, but PECOTA doesn’t think much of the Giants’ offense. A few years ago, The Athletic’s Grant Brisbee wrote of the 2013 projections:
Neither Posey or Sandoval come especially close to their best seasons, but they’re the only Giants expected to slug over .450, which is a start, and they’re supposed to have good seasons, at least.
The highest projected slugging for a Giant this year is Chris Shaw’s .436. Can you even imagine having two Giants slug over .450 this season?
For the full projections, you can subscribe to Baseball Prospectus. I’d also recommend buying the 2019 annual.
Unlike Steamer or ZiPS, PECOTA projections require a subscription to view, so I’m not going to copy and paste them in. I have included their positional rankings by WARP to help contextualize their projections.
Positional Ranking: 1
Is it any surprise that Buster Posey is projected to be the best catcher in the majors?
No. No, it is not.
PECOTA doesn’t care about Posey’s hip surgery and neither should you. Well, you should care that your friend underwent a procedure that takes months to recover from, and probably should have sent him flowers or something. You did send him flowers, right?
Positional Ranking: t-9
At a projected 2.7 WARP, Belt is tied for ninth with Miguel Cabrera, who has accumulated 0.5 WARP over the last two seasons. He’s behind Edwin Encarnacion who has played 46 games at first in the same time. Considering this is a perfectly reasonable projection for Belt, I’m comfortable saying that Belt is the seventh best first baseman in the majors.
The only Giant projected to have a better year at the plate is Buster Posey. The only way Belt doesn’t meet this projection is if he gets appendicitis again somehow. Let’s be real, if someone’s going to get appendicitis twice, it’s going to be Belt.
Positional Ranking: 13
PECOTA projects Crawford for a .256/.324/.393 slash line this year. Crawford’s career slash line is .252/.318/.395. Seems reasonable.
Positional Ranking: t-16
We here at McCovey Chronicles have been saying that Joe Panik will be fine, and PECOTA agrees. He’ll be right in the middle of the pack for second baseman. Maybe a 96 DRC+ is a little below what I expect/want from Joe Panik, but not so much that I’m going to rail against PECOTA or anything.
Positional Ranking: 18
Longoria is one of three Giants projected to be an above average hitter by DRC+. PECOTA predicts a .322 OBP which would be .041 points higher than his 2018 mark. It would also be his best since 2015. A 7.6 walk rate would also be his highest since 2015, and that would be welcome news considering that number has been trending downward since 2011.
Positional Ranking: 52
PECOTA thinks that Slater’s slugging will rise by nearly .100 points. It will still be under .400, and he’ll still be around replacement.
Positional Ranking: t-23 (with Gorkys Hernández)
Duggar leads Giants hitters with an 8 percent Breakout Rate, and that makes sense. With Duggar’s defense, all he needs to do is have an OPS above .700 to be a 2-to-3-win player. PECOTA projects him for a .639 OPS, but I think he can do better than that.
Positional Ranking: 102
PECOTA has García as being slightly below replacement, which I don’t really buy. The strikeout-minus-walk percentage is of concern, but I think that he’s shown himself to be a decent framer. Under Posey’s tutelage, he could even become a great framer. I don’t expect him to be Jeff Mathis behind the plate, but I also don’t expect him to be Jeff Mathis at the plate either.
(Still, the Giants should probably look for another backup catcher.)
Positional Ranking: 56*
Hanson has a 61 percent Improve Rate. Not only is that the highest on the Giants, it’s one of the highest out of the 996 hitters PECOTA has projections for. The odds are heavy that Hanson takes a step forward this year. It might not be a huge step, and it might not be hard to improve upon -0.1 WARP, but progress is progress, dang it.
*PECOTA classifies him as a center fielder
Positional Ranking: 89
Shaw is projected to hit 21 homers, and that would be the first time a Giant has hit 20 or more homers since Brandon Crawford hit 21 in 2015. That alone was almost enough to put Shaw into the “I told you he was good” category.
But everything else is concerning. Even if he leads the team in dingers, he’ll be worth -0.6 WARP. His 30.9 percent strikeout rate would not only be the highest on the 2019 team, it would be the highest strikeout rate among by a Giant with 300 plate appearances since Dave Kingman in 1974.
Now, I don’t care so much about the strikeouts. Kingman, for instance, had a 34.8 percent strikeout rate and a 111 wRC+. It’s the lack of walks that concern me. There’s a non-zero chance that Shaw homers more than he walks next year, which sounds rad out of context until you remember that 21 homers aren’t that much for normies.