ZiP It Up And ZiP It Out – Padres 2015 ZiPS Projections

Fangraphs is releasing Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections one team at a time, and recently it was the new look Padres’ turn on the mic.

I’ve developed quite an affinity for projections lately. I like projections because they take the emotion that naturally occurs in things that are awesome like baseball and removes it. Normally emotion is a good thing. It’s what makes baseball fun. But emotion also make it easier to be wrong, which is less fun.

Looking at the amount of available information about a player is overwhelming. There’s a lot there. What’s important? What isn’t? If a player hit well two years ago, but poorly last year, what can we expect this year? What if he got on base well but slugged poorly two years ago, but those were reversed last year. What can we expect then?

These are hard questions to answer. If we care about being right, it’s important to check our own opinions using tools that, unlike us, aren’t emotional. That’s why I like projection systems. They’re not perfect, but neither is life. Neither am I. And they’re the best we have.

So take a look at the Padres projections, and see how they jive with your expectations. Remember, the projections don’t care about things like awards or star power. They look at a player’s age, and what aspects of a player’s game are likely to carry over from year to year.

Less Philosophical Stuff

On the most recent episode of Padres and Pints: the Podcast!, I brought up new Padre Derek Norris’ seemingly low Steamer projection. Dustin reminded me that it’s worth waiting until other projections (like ZiPS) come out to compare them. He’s right. The projections sometimes work differently, so they’re worth comparing. If they agree, then that’s a strong indicator. If they disagree, that indicates ambiguity.

For Norris, Steamer projected .235 / .325 / .386. ZiPS has a little more faith in Norris’ OBP, projecting .237 / .334 / .380. With sort of average defense, and only 420 PAs in pitcher friendly Petco, ZiPS projects Norris’ as the second most valuable player on the team short of Justin Upton. Norris’ potential co-pilot behind the plate, Tim Federowicz, also projects well at .234 / .290 / .359. Lets hope pitch framing can be taught.

As expected, well dressed Justin Upton looks like the star of the offense.

Wil Myers‘ value takes a huge hit defensively if shoved into centerfield.

The elephant in the room is Matt Kemp. He does project to hit, which is awesome. But like Myers, his value could take a major hit based on the current alignment with Kemp in right field. If anyone can play strong defense based on charm alone, it would be him.

Taylor Lindsey, acquired from the Angels in the Huston Street deal, projections as an average hitter, while Fangraphs Prospect writer Kiley McDaniel calls Lindsey an average defender. While Steamer isn’t as high on Lindsey’s offense, an all-around average second baseman might be a welcome relief compared to many second baseman in Padres uniforms. He’ll be nice to have should The Battle for Third Base produce no clear winners.

As for the pitchers, they’ll likely miss the extra strikes courtesy of Rene Rivera and Yasmani Grandal. ZiPS also likes Seth Streich looking like a strong number 4 starter. He was acquired from the A’s with Norris.

Closing

These projections are fun and useful. But they’re done by computers, which aren’t human, so caution should be exercised. Here is the reference in the headline.

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  • ballybunion

    I’d like to be as excited over the various projections, but I’m as skeptical about them as I am about defensive stats (please don’t call me a Holocaust denier!) and the comparison du jour, WAR. They make no adjustment for injury, and are purely mathematical in their approach of taking a weighted average of the previous three years. They’re most reliable for everyday players with a track record and no injuries, and problematic for everyone else. Have fun with ZiPS, Steamer, PECOTA, Marcel, Chone, et al., but you’ll see the limitations once you watch the games with your lyin’ eyes.

    • Sac Bunt Chris

      I didn’t specify them, but I admitted to limitations in the article!

  • randplaty

    Defense is basically the only the holding us back. They project Myers to bounce back and Alonso to be productive. Myers is projected to actually be the equal of Kemp and Upton offensively. ZiPS likes the Padres a lot more than Steamer did.

    • Sac Bunt Chris

      I’d say defense is the biggest weakness for sure. What’s crazy is they downgraded from last year in almost every position.