Pitchers and catchers are almost upon us and that means more projections. Dan Szymborski of ESPN has released his ZiPS San Francisco Giants projections and they are fascinating.
First, the hitters. This isn’t a surprise: Buster Posey is projected to lead the team in home runs with 18, RBIs with 86, OPS+ at 133, and zWAR at 6.3. Matt Duffy, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Brandon Belt follow right behind him in zWAR.
Denard Span CF
Joe Panik 2B
Hunter Pence RF
Brandon Belt 1B
Matt Duffy 3B
Angel Pagan LF
Ehire Adrianza SS/IF
And a fight for the last bench job:
Kyle Blanks OF/1B
Mac Williamson LF/RF
Gregor Blanco had a career year at the plate in 2015, but is expected to fall back to his career numbers with a .334 OBP and .363 SLG. Brandon Crawford, who led the team in home runs in 2015, is projected to hit 14 and be just above league average per OPS+.
Kyle Blanks and Jarrett Parker both fare well in these projections as they will likely fight for the fifth outfield spot while Angel Pagan is projected to have a dismal season posting a 0.4 zWAR. Newly acquired Denard Span is slated to have a productive season, posting a .333 OBP and 2.4 zWAR, while Hunter Pence is projected to slip to 1.9 zWAR.
Now for the pitchers. Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija look like solid signings based on these projections, both posting a FIP- under 90 and zWARs over 3. Surprisingly, ZiPS likes Clayton Blackburn more than Chris Heston and Matt Cain for 2016, which might make for an interesting spring training.
Madison Bumgarner is projected to continue his strong work posting a career best FIP- of 78 and 2.70 ERA. Flame-thrower Ray Black is projected to lead the team in strikeout rate, but have a dismal walk rate and FIP-. He’s on the 40-man roster and can throw over 100, so it will be interesting to see him in spring training.
Hunter Strickland is projected to outperform Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla in 2016 per FIP- and zWAR, while Josh Osich is projected to be the worst reliever in the bullpen.
Johnny Cueto RHP
Jeff Samardzija RHP
Jake Peavy RHP
Matt Cain RHP
Sergio Romo RHP
Josh Osich LHP
Javier Lopez LHP
George Kontos RHP
Chris Heston RHP
The Giants recently announced their non-roster invitees to Spring Training:
#SFGiants have extended non-roster invitations for Major League Spring Training to the following 21 players pic.twitter.com/3hr2IT1Zzt
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) January 26, 2016
Tyler Beede, Christian Arroyo, Chase Johnson, and Aramis Garcia are the top prospects in camp, as well as some former top prospects: Hak-Ju Lee, Grant Green, and Kyle Blanks. Lee has a shot over Adrianza, but Ehire has run out of options and will likely get claimed. Green can play multiple positions, not well, but he could bring some value when injuries occur.
The disclaimers of the projections are right here, but it is to be noted that they do not predict playing time and many of the players are not going to be playing in the majors in 2016. It is also important to know that zWAR is Szymborski’s own Wins Above Replacement metric and it is a cumulative statistic.
Nice rundown of the ZiPS forecast, and of the roster expectations you have. Good job!
I agree with your roster predictions. Not a lot of question marks on the roster, and it was good to note that while Adrianza is expected to be the other IF bench player, a great spring from Lee or Green could gain them that last spot. I don’t know their defensive abilities, but Adrianza is the only SS on the 40-man Giants roster who provide MLB-level SS defense, so while a bat from Lee or Green would be nice, they will need to provide adequate defense at SS to push out Adrianza as well. And if their defense is only so-so at SS, then it might be Tomlinson to feel Lee or Green’s pressure on his roster spot, as then they would be similar pieces, and he still has options.
And as a dark horse move, the Giants might sign some cheap SP at some point to take over the long relief role, and let Heston pitch all season in AAA in order to build/prove his stamina is capable of handling the long MLB season. He has shown that he can be a great pitcher over 2/3rds of a season (both in AAA and MLB) but to hold a rotation spot, he needs to get over the hump and not tire out. With Peavy’s spot potentially opening up after the 2016 season (I would be shocked if he isn’t gone, with Blackburn, Heston, Blach, Stratton, Beede, all pushing to join the MLB rotation for 2017).
Another possibility is the Giants could go with Blackburn in the long relief role, in order to have Heston pitch in AAA. They must have had serious issues with Heston that they let it be known that AAA is a possibility for him in 2016 early in the off-season. I really like Blackburn, and would like to see him pitch a full season in SP role in AAA, but he has had issues staying healthy, and his high in IP was in 2013, so he still needs to prove that he can pitch a full season as a SP. They could decide to use the Jonathan Sanchez route and bring him up as a reliever, and work with him at the MLB level, then work him to be a SP, like they did with Dirty.
Blach and Stratton could also be options in addition to Blackburn, internally. Both of them are iffy prospects, they might bring them up just to see what they got and see what they can work on with them. Spring Training should be enough, but perhaps they see something that they want to continue working on in the regular season. Again, Heston having options (along with them) makes it easy for the Giants to shift these guys around as needed.
Performances in spring training will make clear which of these will happen.