Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA Projections came out today. It has the Diamondbacks going 78-84 this year, which would be one game worse than they did last year so that's not ideal. (For context, the 2015 projection had them winning 74 games) More interesting, to me anyway, is how they get there with the individual player projections. You can find the rundown for the Diamondbacks here. I will highlight some of the more interesting ones, good or bad, here.
(And yes, all the caveats to projections apply. I certain am the first to hope the Diamondbacks will outperform their projection here, but I will go into why it could be realistic. Also, some people seem to treat PECOTA as a referendum on advanced stats. Don't do that, it's gross.)
- PECOTA seems to believe in a mild resurgence of Jean Segura. His projected slash line is .268/.302/.377 with 8 Home Runs. For context, his 2015 with the Brewers in those categories was .257/.281/.336 and 6. Now, that won't put you on any MVP Watch Lists, but considering his last two seasons in Milwaukee we would all be collectively pleased if he met that. PECOTA also seems to believe that he will be the starting Second Baseman, with Ahmed at SS, which could happen but is far from set in stone.
- Jake Lamb will be about the same as last year. Not as high Batting Average, but solid OBP, but with an uptick in slugging and projected 15 dingers. Why is this listed in "The Good"? Wellll....
- Pretty much everything else. Goldschmidt, Pollock, and Peralta, who you would probably agree are the Diamondbacks best three position players at this point, are going to drop off considerably from 2015 according to PECOTA.
- Our shiny new toy, Zack Greinke, is projected to put up a 3.29 ERA, while allowing more Home Runs and walking more people. Granted, he played the last three seasons in very pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium and is moving to more hitter-friendly Chase Field, but that is still a steep drop off from his mean with the Dodgers. You obviously hope for better than that, but there is a realistic possibility, slim as it could be.
- This is the one I'm skeptical of: Brad Ziegler is listed as closer (as the team has said he would be.) but he is projected to put up an ERA of 4.33, which is not ideal for a closer. However, his career high in ERA to this point was 3.49 in 2014, so we're talking almost a full point higher. Ziegler's pitching style, to my vaguely untrained eye, seems like one that would age well, and while he could run into some bad BABIP luck here and there, I can't imagine it running across a full season barring catastrophe.
The PECOTA projections paint a dark, worst case world for the Diamondbacks in 2016 (Of course, that isn't the dark, worst case world that was 2014, so we got that going for us.) If you assume that Goldy, Pollock, and Greinke perform better than projected (which might be the safest assumtions of them), then you probably have a few extra wins there. For the Diamondbacks, someone not in that top group (which I'll add Miller, Corbin, and Peralta to as well) The back of the rotation needs to be solid, someone of the Lamb/Tomas/Ahmed/Owings group needs to make a leap offensively. The bullpen needs to remain solid. They need to climb every mountain, ford every stream. Never give up! Never surrender! etc.
I happen to be of the belief that the Diamondbacks will finish well over .500 and compete for the postseason, however, it exists within the realm of possibility that things definitely do not go as planned and we turn into the 2015 Padres. This year's PECOTA projections reflect that reality, and while I don't think it will come to fruition, it's not out of the question.
However, that doom and/or gloom is for another time. For now, we have something else to talk about as the interminable wait for the Baseball Season to start comes to a close.