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How Are The Diamondbacks Shaping Up Against Their Projections?

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The projections were not kind to AZ.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re going to keep it simple today - I am going to minimize the analysis and narrative.

I have taken the pre-season projections (ZiPS and Steamer) for the main Dbacks players this season and compared them to their current RoS projections (the RoS projections take their current season-to-date performance and add projected value for the remaining games this season). I then ranked the players from those that beat their projections from most to least.


ZiPS Comparison

ZiPS Comparisons

Name Proj WAR Est WAR Difference
Name Proj WAR Est WAR Difference
Zack Godley 0 3 3
Paul Goldschmidt 4.2 6.3 2.1
Zeck Greinke 3.1 5.1 2
Patrick Corbin 1 2.8 1.8
Brandon Drury -0.6 1.1 1.7
David Peralta 1.4 2.7 1.3
Jake Lamb 1.7 3 1.3
Randall Delgado 0.3 1.6 1.3
Fernando Rodney 0 0.6 0.6
Chris Iannetta 0.6 1.1 0.5
Taijuan Walker 1.8 2.3 0.5
Andrew Chafin 0.4 0.8 0.4
Yasmany Tomas 0 0.2 0.2
Jeff Mathis -0.2 -0.1 0.1
TJ McFarland 0.1 0.2 0.1
Archie Bradley 1.8 1.9 0.1
Chris Owings 0.6 0.5 -0.1
Nick Ahmed 0.6 0.3 -0.3
Ketel Marte 1.1 0.8 -0.3
J.D. Martinez 2.7 2.1 -0.6
Robbie Ray 3.6 2.9 -0.7
Jorge De La Rosa 1 0.2 -0.8
A.J. Pollock 2.9 1.5 -1.4
Chris Herrmann 0.2 -1.3 -1.5

A note about our player with negative values: the majority of them are negative due to playing time (injuries/minors). This is to be expected as the projection systems are going to largely project full-time estimates for most starters. Injuries are very difficult to predict and every team is going to have some injuries. So don’t discount the projection systems because someone missed a lot of time and there is a big difference in projections versus reality.

Steamer Comparison

Steamer Comparisons

Name Proj WAR Est WAR Difference
Name Proj WAR Est WAR Difference
Zack Godley 0.2 3.3 3.1
Paul Goldschmidt 4 6.4 2.4
David Peralta 0.8 2.7 1.9
Zeck Greinke 3.3 5.1 1.8
Randall Delgado 0 1.5 1.5
Jake Lamb 1.9 3.1 1.2
Patrick Corbin 1.6 2.8 1.2
Archie Bradley 0.7 1.6 0.9
Yasmany Tomas -0.4 0.3 0.7
Ketel Marte 0 0.7 0.7
Brandon Drury 0.5 1.1 0.6
Chris Iannetta 0.7 1.1 0.4
Andrew Chafin 0.5 0.8 0.3
J.D. Martinez 1.7 2 0.3
Fernando Rodney 0.3 0.6 0.3
TJ McFarland 0 0.2 0.2
Chris Owings 0.3 0.5 0.2
Nick Ahmed 0.1 0.3 0.2
Taijuan Walker 2.2 2.2 0
Jeff Mathis 0.1 -0.1 -0.2
Robbie Ray 3.2 2.7 -0.5
Jorge De La Rosa 0.8 0.1 -0.7
A.J. Pollock 3 1.7 -1.3
Chris Herrmann 0.3 -1.2 -1.5

You’ll see a lot of similarities between the two systems, which is to be expected. Godley obviously came out of nowhere and Greinke and Goldy both rebounded from down years to have MVP-caliber seasons this year.

Combining ZiPS and Steamer

Average Between ZiPS and Steamer

Name ZiPS Diff Steamer Diff Avg
Name ZiPS Diff Steamer Diff Avg
Zack Godley 3.0 3.1 3.05
Paul Goldschmidt 2.1 2.4 2.25
Zeck Greinke 2.0 1.8 1.90
David Peralta 1.3 1.9 1.60
Patrick Corbin 1.8 1.2 1.50
Randall Delgado 1.3 1.5 1.40
Jake Lamb 1.3 1.2 1.25
Brandon Drury 1.7 0.6 1.15
Archie Bradley 0.1 0.9 0.50
Chris Iannetta 0.5 0.4 0.45
Fernando Rodney 0.6 0.3 0.45
Yasmany Tomas 0.2 0.7 0.45
Andrew Chafin 0.4 0.3 0.35
Taijuan Walker 0.5 0.0 0.25
Ketel Marte -0.3 0.7 0.20
TJ McFarland 0.1 0.2 0.15
Chris Owings -0.1 0.2 0.05
Jeff Mathis 0.1 -0.2 -0.05
Nick Ahmed -0.3 0.2 -0.05
J.D. Martinez -0.6 0.3 -0.15
Robbie Ray -0.7 -0.5 -0.60
Jorge De La Rosa -0.8 -0.7 -0.75
A.J. Pollock -1.4 -1.3 -1.35
Chris Herrmann -1.5 -1.5 -1.50

By and large, the projection systems massively under-projected the Diamondbacks this season. Across our “main” players, the two systems averaged to be about 12.5 wins below our current pace. I know many people that take objection to projections and this is certainly a year that supports their cause.

But there is one thing to keep in mind: the Dbacks are coming off a year in which nearly every player under-performed to their projections. There were certainly some exceptions (Lamb and Ray) but by and large, we sucked last year and the projection systems reacted accordingly.

I also want to note that a lot of this is driven by our pitching - Godley, Greinke, Corbin, Delgado, Bradley, and Walker combine for +8.0 wins (on average) versus their projections. There is probably a mixture of factors here - natural variation, catching improvements, coaching improvements, etc. But I do believe our pitching staff was built with a specific task in mind - pitchers with good stuff/high upside. And that includes Shelby Miller. We’ve seen a lot of our pitchers pitch up to their potential this season and we’ve seen the good results (5th in the MLB in pitching fWAR).

But I’ll leave the rest for you all to analyze and speculate. We’ve beat our projections pretty handily this season but we shouldn’t expect this to happen every year.