As promised, I am getting out the projections summary and payroll estimates prior to the start of the season. A quick review of how this works:
1.) These Projections are all Fangraphs Depth Chart Projections, which is the average of ZIPS and STEAMER, However, I changed the playing time projections and some of the rostered and non rostered player names based on who and how I think players will be used. It ended up coming in about 1.5 wins higher than FG projection. For what it’s worth Baseball Prospectus has 80 wins.
2.) The salary portions are mostly what has been reported, and will be similar to what you see on other sites, with a few important differences:
- I estimated either 1 month or 2 months on the roster for a number of minor league depth guys and pro rated their salary accordingly.
- I included ALL of Adam Jones incentive bonus money as I believe he will exceed 600 PA. (His base is 3M, he gets 5 M if over 600 PA)
- I did NOT include any of Greg Holland’s Bonus incentives. They are too complicated to include.
So let’s start with the top line summary. As mentioned they are projected to just under 79 wins. The payroll I project, including replacement players to be called up as season goes on, is just shy of 128M, but opening day payroll as shown on most websites will be closer to 123.
Last year opening day payroll was approximately 131M and they ended the season around 141M. So Mike Hazen came in under last year, as he was charged to do by ownership. If they make buy moves at the trade deadline they will come in over 128M, if they make sell moves, they will come in well under that figure.
When looking at the pitchers, who I have ordered by IP, one thing that stood out to me is FG Depth Charts project a team BABIP of .312
The last two years it was .297 and .293. If the pitching staff produces a sub .300 BABIP again, it will certainly lower their ERA under these projections. I want to give kudos to our readers and voters here. While conducting the OVER/UNDER polls, fully 70% of voters took the under on ERA. Intuitively, as you all looked at the ERA projections, they looked high to most of you. Good job!
I would expect the team ERA to be lower than 4.19, and really it could very well end up below 4.00, and at the same time the WAR should be a little higher.
Make sure to look for Sean’s article tomorrow. He will go through the primary starting pitchers and put a much finer point on why you should look for some performance better than these projections.
There is a flip side of course. Looking at the hitter projections below, (ordered by PA) the team is actually projected for a higher BA, and higher OPS than last year, despite losing Goldy and AJ. (.235 vs. .251 and .707 vs. .721)
I believe there are several reasons for this. Part of it is regression. There were a lot of bad seasons last year too, especially from the bench. The projections have a lot of the “Black Holes”. from last year performing better.
At the same time, I think the projections have not yet caught up to the realities of changes at Chase Field and the Humidor Effect, not only on fly balls and homers, but also BABIP. Those are multi year park factors and it will take a little longer to impact ZIPS and STEAMER. (As an aside, the new Turf appears to play slow, so I am expecting even lower BABIP, yet one more factor to consider)
Only 62% of you took the “OVER” on the OPS projections. There was decidedly less optimism that the offense would out perform projections compared to the pitching projections. Here again, the wisdom of crowds could prevail.
I think there is something for everybody here. Looking at the projections, the team does not look terrible, and for the optimists among us, all it takes is a few breakouts, and no more major injuries to envision a surprise run at a playoff spot.
On the other hand, the depth, already somewhat thin to begin with, was further thinned out by the Steven Souza injury. It’s not very likely the team actually has 7 players qualifying for the batting title (502 PA). Just 7% of all MLB team seasons in the post steroid era, (2005-2018) have seen a team have that many batting title qualifiers. Not impossible of course, but those are long odds to have that much good luck with health going forward. If you start to redistribute 500 or more PA to the lower 5-6 guys on the projection sheet, then your team win totals will most likely drop.
Let the games begin!