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Diamondbacks ZiPS projections announced

“ZiPS really, really likes the Diamondbacks.” Well, that’s nice!

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Over at Fangraphs, Dan Szymborski has posted his ZiPS projections for the D-backs. These have been quite eagerly anticipated around these here parts, since he said a couple of weeks ago, “The projections for Arizona were so positive on the whole that I actually went back and double-checked every park factor and calculation specific to the Diamondbacks and their minor league affiliates.” So, here you go. And Dan begins the section about Arizona’s hitters by confirming this: “Let’s get the obvious out of the way: ZiPS really, really likes the Diamondbacks.”

This begins right at the top, with Corbin Carroll projected to hit .253/.341/.428, and OPS+ of 110, and be worth... 3.9 zWAR. The D-backs have never had a rookie at that level of production: indeed, the only one to reach even 2.5 fWAR was Christian Walker, who was worth 3.2 fWAR in 2019. If he achieves that, it’s definite Rookie of the Year territory. Since the Diamondbacks entered the league in 1998, less than 20 NL rookie position players have reached 3.9 fWAR. It'd also make him the best player, on either side of the ball, for the 2023 D-backs, ahead of Zac Gallen (3.4 zWAR) and Ketel Marte (3.1 zWAR) - I’d certainly take the latter, after what Marte did this year. Which was not a lot.

Naturally, it also makes Carroll the best of the D-backs’ young outfielders. The others came in as follows: Daulton Varsho (2.6 zWAR), Alek Thomas (1.9) and Jake McCarthy (1.7). Obviously, playing time is still a factor, though only about a hundred PA separate Carroll and McCarthy. It does perhaps lend credence to the idea that the Diamondbacks should look at selling high on McCarthy, while he still has those Rookie of the Year mentions. Also of note: rebound seasons on the cards for Nick Ahmed (2.1) and Carson Kelly (1.9). From Dan’s lips, to the baseball gods’ ears...

On the pitching front, Gallen and Merrill Kelly (2.8) represent a good 1-2 at the top of Arizona’s rotation for 2023. Except, it’s NOT Merrill Kelly who’s projected to have the second-best zWAR. It’s Brandon Pfaadt, the minor-league strikeout champion this year. 26 starts and a 3.66 ERA will do nicely. There’s then a cluster of anticipated starters around the two win mark: Drey Jameson (2.0), Kelly and Ryne Nelson (1.9), and Tommy Henry (1.8). But it’s not all good news, is it, Dan? “No, I didn’t forget to include Madison Bumgarner; you probably didn’t scroll down far enough. No, I swear, I’m looking at him right now, keep looking down, he’s definitely there.” That would be an 83 ERA+ and 0.6 zWAR.

There’s not much to say about the bullpen, though as Dan says, we will be more than happy to settle for “adequate and unexciting” over... /gestures vaguely in direction of the nearest tire-fire. I asked Dan if he had any projections for new arrival, and potential 2023 closer, Scott McGough, but have not heard back at time of going to press. So, there you are. Thoughts? Are we, as he concluded, “a team that’s broadly somewhere around .500 at the moment, perhaps a bit better”? Or is that too pessimistic/optimistic? Dan has popped in on occasion, so if you have any specific questions about any of the numbers he listed, ask away in the comments, and you never know...