Projections areÃ‚Â a huge part of the offseason. For weeks (or months, depending how dedicated you are to your fantasy baseball team) fans will debate which players willÃ‚Â have a breakout year and whichÃ‚Â will decline. To modify the old saying in statistics: all projections are flawed, but some are useful. Here are some of ourÃ‚Â 2015 Reds going head to head against their ZIPS projections.
Todd Frazier: 2.9 WAR
ZIPS Projection: 3.2 WAR (Steamer had him at 2.5).
If he continues at this pace: 8.7 WAR. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll do Todd, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll do.
The difference: Todd Frazier has cut down on the strikeouts (17% this year/ 20% career) while also drawing more walks this year (9.9%) than ever before (8.1% career). His power numbers (.328 ISO) are setting a career high water mark (.207 career).
Joey Votto: 1.4 WAR
If he continues at this pace: 4.2
The difference: Given his injury, it is hard to blame the projections for being a bit bearish on VottoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s return. Depending on the injury, even players who claim to be 100% healthy often exhibit symptoms long after their return to the field. Yet even with VottoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mysterious May, he is on pace for another very good year.
Zack Cozart: 1.3 WAR
The pace: 3.9
The difference: Cozart is hitting the ball hard. Even with his BABIP regressing (.279) to right around his career line (.276), Cozart has been able to put up an above league average year (111 wRC+). This year we have seen him cut down on the strikeouts (12.7% this year, 14.5% last year) while drawing more walks (7.2% this year, 4.8% career). He is also hitting the ball harder (27.3% of balls in play) than his career line (24.2%).
Billy Hamilton: 1.2 WAR
The pace: 3.6
The difference: No one gaveÃ‚Â Hamilton the credit he deserved for his fielding. To date Billy has saved 9.4 runs above average, while ZIPS only projected him to saveÃ‚Â 10.2 runs for the entire season. Last year Billy saved 22.0 runs above average, so this is not some unusual or entirely unexpected behavior. His ability at the plate, however, leaves much to be desired (58 wRC+). Perhaps his BABIP (.253) will improve to his career line (.296). If this occurs, then Hamilton may have around a 4 WAR year.
Jay Bruce: 0.8 WAR
The pace: 2.4
The difference: ZIPS thought he would be a better hitter (113 wRC+) than he has been this year (106 wRC+), but Bruce has put up a better year in the field than expected. Given that BruceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s BABIP (.274) is still below his career line (.292) and that he is drawing more walks this year (14.0%) than his career (9.6%), Bruce has a reasonable shot at breaking 3 WAR this year.
Brandon Phillips: 0.8 WAR
The pace: 2.4
The difference: After a dreadful 2014 at the dish (9.7 batting runs below average), every projection had datdude in the red for 2015. Yet, despite his determination to rarely take a walk, Phillips is putting up positive numbers at the plate: he has fewer strikeouts this year (11.7%) than his career (14.2%) and a .328 OBP. Much of this is driven by his .320 BABIP, which is almost 30 points above his career mark. BP is a clear regression candidate for the second half of the season, but even if he hits 2.0 WAR season, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s much more than expected.
Marlon Byrd: -0.1 WAR
The pace: -0.3
The difference: This all comes down to defense (7.5 runs below average). At this point, its almost worth printing up tee-shirts that say Ã¢â‚¬Å“Two-third of the Earth is covered by water, the other third is covered by Marlon ByrdÃ¢â‚¬Â just to see the looks you would get at Great American Ballpark. The projections all thought Byrd would be bad in the field (4.9 runs below average), but he is on pace to cost the reds 22.5 runs this season. Byrd didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ask to be moved to a new position at the age of 38, but at some point, someone in the front office needsÃ‚Â to see that his offense can’t offset his poor fielding.
Skip Schumaker: –0.5 WAR
The pace: dreadful.
The difference: IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m including Skip on this list in the event that he takes over for Byrd. Byrd has been awful in the field though 47 games but he has enough power to make up for it. Skip showed up to the 2015 seasonÃ‚Â with neitherÃ‚Â bat (3.5 runs below average at the plate) norÃ‚Â glove (2.9 runs below average). What is truly terrifying is that Skip has built up -0.5 WAR in only 64 plate appearances: Stretched out over an entire season, that’s a negative Joey Votto.