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It is projection season now and, though not all of the Reds projections have been posted yet (ZiPS is still missing), we’ve reached a point at which it’s interesting to look at what they say and what they can tell us.

The first thing to note is that projection systems all generally assume there will be regression to the mean. Take, for instance, Mike Trout. In five full seasons, he has posted only one season with less than 9 WAR. However, every projection system (including the FanGraphs Fans projection, which is the only one that uses crowdsourcing) has him posting a season below 9 WAR. This is regression. Similarly, players with especially poor seasons will often see their numbers projected to bounce back a bit. It’s also why, in team-wide projections, so few are projected to win more than 90 games.

The second thing to note is that projection systems aren’t much with prospects. While there are certainly broad averages, we simply aren’t very good at predicting what happens when a player finally makes the leap to the majors. Jay Bruce, for instance, was a significantly better hitter in the minors than Joey Votto.

Here, just to be thorough, is the complete list of Reds players who might see significant time in 2017, and whose projections you can correspondingly take with a handful of salt instead of the normal grain:

Jose Peraza, Dilson Herrera, Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzon, Raisel Iglesias.

That’s a pretty good list. And then, of course, there are those still trying to return from injuries: Homer Bailey and Devin Mesoraco.

All together, that’s half a baseball team of players where, generally speaking, projections will be able to offer little more than a shoulder shrug.

All those caveats established, let’s take a look at what the projections broadly say:

  1. Don’t expect much offense. Aside from Joey Votto, the projection systems don’t generally expect anyone to be an above-average hitter. Schebler, Winker, Duvall, and Suarez seem to be the best candidates to help Votto score runs. But again, grains of salt all around.
  2. The pitching may be surprisingly okay. There seems to be a particular level of belief in the pitching prospects that leads to the Reds having something like an average – or even slightly above-average – starting rotation. Given the strengthening of the bullpen, we may be in for fewer painful blowouts this year.
  3. Joey Votto will be good (duh). The Fans projections place him second only to Mike Trout in WAR next year. If that isn’t encouraging, I don’t know what is.

Since it’s January and that is the time of universal optimism in baseball, I would encourage you to take a look at the FanGraphs Fan Projections. They represent an optimistic but not utterly absurd possibility for the Reds. If those were the performances that happened, the Reds would have a winning record this year and perhaps even be in the conversation for the wild card.

14 Responses

  1. big5ed

    I note that the Fan projections have Schebbler at a higher OPS than Jay Bruce’s career OPS.

    I bet that, deep down, Votto thinks he has a shot to hit .400 this year.

    • Reaganspad

      I think that Schebler is the answer to Sultans question above

      That guy was using the whole field when he was on his tear, Jay kinda got there.

      If he is at that ops, we will not miss Jay

      • reaganspad

        You know LW, I was a fan of resigning Jay last year because he had finally turned the corner. I like Jay a lot. But I am fast becoming a Schebler fan. I always thought Jay had a quick bat and pure swing, But Schebler has quick swing and it is violent,

        As long as that violence remains controlled in that swing, we have a left handed Kevin Mitchell.

        I’ll take that. even without any bare handed catches in the OF

  2. ohiojimw

    FWIW, if I recall correctly, a couple of the projection systems tipped Duvall to do better in 2016 than most people dared to believe he might; so, in an ordinal sense, they may work to a degree even for “prospects”.

  3. Jason Linden

    Yeah, looks like it was updated, though they may also have been default sorting by OPS for some reason.

  4. Jason Linden

    The way you enter your defensive projection is clearly judged against other players at the position (Votto’s stats show him with several positive seasons), so I assume the same is the case for the projected Def number. Why they do this is beyond me.

  5. Jason Linden

    Yeah. That’s fans banking on the growth he showed in the 2nd half. Steamer is less convinced.

  6. Steven

    Downright depressing. I am seriously considering giving up my Reds card and leaving behind baseball. I just don’t think that I have the stomach to wait another 20 years for a World Series title. That and I hate the owner.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Yeah, probably best that you just go away and find another sport. If it’s 20 years I’ll be in my 80’s but I won’t stop following the team or the sport.

      • ohiojimw

        I was 40ish in 1990 and I’m still here and not about to leave until my number comes up in the ultimate lottery in the sky or wherever.

        I think this phenomena of one’s personal ego somehow being tied to the sports teams one follows is something of a new thing. Maybe that’s because back in the day we couldn’t (easily) follow teams which were not in physical proximity to the rest of our lives. I recall one of Bob Trumpy’s signature lines when talking about fan fickleness was ‘ “the opposite of , love isn’t hate, it is indifference”. Now it seems that at the first pangs of hate, the hate morphs almost instantly into indifference for many folks.

    • Chuck Schick

      There is no reason to do anything that brings about downright depression. It could be a good mutual parting as you may be a jinx.

  7. ohiojimw

    How does a person even begin to make an informed projection on Meso at this point? His health is unknown plus it is going on 2 years since he has faced a significant amount of live MLB in game pitching which could be as big of an issue as his physical condition.

    FG has him getting 317PAs in 75 games or at a rate of 4.23 a game. Steamer has him in 69 games making 285PAs, a per game 4.13 rate. By comparison in 2014, he appeared in 114 games making 440PAs, a 3.86 rate. He is going to start 75 (or 69) games and play the entire game in each of them???

    It looks to me like somebody is just blindly punching numbers into a formula without looking at all at the real world

    • ohiojimw

      I do not disagree in principal. But it is hard to get away from counting stats playing a role in the computation of rate stats. For example PAs are a major factor in calculating wRC and thus wRC+ And we (including myself) often bandy about WAR as if it were a holy grail; yet its foundation is in counting stats.