2012 ZIPS Projections
Dan Szymborski is rolling out his ZIPS projections for next year on a team by team basis, and today, he made the Mariners projections public. If you want optimism and hope, you’ve come to the wrong place. In fact, the system believes that there are three people currently in the organization that will be at least average Major League hitters next year – Dustin Ackley (.261/.348/.410), Mike Carp (.252/.317/.414), and Vinny Catricala (.259/.321/.401).
In fact, the system is extremely bearish on most of the guys that the team is counting on improvements from in 2012. It thinks Justin Smoak is going to get worse (.231/.326/.376, 95 OPS+), Ichiro is going to be nearly as bad as he was last year (.278/.317/.354, 87 OPS+), Franklin Gutierrez will still suck (.248/.299/.358, 82 OPS+), and that of the young kids who got their feet wet last year, only Kyle Seager (.267/.323/.372, 93 OPS+) is worthy of any kind of playing time.
Honestly, if you take these projections at face value, this is a 100 loss team. Basically, ZIPS thinks that Dustin Ackley is the only position player who is likely to be an above average player, and while it loves Felix (131 ERA+) and likes Pineda (112 ERA+), it’s not a huge fan of the rest of the pitching staff either.
Like any projection system, ZIPS isn’t perfect, but it has historically done as well as any projection system out there in forecasting future performance. In this case, the Mariners simply have to hope it’s missing the mark on most of it’s young position players, because if these guys perform as badly as the system projects, 2012 will be a miserable year that ends with everyone getting fired.
That said, this is a roster full of players with limited Major League experience, and the error bars on projections for young guys is quite a bit wider than with veterans. If these projections were based on thousands of Major League plate appearances, you could essentially bet that the 2012 Mariners will be a miserable failure. Projecting guys like Ackley, Smoak, Seager, Wells, and Carp is less certain, and these guys have a better chance of besting these numbers than a veteran with similar projections.
If you want a reason to not buy into these projections, you could argue that the lack of Major League experience for most of the position players makes these less reliable, and you’d have a decent case. Still, the fact that the projections are almost unanimously negative mean that the Mariners need the system to be nearly completely broken when it comes to their young players, or else this is still pretty bad news.