2012 ZIPS Projections

Dave · November 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


12 Responses to “2012 ZIPS Projections”

  1. shortbus on November 27th, 2011 12:22 pm

    Have hope! I really think the projections are far too down on both Smoak and Ackley. In Smoak’s case his numbers were depressed by the foolish decision by the team to play him for a month with a messed up thumb that killed his power. .376 SLG for Smoak? Puh-lease!

    Ackley, for some reason, decided that September would be strikeout month. More than any time in his pro career he struck out last September. Whether from exhaustion during his longest pro season yet, or pitchers figuring him out, or Wedge ruining him for life as a hitter with all his “aggressiveness” talk, I don’t know. Most likely it’s a fluke. I think a .261 BA for him sounds pretty low given his history of making contact and taking walks.

    As for the rest of the team. Yeah, I’m pretty down on them. Guti and Wells both have health issues that may linger. Ichiro may just be what he was last year. Third base and catcher are black holes. Our hope really lies in who we can acquire through trade and free agency.

  2. IwearMsHats on November 27th, 2011 12:36 pm

    Can’t wait!

  3. JoshJones on November 27th, 2011 1:08 pm

    Just another piece of evidence that nobody has any clue how good or bad the M’s are going to be in 2012 or even beyond that.

    On one hand Smoak, Ackley, Wells, Seager and Carp could all take steps forward. And Ichiro and Guti could have bounce back seasons. On the other…They all regress. I’m expecting a combination of both.

    Which gives us two options.
    1)Give them all at least half a season to show us what they can do.
    2)Trade a few for some more proven talent.

    Again, I think a combination of both would be the best approach.

  4. ppl on November 27th, 2011 1:25 pm

    Hopefully we have a break out of “Adjustments” that change the course drastically quick.

  5. just a fan on November 27th, 2011 1:45 pm

    According to the justafan.2012-Just-Kinda-Wingin’-It Projection System, the ZIPS projections on Ackley, Smoak and Guti are bullshit.

    What is the general range of error on this system? How many players exceed their OPS+ projections by 10%? 20%? Is such a range of error quantified anywhere?

    Outside of Carp and Seager, these seem like bare minimum projections.

  6. scraps on November 27th, 2011 3:27 pm

    I seem to remember that Ichiro is one of those players whose projections are always low. Is ZIPS one of those?

  7. PackBob on November 27th, 2011 4:28 pm

    Seems like there should be some healthy question marks for some of the vets as well. Was Ichiro’s down season loss of skills or a combination of bad luck and an off year? How much of Guti’s poor offense was due to his ailment, and will he bounce back with his strength and stamina fully recovered?

    Smoak seems like a guess as well with all he went through in 2011.

  8. djw on November 27th, 2011 5:07 pm

    I thought it was PECOTA that was always predicting an Ichiro collapse, but it might extend beyond that. He’s such an unusual player it’s not surprising prediction algorithms don’t know what to do with him.

  9. eponymous coward on November 27th, 2011 9:42 pm

    I believe the 2011 and 2010 ZIPS projections didn’t like the Mariners. So “uh-ohs” is probably the correct reaction here.

    And if Justin Smoak DOES turn into a huge disappointment, this is one nobody is going to be able to hang on Bill Bavasi.

  10. rth1986 on November 27th, 2011 9:50 pm

    I think Oliver is the best projection system. They have easily the best minor league translation system, IMO.

    I’m happy to see Catricala’s projection and I’m excited to see how he continues to hit 2012. If he can play a decent 3B, then I’d love for him to be able to stick there – maybe be a poor man’s Ryan Braun or a better version of Casey McGehee.

    We all know that Justin Smoak, Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Saunders, and even Casper Wells (to an extent) are difficult to project in 2012. They all went through significant obstacles in 2011.

    I’m sure Smoak is more like his April/May performance than what followed. He obviously went through a lot. I’m sure he’s good for at least a .340 wOBA in 2012.

    Gutierrez is a big question mark since he was noticeably weaker after his stomach problems, but hopefully he is spending the offseason getting stronger. Hopefully he still has his 2009 performance somewhere in him.

    Saunders also obviously had lots of distractions in 2011, and I’m sure he’s better than he’s looked. His Tacoma performance was somewhat encouraging. Hopefully he can establish himself, but I’m not sure if he’ll still be Mariner by spring training.

    Casper Wells looked downright fierce after he was acquired in August, but lost it all after the Morrow beaning. Hopefully he’s getting that eye problem sorted out during the offseason.

    All of those guys are pretty good bets to outhit their ZIPS projection by a significant margin. Does this help make the Mariners a good team? No. But they aren’t as lousy as these projections would indicate.

  11. Badbadger on November 28th, 2011 10:08 am

    I don’t think Franklin Gutierrez can be projected just by looking at his numbers, because so much depends on whether he’s gotten a handle on his digestive problems. I’m afraid that he hasn’t, but if he has then last year’s numbers don’t mean much.

  12. TomC on November 28th, 2011 7:28 pm

    I have nagging fear that Szymborski is spot on. What rational basis is there to assume Ichiro returns to form instead of a Figgins-like further decline? Or that the mystery Gutierrez illness is resolved? Saunders has showed no signs of major league level talent and Wells looks like AAAA filler type material.

    The only one I think we can expect improvement from is Smoak. His personal issues (death of his father) will not repeat and his injuries should have had time to heal.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.