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.

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 33 Comments

  1. I’ll take these projections, although I don’t think B P will be on the team opening day, and I hope Duvall exceeds his projections. If our starting pitching is a little above average, I think we will win 80 + games!

  2. The numbers aren’t unrealistic IMO. Some of the innings pitched are overestimated a bit (except for Homer—-I fully expect 170+).

    I the Reds are going to do anything, it’s going to come from an all hands on deck type approach. There’s options aplenty on both sides of the ball. So much average talent on paper……..for the rebuild to work we have to have some guys break out and become above average while the rest maintain their high floor projections.

    • One thing for a lot of average players is it creates depth. It really does bring about a “next man up” situation where if someone goes down, your production overall isn’t going to drop a ton. The question is when you are pretty average across the board, do you have enough production when fully healthy to compete?

      • This is why I think the decision on the manager will be crucial. Average players can give you above average production if you use them correctly. I think by 2018 or 2019 the Reds will have a roster with enough talent to compete. But it will have to be leveraged and used correctly to have a shot at the playoffs. I’m talking platoon advantages, optimal bullpen use, smart efficient baserunning, optimal lineups, optimal strategic decisions, the whole nine yards.

        And I don’t think the current manger knows how to do that. Or if he does, he is not confident enough in himself or his position to do it.

        I really believe that the manager is the easiest way for a smart team to get an advantage. Every front office uses analytics these days. Some are more invested than others, but no one is in the dark. Yet, many teams still employ managers who do things only because that is the way they have traditionally been done. I truly believe a smart manager could be a 5-10 win upgrade over most of these guys.

  3. 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.

    • 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

      • I’ll still miss Jay but if Schebler is hitting like that, there won’t be any complaints. Actually, if he hits like that, the Frazier trade looks better and better.

        • 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

          • If he ends up being a LH Kevin Mitchell, I’ll be stunned, amazed, and very happy.

        • Schebler needs to put on about 50 lbs to be Kevin Mitchell…

  4. Maybe it’s just been updated, but Votto isn’t 2nd to Trout in WAR, he’s currently 7th behind the usual suspects who play CF/SS/3B

  5. I think the fielding part is a big shortcoming of these fan projections. They don’t explain very well what “Def” means. For example, Votto currently is at 0.0 Def, which means he’d be 12.5 runs above average for a 1B man, since Def has a positional adjustment.

    His best full-season in awhile was -5.2 Def in 2011, and he was on pace to be around -3 in 2012, but he was at -9 and -18 the last two seasons, so realistically, we should be subtracting around 1-1.5 wins from the FANS projection since I think most folks didn’t understand what they were rating. So, 4.7-5.2 WAR for Mr. Votto.

    • 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.

  6. I have not looked at the projections yet, but are Suarez’s projections worth the “normal grain” as opposed to the “grain of salt.” I just noticed that he was not listed in the players not to take projections too seriously but also in list of players behind Votto projected to make impact.

  7. Also, is there a projection that is more accurate or better than the others?

  8. Why are guys like Sam LeCure and Brennan Boesch still projected as Reds?

    • Maybe the Reds were the last MLB time they had?

    • I think someone has to manually go clean up the lists each year, and since including extra no-name guys doesn’t really hurt anyone, the task probably falls by the wayside each season.

  9. 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”.

  10. I think the Fan Projections are way optimistic for these guys.Suarez’ is probably the closest. BP’s looks about right, as does Cozart’s. The only one that I think may be a bit on the low side is Duvall’s and that’s because I think Duvall will walk more and get his OBP to the .310-.320 range.

    • 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

      • I think with these projections it is the rate stats that matter. The counting stats, especially playing time, are influenced so much by things the models can’t predict. So I would just look at the rate stats. Avg/ obp/ slugging, wRC +, etc.

        • 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.

      • Projection on Mes is basically a crap-shoot. If I had to guess, ZiPS will probably do the best job because of how it weights the three prior years.Even it should be taken with a mountain of salt though.

  11. The fans certainly like BHam more than Steamer does. They project him for a career best .330 OBP. That would be nice.

  12. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • Great observation, Jim. It seems that proclaimed indifference is more often a self-defense mechanism. Many a fanatic will swear off their team when times are tough. But, the next moment that the team catches their interest, they are back again.

    • 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.

    • If something that is supposed to bring enjoyment, no longer brings enjoyment, it may be time to move on to something else. If that is another team fine and if that is another sport fine. For me personally, I no longer follow the NFL or really watch much football at all anymore. I wasn’t getting much enjoyment out of it anymore and found things to do that made me happier than I was when watching and following games. Sports, for most people, are supposed to be entertainment. Would you watch a show that you didn’t like? Would you go see a movie that you didn’t like? If you went to a movie expecting to like it and then didn’t like it, would you watch it again? If you’re feeling this way, then you may want to find something else. Life is short.

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About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.


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