The PECOTA projections are now available at Baseball Prospectus. While we aren’t going to just copy and paste, and give away the entirety of the projections, it does seem like a fun exercise to take a look at a surprise or two.

One of the bigger story lines when it comes to the pitching staff this spring will be Robert Stephenson. The rotation, it appears, is full. The bullpen has most of it’s spots locked down, too. And Robert Stephenson is out of options. That means he’s going to either have to make the team, or be designated for assignment or traded.

When he made his debut in 2016 he struggled as a 23-year-old. He posted a 6.08 ERA over 8 starts, walked 19 batters, allowed 9 home runs, and struck out 31. It was a tough debut. In 2017 he struggled mightily out of the bullpen, but had success as a starter – at least when it comes to ERA. In 11 starts that year he had a 3.41 ERA in 58.0 innings with 36 walks and 56 strikeouts. He only allowed 5 home runs. The walk rate was far too high, but the other numbers were strong. As a reliever, though, he posted a 7.43 ERA in 26.2 innings with 7 home runs allowed, 17 walks, and 30 strikeouts. The home runs and walks were big problems as a reliever.

Last year he barely saw time in the Major Leagues. He pitched in a total of four games, and he struggled. He walked more batters than he struck out, 12-to-11, in 11.2 innings. He was very good in 20 starts in Triple-A, though. With Louisville he posted a 2.87 ERA in 113.0 innings with 57 walks and 135 strikeouts.

With his history in the Major Leagues being what it is, the reasonable expectation would be that his projections wouldn’t look good. And to be fair, they aren’t exactly great. That said, PECOTA projects Robert Stephenson to post a 4.24 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP this upcoming season. It’s in limited action, but it’s essentially saying that he’s projecting to be a league average pitcher when he does take the mound. The walk rate is still high, but so is the projected strikeout rate, and it thinks he’ll be able to keep the ball in the ballpark at a reasonable rate.

At the plate there are two surprises. The PECOTA system sees plenty of regression coming for Eugenio Suarez in the power department. That leads to a big drop off in his slugging percentage, and thus his OPS. But the other surprise is that of Joey Votto.

As was written yesterday, Joey Votto struggled to do damage on pitches inside of the strikezone in 2018. It was that drop off in power, and it was a big drop off, that led to him merely being a good hitter instead of the great hitter he’s always been. PECOTA sees a big rebound coming for Votto in the power aspect of his game.

In the 2018 season he managed just 12 home runs while getting 623 plate appearances. In the previous three years he averaged 31 home runs and 693 plate appearances. He isn’t projected to be quite that good, but he is projected for 21 home runs in 623 plate appearances. That’s enough to push his slugging percentage back over the .500 mark. After slugging just .419 in 2018, a jump up to .503 is huge.

There’s some more interesting things in the PECOTA projections – both at the team level and the individual level. Be sure to go check it all out.

30 Responses

  1. Oldtimer

    Adding up the numbers, Reds go 83-81 and use 20 position players and 23 pitchers.

  2. Roger Garrett

    Joey will bounce back and Bob will pitch out of the pen because the Reds are afraid he will become a star with somebody else.

    • Oldtimer

      Robert Stephenson will not be a star anywhere.

  3. Old-school

    I did not think there was any chance the Reds could field a competitive team in 2019. I am definitely buying tickets to watch Reds baseball. I do agree with Pecota re: defensive deficiencies. Dick Williams has been consistent about prioritizing a line up with high obp guys and run creators. Assuming health, Jesse Winker gets 500 at bats. DW has essentially said he’s a near every day guy. Injuries will occur as well.

    Interested to see RLN volume in off-season 2018 v 2019. Last year was heartburn and gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands… This year is hope and enthusiasm and optimism. Which one generates more dialogue?

  4. Zack

    Have a hard time buying these projections. It’s as if they put all the eggs in the Votto basket and think everyone else will be okie-dokie at best. Hard to see 23 homers leading the team here. And they project 1 pitcher with an ERA under 3.5 (Raisel Iglesias) and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him post a sub-3.00 figure there only working late inning situations. They project 83-79 which is probably the fairest estimate on the whole page.

    • DougEFresh

      I’m with you, Zack. These numbers look fishy. I sure hope Senzel has 17 bombs, but in 430 ABs? Color me skeptical of PECOTAs projections. And no one is claiming this lineup to be a defensive juggernaut, but according to their definition, defensively, Votto will be great, Puig and Senzel will be average, and everyone else will be somewhere between poor and horrendous.

      I’ll go with 85-77. I think, more often than not, the moves made this off season pan out. Castillo blossoms into a legitimate ace, Gray and Wood pitch like they can, and Desclafani and Roark give exactly what we expect (a solid back of the rotation). Winker, Peraza, and Puig will be much better than a combined 5.6 WARP, while Scooter is likely a little better than 2.2 and Joey a little less than 5.1. PLAY BALL, ALREADY!

  5. Sliotar

    Doug,

    Thanks for posting this. I would not have gone to look at BP’s stuff otherwise.

    No projections are perfect, but for the stuff I do (season-long dynasty leagues, over/under win totals, daily DraftKings)…I find FanGraphs and their season/daily projections much closer to the “eye test” as it plays out than BP.

    Here is a direct example:

    BP
    Lorenzo Cain (4.8 wins above replacement projection)
    Christian Yelich (4.3)

    FanGraphs
    Yelich (5.1)
    Cain (3.8)

    I would take the odds on age 28 season Yelich outperforming age 33 Cain.

    Again, to each their own. But, the idea that the current Brewers are 7 games better than the current Cubs, as BP projects, is crazy, IMO.

    A healthy Kris Bryant helps a lot of things in the Chicago lineup.

  6. Matt Hendley

    So who will be the worst regular according to projections

    • BK

      Barnhart is the lowest rated regular. Further, Casali carries a negative projection. So, per the projection, catching is the weakest position.

      • LWBlogger2

        Barnhart’s FRAA are killing his value. Assuming that framing is part of that metric for catchers (it doesn’t say in BP’s glossary entry, I think that Barnhart is getting killed on framing. Casali is projected to regress significantly and again I think framing may be hurting his FRAA numbers.

        It will be interesting to see, with more consistent pitchers, if Barnhart’s framing numbers improve. They’ve always been pretty bad and although the metrics are supposed to take the pitcher and umpire into account, I’m not sure how good they are at it. I am boldly predicting significant improvement in Barnhart’s framing metrics if I’m correct. Depending on FRAA for catchers, this could improve his numbers there and his overall value.

  7. Streamer88

    Sure all wins are the same, but for teams like this it will be a matter of Win Sequencing. If we are 55-45 at the break, Vs 40-50, will make a huge difference to what’s done at the trade deadline.

    This is in contrast to teams like StL, who will just hang on at 40-50 knowing the numbers will eventually play out.

  8. Hotto4Votto

    Since the Gray trade has been completed, I’ve felt we’re going to be close to a .500 team. I can see anywhere from 77 wins to 85 wins being a reasonable range expectation. Seems most projections are putting us right around .500 as well. A Realmuto addition would have pushed us to the 85+ win territory in my opinion, but I’m not mad the Red didn’t up their price to match the Phils. I don’t know if there are other options to upgrade still at this point. Either way, it should be a lot more fun to be a Reds fan.

    • Mason Red

      Yes since mediocre is more fun than awful. If all the moves this offseason leads to finishing around 500 I guess I’ll be in the minority by calling the season a major disappointment instead of a success.

      • greenmtred

        I get what you mean, but it was unlikely that the Reds were going worst-to-first in 2019, even with the moves. The improvement will probably be incremental, and the main reasons for optimism, I think, are the changeover in coaching and f/o, plus the possibility that there’s a plan going forward. If they play .500 ball in 2019 they’ll be more fun to watch, and there will be reason to hope for real competitiveness in subsequent seasons. I won’t be disappointed with that.

      • Old-school

        Only 1 team wins the World Series. Only one NL team makes the World Series. All others fall off a cliff at some point. The Reds will be infinitely more watchable and entertaining. As for the plan, agree. MLB traderumors has an article the Reds were never in on Realmuto because they wouldn’t part with Senzel/Greene/ or Trammell. That’s a plan.

        Can they make the playoffs in 2019? Probably not. But they got better for 2019 and still on track to get better in 2020+. That was the goal at the end of 2018.

        The Reds have had a fabulous off-season.

      • Mason Red

        I don’t expect worst to first but at least being in the conversation for a wild card late in the season is what I’m hoping for. If all those moves only adds 10-12 more wins I will consider the season a disappointment.

  9. Rut

    Just don’t know why folks get all worked up, one way or the other, about projections.

    Can’t think of any more meaningless or contrived “stat” than these. While I agree that data is useful for making broad guesses in a preseason outlook, to really think that these specific projections are any more than guess work is foolish.

    Or, as we have all heard through the years, ‘that’s why they play the game’.

  10. TurboBuckeye

    They’re really crushing Suarez from his second half. He’s going to have to prove that he can consistently put up numbers somewhere between his 2017 and first half of 2018 before the projection systems start giving him more love.

    I’m defiantly taking the over on Puig’s numbers given regular at bats in GABP.

    Stephenson is a head case. He’s going to need a wake up call like getting DFAed or something if he figures it out. Sadly I think if he does figure it out it’ll be with another team.

  11. Matt Hendley

    Posibly the biggest sign that this offseason has gotten crazy, homer bailey beat dallas k to a contract. He will get a Minors deal in kansas city

  12. TR

    In contrast to years gone by the front office has been active and a new sense of optimism has emerged in Reds Land. After the last four years in last place, reaching .500 would be a successful season in my book and an indicator the Reds will be a contender in 2020 onward.

  13. redsfan06

    Baseball Prospectus certainly likes the Reds offense. They project them to lead the NL in OBP and to come in 2nd in SLG behind the Rockies (who don’t count in this category).

  14. Dave E.

    81-81 is a reasonable projection, and reflects the roster right now, and reflects a median result.

    But the Reds are not likely to actually finish near that. If they are trending below, they will likely trade the players they don’t control in 2020 by July, thus lowering their quality and likely win total. If they are contending, they might try to even improve.

    So, 81-81? Only if you think this roster will look a lot like the roster at the end of the season. I think either 89-72 or something like 74-86.

    • matthew hendley

      very logical thinking, agreed. I think 81-81 might be the only record we don’t actually get.

    • LWBlogger2

      74-86 is where I had them landed last year… Boy was I wrong. I will make known my prediction/projection for this year in the annual RLN projection thread. Hopefully I do better than last year.