Sifting through preseason baseball projections can be painstaking. Between the number-crunching, making heads or tails of various statistical categories and setting aside personal biases, it’s almost fruitless to put too much stock into formulaic predictions, especially given their limited shelf life.
But hey, what else are we going to talk about a couple of days before pitchers and catchers officially report to Boston Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.?
Each year, Dan Szymborski provides some of the most in-depth (and best) stat projections for each Major League Baseball team. He continued his annual exercise this offseason for FanGraphs, with his Red Sox projections dropping just before the New Year. Now seems like a good time to revisit those.
As expected, there’s a lot to soak in when it comes to Szymborski’s computer-based projections, known effectively as ZiPS projections. But basically, Szymborski — an intelligent and mathematically savvy human — takes a stab at projecting the numbers each individual player will produce going into each season.
When it comes to the Red Sox, ZiPS projections are calling for big things from Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts in 2016. It isn’t surprising given that Betts and Bogaerts arguably were Boston’s two best players in 2015, but it’s definitely a luxury having a couple of 23-year-olds performing at such a high level so early in their respective careers.
Betts will lead the Red Sox in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) by a wide margin this season, according to ZiPS. He’ll post a 5.4 mark, while Bogaerts will rank second on the Sox with a 3.0 mark. Betts’ No. 1 player comparison for 2016 is Ellis Burks. Bogaerts’ is Robin Yount. Not bad company.
Let’s run down some notable 2016 ZiPS projections for the Red Sox’s projected starters.
Mookie Betts: 5.4 WAR, 18 HR, 80 RBIs, 26 SB, .297 AVG, .355 OBP
Xander Bogaerts: 3.0 WAR, 12 HR, 73 RBIs, 8 SB, .289 AVG, .332 OBP
Dustin Pedroia: 2.5 WAR, 9 HR, 51 RBIs, 7 SB, .279 AVG, .339 OBP
David Ortiz: 2.3 WAR, 30 HR, 89 RBIs, .264 AVG, .350 OBP
Jackie Bradley Jr.: 2.2 WAR, 12 HR, 59 RBIs, 8 SB, .247 AVG, .319 OBP
Hanley Ramirez: 1.7 WAR, 13 HR, 67 RBIs, 12 SB, .277 AVG, .358 OBP
Blake Swihart: 1.1 WAR, 6 HR, 41 RBIs, 5 SB, .252 AVG, .297 OBP
Pablo Sandoval: 0.9 WAR, 13 HR, 66 RBIs, .266 AVG, .314 OBP
Rusney Castillo: 0.6 WAR, 7 HR, 35 RBIs, 10 SB, .260 AVG, .308 OBP
Now, let’s check out the 2016 ZiPS projections for some of the Red Sox’s pitchers.
David Price: 4.9 WAR, 209 1/3 IP, 211 K, 3.35 ERA, 2.93 FIP
Eduardo Rodriguez: 2.4 WAR, 167 1/3 IP, 141 K, 3.98 ERA, 3.66 FIP
Rick Porcello: 2.3 WAR, 187 1/3 IP, 140 K, 4.18 ERA, 3.70 FIP
Clay Buchholz: 2.0 WAR, 126 2/3 IP, 109 K, 3.91 ERA, 3.44 FIP
Joe Kelly: 1.3 WAR, 126 2/3 IP, 103 K, 4.26 ERA, 3.99 FIP
Craig Kimbrel: 1.1 WAR, 59 2/3 IP, 82 K, 2.72 ERA, 2.65 FIP
Carson Smith: 0.9 WAR, 61 IP, 68 K, 3.10 ERA, 2.91 FIP
The above projections really are just the nuts and bolts, so you’re encouraged to check out the full Red Sox projections, along with a description of how the projections are computed, over at FanGraphs.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images