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The A’s ZiPS projections are out, and boy are they depressing

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Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

It’s projection time! As a reminder, projections are statistical models utilizing past performance to try and estimate the future. They are imperfect yet useful, unbiased, yet bound to piss off about 90% of fans. If you like the A’s you’re likely to fall into that group, cause, just look.

You can find a full writeup of the A’s ZiPS and see the full numbers here. They don’t get much easier to look at that the above Tweet, though they do provide some context. Please note the playing time listed in the numbers doesn’t represent an actual guess at regular season playing time. You can read more about projection systems in general here! Projections are pretty neat in spite of often being pretty wrong, and the only way to read these projections incorrectly is by over-analyzing them. Don’t hate the projection machine, hate the Yankees, or something.

Here are the specifics for ZiPS, from the previous link.

The work of Dan Szymborski over at Baseball Think Factory, the ZiPS projections uses weighted averages of four years of data (three if a player is very old or very young), regresses pitchers based on DIPS theory and BABIP rates, and adjusts for aging by looking at similar players and their aging trends. It’s an effective projection system, and is displayed at FanGraphs for off-season and in-season projections.

Some assorted thoughts!


-Marcus Semien is projected to put up similar offensive numbers but slip defensively, which is a realistic scenario we should probably mentally envision occasionally for our own well-being. It’s not to say Semien can’t be the same solid defender he was last year, but it should be noted that Semien made 12 of his 21 errors in the improperly named second half of the season. Is that a sign of fatigue? Possibly, especially considering the often backup-infielderless A’s didn’t get Semien much rest. But it could also be a more ominous sign, and ZiPS isn’t convinced his defense is quite as good as it was last year.

-Along with Stephen Vogt, Semien is one of exactly two position players projected to clear 2 WAR. Neither are projected to projected to eclipse 3, which is what we in the business of writing about the A’s call oh my god, why do I root for this team.

-The projections present a scary scenario for Ryon Healy, putting him down for a meager .305 OBP. That’s mostly due to a BABIP at the .310 mark combined with Healy’s aversion to walks. It’d be a frustrating season, but it’s unfortunately a possibility.

-Khris Davis is projected to only ding 27 dingers, which is a ding against the system. Davis is gonna hit a billion and it will be glorious.

-The A’s apparently invited a find young man by the name of Jermaine Curtis to Spring Training. Curtis has had 6 separate campaigns in which his OBP eclipsed his SLG. He will not fit in.

-ZiPS actually does like Mark Canha to a decent degree, projecting him to put up an OPS north of .700. Yes, that’s meant in a positive light, at least compared to the rest of the roster.


-The most depressing projection without a doubt is that of Sonny Gray, projected innings eater. ZiPS has Gray at a 3.95 ERA over 159.3 innings, comping him most closely with none other than ever-boring righty Jason Marquis.

-The bullpen looks like it should be good! Doo and Liam Hendriks are projected to be good, ZiPS like Frankie Montas as a reliever, and the team should hold down the few leads it’ll have, if things go like the numbers indicate they will. Hint, they won’t! That’s the beauty of baseball an why you shouldn’t get too worked up over these numbers.

-The rotation is projected to be solid but not mind blowing, which seems like a pretty safe and acceptable projection. Should the A’s put five slightly above average pitchers out there to start the game, day in and day out? It wouldn’t be sexy, but it’d be just fine.

-There’s not a projection system out there that likes Ryan Dull, and that includes ZiPS. His season will be an interesting story-line to follow in 2017.

Your thoughts?

-What does ZiPS get right?

-What does ZiPS get wrong?

-Which projections have you most worried?