PECOTA Projects the 2015 Arizona Diamondbacks
By Joseph Jacquez
Baseball Prospectus has released their annual PECOTA projections for each team, and for advanced stat minded baseball fans like me, this is our version of Opening Day.
PECOTA isn’t very high on the 2015 Diamondbacks, but that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.
The Dbacks are coming off a season in which they finished with the worst record in all of baseball, and their rotation is questionable to say the least, something that is critical to succeeding in a run deprived National League.
Keep this in mind before we start: there are several different projection systems out there, and they measure different things. Projection systems aren’t the end all be all, but PECOTA does have a reputation of being accurate.
With that in mind let’s examine what PECOTA thinks of the 2015 Diamondbacks.
Of course we have to start with where the Diamondbacks project to finish in the standings, because ultimately wins and losses is what matters in sports.
PECOTA projects that the Diamondbacks will finish fourth in the N.L. West with a record of 74-88 behind the Padres, Giants, and first place Dodgers respectively.
Tony La Russa certainly wouldn’t be happy if the Diamondbacks finished with that record, but it’s a realistic projection, and it would be an improvement over last season.
As much as I would like to say the Diamondbacks are ready to compete and be a playoff team right now, realistically a lot of things would have to fall into place, and the Dbacks starting pitching just doesn’t measure up with the Dodgers, Padres, or even the Giants.
I could certainly see the Diamondbacks finishing ahead of the Giants because San Francisco’s starting staff is also very suspect on paper.
The moves Dave Stewart and the front office have made this offseason have pushed the Dbacks ability to compete forward, but if the Dbacks are going to be a playoff team and win 90 plus games, it’s going to hinge on a few things besides health which is obvious:
1. Clearing up cap space when big contracts come off the books the next two off-seasons (Trevor Cahill + Aaron Hill).
2. The ability for the Dbacks to lure a big time free agent pitcher in the winter of 2016.
3. The continued positive development of Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair, and others.
I think the Diamondbacks can do better than 74 wins, but that is for another article. All I know is that PECOTA’s projection is very reasonable.
Individual Offensive Player Projections
Paul Goldschmidt is projected to be the Dbacks most valuable offensive player by far, and that isn’t a surprise. PECOTA projects him to put up a .282 average with 28 HR, 92 RBI’s, and a WARP of 4.7. WARP is the key number. It’s BP’s version of WAR, as in the total value that a player will provide but BP accounts for more.
The catching situation is not pretty, which makes it hard for me to believe that the Snakes won’t acquire another catcher before the season starts. Oscar Hernandez isn’t even on PECOTA, and Tuffy Gosewisch is projected for a -0.3 WARP. As it stands right now, the Dbacks have the worst catching situation, which is not good when you have a mostly young starting staff.
Aaron Hill is projected to get most of the playing time at second. He projects for a .251 average, a .304 OBP, with 16 HR’s, 61 RBI’s, and a WARP of 2.4 which would be the second best on the team. What intrigues me is PECOTA sees Nick Ahmed getting more plate appearances (60) than Cliff Pennington (30).
PECOTA also thinks 3B is Jake Lamb’s job which is surprising given how much the Dbacks like Yasmany Tomas at third. He is projected for 521 plate appearances with 16 HR, 64 RBI’s, and a .419 SLG%.
Chris Owings is going to be the everyday SS, and PECOTA thinks he will have a down year with a .264 average, and a below average OBP of .284.
The OF situation is interesting. PECOTA thinks Tomas will be in RF not at 3B and will hit 28 HR and drive in 78 which I would take for his first season in the big leagues. First of all, RF is where Mark Trumbo will be, so if he is going to be in the outfield he would probably be in LF.
Trumbo is projected to be in left and hit 30 HR, with 89 RBI’s, and a slugging percentage of .472. That is a respectable projection for a guy that spent a lot of 2014 on the D.L.
A.J. Pollock is projected to hit .265 with a .313 OBP. His WARP is really low at 0.9 considering how much value he provides defensively.
David Peralta and Ender Inciarte are both projected for under 100 plate appearances which doesn’t make any sense. If PECOTA is right, than one OF will have to be traded.
Individual Pitcher Projections
PECOTA doesn’t really like the Dbacks starting rotation, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Josh Collmenter projects to be the Dbacks most valuable starter with a 1.2 WARP. He is projected to have a 3.86 era in 165 IP.
New acqusition Jeremy Hellickson is projected to lead the Dbacks in innings pitched with 174 IP and a 4.00 era.
Rubby De La Rosa is projected for a 4.44 era, and Allen Webster is projected for a 4.64 era with a -0.2 WARP.
Trevor Cahill is projected to have a 4.00 era which would be more than a run better than last season. Considering he is making $12 million this year, he better improve.
Bronson Arroyo is projected to make five starts, and Patrick Corbin is projected for six starts. Vidal Nuno is projected to make eight starts, and interestingly Robbie Ray is projected to make 3 starts.
In the pen, PECOTA thinks Addison Reed will be much better in 2015 with a 3.06 era and saving 35 games and giving up just six home runs.
PECOTA thinks Daniel Hudson will be better than David Hernandez with a 2.91 era in 44 IP, while Hernandez will have a 3.01 era in 33 IP. PECOTA doesn’t like Oliver Perez (4.47 era), or Evan Marshall (4.03).
Randell Delgado is projected to pitch the second most innings (71) out of the pen with a 3.82 era. If Delgado can do that, the Dbacks will take that. Interestingly, PECOTA thinks Chase Anderson will be a long man with a 3.79 era in 89 IP.
Brad Ziegler is expected to have another good season with a 3.52 era in 60 IP, and Matt Renyolds coming off an injury is expected to pitch just 22 innings with a 3.51 era. Matt Stites is projected for a 3.87 era in 27 IP. I think Stites has a bright future.
What do you think of PECOTA’s projections! Leave your thoughts in the comments section!