With position players reporting today, the offseason is comfortably in the rearview mirror and we can look forward to actual baseball being played. With last week's ZiPS and PECOTA projections being made public, I thought it would be interesting to look at the four major projections systems to see if we can wash out some of the extremes and get a better view of what to expect from our Halos this season.
To be clear, these are not my own projections. I simply took the average projection for each of our presumed regulars, using ZiPS, PECOTA, Steamer and Baseball Reference. Spoiler alert - there are no huge revelations here. For the most part, these four major systems are in agreement in how the players will perform. That should not be too surprising, as baseball analytics have advanced to the point that there really is no secret formula and the advanced metrics developers are all generally in agreement. This is really just meant to act as a quick reference we can keep handy for later in the year to see which of our players disappointed, met or exceeded expectations.
*Baseball Reference does not project WAR totals.
PECOTA showed the most deviation from the rest of the systems. They project Mike Trout to be worth 7.3 WAR(P), two full wins below ZiPS and Steamer. They are way down on Yunel Escobar, projecting -1.2 WARP, essentially twice as bad as the 1.5 WAR the other two systems project for him. The batting lines are all fairly similar, leading me to suspect they are not believers in his defense at third. PECOTA is more bullish on Daniel Nava, however, projecting him to accumulate 1.4 WARP on the strength of roughly 200 more PA than the rest of the systems project. Again, the actual slash lines projected are basically identical.
The good news? None of the main cast of characters here are predicted to be bad. Even Weaver is projected for a slight bounce back to respectability. In general, all of the starting pitchers look to be fairly interchangeable following Richards. The Angels appear to be well equipped to deal with injuries or ineffectiveness to their starting rotation, with league-average arms aplenty. Huston Street and Joe Smith appear poised to have their typically solid seasons. In fact, like the starting staff, none of the relievers in camp with a realistic shot of making the team are projected to have a poor season, though none are projected to have particularly strong seasons, either. Considering the general volatility of most relievers, I chose not to include them in this exercise.
As we are all aware, this adds up to a .500 team on paper. Again, PECOTA is the most pessimistic in general, but overall this team is projected to at least be relevant. If Trout decides to go off and have his best season yet, it could be enough to vault them into contention. Still, it wouldn't be fair the expect Trout to do even more than his already typically league-best 9-10 WAR season. For me, the X-factor here is the starting rotation. With 8 arms projected to be league average or better, if 2-3 manage to build on some positives and exceed expectations (looking at you, Richards and Heaney), this team could surprise some people.