At the start of each season, FanGraphs and Dan Szymborski work together to publish ZiPS (Szymborski Projection System) predictions for each of the minor league teams. Projections are some nerds' idea of what may happen, and as soon as the season starts, they are already out-of-date. Compared to actual results, they finish a poor and distant second.
Doesn't mean that they still can't be fun and / or useful. And looking at these projections over time is even more fun, in my humble opinion. The below charts show how the Astros have gone from a roster of waiver-bait and filler all the way to a genuine contending team over the last four years. The transformation has been extraordinary. The changes to the playing personnel has been huge, as have the projected performance from each of the players, or groups of players.
Without further ado, behold...
2013 (noting the yellowing with age, which is the same joke I made last year):
Just some quick notes:
- 2016 up-the-middle projections: 14 WAR. Up-the-middle projections for 2013 and 2014: 16
- Bullpen projection for 2016: 4 WAR. Combined bullpen projection for 2013, 2014 and 2015: 1
- Dallas Keuchel is projected to be worth 5 WAR this year. In 2013 and 2014, the entire rotation was projected to be worth 5 WAR.
- Astros' first basemen projections over the last four years: 0, 1, 1, 1.
- Astros' DH projections over the last four years: 2, 1, 2, 1.
- Remember Fernando Martinez?? How about Jesse Crain? Lucas Harrell??
- Keuchel's breakout, via projections: 2014: 0 WAR, 2015: 3 WAR. 2016: 5 WAR.
- Feldman's projections have been sitting steady on 1 WAR for three straight years now.
- Carlos Correa is projected to be worth 5 WAR in 2016, the same amount as Lowrie, Villar and Lowrie were projected to be worth between 2013 and 2015.
There are lots or other interesting features of these diagrams. Have a look, as feel free to add to the comments. But isn't it great that the Astros are projected to be a real team this year???
Sadly, tomorrow, these projections will be out of date. Replaced, however, by actual results. Can't wait!