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2012 ZiPS Versus Reality

The ZiPS projections for the 2013 Kansas City Royals are due out on Thursday. Let's take a look back at the 2012 ZiPS.

Wade Davis awaits his ZiPS projection with skepticism and disdain.
Wade Davis awaits his ZiPS projection with skepticism and disdain.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sometime on Thursday, the ZiPS projections for our beloved Royals will come out. How many remember the consternation over Eric Hosmer 'only' being projected to hit .304/.354/.474 by this system at this time last year? Anyone want to go back and take those over what Hosmer actually accomplished in 2012?

Put your hands down, it's too late.

Projections are what they are and certainly are not without their faults. There have been a number of comparisons and reviews of all of them on this site and on others by far better minds than my own. Without question, the unveiling of the 2013 projections will be good for lengthy discussion and debate.

For a point of reference, I thought it would be interesting to go back to the 2012 ZiPS and do a quick comparison between those projections and what actually transpired.


2012 ZiPS: .304/.354/.474, 36 2B, 20 HR

2012 Actual: .232/.304/.359, 22 2B, 14 HR

Was there anyone who guessed Hosmer would be as bad as he was? ZiPS got Eric's playing time just about right, as well as his walks, strikeouts and stolen bases if that makes you feel any better.


2012 ZiPS: .295/.362/.462, 41 2B, 19 HR

2012 Actual: .313/.373/.510, 32 2B, 29 HR

This just in, Billy Butler can rake. He traded doubles for home runs, walked a touch less and struck out 3% more than projected. You can judge the system as harshly as you want, but in my mind, Butler's ZiPS v. Reality is pretty close.


2012 ZiPS: .278/.358/.464, 36 2B, 20 HR

2012 Actual: .294/.368/.455 51 2B, 14 HR

Alex traded some home runs for doubles, hit for a little higher average, but otherwise was pretty close to the projections. He was far healthier than ZiPS thought he would be (161 games played vs. 139 projected), but given his past history, one can understand why the projection came out the way it did. Like Butler, ZiPS did not miss by much.


2012 ZiPS: .274/.316/.436, 38 2B, 19 HR

2012 Actual: .242/.296/.412, 34 2B, 20 HR

The miss on the Moose projection came down to batting average: add 14 singles and 4 doubles and the projection would have been dead on. Frankly, I don't know if that's close or not, but as we learned in Bull Durham: one extra hit per week makes a big difference.


2012 ZiPS: .273/.314/.437, 37 2B, 17 HR

2012 Actual: .235/.287/.378, 26 2B, 16 HR

Anyone but Frenchy.


2012 ZiPS: .270/.309/.366, 23 2B, 5 HR

2012 Actual: .293/.331/.390, 30 2B, 5 HR

A happy miss to the positive for the Royals. Escobar even outdid the stolen base projection (35 of 40 versus the 25 of 33 projected).

Those are the position players whose playing time in real life roughly equated to that used by ZiPS. As you know, ZiPS is not making judgments on who is really playing how much, other than to account for injury probability. For some other notables, we will just use the triple slash lines and ignore the projected doubles and homers.


2012 ZiPS: .259/.314/.370

2012 Acutal: .266/.316/.419

Cain hit the same number of home runs (7) as projected, but did so in half the plate appearances. Otherwise, ZiPS had him pegged pretty well.


2012 ZiPS: .271/.320/.384

2012 Actual: .238/.270/.304

Oh, Johnny.


2012 ZiPS: .274/.303/.393

2012 Actual: .301/.328/.471

ZiPS had Salvador for 29 doubles and 10 home runs in 146 games. He smacked 11 dingers and 16 doubles in just 76 games. No idea why I ended up putting Perez below Cain and Giavotella (or why I neglected to move him up).


2012 ZiPS: .266/.332/.320

2012 Actual: .275/.312/.360

More power. Plus grit. Mistake free. He's doing things we simply are not able to comprehend.

When it comes to pitching, I have an unscientific skepticism of all the projection systems. It has nothing to do with the systems themselves and everything to do with the fact that I view pitchers as the most unpredictable creatures on the face of this planet. That said, let's take a look at ZiPS vs. 2012.


2012 ZiPS: 4.53 ERA, 91 ERA+, 131 IP

2012 Actual: 5.07 ERA, 81 ERA+, 192 IP

Chen actually came through with a higher strikeout rate (6.6/9 v. 5.9/9) and lower walk rate (2.2/9 v. 3.22/9) than ZiPS projected, but aptly negated that by also allowing more hits and home runs. I wish Bruce Chen had a 95 mph fastball and a wicked biting slider, I really do. He gets as much out of what he has as anyone on the team. Sadly, Bruce just doesn't have that much stuff to get anything out of.


2012 ZiPS: 4.66 ERA, 89 ERA+, 159 IP

2012 Actual: 5.73 ERA, 71 ERA+, 185 IP

Like Chen, Luke posted a better strikeout rate than projected......and that's about the end of the positives. Luke might be ready to turn the corner once more. Unfortunately, he is stuck in a perpetual game of Temple Run.


2012 ZiPS: 4.36 ERA, 95 ERA+, 137 IP

2012 Actual (Royals only): 7.76 ERA, 53 ERA+, 53 IP

We should have been so lucky.


2012 ZiPS: 4.99 ERA, 83 ERA+, 123 IP

2012 Actual: 4.23 ERA, 97 ERA+, 166 IP

ZiPS had Mendoza striking out 51 and walking 49. In actuality, the Dozer struck out 104 and walked 59. The only thing wrong with Luis Mendoza in 2012 was that he was the Royals best starter until Jeremy Guthrie's last 12 starts.


2012 ZiPS: 5.76 ERA, 72 ERA+, 144 IP

2012 Actual: 5.32 ERA, 77 ERA+, 90 IP

Really pretty close. I don't think Will Smith is totally without hope as far as being a contributor as a swing guy/rotation fill-in. That said, a successful 2013 Royals' campaign probably does not include a whole lot of Mr. Smith.

ZiPS did not have Felipe Paulino or Danny Duffy doing anything earth shaking in 139 and 114 innings respectively. In the few innings they actually appeared last season, both were off to a good start in exceeding their projections.


2012 ZiPS: 43.7 IP, 50K, 20 BB, 118 ERA+

2012 Actual (Royals only): 35.7 IP, 25K, 14, BB, 182 ERA+

We remember Jonathan for a spectacular extra inning meltdown in Oakland and for possessing truly huge pants, but he also had 23 saves and stretches of competence.


2012 ZiPS: 70 IP, 70 K, 33 BB, 111 ERA+

2012 Actual: 67 IP, 91 K, 34 BB, 139 ERA+

Blew his projection away and established himself as a big league closer in the process. Honestly, when it comes to his current major league rank among players of his position, Greg Holland is currently Dayton Moore's most successful draft pick.


2012 ZiPS: 67 IP, 54K, 15 BB, 106 ERA+

2012 Actual: 84 IP, 77K, 21 BB, 175 ERA+

ZiPS thought Herrera would be okay, turns out he was great. When you consider he had only the fourth best strikeout rate among bullpen regulars, it is pretty easy to see one area that has gone right for the organization.


2012 ZiPS: 67.3 IP, 61 K, 34 BB, 91 ERA+

2012 Actual: 64.7 IP, 65 K, 22 BB, 118 ERA+

Crow walked fewer batters than projected and gave up less hits. Basically, ZiPS did not think Crow would be very good and while he is not the pitcher most of us hoped for when drafted, Aaron is still a nice piece to have in the pen.


2012 ZiPS: 66.7 IP, 67 K, 42 BB, 102 ERA+

2012 Actual: 69.7 IP, 93 K, 34 BB, 122 ERA+

Collins obliterated the strikeout and walk projections on his way to very good season. He can be maddening at times, not helped by Ned Yost's maddening mis-use of him at times. Like Herrera, 2012 was Timmy's age 22 season. Is there any organization that has developed and acquired a better stable of relievers while simultaneously mangling the development and acquisition of starters?

Anyway, there's a quick and dirty review of projection versus reality for the 2012 season. What will ZiPS tell us about 2013? And how accurate will it be?