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ZIPS projections not high on Royals in 2017

Merry ZIPSmas!

Computer Hackers Congress Starts In Hamburg Photo by Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

Dan Syzmborski has released his 2017 ZIPS projections for the Royals and the numbers do not project the Royals to return to post-season glory. The ZIPS projection system is a computer-based projection model based on past performance, age, injury, and other factors, and is generally considered the gold standard of player projection systems. Overall, the model projects the Royals as a 79-83 team.

On the hitting side, ZIPS is rather pessimistic, expecting every regular to be a 3 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) player or less. ZIPS does not seem to believe Mike Moustakas has turned his career, around, projecting him to hit just .254/.313/.428 with 1.6 WAR, although that comes in a projected 381 plate appearances. ZIPS does not project playing time, but bases its plate appearances on past years, and Moustakas missed most of 2016 with injury.

Salvador Perez projects as the best Royals position player with a line of .259/.292/.430 and 3.3 WAR, with Benito Santiago as a top comp. Eric Hosmer projects as just a 1.3 WAR player with Lorenzo Cain at 3.1. Rookie Raul Mondesi projects as a replacement level player with a line of .212/.248/.354 based on both his minor league and Major League track record. New Royals outfielder Jorge Soler projects to be replacement level with a line of .241/.315/.420.

If you’re looking for optimism, ZIPS likes Whit Merrifield to continue to be a useful player, with a projection of 1.3 WAR. Cheslor Cuthbert also projects well with 1.4 WAR and a line of .265/.312/.406. ZIPS also likes Alex Gordon to bounce back after a poor 2016 season.

ZIPS is much more optimistic on Royals pitchers than hitters. The model projects big things out of Danny Duffy, comparing him to Cliff Lee, another late bloomer.

Duffy is projected to be a 3.6 WAR pitcher, putting up pretty similar numbers to 2016. Yordano Ventura also projects well, with 2.6 WAR. Rookie Matt Strahm is expected to do well, although ZIPS is unsure of his role going forward. Rooke Alec Mills is also a surprising projection at 1.2 WAR and a 4.27 ERA in 105 innings. On the flip side, Jonathan Sanchez - difficult to project since he did not pitch at all last year - projects for a 6.05 ERA. Too low, in my opinion! And yes, there is a projection for Drew Butera as a pitcher.

ZIPS should not be taken too seriously, but it should be a guide for the direction Royals players are trending based on historical player aging curves. The Royals are getting older, which means some players are trending downwards. There are also still significant holes on this team - a lack of depth on the pitching side, and a lack of above-average hitters in the lineup. Perhaps the Royals can defy projections once again, but as of January 2017, the club does not look like a championship-contending club.