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ZIPS projects optimistic outlook for Royals starting pitching


MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken

The wonderful Dan Szymborski has released his ZIPS projections for the 2020 Royals on a day where everyone in town is thinking about nothing but Royals baseball. The projection system doesn’t have the Royals anywhere near competing, but if you squint your eyes and look at the bright side of life, you can see some optimistic results for the starting pitching staff.

The Royals are projected to field four starting pitchers (Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, Danny Duffy, and Mike Montgomery) worth 1.5 WAR or more, which isn’t great, but it is a much more stable pitching staff than they’ve had the last few seasons. ZIPS shows a pretty good outlook for Brad Keller, with Dan projecting him to carve out “a long career as a No. 2 or 3 starter”. ZIPS sees a slight improvement from Jakob Junis as a “serviceable pitcher who throws 170 innings or so of boringly effective innings.”

But perhaps the most optimistic projection is for pitching prospect Brady Singer. Szymorski writes that Singer “convincingly passed the Double-A test in his first go-around” and ZIPS projects him to be a serviceable 1.2 WAR pitcher with a 4.92 ERA in his rookie campaign. His top comp is John Denny, a former Cy Young winner who enjoyed a 13-year career with 31 WAR.

The offense projects to have a few bright spots, but a lot of holes. ZIPS projects Jorge Soler to still be an imposing power hitter with a line of .256/.351/.509 and 33 home runs in 561 plate appearances. Whit Merrifield is projected to be a 2.9 WAR player with a top comp of Ken Griffey, Sr. (perhaps we can expect Whit’s future offspring to be a future Hall of Famer?), but Dan questions moving Merrifield to center. Adalberto Mondesi projects to hit .249/.283/.458, and is curiously light on power with just 14 home runs. ZIPS projects Hunter Dozier to regress a bit, but still be above league average, and it expects Salvador Perez to bounce back without much drop off.

The less said about the bullpen, the better. Richard Lovelady is the only pitcher on the staff projected to have an ERA under 4.00, and ZIPS projects regression from Ian Kennedy. Dan writes that the Royals are in the middle of “one of the weirdest rebuilds I can remember” that doesn’t involve spending money, or going through a full tear down.

ZIPS is a computer projection system using multi-year statistics based on historical aging curves to project future performance. You can read more about what goes into ZIPS here.

What ZIPS projections stand out to you?