2019 ZiPS Projections – Pittsburgh Pirates

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for more than half a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Batters

The depth chart graphic for the Pirates (as seen below) pulls off a neat little trick. In this case, it manages to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of the Pirates in one bite-sized scoop. Pittsburgh is excellent at finding just below average to average talent for peanuts, and average or better talent for whatever is a little bit better than that (perhaps Chex Mix?). It keeps the Pirates from ever truly returning to the Kingdom of Reekdom they reigned over from 1993 to about 2010. Having a roster Ryanfull of free one-win players, two-win players who are paid like one-win players, and three-win players who are paid like two-win players means you have a highly efficient roster. But it’s a highly efficient roster that will generally win between 77-85 games.

What the Pirates missed in their best days, and largely are missing today, was the willingness to add stars. The low payrolls of the rebuilding era never really gave way to short-term payroll ceilings well above the team’s long-term comfort levels. Everyone who has read me over the last five years knows I’m not a Royals apologist, but Kansas City did do this one thing much better than the Pirates did, even if the players Kansas City chose weren’t exactly my favorite. Chris Archer has star upside, but the Pirates had to trade players with star potential to bring him in. If the small market model doesn’t have a path to league-average payrolls, it necessitates an immense amount of success on the player development side. Sometimes, you just need to spend money instead of prospects.

There aren’t a lot of surprises in the hitting projections, but it is a very deep group. ZiPS has an amusing tendency with Pittsburgh to pick unnecessarily cruel, Pirates-related comps. Jung Ho Kang and Kevin Kramer are projected to be able to replace any injured Pirates infielders without the team losing a beat, and ZiPS remains a fan of Starling Marte over the long haul. This team may have the smallest gap between their ideal starting lineup and a starting lineup comprised of their Plan B’s of any team in baseball.

Pitchers

ZiPS is still optimistic about Chris Archer, but it’s now at the point where it expects him to fall short of his projected FIP. He’s only underperformed by 0.22 runs of ERA over his career, but ZiPS believes that given his defenses, he should have been over-performing his FIP, not falling short of it. The projections are increasingly optimistic about Trevor Williams, believing that he’ll continue to do better with home runs than most pitchers do with his hit profile. But it’s understandably not buying his .261 BABIP allowed in 2018 as near his actual ability.

Of the low-key reliever breakouts from 2018, ZiPS is a believer in Richard Rodriguez, a skeptic about Edgar Santana, and on the fence about ex-Giant Kyle Crick. The computer still does not understand why Michael Feliz isn’t much better at preventing the other team from scoring than his results to date have been.

Bench and Prospects

ZiPS uses a Total Zone-esque approach for minor-league defense, and it continues to back up the scouting reports for Ke’Bryan Hayes that rave about his defense. It doesn’t show up in the projections yet, but ZiPS sees a strong probability that Cole Tucker develops into a 10-12 home run hitter just as Royce Clayton, his top comp, did for awhile. Ryne Sandberg and Eric Young, Classic Edition, round out his top three. No, he doesn’t actually have a one-in-three chance of becoming a Hall of Famer. As sleepers go, the favorite of ZiPS may be Dario Agrazal, a well-built righty with a hard sinker but no real pitch that puts away batters (strikeouts are better than grounders). He’s not really on the prospect radar — the Pirates would not have snuck him off the 40-man roster if he were — but he does interest ZiPS and remains worth keeping an eye on. Groundball pitchers with hard sinkers who don’t strike guys out sometimes work out surprisingly well.

One pedantic note for 2019: for the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth chart playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here at site.

Batters – Counting Stats
Player B Age PO G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Starling Marte R 30 CF 136 524 73 144 28 4 15 64 28 105 31 12
Corey Dickerson L 30 LF 141 522 65 148 36 5 18 61 26 100 5 3
Gregory Polanco L 27 RF 132 479 71 123 30 4 19 73 53 114 14 4
Adam Frazier L 27 2B 139 449 61 123 26 5 8 50 38 71 6 7
Jung Ho Kang R 32 3B 99 328 43 82 17 1 13 48 30 89 3 3
Josh Bell B 26 1B 150 525 74 138 28 5 17 76 71 107 3 5
Ke’Bryan Hayes R 22 3B 121 469 55 114 22 6 5 44 45 102 12 5
Colin Moran L 26 3B 126 429 52 113 20 2 13 59 36 98 0 2
Francisco Cervelli R 33 C 98 321 38 81 13 2 7 42 44 80 2 3
Kevin Newman R 25 SS 130 518 59 135 28 3 4 45 32 73 16 6
Kevin Kramer L 25 2B 131 485 58 119 25 4 10 54 36 130 9 5
Jose Osuna R 26 3B 137 431 56 111 31 2 12 58 29 87 3 3
Elias Diaz R 28 C 91 302 33 77 15 1 7 36 20 53 1 1
Cole Tucker B 22 SS 130 523 61 121 21 8 6 47 47 128 29 13
Josh Harrison R 31 2B 116 424 52 111 21 2 8 44 21 80 7 3
Lonnie Chisenhall L 30 RF 97 303 36 81 19 2 8 42 24 58 4 1
Jacob Stallings R 29 C 79 277 29 66 18 1 3 32 15 60 1 2
Jason Martin L 23 CF 130 490 59 120 25 6 13 56 38 130 10 11
Pablo Reyes R 25 LF 126 443 52 109 22 3 9 47 35 92 12 9
Erik Gonzalez R 27 2B 118 346 40 86 17 2 7 34 12 92 8 4
Arden Pabst R 24 C 67 238 24 54 10 1 5 23 13 56 1 2
Bryan Reynolds B 24 CF 99 390 47 89 18 4 8 42 32 106 3 2
Sean Rodriguez R 34 2B 97 211 28 42 8 1 8 25 23 79 2 1
Jared Oliva R 23 CF 106 409 47 91 16 5 5 36 30 112 21 9
Patrick Kivlehan R 29 RF 125 390 47 93 20 3 13 50 26 108 5 3
Wyatt Mathisen R 25 1B 99 322 38 75 15 2 7 34 31 83 2 2
Erich Weiss L 27 1B 102 348 38 80 17 4 6 36 27 92 4 2
Stephen Alemais R 24 2B 107 382 40 89 15 4 3 31 31 80 12 9
Will Craig R 24 1B 124 467 54 101 23 2 12 55 41 143 4 3
Steve Baron R 28 C 60 204 19 44 7 0 2 14 13 55 1 1
Daniel Nava B 36 LF 60 154 15 37 6 0 2 14 16 34 1 0
Christian Kelley R 25 C 90 320 31 68 11 1 4 26 24 84 0 3
Jackson Williams R 33 C 52 178 16 35 5 0 2 11 14 44 0 0
Jason Delay R 24 C 63 218 20 41 5 1 1 13 16 57 1 0
Eric Wood R 26 RF 106 361 45 80 19 3 11 48 31 111 5 2
JB Shuck L 32 LF 119 334 34 80 16 3 3 25 26 43 7 3
Logan Hill R 26 LF 106 381 43 76 14 2 13 46 34 151 3 4

Batters – Rate Stats
Player PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Starling Marte 552 .275 .326 .429 102 .155 .319 5.4 5 3.2 Bake McBride
Corey Dickerson 548 .284 .320 .475 111 .192 .322 5.7 5 2.8 Garret Anderson
Gregory Polanco 532 .257 .331 .455 109 .198 .301 5.6 3 2.5 Troy O’Leary
Adam Frazier 487 .274 .335 .408 100 .134 .311 4.9 2 2.2 Joe Randa
Jung Ho Kang 358 .250 .332 .427 103 .177 .305 5.0 1 1.9 Steve Buechele
Josh Bell 596 .263 .349 .432 110 .170 .302 5.4 -3 1.8 Sid Bream
Ke’Bryan Hayes 514 .243 .311 .348 78 .104 .301 3.9 9 1.8 D’Angelo Jimenez
Colin Moran 465 .263 .321 .410 96 .147 .314 4.7 1 1.7 Scott Cooper
Francisco Cervelli 365 .252 .357 .371 97 .118 .316 4.6 -3 1.6 Al Lopez
Kevin Newman 550 .261 .307 .349 77 .089 .297 4.0 4 1.5 Freddy Sanchez
Kevin Kramer 521 .245 .303 .375 82 .130 .316 4.0 2 1.3 Ty Wigginton
Jose Osuna 460 .258 .306 .422 94 .165 .298 4.6 -3 1.2 Jeffrey Baisley
Elias Diaz 322 .255 .302 .381 83 .126 .289 4.1 1 1.1 Sandy Alomar
Cole Tucker 570 .231 .298 .337 71 .105 .296 3.6 3 1.1 Royce Clayton
Josh Harrison 445 .262 .309 .377 84 .116 .307 4.3 -1 1.0 Manny Trillo
Lonnie Chisenhall 327 .267 .324 .422 100 .155 .308 5.1 -1 0.9 Mike Brown
Jacob Stallings 292 .238 .282 .343 68 .105 .294 3.3 5 0.7 Mike DiFelice
Jason Martin 528 .245 .299 .400 87 .155 .308 4.0 -4 0.7 Daryl Boston
Pablo Reyes 478 .246 .302 .370 81 .124 .292 3.9 6 0.7 Reed Peters
Erik Gonzalez 358 .249 .277 .370 73 .121 .320 3.7 2 0.4 Pat Meares
Arden Pabst 251 .227 .268 .340 63 .113 .277 3.0 4 0.4 Joe Depastino
Bryan Reynolds 422 .228 .289 .356 73 .128 .293 3.6 0 0.3 Craig Cooper
Sean Rodriguez 234 .199 .289 .360 74 .161 .274 3.5 0 0.3 Dave Matranga
Jared Oliva 439 .222 .285 .323 64 .100 .295 3.3 3 0.2 Maiko Loyola
Patrick Kivlehan 416 .238 .293 .405 86 .167 .297 4.2 -3 0.2 Keith Williams
Wyatt Mathisen 353 .233 .311 .357 80 .124 .293 3.8 1 0.2 Chris Pritchett
Erich Weiss 375 .230 .289 .353 73 .124 .296 3.6 4 0.1 Johan Limonta
Stephen Alemais 413 .233 .291 .317 64 .084 .288 3.1 2 0.0 Brett Harrison
Will Craig 508 .216 .293 .351 73 .135 .285 3.5 3 -0.2 Julio Vinas
Steve Baron 217 .216 .269 .279 49 .064 .286 2.5 1 -0.2 Scott Sandusky
Daniel Nava 170 .240 .324 .318 75 .078 .297 3.7 -4 -0.4 Brian Jordan
Christian Kelley 344 .213 .278 .291 54 .078 .276 2.6 -1 -0.4 Jose Molina
Jackson Williams 192 .197 .258 .258 40 .062 .250 2.2 0 -0.4 Chad Moeller
Jason Delay 234 .188 .261 .234 36 .046 .250 2.1 1 -0.5 Brian Moon
Eric Wood 392 .222 .286 .382 79 .161 .289 3.8 -5 -0.5 Edgardo Baez
JB Shuck 360 .240 .294 .332 69 .093 .267 3.5 -6 -1.1 Doug Dascenzo
Logan Hill 415 .199 .275 .349 67 .150 .290 3.1 -5 -1.1 Jim Betzsold

Pitchers – Counting Stats
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO
Jameson Taillon R 27 11 9 3.53 30 30 173.3 168 68 21 33 154
Chris Archer R 30 10 8 3.72 30 30 169.3 162 70 19 53 185
Trevor Williams R 27 11 10 4.06 28 28 155.3 153 70 16 53 116
Joe Musgrove R 26 9 8 4.05 26 21 126.7 131 57 17 24 108
Felipe Vazquez L 27 4 2 2.89 71 0 71.7 58 23 5 26 88
Keone Kela R 26 5 3 2.82 54 0 51.0 38 16 4 19 67
Richard Rodriguez R 29 4 3 3.53 56 0 71.3 64 28 8 22 80
Chad Kuhl R 26 7 7 4.39 23 23 119.0 121 58 14 52 109
Mitch Keller R 23 7 8 4.59 25 25 129.3 132 66 16 59 104
Dario Agrazal R 24 5 6 4.45 18 17 91.0 106 45 12 17 49
Kyle Crick R 26 3 3 3.73 66 0 60.3 52 25 5 34 63
Steven Brault L 27 5 6 4.53 39 13 107.3 108 54 12 57 93
Blake Weiman L 23 3 3 3.84 38 0 61.0 63 26 7 11 49
Clay Holmes R 26 7 8 4.68 31 22 117.3 118 61 12 67 98
Michael Feliz R 26 3 3 4.22 56 0 59.7 56 28 8 26 70
Roberto Gomez R 29 4 5 4.76 32 9 75.7 82 40 10 28 57
Tyler Lyons L 31 2 2 4.22 44 0 53.3 52 25 8 17 54
Jordan Lyles R 28 4 5 4.72 39 11 93.3 99 49 13 31 75
Aaron Slegers R 26 7 9 5.11 22 21 116.3 133 66 19 32 69
Nick Kingham R 27 7 10 4.95 27 25 123.7 135 68 22 38 97
Brandon Waddell L 25 7 9 4.94 26 22 116.7 125 64 12 61 82
Geoff Hartlieb R 25 5 5 4.50 45 0 56.0 57 28 6 28 45
James Marvel R 25 7 10 5.17 25 24 134.0 154 77 17 52 76
Johnny Hellweg R 30 1 1 4.18 24 0 23.7 22 11 1 17 20
J.T. Brubaker R 25 6 9 5.02 26 26 132.7 148 74 19 54 96
Nick Burdi R 26 1 1 4.40 14 0 14.3 14 7 2 9 14
Edgar Santana R 27 3 3 4.55 62 0 65.3 69 33 10 18 54
Damien Magnifico R 28 3 4 4.82 45 3 61.7 59 33 4 49 51
Cam Vieaux L 25 7 10 5.34 23 23 121.3 141 72 19 45 76
Bo Schultz R 33 1 1 4.85 35 0 39.0 40 21 5 17 27
Brandon Maurer R 28 4 4 4.76 60 0 58.7 60 31 7 29 51
Scooter Hightower R 25 4 5 4.76 63 0 64.3 70 34 10 19 49
Eduardo Vera R 24 7 9 5.19 27 25 137.0 163 79 23 35 76
Dovydas Neverauskas R 26 2 3 4.92 59 0 67.7 66 37 9 40 67
Alex McRae R 26 6 9 5.28 27 21 124.3 145 73 17 52 79
Vicente Campos R 26 3 5 5.70 17 12 66.3 77 42 12 35 43
Luis Escobar R 23 6 10 5.64 24 23 113.3 119 71 15 80 90
Matt Eckelman R 25 3 5 5.96 37 2 51.3 58 34 9 29 37
Elvis Escobar L 24 2 4 5.93 37 0 54.7 55 36 7 50 51
Jesus Liranzo R 24 2 4 6.71 40 3 53.7 56 40 13 46 57

 

Pitchers – Rate Stats
Player TBF K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA+ ERA- FIP WAR No. 1 Comp
Jameson Taillon 715 8.00 1.71 1.09 .293 113 89 3.62 3.1 Brad Radke
Chris Archer 716 9.83 2.82 1.01 .314 110 91 3.43 3.0 Kevin Millwood
Trevor Williams 668 6.72 3.07 0.93 .288 98 102 4.17 1.8 John Denny
Joe Musgrove 533 7.67 1.71 1.21 .302 101 99 3.92 1.7 Dave Eiland
Felipe Vazquez 299 11.05 3.27 0.63 .301 138 73 2.86 1.6 Al Hrabosky
Keone Kela 208 11.82 3.35 0.71 .291 145 69 2.72 1.2 Troy Percival
Richard Rodriguez 299 10.09 2.78 1.01 .303 116 86 3.46 0.9 Rich Bordi
Chad Kuhl 527 8.24 3.93 1.06 .308 91 110 4.28 0.9 Todd Eggertsen
Mitch Keller 576 7.24 4.11 1.11 .297 87 115 4.68 0.7 Jim Clancy
Dario Agrazal 392 4.85 1.68 1.19 .303 89 112 4.48 0.7 Rick Wise
Kyle Crick 267 9.40 5.07 0.75 .292 107 94 4.03 0.6 Mark Acre
Steven Brault 486 7.80 4.78 1.01 .303 88 114 4.66 0.5 Brad Weis
Blake Weiman 255 7.23 1.62 1.03 .303 104 96 3.72 0.5 Chris Key
Clay Holmes 534 7.52 5.14 0.92 .302 85 118 4.68 0.5 Mike Torrez
Michael Feliz 259 10.56 3.92 1.21 .314 97 103 3.95 0.3 Glenn Dooner
Roberto Gomez 335 6.78 3.33 1.19 .305 86 116 4.63 0.3 Jeff Farnsworth
Tyler Lyons 228 9.11 2.87 1.35 .301 94 106 4.20 0.2 Brian Shouse
Jordan Lyles 408 7.23 2.99 1.25 .303 84 119 4.51 0.2 Bert Bradley
Aaron Slegers 510 5.34 2.48 1.47 .297 80 124 5.07 0.2 Dave Eiland
Nick Kingham 542 7.06 2.77 1.60 .299 80 124 4.99 0.2 Jared Gothreaux
Brandon Waddell 533 6.33 4.71 0.93 .304 81 124 4.80 0.2 Greg Kubes
Geoff Hartlieb 253 7.23 4.50 0.96 .300 91 110 4.65 0.1 Joe Davenport
James Marvel 605 5.10 3.49 1.14 .303 79 126 5.01 0.1 Jake Joseph
Johnny Hellweg 109 7.61 6.46 0.38 .300 95 105 4.29 0.1 Ted Abernathy
J.T. Brubaker 598 6.51 3.66 1.29 .306 79 126 4.97 0.1 Jake Joseph
Nick Burdi 66 8.79 5.65 1.26 .300 93 107 5.10 0.0 Jeff Smith
Edgar Santana 282 7.44 2.48 1.38 .301 88 114 4.50 0.0 Jeff Tam
Damien Magnifico 292 7.44 7.15 0.58 .299 83 121 4.92 -0.1 Hal Reniff
Cam Vieaux 547 5.64 3.34 1.41 .305 77 130 5.22 -0.1 Jason Cromer
Bo Schultz 172 6.23 3.92 1.15 .287 82 122 4.82 -0.1 Milo Candini
Brandon Maurer 263 7.82 4.45 1.07 .305 84 120 4.55 -0.2 Jose Segura
Scooter Hightower 281 6.85 2.66 1.40 .302 84 120 4.72 -0.2 Ken Clay
Eduardo Vera 606 4.99 2.30 1.51 .302 77 130 5.16 -0.2 Heath Totten
Dovydas Neverauskas 307 8.91 5.32 1.20 .303 81 124 4.81 -0.3 Heathcliff Slocumb
Alex McRae 568 5.72 3.76 1.23 .311 75 133 5.10 -0.3 Matt Achilles
Vicente Campos 309 5.83 4.75 1.63 .301 72 139 5.92 -0.4 Kevin Hodges
Luis Escobar 538 7.15 6.35 1.19 .301 71 142 5.59 -0.7 Edwin Morel
Matt Eckelman 240 6.49 5.08 1.58 .302 67 150 5.86 -0.8 Sean Green
Elvis Escobar 269 8.40 8.23 1.15 .306 67 149 5.91 -0.9 Steve Rosenberg
Jesus Liranzo 262 9.56 7.71 2.18 .301 59 169 6.91 -1.3 Wilson Guzman

 

Disclaimer: ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors — many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2019. ZiPS is projecting equivalent production — a .240 ZiPS projection may end up being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example. Whether or not a player will play is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting the future.

Players are listed with their most recent teams, unless I have made a mistake. This is very possible, as a lot of minor-league signings go generally unreported in the offseason.

ZiPS’ projections are based on the American League having a 4.29 ERA and the National League having a 4.15 ERA.

Players who are expected to be out due to injury are still projected. More information is always better than less information, and a computer isn’t the tool that should project the injury status of, for example, a pitcher who has had Tommy John surgery.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR — which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR.

We hoped you liked reading 2019 ZiPS Projections – Pittsburgh Pirates by Dan Szymborski!

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Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Skin Blues
Member
Member
Skin Blues

There’s an extra heading column in the first table. Delete; shift cells left.

Kibber
Member
Kibber

the new homerun record projected would be something else if this was accurate

Kervin
Member
Kervin

Yeah, although I think Josh Bell would be too tired from playing 525 games to be able to do it.

LHPSU
Member
LHPSU

He’ll only have 74 ABs though.