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2023 ZiPS Projections: New York Yankees

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the New York Yankees.

Batters

It’s really hard to be a lousy offense with Aaron Judge, and it’s really hard to be a great one without him. The Yankees were not otherwise stacked — or destitute — enough to buck that reality. With the return of their franchise slugger, if the Yankee offense doesn’t lead the American League in runs scored, it shouldn’t miss by a lot. The Yankees led the AL in runs scored last year and outside of Judge, they really didn’t get any standout, star-level offensive performances (other than Matt Carpenter, but that was only 154 plate appearances). Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Kansas City Royals

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Kansas City Royals.

Batters

Coming into the 2021 season, there were reasons to be optimistic about the future of Kansas City’s offense, with Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, and Vinnie Pasquantino. Three of these four played well in the majors, but only one — and probably the one the Royals were themselves least high on, Pasquantino — really wowed offensively. Witt was solid, but far from amazing, and Melendez’s bat was mainly good because he plays a position that he may not be playing for very long. I guess what it comes down to is a simple question: outside of Pasquantino, who do you feel better about now than a year ago? The problem with the Royals is that I’m hard-pressed to give many names in response to that question.

KC’s minor league hitters didn’t come roaring out of the gate, which makes the challenges steeper for the next front office/manager. It’d be easy if Melendez had pushed Salvador Perez to permanent DH status or if Pratto blew everyone away at first, but neither really happened, so decisions have to be made. Except for Michael A. Taylor, the legacy veterans are pretty much gone, and while Taylor is frequently named as a possible trade candidate, if he were a car, he’s in a situation similar to that of a 1999 Ford Taurus: you’ll probably find a new home for him, but not someone who is going to offer much in return.

Can Pratto hit at the major league level? After all, he didn’t really hit at the minor league level in 2022. Can Melendez play catcher successfully? Is Witt a shortstop? The Royals have to answer these questions, and if they don’t make great strides into doing that in 2023, the season is probably a failure overall. At least they’ve moved on from Ryan O’Hearn. They’ll need to; of hitters yet to make their major league debut, ZiPS only sees Maikel Garcia as having a strong chance at a 10-WAR career. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: New York Mets

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the New York Mets.

Batters

Closing a deal with Carlos Correa would obviously improve the team’s outlook, but the situation at third base — Correa’s likely position — is hardly dire. Eduardo Escobar is a league-average if quite unexciting player, and if his thumb is better, Brett Baty ought to provide additional depth as the season goes on. Even if I’m not quite as optimistic about Brandon Nimmo’s attendance record as the depth charts are, he has a long history of providing a lot of value even while missing a lot of games. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor are elite players at their respective positions, and Jeff McNeil isn’t that far off that status. Mark Canha and Starling Marte make up a solid supporting cast. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Baltimore Orioles

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Baltimore Orioles.

Batters

The building of Baltimore’s offense is coming along quite nicely; graduating two arguable no. 1 prospects to the majors in a single season has a curious way of doing that! The O’s should at least be locking up Adley Rutschman as soon as possible and ideally Gunnar Henderson as well. There’s no need to stay on both too long; everyone knows about Rutschman’s awesomeness, and I’ve written near-panegyrics about Henderson already. Similar to Mike Devereaux three (!) decades ago, Cedric Mullins is a borderline star.

The O’s aren’t amazing anywhere else in the lineup, but they are at least adequate, with a couple of exceptions. ZiPS does think the team could use an outfield upgrade, but one can at least understand why the Orioles are waiting to see which of their young outfield prospects takes a big step up, if any. I’m crossing my fingers, because Nomar Mazara was signed to a minor league contract and is lurking in the wings, like a replacement-level Sauron after the fall of Númenor.

Just in case you have only seen the graphic and not the tables below, ZiPS does project Ryan Mountcastle to be an above-average first baseman. What it isn’t crazy about is the backup situation with Mountcastle expected to spend some time at DH. Lewin Díaz is far from a ZiPS fave, but it sees him as quite a bit superior to Ryan O’Hearn, whose acquisition never made much sense to me given his poor track record.

I’m not going to grump about the O’s being quiet here, nor am I a particular fan of the Adam Frazier signing, since I’m going to complain elsewhere in a minute. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Milwaukee Brewers

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Milwaukee Brewers.

Batters

The nice thing about the Brewers is that when you look at their depth chart, they’re not truly awful anywhere. That’s easier said than done; the worst Brewers generally project better than even the worst Astros or Dodgers. This is a very solidly built team that has a pretty high floor, probably higher than a year ago when we gathered for this exercise. What they’re missing on the offense is just a bit of pizzaz. I think we’re at the point where we have to accept that Christian Yelich is Just a Guy, which leaves the Brewers sorely missing a superstar bat. Everyone is at least OK and some are pretty good, but that big bat (or lack thereof) is what separates the Brewers from teams like the Dodgers, Astros, Braves, and maybe the Mets when we look at the upcoming preseason projections.

If you glance at the depth chart, you might think that it’s Garrett Mitchell who ZiPS is big on, but it’s actually Sal Frelick, who ZiPS sees as having more upside. ZiPS thinks his contact skills will play in the majors fairly quickly, his long-term upside in terms of batting average is quite high, and he has just enough power to make him really interesting. ZiPS isn’t quite as excited about Brice Turang, but does seem him as being at least a passable starter at second, though a downgrade from Kolten Wong. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Los Angeles Dodgers

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Batters

There are certainly some weaker spots in the Dodgers’ offense, and a bit less depth than usual, but like the Astros, as long as the top tier of the offense stays relatively intact, this group will still score a serious number of runs. Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, and Mookie Betts remain in the ultra-elite at their positions, and woe be unto anyone that underestimates these players. Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, Miguel Vargas, and various fill-ins are also solid parts of the lineup. ZiPS is relatively bullish at DH; it sees J.D. Martinez as having a little more left in him, and Smith filling in doesn’t hurt given his potent bat and the fact that Los Angeles has one of the best backup catchers around in Austin Barnes.

Where ZiPS remains concerned is the non-Mookie outfield positions. Trayce Thompson did terrific work in 2022, and there’s a lot to like about James Outman, but ZiPS is definitely not sold on them necessarily being plan Bs. The LF/CF mix of Thompson, Outman, leftover infielders, Jason Heyward, and a dash of JDM and maybe Bradley Zimmer feels a lot more like the backup plan rather than the one you start April with. It really feels like there should have been a big offseason addition at at least one of these positions.

In the high minors, the Dodgers have their usual array of Interesting Dudes, with ZiPS being especially intrigued by Jorbit Vivas and, to a lesser extent, Andy Pages. Outside of Diego Cartaya, it just doesn’t feel that there are as many huge-upside guys as there usually are, and the system feels a bit light there. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Los Angeles Angels

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Los Angeles Angels.

Batters

I remember the first time I visited Anaheim. A jewel along the Mississippi River, with its vast cornfields, state fairs with fried butter, and an easy drive from cities like Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, or St. Louis. Hold on a jiffy, that doesn’t sound quite right. Anaheim is actually in southern California, not the midwest. My confusion, you see, stems from my opinion that the Angels, despite having two of the best players of this generation, are a Central division team. At least, they’re run like one.

The Angels aren’t afraid of a few big contracts, but when it’s time to fill out the roster, it’s all cost-cutting, “just good enough” thinking, and depth resembling a small puddle on a blazing hot day. Just good enough hasn’t, it’s turned out, actually been good enough, not by any stretch of the imagination. The Angels haven’t had a winning record since 2015. The Pirates have a win-loss record more recently in the black. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Texas Rangers

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Texas Rangers.

Batters

The Rangers undergo rebuilding with a refreshing urgency you don’t always see, though that’s hardly surprising since they’re not actually a small-market team. While their previous rebuild kinda struck out, that one, which I always refer to as the “skinny rebuild,” wasn’t quite as focused as this go-around. This time, while they’re developing their talent from within, they’re also going after top free agents, guys who are likely to still be good the next time the Rangers are a contending team, and who are of a caliber that’s hard to develop yourself. A lot of teams blunder this approach, deciding to gird their rebuilding loins with quantity rather than actual quality. That’s kind of what the Padres did in the early going, first acquiring Matt Kemp as if he were a foundational talent and then giving an absurdly large deal to the very ordinary Eric Hosmer. The Rangers haven’t made a bunch of confusingly gigantic commitments to middling players; they signed average players to fairly short, sensible deals (Jon Gray, Martín Pérez, Andrew Heaney) while going all-out for the players who can really make a difference (Jacob deGrom, Corey Seager, and Marcus Semien).

Now, as a contender, the Rangers are still an incomplete squad, as you can see when looking at the offensive projections. The middle infield is absolutely elite and while Nathaniel Lowe isn’t likely to hit .300 again, he’s an adequate starter who won’t reach free agency for another four years, even though it feels like he’s more of a veteran than that. Josh Jung’s cup of coffee was a bit bitter, but ZiPS believes he’s of a similar quality vintage as Lowe. Jonah Heim took a big step forward offensively and while nobody’s going to confuse him with J.T. Realmuto, his bat has improved enough to make his excellent defense matter quite a bit. Mitch Garver is a useful role player who can provide some additional pop while being able to more than fake it at catcher. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Colorado Rockies

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Colorado Rockies.

Batters

There are a lot of problems with the Colorado Rockies as an organization, but I think the biggest one is different than what ails most other poorly run franchises. It’s not parsimony; while the Rockies aren’t exactly the Mets, with a projected 2023 payroll around $163 million, they’re not the Pirates or the Marlins either. Playing in Coors make things trickier, but the team’s already shown they can find viable starting pitching — the biggest challenge in an environment like Denver — and they play in a beautiful park and city, and get consistent fan support. It isn’t even necessarily an analytics problem. While the top levels of the org clearly aren’t on board with the ways modern front offices think about the game — they have a department with sky-high employee churn — this is more a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself. The problem that plagues the Rockies is a lack of imagination.

What do I mean by imagination? With most bad teams, you can imagine the scenario in which they’re good. The Orioles looked like a pretty lousy club entering the 2022 season, but they also had the most high-upside minor league talent in baseball. The Reds have several young pitchers with impressive physical tools, while the Pirates have some interesting starters to go along with some good prospects and young big leaguers at key defensive positions. But if you look at the Rockies, especially the offense, there just isn’t ambition there. While it’s bad that this group projects as one of the worst lineups in the league, it’s even worse that they project as having the lowest variance of any team I’ve projected so far this offseason. It’s a bit like buying a lottery ticket; almost every time you play Powerball, you’re going to be a loser, but if you hit it big, you become fabulously wealthy. Nobody buys a Powerball ticket because the winning prize is a 1989 Mercury Sable. Read the rest of this entry »


2023 ZiPS Projections: Houston Astros

For the 18th consecutive season, the ZiPS projection system is unleashing a full set of prognostications. For more information on the ZiPS projections, please consult this year’s introduction and MLB’s glossary entry. The team order is selected by lot, and the next team up is the Houston Astros.

Batters

The top of Houston’s lineup is dominated by four stars, all of whom could be one of the top three players at their position in any given season. Yordan Alvarez has been ZiPS’ favorite young slugger for a long time, and it’s definitely not seeing anything to make it question its algorithmic stance. Similarly, the system has always been in the Kyle Tucker fan club. Alex Bregman‘s peak was probably in 2018 and ’19, but he remains an elite third baseman, which isn’t easy given the quality at that position right now. We can also be even more confident now that Jose Altuve’s 2020 season was a blip we don’t have to worry too much about. And while he’s entering the downside of his career, he’s starting from a really high point. He bumped his 3,000-hit probability up from 34% to 46% in a single season, and that’s a milestone that’s hard to sneak up on by the back door. Read the rest of this entry »