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Over the past week and a half, we’ve published our annual season preview, ranking the league’s players by position and team based on a blend of our projections (a 50/50 split between ZiPS and Steamer) and our manually maintained playing time estimates courtesy of Jason Martinez. The result is a document that rivals The Power Broker for length, though we’ve endeavored to make it more easily digestible. If you happen to have missed any of those installments, you can use the handy navigation widget above to catch up.
Today, I’m going to summarize the results. We’ll look at some tables and pick out a few interesting tidbits in a moment, but first, it’s important to remember that this exercise captures a snapshot of how we project teams to perform now. Teams aren’t static. Since we’ve published our rankings, Eloy Jiménez ruptured his left pectoral tendon and underwent surgery; Luke Voit will miss time with a partial meniscus tear. The Angels reworked their bullpen on Monday. The Rangers announced that Rougned Odor won’t make the Opening Day roster and will be designated for assignment. Players will tweak elbows and hamstrings, lose playing time due to underperformance, and get traded.
That’s why we maintain a Team WAR Totals page, which lists projected positional WAR by team and updates regularly throughout the season as we learn more about who is likely to take the field every day and what shape they’ll be in when they do. Don’t be alarmed: The WAR numbers you see there may vary from what you see on the positional power rankings, mostly because those figures are aware of the injuries and transactions that have altered our playing time estimates since the rankings went live. The Z-Scores I include later use the WAR from the Team WAR Totals page as well. It’s a valuable resource I recommend bookmarking. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, after a winter spent fretting over the pandemic and the free agent market’s glacial pace (and what both might mean for baseball), the 2021 season is upon us. We made it. And on this, the morning of Opening Day, we engage in our annual tradition of asking our staff to open themselves up to public ridicule and predict the year in baseball. Some of these predictions will prove to be prescient; others will make their forecaster feel a little silly. Despite the 11th-hour format switcheroo, the FanGraphs staff ended up doing pretty well when it came to last year’s playoff field, though with eight teams in each league advancing to the postseason, the odds were in our favor. Still, with the exception of the Marlins (we thought the Nationals would do a better job defending their World Series title) and the Blue Jays (whither the Angels we picked instead?), we had October pretty well pegged. The 2020 individual awards? A big goose egg! Such is the prognostication business.
Folks from FanGraphs and RotoGraphs weighed in; here are the results.
The American League once again appears to be stratified into the haves and the yet-to-arrives, though our writers see two of the three divisions as competitive at the top. Twenty of our voters submitted ballots with Houston and New York as division winners; their Central votes were split between the Minnesota (12 votes) and Chicago (eight). Meanwhile, four teams received no playoff votes (the Mariners, Rangers, Tigers, and Orioles), while two more (Royals and Red Sox) received just one. I expected Kansas City to be a more popular sleeper pick. I’m don’t think they’re ready to compete in earnest with the AL’s other Wild Card contenders, but they certainly seem to think they are, and it’s always good to have a little zag in a ballot full of zig. Better luck next year, Royals. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, the FanGraphs staff took you through most of the league’s position players. Now, before we turn our attention to pitching, Meg Rowley examines the state of the designated hitter.
If these rankings prove anything, it’s just how rare it is for teams to have a truly designated designated hitter anymore. Some still look to a single bopper, and many of those clubs are at the top of these rankings. The Astros, Yankees, and Twins still figure prominently; Yordan Alvarez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Nelson Cruz will do that for you. But for about half of the squads here, DH plate appearances are a group project, with the position often serving as a means of giving otherwise-capable fielders a day off.
It’s not totally old hat in 2021. Interesting young guys like Andrew Vaughn and Ty France could outperform their modest projections, and Shohei Ohtani is his own wild card. Still, with three clubs projected in the red and several more clustered around 1 to 1.5 wins, the DH bats have swooned. Perhaps a universal DH will shake things up, but I suspect we’ll see more of the same when the NL finally puts pitcher hitting to bed — a collection of good-hitting catchers, erstwhile first basemen, outfielders who need a breather, aging vets, and a few elite bats carrying the load. Read the rest of this entry »