The ZiPS projections for the 2020 season are now live for your perusal and condemnation. The 2021 and 2022 projections are also up, or at least imminent by the time you read this.
The same caveats from the team projections apply. There is a lot more detail at this link which will hopefully address many of your questions on why the projections exist and what they attempt to do.
ZiPS is not a playing time projector, by design. While the ZiPS projections are rejiggered in many contexts to conform with the depth chart playing time, the computer itself doesn’t have any insight into specific roster decisions as that’s not something computer projections have much to offer there. On a generalized level, ZiPS can — and does — know that older players get injured and that play below a specific threshold will typically result in lost playing time, but there are a lot of things it doesn’t know and can’t know. How will the Cincinnati Reds shuffle their outfield? How much rope does Jurickson Profar have if he again has a shockingly low BABIP in a year the Padres hope to become contenders? How threatening is Wilmer Flores to Mauricio Dubón’s playing time?
ZiPS — and any of the projection systems housed here — ought to have great utility in assisting how these questions should be answered in general, but as to how these questions will be actually answered by their teams, it’s not really helpful.
I’ve designed ZiPS to explicitly project performance that we know will never actually happen. Just to pick a random name, Bobby Dalbec has a projection of .219/.300/.404 and 0.6 WAR in 524 plate appearances. I know, you know, everyone knows that he won’t get 524 plate appearances. But I find answering the question as to how good Dalbec is as a player and what he would contribute in the majors is a far more interesting result than a .000/.000/.000, 0.0 WAR projection. The latter tells you nothing about Dalbec.
One other key thing to remember when looking at projections is to remember that these are mean projections. ZiPS only gives three hitters a .300 BA projection. That doesn’t mean ZiPS only thinks that three hitters will hit .300, because everyone’s not going to be at their mean projection. On average, ZiPS projects there will be 24 qualifying .300 hitters in 2020!
Here’s how ZiPS sees the top 25 projected hitters in batting average.
In coming weeks, there will be more ZiPS tidbits, such as the Soto/Acuña vs. Trout career projections for which I’ve been asked about quite a lot! But for now, enjoy the numbers.
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.
This is great! Have these been rolled onto the Depth Charts projection page(s) yet? And when can we expect them to be on the player pages?
They are and they are
And were last night.
See the various shifts in ranking like dodgers ahead of Astros in depth charts war now