Your Stance On the Team Projections (National League)

Hello and welcome to the second part of this community polling project, in which I ask you all how you feel about the various team projections, now that we’ve included both the Steamer system and the ZiPS system. If you missed it, here’s Tuesday’s polling post, about the American League. Now to examine the National League landscape:

Projected NL Records
Team W L
Cubs 95 67
Dodgers 94 68
Nationals 91 71
Giants 87 75
Mets 85 77
Cardinals 83 79
Pirates 82 80
Marlins 78 84
Rockies 78 84
Diamondbacks 76 86
Braves 73 89
Phillies 71 91
Reds 70 92
Brewers 69 93
Padres 65 97

All in all, it seems fairly uncontroversial. Last year’s top six NL teams: the Cubs, Nationals, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Cardinals. This year’s projected top six NL teams: the Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, Giants, Mets, and Cardinals. There hasn’t been much of a shakeup at all, because the majority of the NL is either trying to win now or rebuilding. That being said, just because this looks similar to a year ago doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything. Rosters have changed, and outlooks are altered. This is why I run this project in the first place. Let me know where you disagree. (Also let me know where you agree. That part is important too.)

Again, [copy, paste] something I’d like for you to keep in mind: Please vote according to what we know now. Don’t vote anticipating midseason additions or subtractions. It’s one thing if you think a team will or will not call up a top prospect, but don’t vote planning on trades. I think everything else is self-explanatory, so, have fun. For each team and each poll, I’ll offer brief commentary that serves little purpose since I don’t want to actually bias anything myself. I think that’s it for the intro. Thank you and I love you!

To proceed directly to a specific team projection poll, click on the team’s name below.

Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Reds, Rockies

=====

Braves

  • Team Projection: 73-89

Two of the top three projected position players came over in that one swap with the Diamondbacks. I don’t mean to keep beating that dead horse, but try to imagine where the Braves would be without that. Every rebuilding club has to get a little lucky, like the Cubs did with, say, Jake Arrieta, or Kyle Hendricks, or being able to draft Kris Bryant. That one talent injection might’ve pushed the Braves’ window forward an entire season or something. Still, it doesn’t seem like the window has yet opened. For all the veteran additions they made, none of the players are great. The goal was just to increase watchability. Mission probably accomplished!

Brewers

  • Team Projection: 69-93

The Brewers just won 73 games, after winning 68 games. Now they’re projected to win 69 games. Maybe you feel like there’s a disconnect between what the Brewers have done, and how much we’ve talked about how we like the progress of their rebuild. That would be totally fair. I’ll point out I’m a far bigger fan of Keon Broxton than the projections. I’m also a bigger fan of Domingo Santana, and they genuinely feel like they have something of interest in Jett Bandy. There’s a half-decent pitching staff to be assembled from all of those spare parts. This clearly isn’t a complete team, but a competitive team is slowly taking shape.

Cardinals

  • Team Projection: 83-79

It’s difficult to overstate how much it sucks that they won’t have a healthy Alex Reyes. Even if you’re not a Cardinals fan — and, odds are, that’s you! — Reyes is one of those good-for-baseball types of talents, and no one benefits from his absence. But the Cardinals are no strangers to this kind of injury, and they always seem to have replacements on hand. As they say a temporary goodbye to Reyes, they welcome back Lance Lynn. The bullpen has been built up to offer more stability, and there’s the usual amount of depth around the position players. It’s still not the fastest team, or the most athletic team, but Dexter Fowler alone offers something that, last year, wasn’t present. Get ready for another year of the Cardinals just never quite going away.

Cubs

  • Team Projection: 95-67

“Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “A practically flawless baseball roster.” “But is that…is that Jon Jay?” “Jay has actually been worth an average of 2.5 WAR per 600 plate appearances in his career.” “But isn’t he also about 32 years old? With questionable defense in center field?” “Well, sure, but is that really your only complaint?” “Addison Russell strikes out sometimes.” “Can we come in or not?” “I’m afraid there are too many of you.”

Diamondbacks

  • Team Projection: 76-86

No one in Seattle was too broken up over Jack Zduriencik getting dismissed, but Jerry Dipoto got to reap a perception benefit when a healthier roster looked competitive throughout 2016. Similarly, I don’t think anyone in Arizona was too broken up over the Diamondbacks’ front-office overhaul, but now the new group will stand to benefit from just having a healthy, everyday A.J. Pollock. This team should have a lot in common with last year’s team, but this year’s team should be better. The new guys will get a lot of the credit, and they have already made their mark, but last year was a total baseball disaster. In the big picture, I suppose that was probably a good thing.

Dodgers

  • Team Projection: 94-68

Ah, so we get to have this conversation again. While the Cubs are first in baseball in projected position-player WAR, the Dodgers are third. The Dodgers are first in projected rotation WAR, and the Cubs are sixth. The Dodgers are first in projected bullpen WAR, and the Cubs are fourth. For almost every great Cubs player, the Dodgers have an answer, and to whatever extent you might think the Cubs have more good pitchers, the Dodgers have one who’s unparalleled. Yet again, the pitching staff is littered with health questions, and I don’t think that’s something you can ignore. But no other team is better equipped to deal with such issues as they come up. See, the front office knows about the questions, too.

Giants

  • Team Projection: 87-75

Somehow — and I don’t get it — Buster Posey is underrated. Brandon Belt is also underrated. Brandon Crawford is also underrated. And as for Joe Panik, he was a fantastically underrated player until last June, when he suffered a concussion. Before that happened, he had a 100 wRC+. Afterward, he had a wRC+ of just 73. With Panik now recovered, the Giants should go back to having an outstanding all-around infield, and that’ll carry some potential issues out on the grass. The rotation is top-heavy but strong, and there’s a real closer now to help avoid whatever the hell it was that happened in San Francisco last year down the stretch. Sure, it’s an odd year, but I think we’re done with that now. This is just a really capable roster.

Marlins

  • Team Projection: 78-84

Dave has argued that the Marlins are in a position where they have to be creative with their pitching staff. The Marlins seem prepared to do just that, asking for shorter starts and more flexibility from the bullpen. I don’t know how well it’s going to work out, nor do I know to what extent the Marlins will actually stick with their preseason plans, but this is an interesting and deep bullpen, if short a particularly dominant fireman like the heavily-pursued Kenley Jansen. Tragedy has forced the Marlins into an unenviable spot, but if they do indeed go outside the box, that at least opens some doors.

Mets

  • Team Projection: 85-77

The vagaries of building around talented starters. What had to go right did go right in 2015, and the Mets tried to make the World Series. Then disaster struck in 2016, and the Mets…won 87 games and still made the playoffs. I have to admit, in my head the picture was a lot more drastic. As we get ready for another year, we get ready for another several months of wondering if arms can remain attached. Very obviously, a healthy Mets rotation is a dominant Mets rotation. Will it be a healthy Mets rotation? I wish I had a more interesting question, but I don’t. Will Michael Conforto not be a nightmare anymore? That’s one. Look at me go!

Nationals

  • Team Projection: 91-71

The top three names from the Nationals’ depth chart at first base: Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Lind, and Clint Robinson. Those three players had a combined 2016 WAR of -3.1. So, you know, couldn’t be worse, and everything. The good news is they’re strong in so many other places, just with questions about depth and the closer. A chunk of the depth was sacrificed in pursuit of Adam Eaton, which people have opinions about. The closer seems like it’ll inevitably be David Robertson at some point, but then he’s coming off his worst year in a while, so maybe that wouldn’t settle it all. Long story short: big talent, weaker support system.

Padres

  • Team Projection: 65-97

Wil Myers is the lone Padres player projected to be worth at least 2 wins above replacement. His WAR figure is 2.6. I’m not saying this is something you have to believe, but it’s at least an explanation. The team did just sign literally Jered Weaver, in order for him to occupy a spot in their literal starting rotation. They needed innings, they said, even though they’d already also signed Trevor Cahill, Jhoulys Chacin, and Clayton Richard to start. Four new cheap starting pitchers. That’s how bad the group of internal starters is. At least the bullpen looks shiny. And shiny relievers on bad teams can turn into new starting pitcher prospects!

Phillies

  • Team Projection: 71-91

In a way, I guess 2016 didn’t provide all that much in the way of clarity. We still don’t know what Maikel Franco will turn into. Odubel Herrera looks like a different kind of player from month to month. J.P. Crawford didn’t exactly shine in the upper minors. Aaron Nola was great and then hurt, and Vince Velasquez tailed off. Jerad Eickhoff, at least, cemented himself as a quality big-league starter, and that’s something, but now 2017 will come with a similar overall assortment of questions. Maybe the Phillies are just one year away. Or maybe this is going to be plenty more painful.

Pirates

  • Team Projection: 82-80

Some months ago I drafted an article for ESPN about how the Pirates could stay competitive even without Andrew McCutchen. It never ran, because the seemingly inevitable McCutchen trade never happened. The team is still hanging around, interesting if incomplete. The Pirates don’t need everything to break right in order to challenge for the wild card, but they could desperately use a McCutchen bounceback. They could stand to get a strong full year from Josh Bell. Felipe Rivero could build on all of his obvious promise, and the same would apply to Tyler Glasnow. This roster has big-upside players. It’s shorter on big-upside guarantees.

Reds

  • Team Projection: 70-92

In this section a year ago, I wrote about how I’d forgotten about Devin Mesoraco, who slugged .534 in 2014. In his attempted follow-up campaign, he got hurt and missed almost the whole year. In his next attempted follow-up campaign, he got hurt and missed almost the whole year. But, hey, Devin Mesoraco slugged .534 as a regular catcher in 2014, and isn’t that something? Once again, a healthy and productive Mesoraco would go a long way toward keeping the Reds from looking like crap. The same goes for a healthy and productive Homer Bailey (great in 2013!) (but already hurt). Let me say this for the Reds: With Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen, at least, this year’s bullpen should feel more stable. Last year, the pitching staff as a whole was the first in big-league history to combine for a negative WAR. At least those days, I assume, are behind them.

Rockies

  • Team Projection: 78-84

The 2016 Rockies lost 87 games, but to their credit, according to BaseRuns, they should’ve been just about .500. The bullpen was a glaring problem, so they went out and acquired Greg Holland, who might be a solution, or who might be a different sort of glaring problem. Every single regular position is occupied by an interesting player. The bullpen is talented at the top. And the rotation at last, at last, might have three or four actual quality starters. There have been whispers about the rising Rockies now for a couple of years. To this point it hasn’t come together. Maybe it’s coming together now. Or maybe they’re still not sufficiently complete.





Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

newest oldest most voted
Barney Coolio
Member
Barney Coolio

Padres: As a fan, maybe I am biased, but I voted for “low by more than 4 games.” SD won 68 games last year, and I can’t see how they look worse this season. I see that 5% of people voted for “high by more than 4 games.” I truly cannot see how people can predict a maximum of 60 wins for this team.

Los
Member
Los

They look worse than last year to me. Pomeranz is gone (I know he left mid season but was still worth nearly 3 wins while he was there) and I could see Myers, Schimph, and Solarte not having as good of years as they did last year. It’s also hard to see any upside with the exception of Margot who is still young and not a sure thing to play the full season. I agree that they aren’t likely to be 60 win bad but my initial thought was 64 which is pretty close to the projection.

Pirates Hurdles
Member
Member
Pirates Hurdles

Spend some time looking at the rotation.

bosoxforlife
Member
Member
bosoxforlife

I tried to look for one but couldn’t find anything.

Barney Coolio
Member
Barney Coolio

Sure, but the rotation was terrible in 2016 too, outside of Pomeranz and his 102 innings.

jruby
Member
Member
jruby

Easy. They go 4-15 against the Dodgers, 6-13 against the Giants, 7-12 against the Rockies, and 8-11 against the Diamondbacks. That puts them at 25-51. They go 6-10 against the AL Central, and 1-3 against the Rangers. 32-64. They go 15-19 against the NL East, and 13-19 against the NL Central. 60-102.

Now, listen, I’m being a bit facetious, because you can’t just add it up like that. But… they project as 27th in pitching and 29th in batting. Clearly the worst team, by projections.

And projections tend to clump towards the middle. Over the last 10 years, the worst team in the MLB has finished with 66, 59, 59, 57, 56, 55, 51, 64, 63, and 59. I’m of the opinion that, if the Padres are the worst thing in the league – and they certainly appear likely to be, as they’ve lost Melvin, Jay, Pomeranz, and Rosales, and are counting on a bunch of young guys – then they’re just as likely to be at 60 or fewer wins as they are to be at 61 or more.

I’ve been a bit of a jerk in this comment. But:
TL;DR: yeah, you’re biased.

Baltar
Member
Baltar

Yes, the odds that some team will win less than 70 games are very high, but the odds that any one specified team will be the that one are low, and I am not biased. I just know the first rule of statistics {and not much more}.

Baltar
Member
Baltar

I’m with you, Barney. I voted 2-4 with those wins coming from the Snakes or Rocks. Simple regression to the mean is the reason. Among all those young players, some will stand up.
I voted the same for the Reds and Brews for the same reason.
I don’t think I would ever project fewer than 70 wins except for an expansion team.