Late last week, Fangraphs came out with the 2017 ZiPS Projections for the Cincinnati Reds. You can read them here.
A word about the projections: they include pretty much everyone in the Reds’ organization and they are by nature pessimistic. If you want to make money in life, bet the under every single time. People will get injured. People will get distracted. People will have bad days. If you expect everyone to disappoint, you will be correct more than half the time.
If you think there is more to money in life, don’t just bet the under. People will pleasantly surprise you, whether by chasing you two blocks to hand over a pair of gloves you dropped or by hitting .280 despite loving to strike out. Make room in your heart for these people, especially if they play for your favorite baseball team.
Carson Cistulli explained the 2017 Reds thusly:
“Average” is probably not an unreasonable outcome for this group [of batters]... the rotation doesn’t appear to have benefited from any substantive reinforcements, the relief corps does seem to have become stronger as the 2017 season approaches.
Votto is, unsurprisingly, the only person projected to be much above average: a .381 wOBA (~.320 is about average). He is followed by Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler and Dilson Herrera. Devin Mesoraco, Phil Ervin and Eugenio Suarez project to be the only other dudes above average, albeit at .323, .321 and .321. This is not going to be a hard-hitting squad.
Based on WAR, Billy’s great defense puts him second on the Reds with 2.3 WAR. Jesse Winker is at a perhaps-surprising 2.2 and gets a Nick Markakis comp — which I’ll take. Eugenio gets a Ty Wigginton comp, which reminds me that Ty Wigginton was a dude.
The pitching projections are ugly, but so was the 2016 pitching! ZiPS is actually somewhat on-board with the revamped bullpen: Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Drew Storen look to be a decent back-end of the ‘pen. Jumbo Diaz and Nick Routt (who is a lefty) trend towards competence. Deunte Heath spent two years in Japan and one in Mexico, and ZiPS thinks he could Vogelsing his way into big-league innings.
They also think Tony Cingrani is about cooked, Wandy Peralta is ain’t much, and there is no reason to learn how to spell Lucas Luetge*’s name. I have no idea who is going to throw lefty innings in the pen this year. Maybe Amir Garrett will start off in the bullpen?
*When I Google “Luetge”, “Lugenpresse” comes up first in the search. Love to live in 2017, y’all
As for the starters: it’s looking bleak. Anthony DeSclafani will be fine and probably won’t throw 200 innings. ZiPS doesn’t think Brandon Finnegan will make a leap, Homer Bailey will come back healthy, or there is any difference between nor goodness in: Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis, Nick Travieso.
They do think Jackson Stephens and Scott Feldman will avoid embarrassing themselves, for what it’s worth.
What do we learn from this? That there are several players who need to markedly improve for the Reds to be competitive this year. But I suppose we already knew that? The fun, I suppose, will be watching those improvements step by step in a humid summer.