Over the past few days, several prominent projection systems (ZiPS and PECOTA) released their early predictions for the Reds in 2017. Few fans expected the team to be competitive this season, but everyone was hoping the team could take a step forward. If these predictions end up being correct, it could be another long season in Cincinnati.
PECOTA’s initial projection has the Reds finishing 74-88 in 2017. That would give them the second worst record in the NL (thanks San Diego), and leave them last in the NL Central. This result would be a six win improvement from 2016.
Unfortunately, ZiPS is even lower on the Reds. This system projects Cincinnati to finish 70-92. This is the third worst projected record in baseball, and leaves the Reds ahead of only Milwaukee and San Diego. Could we have our early front runners for the latest version of the Dumpster Fire Division?
These systems have similar reasons for their pessimism. Projection systems depend heavily on past results to reach their conclusions. Two potential major contributors for the Reds (Bailey and Mesoraco) have given these systems little to dream on the past few years. Add to that a host of young prospects and aging position players, and there’s little to go on in terms of prime projectable performance.
The starting rotation figures to be one of the major problems for Cincinnati next season by these calculations. The Reds currently have three starters projected to finish under one WARP (Baseball Prospectus’ version of WAR) in 2017. For the sake of comparison, the Dodgers (the team with the best PECOTA projection) have three starters projected for more than two WARP. They also have Clayton Kershaw, who’s projected WARP of 5.1 would almost out earn the entire Reds staff.
It can be difficult for fans to look at projections like this. It’s a good reminder that there are still a number of question marks on this team. No doubt, the front office believes they have a solid core of players who can lead the team into the team’s next competitive future. Until that production appears on the field, all fans will have is hope that the right moves have been made.