There has always been the fear that computers would one day take over our lives and/or destroy us all. From Terminator 2 to The Matrix to War Games to Disney’s animated horror film Wall-E, computers are the evil menace, ready to suck our lifeblood and annihilate us with weapons made by our own hands.
They also like to make baseball predictions.
The world famous ZiPS Projections are out for the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies and they show a team projected to win about 87-88 games, an improvement over last year and a number that certainly puts them in the conversation for a wild card spot in the National League playoff picture.
How they’ll get there, though, is somewhat interesting.
- The top WAR of any Phillies position player is projected to come from Chase Utley. While it’s no surprise to learn that Utley is the Phils’ most valuable position player, it is interesting to note that his projected WAR of 3.4 makes him not a whole lot more than a solid everyday Major League player. In order to be considered and All-Star caliber player, a WAR of 5.0 or higher is usually the benchmark. In other words, there are no All-Star caliber players on the Phillies’ offense. To illustrate this point further…
ZiPS projects no Phillies position player to post 3.5 more more WAR in 2013. That hasn’t happened for the Phillies since 1996.
— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) January 2, 2013
- Domonic Brown is projected to have 497 plate appearances, hit .265/.332/.461, with a wOBA of .337 (anything between .320 and .340 is considered league average, with .340 considered above average), 18 HRs, 60 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases. Overall, that would account for the fifth-highest WAR on the team at 1.9. Not a bad year for a player getting his first legitimate crack at being an everyday player.
- Darin Ruf‘s projections are also decent for a first-year player. ZiPS projects The Babe to post a WAR of 1.0, with a .255/.321/.420 slash line and a wOBA of .321. They expect him to accumulate 582 plate appearances and hit 17 HRs with 31 doubles.
- Ryan Howard‘s numbers are not so good, far lower than the Phillies are expecting from their $25 million a year player. ZiPS sees Howard making only 474 plate appearances in 2013, with just 23 HRs, 89 RBIs, a slash line of .242/.325/.463 and a wOBA of .327. Howard’s projected WAR of 1.0 is also greatly diminished by their expectation of a continued diminished capacity to play effective defense. Clearly, the Phils are hoping for better numbers than this from their slugging clean-up hitter.
- After a 2012 season in which he struggled mightily until the final two months and ended up with 23 HRs, 30 stolen bases, and a slugging percentage of .427, Jimmy Rollins‘ 2013 projections are expected to take a hit. ZiPS sees him hitting 17 HRs and stealing 22 bases and a slugging percentage of .422. His projected 3.3 WAR, however, is helped by his defense, which continues to be ever-so-slightly above average at shortstop.
- Once again, power could be a real issue for the Phils in 2013, with Howard the top HR hitter with 23. No other player is projected to hit more than 18, with Brown tallying that number, followed by Rollins and Ruf with 17, and John Mayberry with 15. Yikes.
As for the pitching staff, there is some better news there.
- Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are projected to have very solid seasons, with Lee’s WAR at 4.9 and Hamels’ at 4.4.
- Roy Halladay, the key to the 2013 season in my opinion, is not expected to return to the Halladay of old, although they do still see him as an effective pitcher. He’s projected to pitch 179 innings and post an ERA of 3.42, an ERA+ of 113, and a WAR of 3.6. Probably not an All-Star-type season, and maybe not good enough to get the Phillies back to the playoffs. But a solid season for a pitcher who will turn 36 in 2013.
- Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan are both predicted to do about what you’d expect out of your numbers four and five starters, posting a WAR of 1.2 and 1.1, respectively.
- It’s no surprise Jonathan Papelbon would be the most effective reliever out of the ‘pen, with a WAR 1.2, an ERA+ of 137, and an ERA of 2.83. It’s also no surprise that newly-acquired set-up man Mike Adams is also expected to do well in his role, with an ERA of 3.05.
- What is surprising are the expectations for swing man/potential bullpen piece Julio Rodriguez, who they think could log around 133 innings in 2013, with a K/9 of 8.53 and an ERA of 4.53. That projects out to a WAR of 0.8, eighth-best on the pitching staff. While it’s doubtful Rodriguez will pitch that many innings, his inclusion in this list is interesting to say the least.
- Phillippe Aumont, who many are looking at as a potential middle-inning reliever, is not being given much benefit of the doubt by the ZiPS computer. They project his ERA at 4.82 with a WAR of -0.3. Of course, projecting, and even calculating WAR, for a relief pitcher is tricky business, but regardless, Aumont is not seen as an answer to the Phils’ bullpen in 2013.
Of course, ZiPS is just a computer, and computers are our enemy. It’s likely these numbers will not be all that accurate once the season is said and done. And with a little over a month before pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, there is still time for Amaro to continue tinkering with the roster.
However, a projection of 87-88 wins should make Phillies fans happy. That total certainly puts the Phils in the conversation for a wild card spot, although it also certainly leaves them trailing the Nationals and the Braves in the NL East pecking order at the moment.
Perhaps all computers aren’t trying to kill us after all.
Good computer. Gooooooood computer.