Steamer’s very early projections for the 2016 Reds

Forecasting 2016 has begun even before the books are closed on the 2015 baseball season. Fangraphs today made available new projections from Steamer, one of the more widely referenced models. You can find projections for all of Major League Baseball under Fangraph’s projections tab. An article titled “What Exactly is a Projection?” by FG site educator Neil Weinberg explains Steamer and other projections.

A few things to note from the Steamer projections for Cincinnati Reds fans:

  • Anthony DeSclafani (175 IP), Raisel Iglesias (159 IP), Keyvius Sampson (152 IP) and John Lamb (144 IP) are projected to pitch the most innings next season. None of them will be older than 26 next season.
  • Steamer sees Iglesias as the Reds’ top starting pitcher next year, projecting a 3.69 FIP/3.64 ERA while striking out 156 and walking 50 in 159 innings.
  • DeSclafani slides a bit from a 3.67 FIP in his rookie year to 4.18 FIP in his second full season. Strikeout and walk rates improve slightly, but he’ll give up more home runs, Steamer forecasts.
  • Steamer doesn’t yet have an innings-pitched projection for Homer Bailey coming back from Tommy John surgery, but it projects 4.13 FIP/4.00 ERA. He had a 3.71 FIP/3.61 ERA from 2012-2014.
  • The Reds can’t expect more from Joey Votto than what he gave them this year (172 wRC+, 7.4 fWAR). Steamer says to expect the 32-year-old first baseman to be very good, but not MVP caliber: 145 wRC+, 4.1 WAR.
  • Todd Frazier will be better than he was in the second half of 2015, but Steamer projects a decline in the all-star third baseman’s age-30 season: 106 wRC+ and 2.8 WAR after posting 112 wRC+ and 12.2 WAR from age 27-29 (2012-2015).
  • Steamer’s outlook on catcher Devin Mesoraco’s return looks like 18 HR, 100 wRC+, 2.6 WAR.
  • Other than Mike Leake-trade acquisition Adam Duvall, no one else on the Reds is projected at 100 or better wRC+. Needless to say, even with expected offseason departures, the Pirates, Cubs and Cardinals will have quite a few more good hitters.
  • Steamer600’s WAR projections suggest it won’t matter much which two of Eugenio Suarez, Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips man the middle of the infield next season. This is what the Steamer projection says we could expect from each based on 600 plate appearances (batting average/on-base/slugging):

Suarez .254/.310/.406, 26 doubles, 17 home runs (93 wRC+)

Cozart .244/.289/.372, 27 doubles, 12 HR (76 wRC+)

Phillips .266/.307/.385, 25 doubles, 13 HR (86 wRC+)

Suarez brings the expectation of better hitting, but he, Cozart and Phillips are in the same Wins Above Replacement range (1.6 – 1.7 WAR). This is probably the last season that can be said; Suarez (25 next July) has age on his side. If his surgically repaired knee is good to go, Cozart’s run-prevention ability makes up for the run-production gap between him and Suarez, while Phillips falls in the middle offensively and defensively. The National League average wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) for a shortstop in 2015 was 82. For second basemen, the NL average was 91 wRC+.

  • To plug the hole in left field, in-house options include Duvall, Jesse Winker and Yorman Rodriguez. Winker hasn’t played above AA yet, but he’s a top prospect with plate discipline. Duvall is a converted first baseman, but he has power (8 HR in 149 MLB plate appearances). Rodriguez doesn’t turn 24 until August, but has played seven seasons in the Reds minor league system and he may get a big-league audition. The outlook for these three left field candidates is as follows (600 PA):

Winker .249/.322/.397, 24 doubles, 17 HR (95 wRC+, 1.3 WAR)
Duvall .242/.291/.465, 24 doubles, 32 HR (101 wRC+, 1.0 WAR)
Rodriguez .239/.281/.376, 23 doubles, 15 HR (76 wRC+, -0.3 WAR)

I’m not forgetting about Kyle Waldrop, but he’s missing from Fangraphs’ Steamer600 pages.