Reviewing the pitcher projections for the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers

The World Series is over (congratulations to World Series champion Mike Fiers) but for fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, the offseason began long ago. The Brewers missed the playoffs by an inch, and although playing in October would’ve been incredible, the season as a whole was a great success. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; the future is bright in Milwaukee. I fully believe this team is just a year or two away from being a perennial playoff team, something the Brewers have never really been.

But now that the season has ended, it’s time to revisit the projections by comparing my own system (RW23) that was created with the help of Mike Podhorzer and his book Projecting X 2, with popular projection systems Steamer and ZiPS. This was the first year I had ever created projections, and I’m curious to see how they held up.

Below you’ll find every Brewers pitcher I projected just before the season tipped off, along with Steamer and ZiPS projections, compared to said player’s actual 2017 statistical line. If you missed my hitter projection review, you can find it here.

***Note: My preseason projections included Tommy Milone, Jhan Marinez, Neftali Feliz and Taylor Jungmann, but because they were on the major league roster for such a short time, I chose not to include them below.

Junior Guerra

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 162 17 1.27 .281 7.48 3.25 19.8% 8.6% 3.61 3.99 4.35
Steamer 192 25 1.39 .303 8.24 3.47 21.0% 8.9% 4.43 4.29 4.25
ZiPS 123 18 1.35 .294 8.20 3.66 20.9% 9.3% 4.24 4.54 N/A
Actual 70.1 18 1.48 .236 8.57 5.50 21.3% 13.7% 5.12 6.58 5.43

Winner: Steamer

All three projection systems — especially RW23 — missed on Guerra’s meltdown in 2017, and while Steamer and ZiPS were equally accurate, neither really deserve a win here. Yet, I’m giving it to Steamer. Guerra will be 33 by the beginning of next season, and it seems like his time with Milwaukee is most likely finished. But at least we have his 2016 brilliance as a nice memory.

Zach Davies

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 168 22 1.32 .305 7.75 2.61 20.2% 6.8% 4.13 4.14 3.95
Steamer 174 23 1.36 .306 7.67 2.82 19.7% 7.3% 4.35 4.19 4.11
ZiPS 169 20 1.27 .307 7.76 2.55 20.2% 6.6% 3.99 3.91 N/A
Actual 191.1 20 1.35 .302 5.83 2.59 15.2% 6.7% 3.90 4.22 4.42

Winner: Steamer

RW23 should definitely get its props for being accurate, but Steamer still managed to edge out the win by just a hair. Once again, Davies outperformed his peripherals, while also finishing with the exact same BABIP and home runs allowed as he did in 2016. The 24 year old has proved he deserves to be in a major league rotation, even if most of his outs come in other ways than the strike out.

Jimmy Nelson

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 181 21 1.35 .296 7.83 3.47 20.1% 8.9% 4.02 4.27 4.16
Steamer 120 15 1.46 .308 7.39 3.64 18.5% 9.1% 4.80 4.57 4.48
ZiPS 170 21 1.38 .307 7.57 3.39 19.2% 8.6% 4.34 4.45 N/A
Actual 175.1 16 1.25 .340 10.21 2.46 27.3% 6.6% 3.49 3.05 3.15

Winner: RW23

Neither of the three systems were particularly close when it came to projecting Nelson, but RW23 was closer to predicting his success relative to Steamer and ZiPS. Nelson broke out in 2017, and despite a crazy .340 BABIP, posted the lowest ERA, FIP and xFIP of his career. It’s really a shame he’ll miss a significant amount of time next season.

Matt Garza

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 96 11 1.44 .303 6.05 3.18 15.4% 8.1% 4.45 4.46 4.53
Steamer 128 19 1.46 .308 6.54 3.06 16.5% 7.7% 4.89 4.71 4.57
ZiPS 122 18 1.43 .309 6.30 3.04 15.8% 7.6% 5.04 4.76 N/A
Actual 114.2 17 1.45 .287 6.20 3.53 15.7% 8.9% 4.94 4.91 5.12

Winner: ZiPS

ZiPS and Steamer were neck-and-neck, but I’m giving the slight edge to the former. Garza was dreadful once again, and his contract will go down as the worst free agent contract in Milwaukee Brewers franchise history. He’s now a free agent, but seeing how his last few seasons went, his career might be over. If so, he finishes a 12-year career with 23 WAR.

Wily Peralta

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 125 16 1.42 .310 6.66 2.94 17.0% 7.5% 4.49 4.37 4.09
Steamer 140 18 1.45 .312 6.93 3.12 17.5% 7.9% 4.64 4.43 4.26
ZiPS 149 22 1.43 .312 6.67 3.07 16.7% 7.7% 4.81 4.70 N/A
Actual 57.1 10 1.83 .362 8.16 5.02 19.3% 11.9% 7.85 5.34 4.96

Winner: N/A

Peralta was terrible in 2017. So much so that he was optioned to the minors and subsequently designated for assignment. There are no winners here.

Chase Anderson

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 138 25 1.40 .295 7.37 3.12 18.9% 8.0% 4.82 5.03 4.51
Steamer 133 18 1.37 .301 7.81 2.83 20.0% 7.2% 4.72 4.56 4.43
ZiPS 139 22 1.38 .308 7.28 2.96 18.5% 7.5% 4.64 4.67 N/A
Actual 141.1 14 1.09 .265 8.47 2.61 23.4% 7.2% 2.74 3.58 4.33

Winner: Steamer

So far the projections haven’t been able to figure out Brewers pitchers in 2017, but once again, Steamer was the closest on Anderson, particularly regarding his peripherals. Anderson posted a sub-3.00 ERA that no one saw coming, and he heads into next season as the Brewers top pitcher.

Jacob Barnes

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 52 4 1.20 .293 9.09 3.12 24.5% 8.4% 3.10 3.18 3.54
Steamer 35 4 1.32 .304 8.98 3.28 23.3% 8.5% 3.94 3.84 3.88
ZiPS 53 5 1.27 .313 9.56 3.35 24.9% 8.7% 3.52 3.46 N/A
Actual 72 8 1.25 .272 10.00 4.13 26.3% 10.9% 4.00 3.88 3.67

Winner: Steamer

ZiPS had more of Barnes’ peripheral stats correct, but Steamer takes the cake with its ERA/FIP/xFIP projections. Barnes was wild and didn’t command the strike zone as well as RW23 thought he would. However, his strikeout numbers are great, and he should once again be in the back end of the bullpen and used in high-leverage situations next season.

Corey Knebel

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 63 6 1.22 .297 10.32 3.48 27.6% 9.3% 3.24 3.29 3.43
Steamer 65 7 1.28 .302 10.66 3.77 27.9% 9.9% 3.56 3.49 3.56
ZiPS 54 7 1.27 .316 11.28 3.81 29.3% 9.9% 3.65 3.68 N/A
Actual 76 6 1.16 .311 14.92 4.74 40.8% 12.9% 1.78 2.53 2.97

Winner: ZiPS

I could’ve given the win to RW23, but once again, ZiPS was more consistent throughout. Knebel put together his best season of his professional career and finished with the fourth-highest strikeout rate among qualified relievers.

Carlos Torres

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 73 9 1.28 .285 8.16 3.26 21.5% 8.6% 3.76 4.10 4.08
Steamer 55 7 1.36 .304 8.58 3.33 22.0% 8.6% 4.17 4.09 4.09
ZiPS 80 11 1.33 .301 8.74 3.59 22.4% 9.2% 3.92 4.29 N/A
Actual 72.2 10 1.53 .309 6.94 4.09 17.4% 10.3% 4.21 4.89 4.96

Winner: Steamer

All three systems missed the target on Torres, as his ERA rose by almost 1.5 runs from 2016. He was ourighted by Milwaukee a few weeks ago.

Jared Hughes

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP XFIP
RW23 62 5 1.38 .292 5.11 2.95 13.0% 7.5% 3.99 4.39 4.43
Steamer 10 1 1.46 .308 6.06 3.41 15.3% 8.6% 4.34 4.40 4.46
ZiPS 63 6 1.41 .303 5.12 2.98 N/A N/A 3.69 4.52 N/A
Actual 59.2 4 1.22 .278 7.24 3.62 19.7% 9.8% 3.02 3.93 3.98

Winner: RW23

At the time I published my original projections post, Steamer hadn’t updated Hughes’ projection. Same with ZiPS for K% and BB%. So I guess by default, RW23 is the winner. Hughes — who was another quality under-the-radar pickup by David Stearns — was an extremely valuable asset in Milwaukee’s bullpen, and the 32 year old should have a similar role in 2018.

Final Results

Steamer: 5 wins

ZiPS: 2 wins

RW23: 2 wins

3 thoughts on “Reviewing the pitcher projections for the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers

  1. KF

    Is Garza actually the worst free agent signing in history? Don’t get me wrong, he was bad and it’s definitely in the top 5 for worst Brewers contracts ever, but at least had one solid year. Jeff Suppan had at best one serviceable season and was terrible the rest of his tenure. His K-to-BB numbers are terrible, one season he only struck out 80 and walked 74. Plus his contract (4/42m in 12/2006) was nearly as much as Garza’s (4/50 in 1/2014). Accounting for inflation, Sup’s total value is just over a million less than what Garza was paid 7 years later.

    Also FYI Torres was outrighted a couple weeks ago.

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    Reply
    1. Justin Schultz Post author

      Thanks for catching my Torres error. That move totally slipped my mind. And as in terms of Suppan and Garza, I think we could go either way in terms of defining the worst contract. Garza’s was the highest free agent contract the team ever dished out, which is the main reason why I chose to bestow him with the honor.

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      Reply
      1. kevanfeyzi

        True, and both had negative bWAR over the term of the deal (Garza -0.8, Sup -0.7) but I will point out that Fangraphs believes Garza did not have any sub-replacement level seasons, which Suppan had a couple of, and one at 0.0.

        They were both bad contracts (from a Brewers perspective of course, in a large market they wouldn’t be seen as such), but I’ll still take Garza and his 2014 season over Suppan and his 2007 season for $1.1 mil more (in 2014 dollars).

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