Category Archives: Projections

Reviewing the hitter 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 is over, 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 2.0, 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 hitter I projected in the preseason, along with Steamer and ZiPS projections, compared to said player’s actual 2017 statistical line. Pitcher projection results will soon follow the publication of this article.

Manny Pina

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 360 330 .246 .302 .356 .658 .110 .290 16.1% 7.0% .275 8
Steamer 109 99 .250 .305 .384 .689 .135 .298 17.2% 6.6% .282 3
ZiPS 304 278 .241 .291 .371 .662 .129 .286 16.4% 5.9% .271 6
Actual 359 330 .279 .327 .424 .751 .145 .323 22.0% 5.6% .339 9

Winner: Steamer

Even though Steamer vastly miscalculated Pina’s playing time while RW23 was dead accurate, Steamer’s projections were consistently more spot on, giving it the win. Neither of the three thought Pina would have the offensive season he mustered. Kudos to him.

Eric Thames

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 535 478 .265 .334 .517 .851 .252 .360 26.4% 9.3% .308 31
Steamer 534 470 .272 .350 .515 .864 .243 .364 24.2% 9.6% .313 29
ZiPS 507 450 .247 .321 .493 .815 .247 .343 28.2% 8.7% .297 26
Actual 551 469 .247 .359 .518 .877 .271 .369 29.6% 13.6% .309 31

Winner: RW23

Another close one with Steamer, but RW23 earns its first win. It correctly predicted Thames’ home run total and was just a point off in slugging and BABIP. Thames produced an excellent season for the Brewers and was definitely a major upgrade over Chris Carter. ZiPS, meanwhile, is still looking to get on the scoreboard.

Jonathan Villar

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 625 545 .260 .348 .398 .746 .137 .326 24.9% 11.8% .336 15
Steamer 641 563 .255 .333 .397 .731 .142 .318 25.3% 10.0% .329 15
ZiPS 584 515 .256 .332 .410 .742 .153 .322 26.9% 9.8% .338 15
Actual 436 403 .241 .293 .372 .665 .132 .287 30.3% 6.9% .330 11

Winner: N/A

Jonathan Villar was awful in 2017. While each system projected regression from his phenomenal and unsustainable 2016 campaign, none had him falling off the face of the earth. He eventually lost his starting job to Eric Sogard and Neil Walker, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds himself displaced from the roster next year.

Travis Shaw

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 541 485 .254 .322 .439 .761 .185 .330 24.4% 8.7% .301 22
Steamer 388 347 .245 .314 .431 .745 .186 .319 23.3% 8.6% .286 15
ZiPS 542 492 .246 .308 .433 .741 .187 .316 22.9% 7.9% .287 20
Actual 606 538 .273 .349 .513 .862 .240 .361 23.1% 9.9% .312 31

Winner: RW23

RW23 was a little more bullish than Steamer and ZiPS, though Shaw still managed to exceed all projections and expectations. He set a career high with 31 home runs and had his best season of his career. Not the most accurate projection by RW23, but it somewhat projected his breakout.

Orlando Arcia

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 580 537 .255 .304 .383 .688 .129 .300 17.5% 6.5% .293 12
Steamer 538 497 .246 .292 .375 .667 .129 .288 18.3% 5.8% .286 10
ZiPS 635 593 .245 .289 .379 .669 .135 .288 20.2% 5.5% .291 13
Actual 548 506 .277 .324 .407 .731 .130 .309 18.2% 6.6% .317 15

Winner: RW23

Once again, RW23 was overall just more consistent. Arcia managed to outperform the projections and turned out to be somewhat of a better hitter than people expected. He still only finished with an 85 wRC+, so there’s room for improvement from the 23 year old.

Ryan Braun

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 555 496 .291 .355 .495 .850 .204 .362 18.6% 8.6% .320 24
Steamer 544 487 .280 .346 .492 .838 .212 .353 19.3% 8.7% .310 24
ZiPS 548 497 .282 .343 .477 .820 .195 .347 18.4% 8.0% .313 22
Actual 425 380 .268 .336 .487 .823 .218 .347 17.9% 8.9% .292 17

Winner: ZiPS

ZiPS earns its first win, as it accurately predicted Braun’s wOBA and was just a couple points off of his OPS. Braun’s home run power disappeared in 2017, and he just didn’t look like the player he used to be. With the crop of young outfielders the Brewers are ready to employ, Braun’s future is a little up in the air.

Keon Broxton

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 522 456 .242 .331 .413 .743 .170 .325 31.0% 11.4% .337 15
Steamer 530 466 .222 .304 .378 .683 .156 .298 32.9% 10.2% .315 15
ZiPS 469 417 .216 .297 .408 .705 .192 .304 37.3% 10.0% .325 16
Actual 463 414 .220 .299 .420 .819 .200 .308 37.8% 8.6% .323 20

Winner: ZiPS

Keon Broxton led MLB in strikeout rate (minimum 400 PA), and ZiPS nailed it on the head with that one. ZiPS was scary accurate throughout Broxton’s projection, while RW23 turned out to be way too optimistic. The centerfielder was, however, able to knock out 20 home runs, but his 84 wRC+ left a lot to be desired.

Domingo Santana

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 515 441 .256 .354 .490 .843 .234 .362 31.0% 12.3% .341 23
Steamer 517 448 .253 .343 .449 .792 .197 .342 28.8% 11.4% .327 21
ZiPS 466 408 .243 .333 .441 .774 .199 .334 32.6% 11.2% .335 19
Actual 607 525 .278 .371 .505 .875 .227 .372 29.3% 12.0% .363 30

Winner: RW23

This one wasn’t all that close. RW23 correctly predicted Santana’s breakout, particularly when it came to his power numbers. Personally, I’ve been a die-hard believer in Santana as a prospect and a player, and it’s nice to see him perform at such at high level in his 25-age season. He led the Brewers in wRC+ and while 30 home runs might be his peak, expect his OBP numbers to increase as he continues to get a better feel for the strike zone.

Hernan Perez

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 315 296 .261 .296 .383 .679 .122 .295 21.6% 4.7% .314 7
Steamer 402 379 .261 .294 .385 .679 .124 .292 19.6% 4.2% .308 8
ZiPS 486 458 .266 .293 .400 .693 .133 .296 18.1% 3.7% .308 10
Actual 458 432 .259 .289 .414 .704 .155 .298 17.2% 4.4% .286 14

Winner: ZiPS

ZiPS believed Perez would get more playing than a typical utility player, and it was right. For the second straight year, Perez set a career high in home runs and is destined to play a similar role for the Brewers in 2018.

Jett Bandy

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 300 280 .267 .304 .457 .761 .190 .326 17.8% 3.9% .282 14
Steamer 218 199 .237 .288 .393 .681 .156 .294 19.7% 4.9% .267 7
ZiPS 337 307 .225 .278 .378 .655 .153 .284 22.8% 4.2% .260 11
Actual 188 169 .207 .287 .349 .636 .142 .280 27.1% 8.0% .259 6

Winner: ZiPS

Bandy started out hot to begin the year, but the catcher eventually cooled and was optioned to the minors. He has raw power and RW23 expected to see that in 2017. It’s hard to envision Bandy making the Opening Day roster in 2018 with Manny Pina and Stephen Vogt still on the roster, but a eye-opening spring could keep him in Milwaukee’s plans.

Jesus Aguilar

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO WOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 145 134 .231 .283 .334 .617 .103 .273 22.3% 6.5% .280 3
Steamer 99 90 .238 .303 .411 .714 .174 .306 23.0% 7.9% .276 4
ZiPS 568 516 .250 .310 .448 .758 .198 .322 23.1% 7.6% .283 26
Actual 311 279 .265 .331 .505 .837 .240 .351 30.2% 8.0% .337 16

Winner: ZiPS

Aguilar is arguably the biggest surprise of the 2017 campaign. He’s a relatively unknown player who just happened to post a 112 wRC+ off the bench in his first full season in MLB. RW23 and Steamer didn’t believe in him at all. Sure, he had a fantastic spring training, but spring training stats are relatively meaningless. It will be interesting to see what the projections look like for Aguilar next year.

Final Results

ZiPS: 5 wins

RW23: 4 wins

Steamer: 1 win

Advertisements

Projecting Stephen Vogt

With the Brewers making another move to its 25-man roster, it’s time for another projection post. But don’t worry. I have a Matt Garza article scheduled for later this week, so make sure to stop by again. I mean, who doesn’t want to read about Matt Garza?

Jett Bandy — the owner of a 72 wRC+ — was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Stephen Vogt, who the Brewers claimed off waivers from the Oakland Athletics in another low-risk and cheap move by David Stearns. The former two-time All-Star Vogt will share time with incumbent Manny Pina behind the plate, but Pina figures to see most of the playing time. Vogt has earned a 94 wRC+ over his last 1.217 plate appearances but has been substantially underwhelming in 2017. He’s batting just .217 with an OBP under .300, but with a walk rate of 9.2 percent, his batted ball average of just .244 is the main culprit. His hard-hit rate is actually up compared to the last two seasons, so expect some positive regression in the second half.

Now, Vogt is 32, so by no means do the Brewers view him as a long-term option. They still believe in Bandy, and they sent him down in order to get consistent at-bats and to see if he can rediscover his confidence. Vogt and Pina make a fairly decent catching tandem, though, and RW23 projects the former as a serviceable catcher.

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 180 163 .257 .321 .401 .722 .145 .316 16.5% 8.3% .286 5

RW23 still believes Bandy is the better option, although it’s extremely close. Bandy has more power, but Vogt is the better OBP player. He makes consistent contact and will walk a smidge more often. Hopefully, Bandy hits AAA pitching, and his demotion is short-lived. But for now, we’ll see what Vogt can do on a first-place team.

Projecting Lewis Brinson

The future is here.

Just a few days after promoting Brett Phillips and Josh Hader, the Milwaukee Brewers made the call to No. 1 prospect Lewis Brinson, effectively commencing the team’s bright, bright outlook and future. Phillips was hitting the ball well in Triple-A, while Hader was having his fair share of problems. Lewis, on the other hand, was devastating opposing pitchers. In 204 plate appearances, the newly minted 23 year old posted a 134 wRC+, a .397 on-base clip and a .390 weighted-on base mark. He also mashed six dingers en route to his promotion. He earned his call.

Brinson marks the new wave of players coming to Milwaukee. He and Phillips seem destined to man the outfield grass in Miller Park for years to come, but as Brinson is set to make his debut, one must wonder how much playing time he’ll get. Domingo Santana (128 wRC+) isn’t going to lose any at-bats, and Ryan Braun — when he returns from a lengthy disabled list stint — figures to play almost everyday as well. Keon Broxton (79 wRC+) seems to be the odd-man out if the Brewers want to get Brinson and/or Phillips consistent time on the field. But of the two, Brinson is the one who will most likely stay when Braun makes his way back. Phillips could use some more time to improve his plate discipline and cut down the strike outs.

With that being said, here’s what RW23 foresees for Brinson in 2017.

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 179 200 .256 .325 .429 .754 .173 .327 25.0% 8.6% .314 7

Compared to Phillips’ projection, RW23 likes Brinson quite a bit more. Depending on Milwaukee’s plan for him, Brinson’s 200 plate appearances might be on the high side, but to me, calling him up to sit him on the pine is a waste of everyone’s time — especially Brinson’s. He needs to be in the lineup as much as possible.

Projecting Brett Phillips

Highly regarded prospect Brett Phillips was called up Monday to take over the roster spot of Travis Shaw. But since Shaw is only on paternity leave, Phillips’ stay in the big leagues will most likely be a short one. This is nonetheless exciting, though. Phillips was the main piece in the Carlos Gomez¬†and Mike Fiers trade, and I wrote about that acquisition here. (Keep in mind that I did predict Domingo Santana would be the star of the trade, however).

After a quiet season in Double-A in 2016, Phillips has smashed the ball in Triple-A so far in 2017. In 198 plate appearances, the 23 year old has 11 home runs, running a 144 wRC+ in the process. His promotion was obviously well deserved, even if it’s just for a few games. But while Phillips has been a monster at the plate in the minors, he’s still striking out at an outrageous clip (30.3 percent), which should be a huge, flashing warning sign as he enters the majors. That alone is scary, and that alone is why the RW23 projection has little faith him in this season.

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 75 68 .231 .310 .390 .700 .159 .307 33.1% 9.5% .330 2

Phillips is a top prospect for a reason. His defense will flirt with elite — particularly his arm — and he has home-run power and extra-base pop. But his holes in swing are worrisome, and it may take him awhile to get it figured out. Don’t jump off his bandwagon if he struggles to begin his career.

If Keon Broxton doesn’t pan out and/or Ryan Braun is traded, Phillips — along with Lewis Brinson — could man the outfield for the 2017 Brewers. He’ll always be a strikeout-prone player, but his defense and power should be able to overlook that.

Get excited. The future is here.

Projecting David Goforth

It seems like the Brewers are destined to make a bullpen move every day this season, as the team sent Brent Suter down to the minors just days after promoting him and recalled reliever David Goforth.

Goforth has seen major league action each of the last two seasons, compiling a 6.11 ERA and 4.86 FIP across 35.1 innings. He was hit hard in 2016 (10.97 ERA) and has really struggled to keep the ball in the yard – his 19.4% home-run-to-fly-ball rate is one of the worst marks among relievers over the last two campaigns. And as I’m sure you’re aware, Miller Park is friendly to fly balls, meaning if Goforth wants any sort of success, he needs to keep the ball on the ground.

Here’s what RW23 — The First Out At Third’s projection system — thinks of Goforth.

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP xFIP
RW23 15 2 1.46 .317 6.12 2.96 15.5% 7.5% 4.46 4.17 4.39

RW23 is projecting just 15 innings for the right-handed reliever, and even that might be on the high side, considering the Brewers alternate their bullpen guys as often as President Donald Trump tweets “Sad!” Goforth throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s but doesn’t miss many bats, which is unfortunate, considering RW23 thinks he’ll allow a high BABIP.

Goforth doesn’t figure to be a mainstay in the bullpen and shouldn’t be in Milwaukee’s future plans. He’s had little-to-moderate success in the minor leagues and has never proven he has the stuff to be a reliable major league pitcher.

Projecting Nick Franklin

Another day, another roster move for the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers.

On Wednesday, the Brewers claimed INF/OF Nick Franklin off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays and designated reliever Michael Blazek for assignment. Blazek was a dominant piece of Milwaukee’s 2015 bullpen but really struggled to find any success in 2016 (5.66 ERA/5.71 FIP). Franklin, on the other hand, was once a top prospect, although he has failed miserably to live up to that billing in the major leagues. He did, however, enjoy a career year last season with the bat, creating 10 percent more runs than league average — by far his highest wRC+. But even with that, he posted a 0.0 WAR — the definition of a replacement player.

Franklin enticed the Brewers due to his versatility, as he’s similar to Hernan Perez by being able play multiple infield and outfield positions. He doesn’t have much power and his on-base skills are limited, but general manager David Stearns believed he was worth a flyer, though it may be an expensive flyer if another team ends up claiming Blazek.

Franklin is expected to join the Brewers on Friday, so let’s see what RW23 thinks of the 26 year old.

PA AB AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA K% BB% BABIP HR
RW23 181 167 .229 .285 .390 .674 .161 .294 27.6% 6.1% .291 5

It’s not all that pretty. Other projection systems like Steamer and ZiPS aren’t as pessimistic as RW23, but the difference is extremely small. They all believe Franklin won’t make much of an impact.

But because the Brewers are rebuilding, they need to take chances on guys like Franklin. They have very little to lose, and if one of these dart throws sticks, it will only increase the speed of the rebuild.

Projecting Brent Suter

Just like a season ago, the Milwaukee Brewers made a pitching move following Opening Day. In 2016, they designated Ariel Pena for assignment after getting blasted, and this year, they placed starting pitcher Junior Guerra on the 10-day disabled list with a strained calf and recalled LHP Brent Suter to replace him. Tommy Milone — who pitched two innings of relief Monday — will most likely serve as a starter to fill Guerra’s void, while Suter will take Milone’s place as the only lefty in the bullpen.

So let’s project what to expect from Suter using RW23.

IP HR WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% ERA FIP xFIP
RW23 25 3 1.34 .303 6.18 2.26 16.1% 5.9% 4.21 4.22 4.51

According to RW23, Suter¬†projects to be relatively the same pitcher as Milone, so the good thing is that the Brewers won’t be losing anything. However, like Milone, Suter won’t miss many bats, but that’s nothing new. He’s never shown strikeout ability in the minor leagues and has never been considered a top prospect. But his performance in spring training was impressive, and that’s likely what led to his call up. Meanwhile, highly coveted prospect Josh Hader and outspoken reliever Tyler Cravy will remain at Colorado Springs for the foreseeable future.

Suter made his major league debut in 2016, and in 21.2 innings — including two starts — he posted a 3.32 ERA and 4.39 FIP. His relies heavily on his fastball and mixes in a sllider and changeup, as well. He’s definitely not a power pitcher, though, as his fastball averaged just 84.8 mph last season. It’s all about location for the southpaw.

Don’t expect Suter to see many high-leverage innings out of Milwaukee’s pen, but he’s likely to stay there until Guerra — who’s expected to miss more than the minimum 10 days — is healthy enough to rejoin the rotation.