Not only are projection systems useful tools for the fantasy player, but they are also commonly used by baseball executives when trying to evaluate players across the majors with little information at hand. Some front offices have their own separate rating systems which use complex formulas and logarithms. Andrew Friedman of the Dodgers is believed to have one of the most extensive.
While I don’t view these systems as religions when it comes to predictions, I like to look at them to get an idea for what could happen the following season. The three biggest players in the projection game are Steamer, PECOTA and ZIPS, with Steamer being the most remarkably accurate of the three.
If the Steamer projections for 2020 are the least bit accurate, we’re bound to see some surprises next season. Of course, I immediately scan the rankings for players from the Dodgers to see how they stack up against the opposition.
Here’s a list of the top position players according to Steamer as provided by Fangraphs:
Mike Trout has perennially been the king of WAR, and his projections for 2020 are no exception. Last season, Trout finished first in the MLB with an 8.6 WAR with Alex Bregman finishing a close second at 8.5. Tied for third place last year were Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich at 7.8.
I found it intriguing that there were only two Los Angeles players in the Top 25 rankings for 2020—Bellinger and Cory Seager. Two players the Dodgers are rumored to be pursuing on the free agent market—Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson—are projected to finish with 5.5 and 4.7 WARs, respectively. Rendon’s projection of 5.5 is two-tenths of a point higher than Bellinger’s 5.3.
According to these numbers, Bellinger is projected to produce a .286/.385/.582 slash line with 30 doubles, 41 long balls and 99 RBI in 150 games played. Seager’s projections reflect him hitting .278/.349/.478 with 40 doubles, 25 homers and 81 RBI over 147 games.
Francisco Lindor has been a potential trade target for the Dodgers this winter and sits ranked fourth in the MLB in terms of next year’s projections.
Interestingly, Stephen Strasburg, the 2019 World Series MVP is ranked 14th on the list. The next closest Dodger to Kershaw and Buehler is Kenta Maeda, who is way down the chart with a projected 2.0 WAR.
Obviously, it’s quite conceivable that pitchers like Dustin May, Julio Urias and/or Tony Gonsolin finish strongly among the starting pitching group for next year. However, based on the current makeup of the rotation of the Dodgers, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the front office pursuing an upgrade or two.