ZiPS It!

So ZiPS is down on the 2013 Mets and not surprisingly many Mets fans are down on ZiPS.

Should we? How good are projection systems? They're always fun this time of year. Without actual games to generate actual numbers they're like methadone for baseball junkies.

I figured it'd be fun to see how two of last year's projections (ZiPS and Bill James) stacked up to reality. I had some trouble finding full Bill James projections so there are some holes. I'm also not sure I found the best metrics - I didn't see anything park factored for the 2012 James projections - so if someone has a better resource with a more advanced metric I'd be grateful if you could steer me to it.

The table below looks largely at players who will likely be with the team in 2013 with three exceptions: Dickey because we can never ignore him, Hairston because he might be back & Thole because we'll likely have a different young, developing catcher get ABs in 2013.

It compares the ZiPS OPS+ hitters projection to the player's actual OPS+ and ERA+ projected and actual for pitchers. For James hitters compare the more basic projected OPS to actual and for pitchers projected FIP vs. actual. In both pitchers analysis the number before the slash are projected and actual innings pitched.


Bill James


Proj. OPS+ * Actual Diff = Spread

Proj. OPS * Actual Diff = Spread


116 * 143 = +27

862 * 883 = +21


113 * 110 = -3

881 * 771 = -110


108 * 102 = -6

811 * 735 = -76


93 * 63 = -30

722 * 584 = -138


108 * 98 = -10

852 * 718 = -134


90 * 91 = +1


83 * 90 = +7

656 * 685 = +29


97 * 117 = +20


IP/ERA+ * Actual = Spread

IP/FIP * Actual = Spread


91/108 * 117/79 = -29

189/3.44 * 117/4.09 = -.65


179/102 * 233/140 = +38

206/4.03 * 233/3.27 = +.76


158/92 * 190/113 = +21

166/3.60 * 190/3.80 = -.20


128.7/83 * 59/141 = +57


32/92 * 115/93 = +1


159/82 * 109/94 = +12

160/4.36 * 109/3.71 = +.65

Well it turns out that ZiPS was pretty far off - both high and low - for the vast majority of players. Bill James on the other hand, was wildly optimistic for the offense and a mixed bag but not very close on pitchers.

Over performers: Unsurprisingly David Wright ran 27 OPS+ points ahead of his ZiPS projection and 21 points ahead of James projected OPS. Rueben Tejada beat his ZiPS by 7 and James by 19 OPS points. Of course, the one the only Cy Young winner crushed his projections for both innings pitched and performance as did rookie Matt Harvey. Dillon Gee also beat both projections but pitched 50 fewer innings than projected.

Under performers: Ike Davis fell only 3 shy on ZiPS but a huge 110 OPS short on James. Murphy -6 on ZiPS and -76 on James. Thole & Duda were big disappointments. Santana was a disaster compared to both projections and fell far short of James expected innings though he pitched 26 more than ZiPS expected.

Mixed bagger: Jon Niese managed to far outpace his ZiP projections while falling .20 ERA+ points shy of the James mark but tossed substantially more innings than either expected. I'd lean him heavily towards over performer.

Incompletes: Sans James projections for Nieuwenhuis, Hairston, Young & Harvey all we have is ZiPs. Kirk & Chris both landed within a single point of their ZiPs projection though Young pitched 83 innings more than projected. Hairston of course blew away his projected 97 OPS+ by 20 as did the previously mentioned Harvey by 57!

Looking cumulatively - which has limited value given the differing number of at bats - the hitters net at +6 over their ZiPS projection on the strength of Hairston & Wright. The six hitters for which I found James projections cume at -417 OPS points or an average of -69.5 each - ugly though part of the disparity is driven by the missing Hairston. Of course, if his production needs to be but can't be replaced . . . let's not go there.

On the pitching side ZiPS found 5 pitchers cumulatively over performing to a total of 100! Again Santana & Harvey's limited innings and Young's additional innings are not weighted. The four pitchers that I found James projections for netted .56 FIP better than projected.

A couple of thoughts on projections and the Mets:

  • We should probably handle them with care - no surprise here.
  • Unfortunately, one of our top over performing pitchers is now north of the border while our second best over performing hitter's destination is in doubt.
  • 2012 saw these systems were generally way too optimistic for young hitters but pessimistic for young starting pitchers. Four developing hitters (Ike, Murph, Duda, & Thole) disappointed on both systems. Tejada surpassed both while Kirk pretty much landed as expected. But developing pitchers Harvey, Niese and Gee all did extremely well compared to their expected ZiPS, the latter two were a split decision on James, though at 3.80 FIP Niese did well despite under performing his James estimate.
  • If young hitters again fall short of the 2013 projections it would be a major setback for the youth movement and we'll have more holes to fill a year from now than we'd like.
  • But if more promoted & returning young pitchers come up and continue to over perform their projections we'll likely be scrambling to see how the bullpen's projections panned out. . .

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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