With Spring Training around the corner and Opening Day a few short months away, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Major-League roster appears all but set. While there remains the possibility of more change (potential Andre Ethier or Brandon League trades), the front office’s work is largely complete, and predictions for the 2015 season are slowly trickling in.
Dan Szymborski developed the ZiPS projection system over a decade ago and it is used by Fangraphs to anger/placate fans of teams for predicting that their players will be bad/good in upcoming seasons.
This offseason, the Dodgers reshaped their roster and constructed a team instead of a collection of star players. Trading out offense for defense, strengthening the bullpen and adding much-needed depth have been at the core of these moves.
While the 2015 Dodgers may not resemble the 2014 club, the results should be fairly similar. Here’s how ZiPS breaks down LA’s next run at a championship:
Unsurprisingly, Yasiel Puig projects to be the Dodgers’ best hitter in 2015. However, one of the biggest takeaways from ZiPS is how well-rounded the team looks. Of the nine* everyday players (accounting for a Carl Crawford/Scott Van Slyke platoon in left field), eight are projected to produce at least a league-average WAR (2.0).
Puig leads the way with a 5.1 WAR, and he’s followed by Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson all exceeding a 3.0 WAR. Pederson broke into the bigs in September of last year and, well, didn’t exactly blow the competition away.
The 22-year-old ended up hitting .143/.351/.143 in 38 plate appearances and struck out 11 times. However, he did show some promise in center field and walked in 23.7 percent of his plate appearances. That, and Pederson’s 30/30 campaign in the Pacific Coast League give the Dodgers some solace over his slow start.
ZiPS projects .239/.337/.420 with 22 home runs and 20 stolen bases from the youngster, along with good center field defense; maybe the Dodgers will break their Rookie of the Year drought. Kendrick and Gonzalez both project to produce solid offense and good defense, a staple of the new club. In fact, no projected starter has a defensive runs saved of less than -1.0. Juan Uribe leads the way with a projected +12 runs saved, while Gonzalez projects to save eight of his own.
As for the team’s depth, two recent acquisitions project to be the club’s ninth and 10th best players. Austin Barnes and Enrique Hernandez, both acquired in the Dee Gordon trade, are expected to produce average WAR, which is astounding, given that average players generally deserve starting spots.
Last year, the Dodgers’ 10th-best offensive WAR was shared by Andre Ethier and Zack Greinke. The Dodgers will definitely miss the impact bats of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, but this team doesn’t really figure to have any major holes. Looking at recent World Series winners, the new and improved Dodgers are starting to resemble those clubs.
Continue Reading: ZiPs Projections For Dodgers Pitching