I was going to do a nice review of the projections for the Angels as they enter the second half. It was going to be perfect because the Angels were supposed to play their 81st game yesterday, putting us right at the midpoint of their season. Then the rain had to go and ruin everything. Now I am left with the choice of doing this review a game early or a game late since the Halos are playing a doubleheader today. Obviously I chose to do it early. I assume you pieced that together already.
Disappointing as this turn of events might be, let’s turn to the actual rest-of-season projections, which disappointing (unless your name is C.J. Cron or Garrett Richards… spoilers). For this exercise, we will look at both ZiPS and PECOTA.
David Freese - Good is relative here. Freese only recently crested the .600 OPS mark, but PECOTA thinks he is on an upswing, projecting a .265/.335/.397 slash line. That isn’t great, but it is a far sight better than what he has been doing. ZiPS, however, only projects a .671 OPS, which is still better, but I wonder if it would be good enough to hold off Grant Green from stealing some playing time.
Albert Pujols – Again, good is a relative term here. Pujols is currently sporting a .783 OPS but ZiPS projects him going for an .816 OPS in the second half. PECOTA is even more bullish with an .878 OPS projection. Neither of those are going to make anyone forget how much money Albert is being paid, but it would at least be good enough to get everyone to leave him alone instead of crawling up his ass every time he doesn’t get a hit with runners in scoring position.
Tyler Skaggs - Tyler Skaggs has been solid this season, better than his 4.34 ERA would suggest, in my opinion. ZiPS has him cutting that down to a 3.86 ERA and a 3.92 ERA from PECOTA. Those aren’t really huge stretches though as Skaggs is sitting on a 3.62 FIP right now, so it really is more just his ERA falling in line with that. The real exciting part though is that they both anticipate his K/9 rate jumping nearly a full strikeout in the second half. Thanks again, Kevin Towers. Feel free to send Brandon McCarthy to Anaheim as well before you get kicked out the door. That would be swell.
Joe Smith - The Halos are likely to look for closer help at the trade deadline, but Joe Smith projects to be capable of doing a capable job. ZiPS has him going with a 3.12 second half ERA with PECOTA a little more pessimistic with a 3.39 ERA. That’s probably not elite closer material, but it should be good enough, or it would be if they had better middle relief in front of him or really just any middle reliever with a pulse. I’m not picky.
Jered Weaver - Weaver has slowly (just like his fastball) worked his way back from a rough start to the season and the projections see fit to reward him. Both projections have him upping his strikeout rate well over 7.0 in the second half and moderately cutting down on his walks and, most importantly, his home runs allowed. PECOTA in particular thinks that he is going to be pretty great in the second half with a 3.07 ERA. I really can’t wait to debate whether he or Richards is the true staff ace.
Collin Cowgill - Collin Cowgill was a savior in the first half with a 1.8 fWAR and .796 OPS. Projections say… NOPE! ZiPS sees his offensive output dropping to a .674 OPS with PECOTA being ever so slightly more optimistic at .682. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that neither system believes that his .383 BABIP is sustainable. That’s probably because it isn’t sustainable. Good call, guys.
C.J. Cron - Projection systems just hate Cron. ZiPS has him at .247/.279/.399 and PECOTA puts him at .253/.285/.416. So, yeah. That’s not good. That’s not good at all. Maybe this is just the systems each not having enough information to make a better projection, but there was a lot of skepticism around Cron when he was called up. This doesn’t allay those fears. Obviously projections aren’t unavoidable destiny, but Dipoto might want to have whoever the Padres GM is on speed dial should he decide he needs the services of Seth Smith or Carlos Quentin.
Jason Grilli - Oh, I’m sorry, did you think Grilli was going to solve the closer dilemma? Think again. ZiPS has Grilli down for a 4.13 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. There is hope though, PECOTA thinks Grilli can bounceback to a 3.28 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. That’s probably not quite high leverage reliever material, but at least he can be useful.
Garrett Richards - Well, maybe that “true staff ace” debate will have to wait. The long and short of the Richards projections is that they are still harshly judging him for his previous struggles in the majors. Apparently half a season of dominance isn’t good enough. That’s pretty fair, but both system’s have his ERA jumping above 4.00 and his whiff rate falling off a cliff.
Matt Shoemaker - Nobody really expects Shoemaker to be all that good, so seeing that both systems have him at an ERA in the high-4′s isn’t that big of a shock. If anything, it might be considered promising that it is only in the high-4′s. The real issue for him though is that the projections believe he is going to give up a lot of homers. Like, all of the homers with HR/9 rates of 1.26 (PECOTA) and 1.30 (ZiPS). That’s in line with what he has done in the bigs thus far though, so this is really more a confirmation of the belief that he is a fringe MLB starter.
This section was going to include Raul Ibanez as a brilliant double entendre, but the Angels had to go and release him. Way to ruin my plans, Jerry!
Mike Trout – Anyway this is supposed to just be about Trout who really deserves his own special category both in this blog post and in life in general. fWAR already has Trout at 5.2 wins, but ZiPS anticipates a 4.9 win second half for Trout. So, yes, Trout is in line for another 10+ win season. BP has Trout down for “only” a 4.8 WARP first half and a 3.5 WARP second half. Somehow we will to cope with that. Some of the more interesting tidbits from the projections is that both PECOTA and ZiPS think Trout will find his basestealing courage again and swipe 19 bags in the second half. They both also have him finishing the season with 30+ homers. In other words, Mike Trout is probably good at baseball.
R.J. Alvarez - PECOTA actually projects Alvarez to do some work for the Halos this season, which isn’t a big shock since Dipoto himself said that he’d almost assuredly be getting a call-up at some point this year. Given that statement and the 3.48 ERA and 11.08 K/9 that PECOTA anticipates, Dipoto should probably look to make that happen.
Sean Burnett - For some reason ZiPS still has projections for Burnett. It has him down for 13 innings and a 4.04 ERA. That’s pretty impressive considering that his arm fell off his body.
Hector Santiago - We already know that Matt Shoemaker isn’t projected to be good, so the question becomes whether or not Santiago will be good enough to hold down the fifth starter spot going forward. According to ZiPS, the answer is a resounding “yes!” It projects Santiago to post a 3.91 ERA in the second half, a more than acceptable number for a #5 starter. PECOTA, however, wants the Angels to burn Santiago with fire, projecting a 4.77 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. In other words, Dipoto would do well to line up some trades for starting pitching in case PECOTA is right, but shouldn’t pull the trigger early in case ZiPS is right.
The player projections are fun and all, but what we really want to know is what it will all add up to. ZiPS has the Halos going 44-38 from here on out, which is a step back for them, but it would put them at 89 wins and six games back of the A’s, but also easily secure them the first Wild Card spot. PECOTA is slightly more optimistic, pegging the Angels to go 45-37 in the second half, which would give them the second-best record in the second half for the AL. They’d only pick up two games on the A’s though, so they are still only in line to be the top Wild Card in the AL. That’s less than ideal, but at least the playoff drought would come to an end.