Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals

The granddaddy of them all, the PECOTA projections, strode onto their virtual stage today. Any time you bill your product as “deadly accurate” it invites additional scrutiny but, for many people, PECOTA is the gold standard. Whether or not it lives up to that billing, that is a matter for taller foreheads than my own.

The system is more than just spitting out slashlines based on ageing curves and the like. Adjustments are made for ballparks (both home and away) and playing time. For many people, it justifies the expense (nominal as it might be) of a full BP superscription for the year.

Enough with the passive-aggressive sales pitch, let’s put these numbers to work: how to they expect the Marlins 23-year old masher, Getting Blanked raison d’etre, Giancarlo Stanton, to fare in 2013?

Unsurprisingly, one of the best young sluggers in baseball history through age-22 stands to continue slugging as only Giancarlo Stanton can. His 4.9 WARP (BP’s Wins Above Replacement player metric) ranks 10th in all of baseball, with his .312 projected TAv (their linear weights based wOBA number shaped to appear more like batting average) bested only by Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols.

Stanton’s slash line projects as .267/.344/.542 with 39 home runs and 30 doubles. Seems conservative but his 39 homers lead the league in PECOTA land.

Comparing his BP numbers to the others used in the previous iterations of this series, we see PECOTA skew conservative, if only slightly.

  • ZiPS: .286/.367/.606, .401 wOBA, .322 BABIP, 31 2B, 3 3B, 41 HR, 6 SB, 6.4 fWAR
  • CAIRO: .267/.352/.547, .382 wOBA, 30 2B, 3 3B, 35 HR, 6 SB.
  • Bill James .284/.365/.605, .403 wOBA, .314 BABIP, 33 2B, 3 3B, 43 HR, 6 SB

At no point do any of the above projected stat lines look unappealing. Any one of those seasons would, or should, satisfy Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins (should they deign to care). 35 homers is okay, 43 homers seems likely but remains incredibly difficult and rare. 40 home runs has only been eclipsed 17 times over the past 5 seasons, only four outfielders (and Adam Dunn) pulling it off.

The PECOTA projections are said to include all factors – it will be interesting to see how the lack of “protection” in the Marlins lineup impacts Stanton. The lack of “ability” in the Marlins lineup will limit his ability to rack up RBI, nearly all available evidence suggests it shouldn’t change the way opposing teams pitch to the big right fielder. He was intentionally walked nine times in 2012, might that total increase with an even worse lineup behind him?

Of all the young players to watch, it is tough to imagine how much better Stanton will get. Like Keith Law stated in his top 25 under 25 column, he’s pretty much as good as he’s going to get now. Peaking at 23 isn’t the end of the world, provided he ages normally and keeps producing at this level for the next 5-8 years. No pressure, Giancarlo. You’re the entire franchise now, act accordingly.